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John Hill for the State of Texas: My Years as Attorney General
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Most Read Latest featured news He had a subordinate tip off Zindler, who did a series of explosive stories about the long-running house of prostitution that led to pressure on Gov. Dolph Briscoe.
Former Texas Chief Justice John Hill dies - Houston Chronicle
I just felt in my own heart and mind the sheriff would be responsive to a call from the governor. In , Hill challenged Briscoe in the Democratic primary for governor. Briscoe, a Uvalde rancher, was vying for re-election with an eye on becoming the first governor to serve 10 consecutive years in office.
Hill a decade earlier had first pursued his dreams of becoming governor in an unsuccessful race that saw him come in a dismal sixth in a field of But the hard-fought primary resulted in Hill's dreams replacing those of Briscoe. And at any earlier point in the history of modern Texas politics, the Democratic nomination for governor would have been tantamount to Hill taking the oath of office. Times had changed, though, and Hill would become the first Democrat to surrender the governor's mansion to a Republican in years, losing the election to Dallas millionaire Bill Clements.
Texas had become a two-party state. An amusing sidelight of the election occurred when Hill and Clements attended the same dinner function. Clements — who had been saying he was going to hang dislike of President Jimmy Carter around Hill's neck like a dead chicken — threw a rubber chicken at the attorney general. The plastic fowl landed on the plate of a prominent woman, splashing food on her.
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For the next six years, Hill played a background role in Texas politics, practicing law and serving as a critic of Clements during his first administration. In , Hill won election to a four-year term as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court and presided during two of its most tumultuous years. A legislative committee investigated ethics on the court, and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly chastised two associate justices.
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Then CBS television's 60 Minutes focused on the large amounts of money that lawyers who practice before the court pour into judicial campaigns. That prompted Hill to resign to seek judicial reform, but Democrats criticized him for giving a judicial appointment to Clements.