Ocie Speer   1869-1959

Ocie Speer, lawyer, jurist, and legal writer, was born on April 1, 1869, near Alvarado, Texas, the son of D. and Sallie (Ellis) Speer. In the early 1870s the family moved to Montague, in Montague County; they later spent eight years in Wood County and then moved to Fisher County. Speer was educated in the public schools, largely under the supervision of his father, who was a teacher. He spent a year at the National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, in deference to his father's wish that he too become a teacher. In 1890 Speer was admitted to the bar and elected county attorney of Fisher County. When his term ended in 1902 he declined to run again. From 1894 to 1902 he was in private practice in Bowie, in partnership with his younger brother John beginning in 1899. In 1902 Speer was appointed associate justice of the Court of Civil Appeals in Fort Worth. He practiced privately again from 1914 to 1925, in 1918 in partnership with Marvin H. Brown. In 1925 Speer joined the Commission of Appeals of the state Supreme Court. In 1929 he again entered private practice, this time in Austin. He served as counsel to the state banking commissioner from 1933 to 1939, assistant attorney general from 1939 to 1949, and counsel to the state banking department from 1949 until his retirement, in 1953, at the age of eighty-four. During the course of his career he wrote at least 2,700 opinions. Although not a supporter of Miriam Amanda Ferguson, Speer consented to represent her when she was barred from candidacy for governor, and he succeeded in having her name placed on the ballot. By a series of suits he established a number of vacancies in the Yates oilfield in Pecos County. While assistant attorney general he was also involved in arguing the case concerning the Texas Tidelands (see TIDELANDS CONTROVERSY) before the United States Supreme Court.

As one of the leading authorities on Texas constitutional law, Speer was best known for his work A Treatise on the Law of Married Women in Texas (1901), which appeared in two later editions as A Treatise on the Law of Marital Rights in Texas (1916, 1929). He also wrote A Brief (1925), an annotation of Texas forms and rules; A Treatise on the Law of Special Issues in Texas (1931); Texas Jurists (1936); and A Treatise on the Law of Banks and Banking in Texas (1952). For a number of years he was a contributing editor for Texas Jurisprudence. He sponsored the painting of portraits of all former judges of the Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the commissioners of those courts, which he reproduced in his book Texas Jurists and later donated to the state courts. Speer married Annie F. Milner on December 13, 1891, and they had five daughters. Speer was a Methodist, a Democrat, and a Mason. He served as commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Bowie in 1901, as president of the Texas Women's College Board of Trustees from 1914 to 1927, and as a member of the Court of Appeals of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, from 1914 to 1918. His recreational interests included chess, beekeeping, and pigeon breeding. Speer's wife died in 1928, and he died in Austin on April 11, 1959. His funeral was held at the First Methodist Church in Austin, and he was buried in Austin Memorial Park.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Our Portrait Gallery," Bohemian, November?, 1901. Texas Bar Journal, May 1945, September 1957, September 1959. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. World Biography, 5th ed. (Bethpage, New York: Institute for Research in Biography, 1954).

Nowlin Randolph

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