Earl Yeakel

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Earl Yeakel
Placeholder image.png
Do you have a photo that could go here? Submit it for this profile by emailing us!
Court Information:
United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #2
Station:   Austin, TX
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   07/29/2003 - Present
Preceded by:   James Nowlin
Past post:   Texas Third District Court of Appeals, Justice
Past term:   1998 - 2003
Personal History
Born:   1945
Hometown:   Oklahoma City, OK
Undergraduate:   University of Texas, B.A., 1966
Law School:   University of Texas Law, J.D., 1969
Grad. School:   U. of Virginia Law, LL.M., 2001
Military service:   U.S. Marine Corps 1967 - 1970

Earl Leroy "Lee" Yeakel III is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. He joined the court in 2003 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.[1]

Early life and education

A native Oklahoman, Yeakel earned his bachelor's and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966 and 1969. Yeakel later graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law with his Master of Laws degree in 2001 and also served on active duty on the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970 in Vietnam.[1]

Professional career

After law school, Yeakel was a private practice attorney licensed in the State of Texas from 1969 to 1988. Yeakel spent his entire private practice tenure with the Austin based law firm of Clark, Thomas & Winters. In 1988, Yeakel was appointed by then Texas Governor George W. Bush as Chief Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District in 1998. Yeakel served in the Texas Court of Appeals from 1998 till his appointment to the federal court in 2003.[2]

Judicial career

Western District of Texas

On the unanimous recommendation of Texas U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, Yeakel was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003 to a seat vacated by James Nowlin as Nowlin assumed senior status. Yeakel was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 28, 2003 on a unanimous vote. Yaekel received commission on July 29, 2003.[1]

Notable cases

Judge strikes part of Texas abortion law - again (2014)

Judge Earl Yeakel struck part of an abortion law on the cusp of going into effect. Opponents of the provision, requiring abortion clinics to have surgical-standard buildings, equipment and staff, argued that it would have shut down all but six of the clinics in the state. Judge Yeakel found that the requirement created an undue burden on a woman's right to a pre-viability abortion. As a result, the provision had to be removed as unconstitutional. State officials, however, said they would appeal the judge's ruling. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit in this case, said the judge's ruling was a victory for women.


Parts of Texas abortion law blocked (2013)

     United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
On October 28, 2013, Judge Yeakal prevented parts of a controversial abortion law in Texas from taking effect. (This law was the same one famously filibustered by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis in June 2013.) The provisions requiring doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and regulating use of abortion-inducing drugs were blocked. In the ruling, Judge Yeakel said that requiring doctors to have admitting privileges:
does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health.[3] [4]

Governor Rick Perry said that the state will continue to enforce the parts of the law blocked by the ruling as the State appeals to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.[5]

Aspects of the law were not challenged or will still stand following the ruling, including: requiring that women have an extra office visit before undergoing the procedure, a ban on abortions 20 weeks after conception and a requirement that abortion centers meet the specifications of ambulatory surgery centers.[5]


On October 31, 2013, a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit reinstated most of the provisions previously ruled unconstitutional by Judge Yeakel, with the exception of regulations for abortion-inducing drugs. The ruling issued an emergency stay while the constitutionality of the law was being considered. The stay allowed the law to go into effect on November 1, 2013.[6]

In a statement, Texas Attorney General and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said:

This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.[7] [4]

The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of American disagreed with that assessment, stating:

This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide.[8][4]

Medical/legal contact with patients/arrestees (2010)

     United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (Donald McKinley, D.C., et al., v. Greg Abbott, As Attorney General of the State of Texas, 1:09-cv-006430LY)

Judge Yeakel presided in a case involving a Texas State law on contact between doctors and patients in a medical malpractice challenge. Judge Yaekel ruled that the law, which prohibits doctors from contacting patients within 30 days of an accident or attorneys within one month of an arrest, was unconstitutional. The judge found that the law violated the First Amendment on grounds of freedom of speech.[9]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
James Nowlin
Western District of Texas
Seat #2
Succeeded by:

TexasUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Western District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Northern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Southern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of TexasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fifth CircuitTexas Supreme CourtTexas Court of AppealsTexas Court of Criminal AppealsTexas District CourtsTexas County CourtsTexas County Courts at LawTexas Statutory Probate CourtsTexas Justice of the Peace CourtsTexas Municipal CourtsTexas countiesTexas judicial newsTexas judicial electionsJudicial selection in TexasTexasTemplate.jpg