U.S Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines, right, views his formal courthouse portrait at a retirement celebration July 15. He is joined by his family, from left, son Cade, wife Betsy and daughter Stella for the official unveiling.

Earl Hines always begins his day at 3:45 a.m., and not just on those days he plans to go fishing but also on days he goes to work as a U.S. magistrate judge.

At a ceremony on July 15 to honor his 28 years of service, his friends and co-workers said they didn't expect that to change when U.S. Magistrate Judge Hines retires on Aug. 1.

Hundreds of current and former co-workers, law clerks, attorneys, representatives of federal agencies, state court judges, local officials and the sitting judges for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas gathered to honor Hines at the federal courthouse in Beaumont.

Again and again the speakers referred to the wise counsel, sense of humor and dedication to the law that Hines has brought to the bench.

In addition to sharing his wit and wisdom, many of his friends said every Christmas Hines shared his homemade mayhaw jelly, a tradition that will be greatly missed at the courthouse.

According to a prepared biography, the judge and his wife, Dr. Betsy Burleson Hines, have roots that run deep in the state of Texas. Their ancestors settled here when the state was a Republic.

Hines grew up in Burkeville, where he was valedictorian of his senior class. He graduated with high honors from the University of Texas, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa academic fraternity.

In 1967, Hines began his legal career as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Joe Fisher in Beaumont. He than became an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas before entering private practice in 1972 at the Brown & Hines law firm in Beaumont.

While he was a trial attorney, Hines won a defense victory for a corporation in an asbestos trial, a rarity during the early days of asbestos litigation in Southeast Texas.

Hines and his law partner, George Brown, also tried a case involving the Catholic Diocese before the College of Cardinals in Rome.

Hines was selected as a magistrate judge in 1984 by the district judges of the Eastern District of Texas. The longest-serving active U.S. magistrate judge in Texas, Hines has presided over thousands of federal criminal and civil cases in the Eastern District of Texas.

He and Betsy, a professor at Lamar University, have two grown children. Their son, Cade, is a member of the U.S. Navy, and daughter, Stella, is a medical doctor.

Hines said in retirement he will spend more time with his family, more time fishing and more time picking mayhaw berries.

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