Pin and Win: State Bar of Texas Pinterest challenge starts today

What does a Texas lawyer want for the holidays? Office accessories? Travel gear? A comfy sweatshirt? Log on to Pinterest and show us!

We’re looking for law-related gift lists—things you want, need, or would like to share with others—for our State Bar of Texas Holiday Wish List Pinterest Challenge. Simply create a Pinterest board with your favorite State Bar merchandise and law-related goods and you could win one of the State Bar-branded items pinned there!

Guidelines

To enter the challenge, you must:

-Be a member of the State Bar of Texas in good standing.

-Follow the State Bar of Texas Pinterest account.

-Email a link to your board to hannah.kiddoo@texasbar.com.

-Create a board titled “Texas Lawyer Wish List” that includes:

1) A link to these official guidelines.

2) At least three items from the State Bar of Texas merchandise board that you would give to another lawyer or have in your dream office. Each pin should have a brief description of why you pinned it, along with the hashtag #TXLawyerWishList.

Judging

At the conclusion of the contest, which will run from Dec. 12 to midnight Dec. 19, a panel of judges will select the most creative and inspiring board and its creator will win one item from the State Bar of Texas merchandise board that is pinned to it.

 

44 kids find new families on Austin Adoption Day

There are more than 6,500 youth in Texas waiting to be adopted. On Nov. 6, 2014, 44 children—with ages ranging from one to 17 years—were welcomed into “forever families” during Austin Adoption Day at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center.

To celebrate the occasion, attendees were treated to a day of games, giveaways, and performances by entertainers. In addition to books, toys, and commemorative pieces, including ID jewelry engraved with the child’s new name and the date of the adoption, each family received a complimentary wills package from the Law Office of Fred A. Helms in Austin.

Adoption Day, now in its 13th year, is spearheaded by the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Bar Foundation in partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, CASA of Travis County, Partnerships for Children, Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center, the Travis County Office of Child Representation, and the Travis County Children’s Protective Services Board. Community partners, including Jim Kruger and Cook Walden Funeral Home, also contributed to the event.

 

Houston lawyers deliver anti-drug message

Continuing to build on the Interprofessional Drug Education Alliance Program established in 1992, attorneys from the Houston Bar Association are teaming up with area medical professionals to educate youth on the consequences of drug and alcohol use. On October 16, lawyers and physicians will provide information on the realities of drug and alcohol use—including the perils of youth entering the criminal justice system—to more than 1,500 fifth-grade students at 19 elementary schools. Since its founding, the IDEA Program has reached more than 70,000 Houston-area students.

Panel to focus on First Amendment opinions

Education and journalism leaders will discuss findings from the most recent “Future of the First Amendment” survey during a streamed session on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Panelists will include Carol Lange, director for the Journalism Education Association; Alan Weintraut, a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year; and Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute, will moderate the session.

The 2014 study, funded by the journalism- and media-focused John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, suggested a shift in student beliefs about the First Amendment. According to the findings, 24 percent of high school students think the amendment goes too far in guaranteeing the rights of religion, speech, press assembly, and petition; in 2004, 35 percent of surveyed students held that belief.

Among other points, the foundation also reported an increase in digital news consumption among students and found that a majority oppose businesses tracking their online searches. The national survey of 10,463 high school students and 588 teachers was the fifth in a series that has been conducted by the foundation over the past 10 years.

The panel will be streamed at newseum.org/streaming. To access the survey results, go to knightfoundation.org/firstamendment.

Students, TEX-ABOTA celebrate Constitution Day

Dozens of high school students gathered at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 17, filling seats in the chambers of the Texas House of Representatives in recognition of Constitution Day. The Texas Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates invited the 11th- and 12th-grade students, who represented public and private schools across the state, to attend the annual James Otis Lecture series, developed by ABOTA to educate students on the U. S. Constitution.

The day included a college-level address from Nathan Allen, author of Arsonist: The Most Dangerous Man in America, which is a biography of the lecture’s namesake—early-American lawyer James Otis Jr.—who supported the initiation of the American Revolution.

Allen’s message to the students touched on juryless trials, writs and general warrants, and the Fourth Amendment, among other issues.

Similar sessions are taking place across the nation this week. For more information, go to abota.org.

 

Gavel Awards presented and court access discussed during FOIFT conference

Journalists and legal professionals converged on Friday, Sept. 12, at the Hilton in downtown Austin to discuss public access to courts, social media use in open government, and new laws and best practices involving the Texas Public Information Act, as part of the 2014 Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas sponsored the event.

