by Ryan T. Cosgrove
Judge Jim Jordan has a unique perspective from the bench. He has presided over cases in Dallas County in three different decades and has seen much change.
His judicial career began in 1986 when he was appointed to the bench by Governor Mark White as the Presiding Judge of the 44th District Court, but as the tides changed he left the bench and returned to private practice. Although Judge Jordan hoped to one day return to the bench, it was not until 2006 that he ran for, and was elected, judge of the 160th District Court, where he sits today.
With 20 years between two different stretches as a Dallas County civil district judge, Judge Jordan has overseen cases both before and after the Internet revolution. Judge Jordan recalls seeing maybe one cell phone in his courtroom in the 1980s, and it was about six inches tall and stood upright on the counsel table. During Judge Jordan’s absence from the bench, the legal profession saw the effects of dramatic technological advances. Among Judge Jordan’s favorite changes since his first time on the bench is the evolution of electronic research and the ready access to information that it provides both judges and litigants. Judge Jordan has also seen a great increase in the volume and length of filings since the ‘80s.
Reflecting on one of the changes since his first time on the bench, Judge Jordan is concerned over the dramatic increase in the number of self-represented litigants. He attributes this trend to the growing cost of litigation and to the accessibility of information on the Internet, which persuades the litigants to think they can represent themselves. He says, however, that generally self-represented litigants are unfamiliar with the rules of procedure and tend to struggle in the courtroom. The judge encourages these litigants to seek counsel, but he also says that the system will have to learn to adapt to this trend.
Judge Jordan graduated from South Garland High School where he was active in the marching band. He then graduated from Austin College in 1974 and Texas Tech School of Law in 1977. Judge Jordan has been active in scouting since he was young. He is an Eagle Scout, worked summers as a scout camp counselor, and became a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.
Judge Jordan has practiced law in the Dallas area throughout his career beginning in a small office in the Katy Building across the street from the Dallas County Courthouse. Since then, Judge Jordan formed partnerships with several Dallas attorneys. He was a partner with the firms of Riddle & Brown (later Middleberg, Riddle and Gianna) and Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller, LLP. He also worked as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Garland. While practicing, Judge Jordan taught trial skills courses at Southern Methodist University and Louisiana State University law schools and trial skills and deposition courses for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. While on the bench he has taught legal studies courses at Paul Quinn College.
Judge Jordan has maintained a commitment to community and public service both on and off the bench. His service over the years has included membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates, the William “Mac” Taylor American Inn of Court, the State Bar of Texas Judicial Ethics Committee, acting as Local Administrative District Judge, Presiding Judge of Civil District Courts and serving as President of the Garland Bar Association. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Life Fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation and of the Texas Bar Foundation. Judge Jordan is an active member in the Dallas Bar Association, a past recipient of the Jo Anna Moreland Outstanding Committee Chair Award and a past recipient of the Judicial Pro Bono Service Award.
It was his passion for public service and his belief in the rule of law that caused Judge Jordan to want to be a lawyer in the first place. Judge Jordan says that he feels being a judge is the best way for him to fulfill his passion for public service. He says the desire to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and to protect the rule of law drives him as a judge.
Judge Jordan and his wife, Roberta, have two grown children, Natalie, a graduate of the University of Texas Radio-Television-Film program and their son Austin, a graduate of the University of Southern California.
Ryan T. Cosgrove is a commercial litigation attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and a member of the DBA Publications Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.