Former Texas Chief Justice Settles Law Suit

DALLAS (May 17, 2011)--An alcohol-related lawsuit filed against former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips and his wife over a girl's death has been settled.

The suit alleged that the couple allowed minors to drink alcohol at their home before a traffic accident in 2009 that killed Audrey King, 17, who was a passenger in a vehicle.

The teenager had been at a party that the suit alleged the Phillips' then-20-year-old son hosted, at the ex-judge's residence in Bastrop.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed last summer by the girl's parents, Cheryl and Bobby King.

Phillips, who retired from the high court in 2004, and his wife said they did not know that Audrey King was at their home or that minors were drinking.

The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that the lawsuit was settled last week.

The terms of the settlement weren’t released.

Phillips, a Harvard Law School graduate, was a trial attorney in Houston when Gov. Bill Clements appointed him to a state district court vacancy in Houston in 1981.

Phillips was appointed chief justice in January 1988 and was reelected four more times before he retired from the court.

During his term on the court, Phillips pushed to change the state's system of electing judges.

He urged that judges be appointed by the governor, but allow the public to vote periodically to retain or oust them.

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