Judge Schell was appointed as a U. S. district judge for the Eastern District of Texas on June 6, 1988 and took the oath of office on August 15, 1988. He served for 15 years in the Beaumont Division of the court, and he has just completed another 16 years of service in the Sherman Division. Judge Schell has tried cases in all divisions of the court except the Lufkin Division. He assumed senior status in 2015.
From June 17, 1994 until June 16, 2001, Judge Schell served as the court’s chief judge. He has also served on the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, and he has sat by invitation as a panel member on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Judge Schell presided over coordinated pretrial proceedings in MDL 1038 In Re Norplant Contraceptive Products Liability Litigation from 1994 to 2002 at the request of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. He was appointed to the Judicial Conference of the United States Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules and served a six-year term on that committee from October 1, 2003 until September 30, 2009. He also served a term on the Federal Judges Association board of directors from 1997 until 2000.
Before assuming the federal bench, Judge Schell served as a state district judge on the 219th Judicial District Court of Collin County, Texas and as a County Court at Law judge in Collin County. Prior to that, Judge Schell was in private practice and served as an assistant district attorney.
Judge Schell received his undergraduate degree in 1972 and his law degree in 1975, both from SMU in Dallas. Immediately following graduation from law school, he taught a class during the 1975-1976 school year on research methods and legal writing to first year students at the SMU Dedman School of Law. Judge Schell returned to his law school in 2010, 2011, and 2013 to teach a class for second and third year students on “Civil Litigation: Critical Issues and Policies in Civil Procedure.” In 2005, Judge Schell was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service from the SMU Dedman School of Law.