The opening panel—moderated by Tom Williams, partner at Haynes and Boone and FOIFT vice president—included Elisabeth Earle, Travis County Court At Law judge; Joe Shannon, Tarrant County district attorney; and Joel White, First Amendment attorney and FOIFT board member and provided a lively conversation on “Rights, Roadblocks and the Public’s Access to the Courts.”

 

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Scholarship luncheon to benefit Hispanic law students

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Houston for its annual scholarship luncheon, which provides financial support to six law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice, and equality. Each Houston-based law school selects two scholarship recipients.

“It is important that we encourage a new generation of lawyers to not only be great lawyers but to also give back to the legal community,” said attorney Benny Agosto Jr., founder of the MABATx Foundation and partner in Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston.

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Texas community to celebrate historic courthouse renovation

Over the years, the Edwards County Courthouse in Rocksprings, Texas, has endured some tough times. In 1897, a fire gutted the building; in 1927, a deadly tornado struck town, causing additional structural damage and need for repair.

photo courtesy of Ashley Rupp, Edwards County

But 2010 brought a turn of luck.

That year, the courthouse, first constructed in 1891, was selected to receive a grant from the Texas Historical Commission through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. The $99,333 in funding, combined with an additional $1,334,814 major construction grant from the program in 2013, has allowed the photo courtesy of Ashley Rupp, Edwards Countystructure to be remodeled to its original splendor, and a rededication ceremony will celebrate the update over this year’s Fourth of July weekend.

Texas has more historic courthouses than any other state, and Edwards is one of dozens of counties that have benefited from the historic preservation initiative, which was established in 1999 by then-Gov. George W. Bush.

Rocksprings will commemorate the Edwards County Courthouse restoration at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 5 with a reception on the square’s south lawn. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 85th Annual Edwards County Fourth of July Celebration, which features a parade, live music, a rodeo, and a goat cook-off, among other activities.

For more information on the rededication, contact Debra L. Wolcott, chair of the Edwards County Historical Commission, at (713) 515-2780.

To learn more about the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, go to thc.state.tx.us/preserve.

Photos courtesy of Ashley Rupp, Edwards County

Texas attorney to moderate D.C. baseball panel

On Friday, May 30, Dallas attorney and author Talmage Boston will moderate a discussion titled “Let’s Talk Baseball” at the University Club of Washington in Washington D.C. The panel will feature U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, New York Times columnist David Brooks, ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, and Washington Post columnist George Will.

Boston, who initially spearheaded the event partially by following up with connections to Alito and Brooks that he developed during State Bar of Texas Annual Meetings, anticipates that the talk will include topics ranging from baseball heroes to instant replay.

The panel, which is a Great Washington Writers Series event, begins at noon. Signed copies of Boston’s book Baseball and the Baby Boomer and Will’s book A Nice Little Place in the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred will be available.

Tickets for the public are $80. The conversation will be filmed and aired on C-SPAN on Monday, June 2 at 8 p.m. EST.

For more information, go to washingtonwritersseries.org.

 

Sixth Annual Atticus Finch Day scheduled for May 2 in Bryan

What is so special about Atticus Finch? He’s a fictional man who existed as little more than a figment of author Harper Lee’s imagination (unless you count actor Gregory Peck, who played Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird). Yet, Finch has a strong hold on numerous attorneys around Texas and the United States. His compassion, composure, and honor are forever present in the minds of readers, especially those lawyers who share Finch’s profession and have been deeply inspired by his character in and out of the courtroom.

With many having such noble aspirations, and such a perfect role model in Finch, it is at times surprising that lawyers have a bad reputation among some of the public. According to Shane Phelps, a criminal defense attorney in Bryan, Brazos County’s legal community was once “fractured and divided” and the subject of “considerable public contempt and ridicule.” “Scandals, personal animosities, and political rivalries made the courthouse a pretty unpleasant place to be,” said Phelps. “Lost in all of this was the important work that attorneys should be concentrating on.”

