Dedicating 50 years of public service to Smith County, Judge Skeen’s contribution leaves a permanent landmark on the landscape of our legal system in downtown Tyler, Texas. After graduating Baylor Law School in 1971, Judge Skeen worked as an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for the Smith County Criminal District Attorney’s Office before becoming the first full-time City Attorney of Tyler for five years. In 1982, Judge Skeen was elected Smith County Criminal District Attorney where he served for five consecutive four-year terms. From November 2003 through 2022, Judge Skeen served as presiding Judge over the 241st Judicial District Court of Smith County in both civil and criminal cases.
As a Tyler native, Judge Skeen graduated from Tyler Junior College in 1966. He later graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with his undergraduate degree in 1968 and Baylor Law School with his Doctorate in Jurisprudence in 1971. Upon graduation, Judge Skeen returned to Tyler where he and his wife, Barbara raised their two sons, Jack, III and Carter.
More recently, Judge Skeen was honored by resolution of the Smith County Commissioner’s Court approving the re-naming of the Smith County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The resolution read in part “Judge Skeen has served dutifully and with distinction with the City of Tyler, Smith County and the State of Texas for more than 50 years.” During Commissioner’s Court, Debby Gunter, the incoming 241st District Court Judge, presented the resolution re-naming the building the Jack M. Skeen Jr. Emergency Operations Center of Smith County.
The resolution also called Skeen a leader and mentor for many in the legal and law enforcement professions. The resolution further read "Judge Skeen has taken an oath that has not been broken and has kept faith with the public he has so honorably served." Gunter said this unselfish service deserves recognition as very few public servants give this level of service and commitment to the same community.
Over the years, Judge Skeen has received numerous honors during his service as District Attorney and State District Judge. Of these awards, one of the most prestigious was being selected by the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association and Criminal Justice Section of the State Bar of Texas as "Prosecutor of the Year – 1997".
In addition, Judge Skeen was recently selected to receive the Justinian Award in 2023, which is the highest honor given by the Smith County Bar Association. This prestigious lifetime achievement award is bestowed each year on a Smith County attorney who exemplifies integrity, legal ethics, leadership, service to the community, and service to the legal profession. Those honored with this award are truly "role models for the bar," a person who others in the bar seek to emulate, who is admired and respected by all, and who brings pride to the legal profession.
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