Judge Mary Lou Robinson’s Legacy


Judge Mary Lou Robinson passed away late last year. She left a mark on the Texas Panhandle for many reasons and lends her name to the federal courthouse in Amarillo. 

Judge Robinson was elected to two separate judgeships before facing the United States Senate for confirmation. Having been nominated by President Jimmy Carter for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she was confirmed and presided over cases such as Texas Beef Group vs. Oprah Winfrey.

In the courtroom she was tough. 

“I always liked going into Judge Robinson’s courtroom because if you weren’t prepared it was going to be called out pretty quickly,” said Rep. John Smithee.

Tough, but fair. 

Not everybody got the outcome they were always hoping for, but they all respected Judge Robinson’s ability to be equitable and fair in her courtroom. She was incredibly demanding and but not unreasonably so,” said Rep. Four Price.

Not only was she demanding, she was warm, personable, and interested in those she was judging, and in the people with whom she surrounded herself. 

“That was one thing, that I think, a lot of the federal judges won’t engage in, developing a real personal and close relationship within the personnel, within office, and her clerks, and so that was probably one of the most unique and formative positions I’ve ever had in my legal career,” said Rep. Price. 

She especially loved when people became citizens of the united states. 

“Couple of times, she would ask various people in the community to come speak at immigration ceremonies, when people were made citizens of the United States. A couple of time, I was fortunate enough to go over there and be able to speak with the new citizens and she always used to remark this is the happiest day in the courtroom because everybody’s happy,” said Rep. Smithee. 

Judge Robinson is remembered as a trailblazing jurist who was on the cutting edge of women’s issues in the final decades of the last century.

She died in January at the age of 92. 

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