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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

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November 2019

Former TBCJ member Judge Larry Gist passes after life of public service

The Honorable
Lawrence “Larry” Gist

Senior Criminal District Judge and former member of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ), the Honorable Lawrence “Larry” Gist, passed away due to illness on Saturday, October 19, in Beaumont. Judge Gist was 78 years old.

Governor Rick Perry appointed Judge Gist to the TBCJ in 2011. During his time on the Board, he served on both the Legal and Victim Services committees and chaired the Community Corrections Committee. Gist also chaired the Judicial Advisory Council (JAC), which advises the TBCJ and TDCJ’s Community Justice Assistance Division on judiciary matters.

During the October TBCJ meeting in Austin, Board Chairman Dale Wainwright praised Gist’s career and character, saying, “Judge Gist was unsurpassed in his commitment to justice and the rule of law. He was an old-school gentleman and it was a privilege to serve with him. He will be greatly missed.”

TBCJ Vice-Chairman Terrell McCombs shared his views on Gist’s professional reputation: “Judge Gist was well respected across the state for both his legal judgement and wisdom pertaining to Texas’ plethora of community supervision issues and challenges. He was a superb mentor to all his board colleagues in this complex judicial arena. Every county judge and prosecutor in Texas is far better if they ever had the privilege to have known him.”

Born and raised in Port Arthur, Gist earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and his law degree from the University of Texas Law School. Having served as assistant criminal district attorney and assistant state’s attorney, Gist became the youngest state district judge in Texas when he was elected at age 34 in 1974.

Judge Gist helped create and operate Jefferson County’s Drug Impact Court. In recognition of this achievement, Texas’ first state jail was named in his honor when it was opened in 1994. Today, the Larry Gist State Jail in Beaumont provides nonviolent, low-level drug offenders with substance abuse treatment, career and technology training, a faith-based dormitory and other rehabilitation programs.

In 2014 the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas presented Judge Gist with its Judicial Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his dedication to professional excellence and longstanding commitment to improving the state’s justice system. Judge Gist was the first criminal trial judge to receive this honor.