Don Willett was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas in August 2005 and elected to a full term in November 2006.
Before assuming the bench, Justice Willett was a deputy Texas Attorney General and served as chief legal adviser to Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Prior to that service Willett was deputy assistant attorney general for Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a key role in the president's judicial selection and nominations process. He also supervised numerous several initiatives, including expediting U.S. citizenship for active-duty immigrant service members and crafting the PROTECT Act of 2003 to protect children from abduction and exploitation.
Before joining the Justice Department, Willett was a special assistant to the president in the White House, providing legal counsel on religious liberty and other issues.
From 1996 to 2000, Willett was director of research & special projects for Gov. Bush, and later served as a Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential Campaign and Transition Team Domestic Policy & Special Projects Adviser
A native Texan, Willett earned a triple-major B.B.A. from Baylor University and his J.D. with honors and an A.M. in political science from Duke University. He served as senior editor of Law and Contemporary Problems and as editor of the Duke International and Comparative Law Annual. Following law and graduate school, he was a law clerk to Judge Jerre S. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
From 1993 to 1996, Willett practiced employment and labor law in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. and also handled significant pro bono matters for various nonprofit legal foundations.
He was named "Outstanding Young Alumnus" of Baylor University in 2005 and inducted into the Forney Hall of Honor in 2007. He has received the "Faith and Integrity in Legal Services Award" and the Austin Under 40 Award for Government and Public Affairs. Willett is a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, the Austin Bar Foundation, and is a member of the American Law Institute.
Willett serves as supreme court liaison to the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, the Task Force to Ensure Judicial Readiness in Times of Emergency, and the Court Reporters Certification Board.
Willett has a long history of community involvement, including appointments to the Texas Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service, the Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency, and the 1997-98 Class of Leadership Austin. His board and non-profit service includes the National Fatherhood Initiative, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, SafePlace, the Texas Lyceum Association, the national advisory board of ConSource, the advisory board of the Texas Review of Law and Politics, the advisory board of the Federalist Society (Austin chapter), and the Baylor University Council for Institutional Development. Willett was a Class XXII member of the Governor's Executive Development Program, and in the 1990s was a senior fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He has also served as a non-resident fellow with the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania.
Willett's wife, Tiffany, has served in the Texas Senate and also in the White House, where she was education director for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. They have three young children: Jacob, Shane-David, and Genevieve.
Willett's term ends December 31, 2012.