University of Houston Law Center dean resigns

University of Houston Law Center Dean Raymond T. Nimmer has resigned after successfully guiding the law school for the past seven years. Nimmer will take a one-year sabbatical during the next academic year and then return to the classroom. Associate Dean Richard M. Alderman will serve as interim dean during the national search for a new dean.

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Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation announce possible remedies for the legal aid funding shortfall creating risks for low-income Texans and the state

The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation hosted a news conference yesterday at the Texas State Capitol to emphasize the ongoing funding crisis in the Texas legal aid system. At the conference, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison to access to justice issues, announced a comprehensive legislative plan to address the funding crisis. In addition, a new economic impact study by The Perryman Group was announced.

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State Bar of Texas American Indian Law Section 2013 CLE Conference and Awards

The American Indian Law Section of the State Bar of Texas held this year’s CLE conference on Feb.8, 2013. This year’s conference featured expert speakers on the following topics of interest relating to American Indian law:

Gaming
Kimberly Kiplin, Former General Counsel, Texas Lottery Commission; Senior Counsel, Dykema Gossett. P.L.L.C., Austin, Texas 
            
Federal Indian Law Update: An overview of important federal Indian Law cases in 2012 and facing 2013
Ray Torgerson, Partner, Porter & Hedges, Houston; Chairman and Council Member, Texas State Bar American Indian Law Section

Ethics and Tribal Justice – A Look at the State Bar of Texas Grievance Governance System and its Use as a Template in Developing Ethical Guidelines in a Tribal Justice System
Gaines West, Partner, West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry, College Station; Council Member, Texas State Bar American Indian Law Section

Reburial and Repatriation
Brian Quintero
Senior Assistant County Attorney, Harris County Attorney’s Office

Eagle and Migratory Bird Laws as Applied to American Indians
Jay Hurst, Assistant Attorney General, State of Texas, Austin, Texas; Treasurer and Council Member, Texas State Bar American Indian Law Section

This year’s Indian Law Conference was blessed with the attendance and participation of Bill Voelker and Troy, both co-directors of SIA, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative, who brought with them a male golden eagle, Nuepi (which means “Tornado” in Comanche), and a female White Medicine Bird (a white red-tailed hawk), Wakiyah (which means "Carries Medicine Talk").

Every Indian Law Conference includes awarding the Tom Diamond Award of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is followed by an honoring ceremony featuring traditional Native American singing, drumming, and dancing. The award and honor ceremonies are always open to the public, especially moving and informative, and all are encouraged to attend this portion of the conference free of charge. This year’s honoring ceremony was presented by the Eagle Point singers and dancers, headed by Robbie Bass.

This year’s Tom Diamond of Excellence Award was presented to Ron Jackson, general counsel, Yselta del Sur (Tiguas), El Paso. The Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jay Hurst, assistant attorney general, Austin.

'I Love Texas Courthouses' Campaign Comes to Austin



The National Trust for Historic Preservation brought its “I Love Texas Courthouses” celebration to the State Capitol Wednesday. The event was part of a month-long campaign to highlight the importance of courthouses to Texas’ history, culture, and community.

At a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, officials displayed a giant heart and “love letter” that included the names of 1,000 courthouse admirers who went online (ilovetexascourthouses.org) to sign it. Texas has 235 active historic county courthouses — more than any state – but at least 75 of them need restoration. Preservation officials are encouraging individuals to go to the website and sign the letter, upload photos, and write personal stories about Texas courthouses.

In 1998 and again in 2012, the National Trust named Texas courthouses to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The Trust also added Texas’ historic courthouses to its portfolio of “National Treasures” — a distinction held by only 33 other historic resources in the nation.

The “I Love Texas Courthouses” celebration was among several Preservation Day events at the Capitol. Preservation Texas officials also announced their list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places. The list included the Duval County Courthouse, built in 1916, in the South Texas city of San Diego. You can learn more about the Most Endangered Historic Places here.

Gideon v. Wainwright 50th Anniversary Commemoration

On March 18, Texas will mark the 50th year of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring states to provide counsel to indigent defenders.

 A distinguished group of presenters will discuss the right to counsel in Texas, the lessons from Gideon, and the path forward. Featured speakers include the Honorable Sharon Keller, President of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Lydia Clay-Jackson, Senator Rodney Ellis, State Bar of Texas President Buck Files, professor Bruce Jacob, and a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice. View the full agenda.

The event is complimentary. A registration form can be mailed or faxed to TCDLA. Or you can register online at www.tcdla.com.

  • March 18, 2013, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. CST
  • State Capitol Extension Auditorium, 1400 S. Congress Ave.
  • The event will also be live-streamed
  • 1.75 CLE, 0 Ethics

The celebration is co-sponsored by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, State Senator Rodney Ellis, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Random Profile: Jason D. Schall, Dallas

Best thing about being a lawyer: Representing the United States of America.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? If only for a day, I’d have to say my wife. That would be a learning experience.

Favorite TV program: Breaking Bad (currently); The Wire (always).

If I had more time, I would: Spend it in the garage with my father.

How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? With so many new lawyers, the legal profession will have to diversify to remain prestigious. I expect to see more part-time lawyers.

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In Memoriam: Gib Walton of Houston

Gib Walton, past president of the State Bar of Texas and co-leader of Hogan Lovells' global Projects, Engineering, and Construction practice, died suddenly on Feb. 7, 2013.  
 
Walton served as State Bar of Texas president during 2007-2008. His initiatives as president included public education, building diversity in the profession, emphasizing the importance of helping lawyers with depression and mental health issues, and increasing support for legal services to the poor. Walton was an ardent supporter of access to justice issues, having served on the board of directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation from 2000 to 2006. He was also a past chair of the Texas Bar Foundation.

State Bar President Buck Files, the State Bar staff, and its volunteer leadership extend their thoughts and condolences to Gib’s wife, Martha, his family, and his many friends. 

Obituary: Houston Chronicle

Read Walton's June 2007 Texas Bar Journal profile [PDF].

TYLA President-elect candidates announced

The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) has named Alfonso Cabañas of San Antonio and Rebekah Steely Brooker of Dallas president-elect candidates. The individual receiving the most votes in an election this spring will serve as TYLA president from June 2014 until June 2015. Election results will be announced May 1. Read the full press release

Random Profile: Leon Barish, Austin

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next? 

Most important career lesson: I have tried to keep legal services affordable, which has resulted in longstanding loyal clients who appreciate what I do for them.

Bet you didn’t know: I swam 1.5 miles in San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park last summer in the 20th annual Sharkfest Alcatraz swim.

What kind of car do you drive? An all-electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf

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State Bar of Texas President, F.R. "Buck" Files, Jr., says fatal shooting of district attorney is beyond his comprehension

F.R. "Buck" Files, Jr., spoke with KLTV News of Tyler about the fatal shooting of Mark Hasse near a Kaufman County Courthouse on Thursday. He told KLTV, "On behalf of the lawyers of Texas, we extend our sympathies to his family and join with them in hoping that his killer is apprehended quickly and brought to justice." The full story is available on KLTV.com

Houston Bar Association volunteers help plant 1,100 trees

Members of the Houston Bar Association (HBA) and their families helped plant 1,100 trees at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. The event was a Houston Bar Association’s Lawyers Against Waste Committee project, and was part of the Houston Arboretum’s Arbor Day Celebration. HBA President, Brent Benoit (pictured below), had the idea for the project.

More than 300 HBA volunteers were on hand to help plant the trees, which were purchased from Doremus Native Plants through HBA member donations.



HBA President Brent Benoit