March 22, 2021 - Throughout his career, Justice Brian Walker of the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, has shown a commitment to public service. From his experience in the Air Force, to managing a firm that handled Veterans Affairs benefits cases in addition to criminal and civil litigation, the 2003 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center now applies this commitment from behind the bench.
"I've served in the military and had done appellate work for almost 17 years that I had been in law practice," Walker said. "I had a feeling I would enjoy doing appellate work in a judicial capacity. My father, Judge Scott Walker, is on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and being able to see what he has done on the state’s highest criminal court in the past few years initially piqued my interest.”
"I was extremely humbled by the overwhelming support I received from the voters. I was also encouraged because the feedback I received from a lot of people on the campaign trail really proved to me that people understand the court system better than I anticipated. I had many people tell me that one of the reasons they voted for me was because they felt like appellate experience was important on an appellate court."
Prior to assuming office in January, Walker was a solo practitioner at the Brian Walker Law Firm PLLC.
"When I was practicing, I was one of the few attorneys in Texas who handled a significant amount of VA disability cases," he said. "Obviously, it was very important for men and women who had served and who had been disabled during service to get someone who had legal knowledge and a broader legal understanding of how to navigate the channels at the VA.
"We had a fair amount of success. During the time I was in practice I won my clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in deserving VA benefits."
Walker's dedication to veterans is no coincidence. He served as a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) in the Air Force for nine years, completing assignments at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Aviano Air Base in northern Italy and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
His stint in the Air Force made history, as he became the first JAG officer to also serve as a Flight Commander/Instructor, the Air Force's officer equivalent to a drill instructor.
"It was a unique thing to wear two hats at the same time in the Air Force," Walker said.
During his time as a Law Center student, Walker was the president of the Christian Legal Society. He also praised the criminal trial advocacy program for allowing him to participate in mock trials, and preparing him for the practical side of practicing law.
Walker said he also benefitted from working as a clerk for legendary trial attorney Richard "Racehorse" Haynes '56.
"What I appreciated most was he was always collegial and kind to everybody," Walker said. "He would make hand-written notes to his adversaries after a jury trial. He would always encourage them and tell them how good of a job they did. One of my duties was stamping those messages and sending them out. That always impressed me, because we need more of that today - more kindness, more collegiality and more of an emphasis on the fact that we can be adversaries in the courtroom but that doesn't mean we can't be friends outside of it.
Walker credits his father and his religious convictions as his motivation for pursuing a career in law.
"Definitely my father's influence had a lot to do with it,” he said. “I had seen what my dad did as an attorney first-hand," Walker said. "Back when he was a practicing attorney, that helped encourage me and inspired me to pursue law. I liked the idea of being able to help people when they have serious problems.
"Candidly, I'm also a believer and my faith is very important to me. Jesus was an advocate. He stood in the gap for people that didn't have someone standing in the gap for them. In some ways you can say he spoke up for people nobody would speak up for. I liked the idea of being able to speak up for people who didn't have a voice for themselves necessarily.”
Walker had his investiture in January. Similar to the unique times surrounding the COVID -19 era, Walker’s socially-distanced investiture had its own unique elements. Singer, songwriter, and recording artist Josh Weathers, led the invocation and sang “Amazing Grace.” Justice Walker’s good friend, Jay Novacek, a former five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl Champion with Dallas Cowboys, closed the ceremony with the benediction. Walker’s father, Judge Scott Walker, administered the oath of office. Walker said having his Dad swear him in “was one of the greatest honors” of his life.