Judge Thad Heartfield was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas. After graduating from St. Mary’s School of Law in 1965, he began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. He then became the City Attorney of Beaumont at the age of 28, one of the youngest in the state, where he remained as chief of the legal department for five years.
In his next career move, he went into the private practice of law, representing individuals, corporations and public entities in civil litigation.
In 1994, Congressman Jack Brooks recommended and personally supported the appointment of Thad Heartfield to become a United States District Judge. In 1995, President Bill Clinton nominated him for the position, and he was, shortly thereafter, confirmed by the United States Senate. He took the Oath of Office in April 1995 and continues to serve as a judge for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.
During his tenure, he became Chief Judge and implemented several innovations and improvements to the judicial system, including electronic filing, the addition of magistrate judgeships in Marshall and Sherman, Texas, and he continually lobbied Congress for additional district judgeships. He assisted in acquiring federal funding for a new courthouse in Plano, Texas, and he dramatically increased the growth and success of the Eastern District Bench/Bar Conference, which is, to this date, annually attended by lawyers throughout the United States.
At his portrait hanging ceremony on March 9, 2007, he pointedly expressed his view of our justice system as he sees it from the federal bench: “Lawyers are the real backbone of our system of justice, and I respect them for their dedication, sacrifice and hard work, so that justice may be done.”
Judge Heartfield and his wife, Cornelia, have been married for sixty years. His son, J. Thad Heartfield and his wife, Melanie, live in Beaumont, Texas. His daughter, Jennifer Heartfield Fleming and her husband, Scott, live in Rockwall, Texas.