Longtime Austin attorney Roy Minton dies at age 89

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Attorney Roy Minton, pictured here in a 2007 file photo, handled civil and criminal matters for political leaders including Governor Ann Richards and Lt.  Governor Bob Bullock.

For half a century, Roy Minton was a prominent figure in Austin’s legal community, with a clientele that included some of the state’s major political giants.

He set up a still thriving practice across from the courthouse in the so-called “red brick courthouse” which was often used for social gatherings where discussions and debates of the day took place, as well as war stories from civil and criminal trials, past and present.

On Thursday, Minton died after a brief illness with his family by his side at Ascension Seton Medical Center. He was 89 years old.

Lawyers who worked with Minton – including those who were on the opposite side of a lawsuit – and those who knew him well said his death marked the end of an era not only in the legal profession but in Austin itself.

“He was part of an Austin that few of us really remember,” wrote his granddaughter Caroline Beaulieu in a Facebook post. “Damn it, he built this Austin. Scheme with Ann Richards. Drink with Bob Bullock. Goodbye to the man who taught me the power of the well-placed “damned” and the criticality of being a liberal, no matter how rich or powerful you are. And damn it. ”

Gabrielle Nestande waits with her defender Roy Minton during a hiatus in her 2013 trial.

“I really believe he was a rare and disappearing breed.”

Throughout his legal career, Minton served both civil and criminal matters for political leaders, including Governor Ann Richards and Lt. Governor Bob Bullock belonged. His last high profile criminal case, in 2013, involved Capitol staff member Gabrielle Nastande, who was charged with poisoning and manslaughter after meeting a woman walking on a street in 2011. Nastande was found guilty of lesser charges of criminally negligent murder and was given probation.

RELATED: Nestande found guilty of criminally negligent murder

Former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore had known Minton for more than four decades and first met him as a prosecutor.

“He was so gifted,” she said. “He wasn’t all brilliant in the courtroom, either. He was a master of every nuance to get the best results for his clients. I have always been in awe of its effectiveness. I really believe that he was part of a rare and disappearing breed. “

Minton worked as a prosecutor for two years in the early 1960s before starting his own practice. Charlie Burton soon joined him.

“What an honor to practice with one of the best legal minds ever,” said Burton. “It made my work a lot easier.”

In 2012, former District Attorney Ken Oden was among a group of people who successfully petitioned Austin City Council to place a badge of honor for Minton on Guadalupe Street from 11th to San Antonio Street near his office. At the time, Minton was named one of the most influential lawyers in the state by Texas Lawyer Magazine for the past 100 years.

“I learned more about law and politics, just drank and talked to beer, than I learned from law and politics through 40 years of practicing,” Oden said. “He inherited a certain code and passed it down: manage if you can, fight if you feel you have to, but most importantly, don’t be foolish.”

The inspector and gubernatorial hope Carole Keeton Strayhorn, second from left, and her lawyer Roy Minton, center, submit papers so that she can run as an independent employee in the office of the Texas Foreign Secretary in 2006.

In front of the courtroom and outside of the office, Minton had five children. Two sons, Perry and David, continued their father’s practice. Roy Minton and his wife Barbara would have been married for 65 years in May.

Perry Minton said while his mind was flooded with memories of his father as a lawyer, he also taught him to value people of all kinds.

“He was ahead of his time in his visceral intolerance of racism, sexism and opposition to gays and gay marriage,” he said. “He was genuinely at a loss about how anyone would waste their energy judging or hurting another person or group of people. And doing so while being a spiritualist and not traditionally religious would “get your ass in trouble with the Lord”. This is by far the bigger story for my pop than its legal profession. “