In 2004 the Underwood Law Library received Judge Barefoot Sanders’s chambers papers related to the Tasby desegregation litigation. This substantial collection comprises approximately 150 linear feet of court documents, statistical data related to the DISD, Judge Sanders’s own notes concerning the litigation, and contemporaneous newspaper and other articles. This historical and legal resource offers a detailed insight into what was, what is, and what can be.
Judge Sanders was a native Dallasite and a 1942 graduate of North Dallas High School. His formal education was interrupted by WWII as he served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946. After receiving his A.B. degree, Judge Sanders graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1950. He was in private practice in Dallas 1950-61 and 1969-79 with the law firm of Clark, West, Keller, Sanders and Butler.
Judge Sanders had a long and distinguished career in public service. In 1952 he began his first of three terms as State Representative in the Texas Legislature sponsoring such legislation as the Texas Securities Act, the Texas Probate Code, the Texas Mental Health Code, and legislation creating the Trinity River Authority. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, a position he held until 1965. From 1965-67 he served as Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department in Washington and was instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him Legislative Counsel to the President to manage the White House Legislative Program.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him United States District Judge in the Northern District of Texas, where he served as Chief Judge from 1989-1995. He served as Chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch (1994-97); as a member of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (1992-2000); and as Chair, National Conference of Federal Trial Judges, American Bar Association (1988-89). During his judicial career Judge Sanders presided over Tasby—the Dallas School desegregation case—and over litigation to improve conditions in state hospitals for the mentally ill and state schools for the intellectually disabled.
In 1952 Judge Sanders married Jan Scurlock. Judge Sanders died in 2008.