Justice Bob Pemberton, Texas 3rd Court of Appeals

Bob Pemberton
The Pemberton Family

About Justice Bob Pemberton

Justice Bob Pemberton
Justice Bob Pemberton

A solid record of hard work, professional accomplishments, and unparalleled qualifications…

Justice Bob Pemberton has served in Place 6 on Texas’s Third Court of Appeals since December 2003. After being appointed to fill the vacancy created by Lee Yeakel’s elevation to the federal bench and winning unanimous Senate confirmation, Pemberton won election to the unexpired term in 2004. He was subsequently re-elected to full six-year terms in 2006 and 2012.

During his decade-long judicial career, Justice Pemberton has authored over 1000 majority opinions on the merits and over 1700 total opinions. His opinions have addressed important issues in subject areas spanning the breadth of the Third Court’s diverse and challenging docket, including not only criminal appeals, but the civil and state government-related appeals that dominate the court’s workload.

Justice Pemberton has consistently ranked among the most hard-working and productive of Texas’s appellate judges, twice leading all such judges statewide in the number of majority opinions on the merits authored during a fiscal year.

In addition to his service on the Third Court of Appeals, Justice Pemberton has also served as a visiting justice of the Supreme Court of Texas by special commission. He is also a member of the Supreme Court of Texas Rules Advisory Committee and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs. Pemberton’s other leadership roles in the legal community have included Life Fellow in the Texas Bar Foundation and service on the Austin Bar Association’s executive committee.

Taking the oath of office
Taking the oath of office from his friend, supporter, and former boss, then-Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, 2004.

Before taking the bench, Justice Pemberton gained valuable experience and preparation practicing trial and appellate law for several years with leading Texas law firms Baker Botts and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; serving as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor; serving as Rules Attorney to the Texas Supreme Court, where he played a pivotal role in the 1999 civil discovery rules reforms; clerking for Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips; teaching advanced civil trial and appellate law at the University of Texas School of Law, and publishing numerous legal articles.

Justice Pemberton obtained his legal education at Harvard Law School, where he graduated with honors and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He obtained his undergraduate education at Baylor, where he graduated at the top of his class with a 4.0 G.P.A.

… inspired by lessons and legacies of the past…

Old Pemberton family photo
The Pemberton Family, Milam County, 1922. Justice Pemberton’s great-grandmother (in the bonnet) raised the seven children in the picture, plus a niece, as a widow. The children would grow up to include two evangelists, an oilman, a nurse, a small businessman, and a Santa Fe railroad engineer, Bob’s grandfather.

Justice Pemberton’s family roots run six generations deep in the 24-county district he serves. He is also a second-generation judge: father Stan served on the Bell County district bench for many years, while mother Jo Ann, a former Temple Educator of the Year, taught Temple fifth-graders.

During Pemberton’s formative years, he came to appreciate the value of hard work from the examples of his parents—the first generation of their families to earn college degrees, who would each devote predawn hours and late nights to preparing for court or the classroom—and the knowledge of even greater challenges overcome by older family members through farm fields and hardships. These lessons were reinforced through his participation in the Temple High football program headed by legendary Coach Bob McQueen, where he earned honors including team captain, All-District, and All-Central Texas.

Two Pemberton judges
The two judges Pemberton with Mom, Jo Ann.

It was also during these formative years that the seeds were planted—through the examples of his father and other leaders of the Texas judiciary and bar to whom he looked up as a young boy—that would later inspire Justice Pemberton to serve in the Texas judiciary himself: a basic, deep belief in and commitment to the ideal that all of us stand equal before the Constitution and laws—the Rule of Law—and how critical it is for Texas and America that we have judges willing to stand in the gap and uphold that ideal, faithfully and neutrally applying the law without fear or favor.

… and hopes for our future

Justice Pemberton is married to Becky Yates Pemberton, an attorney and alumna of Leadership Texas. Becky and Bob are the parents of three children of whom they are very proud: Ella, born in 2004; Harris, born in 2006; and Cole, who lived 74 heroic days in 2009.

Daddy and Mommy proudly supporting their Giants
Daddy and Mommy proudly supporting their Giants

Justice Pemberton has a long history of volunteer service aiding at-risk youth, including serving on the board of directors of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Central Texas. However, in recent years, inspired by their own experiences (and when not busy with their jobs and Ella and Harris’s many activities), he and Becky have focused on supporting causes that aid families with terminally ill and special-needs children, including Any Baby Can and the Children’s Medical Center Foundation of Central Texas.

“Cole’s Library” at Dell Children’s Medical Center, 2010
Celebrating their third Giant—The Pemberton family dedicating “Cole’s Library” at Dell Children’s Medical Center, 2010