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President Obama remembers LBJ's gifts and flaws, says office of presidency is meant for improving American lives

President Barack Obama, delivering the keynote address of the Civil Rights Summit in Austin on Thursday, steered away from current civil rights concerns and legislative solutions and instead explored the man that was Lyndon Baines Johnson. While the president fell silent on gay marriage, equal pay for women, and immigration reform, he delved into LBJ’s childhood, time in the U.S. Senate, and characteristics as a “master of politics and the legislative process” who made possible the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Going back to LBJ’s early life in the Texas Hill Country, Obama explained that poverty was so common for LBJ’s family that they did not even know it had a name. “President Johnson had known the metallic taste of hunger; the feel of a mother’s calloused hands, rubbed raw from washing and cleaning and holding a household together,” said Obama. “His cousin Ava remembered sweltering days spent on her hands and knees in the cotton fields, with Lyndon whispering beside her, ‘Boy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living than this. There’s got to be a better way.’” LBJ used his determination and ambition to make a better life for himself, and, Obama said, it was this tenacity that benefited him later in life when trying to get Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill.

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Making America better: a look back at the movement that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Speakers for the Civil Rights Summit panel titled “Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views From the Front Line” stressed the importance of looking to the future. But their recounted experiences of the 1950s and 1960s served as an instrumental reminder to inform the present. Julian Bond, former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, and UN Ambassador Andrew Young—who all played important roles in the civil rights movement—spent the panel reflecting on their past despairs, fears, and victories, as well as their hopes for today’s generations.

Each of the panelists told their story of what it was like as active members of the civil rights movement. Lewis, who grew up in rural Alabama, said that his sharecropper parents had told him not to get into any trouble. But then he heard about the actions of Rosa Parks and listened to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “I saw signs and I didn’t like the signs I saw,” he said. “I got in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Lewis went on to help form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and lead the Bloody Sunday demonstration, all the while maintaining a philosophy of nonviolence, love, and peace. “When I got arrested the first time, I felt free. I felt liberated,” he said, noting that it was the civil rights movement that created the necessary environment to make the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possible. “The March on Washington, I think, was one of the finest hours. It was a sea of humanity.”

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Immigration reform discussed during LBJ Civil Rights Summit

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson approved a law that changed the quota system for immigration, signing the Immigration and Nationality Act on New York’s Liberty Island. During the first day of the LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Julián Castro, mayor of San Antonio, and Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor, discussed immigration reform in the 21st century, touching on the history and current state of immigration in the U.S. and examining opportunities for future updates.

Overall, the two leaders shared the belief that there is a need for realistic modifications in immigration policy, calling on government leaders to set aside politics for change.

“Pure and simple, it is in the best interest of America, economically and for other reasons, that we have immigration reform and that we take the 11 million people that are here and give them the opportunity to be here legally so that they, as the term is, ‘get out of the shadows,’” Barbour said.

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Team of Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys to bike almost 200 miles for charity

On April 12 and 13, more than 140 attorneys with Norton Rose Fulbright will strap on their helmets and pedal 180 miles from Houston to Austin to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is the law firm’s first year participating in the BP MS 150 charity event, which—with 13,000 participants—is one of North America’s largest bike rides to raise money for this immune-mediated disease that affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide.

The 147 Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys cycling next week come from two dozen of the firm’s offices from across the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and the Middle East. According to a press release from the firm, this amounts to the “biggest first-year team in the ride’s 30-year history.”

So far, the global firm has raised more than $100,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Contributions to the BP MS 150 as part of Norton Rose Fulbright’s team can be made at: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/NortonRoseFulbright. For more information, visit MS150.org.

SXSW Panel: Remixing, Mashups, and Copyright Law

Music and law experts explain how to reuse original compositions while staying in the legal clear. 

The take-away from the South by Southwest Music Festival panel titled “Remixing, Mashups, and Copyright Law,” was to play it safe when creating derivative musical works. Panelists included Christiane Kinney, musician and partner in the LeClairRyan law firm’s Los Angeles office; Sean Kinney, a music and film industry consultant; and Dean Serletic, head of marketing and licensing for Music Mastermind Inc. All three stressed to the audience of artists, producers, and a handful of attorneys to obtain a license if wishing to distribute a remix of an existing song or a mashup of several songs and/or videos. If the license is for using just a portion—however small or large—use just that part of the original and nothing more. And don’t even think about claiming the Fair Use Doctrine to support non-licensed remixes or mashups.

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AWA Houston announces award and scholarship recipients to honor trailblazing women attorneys, judges, and law students

On March 11, the Association of Women Attorneys – Houston will hold its third annual Premier Women in Law Luncheon to honor modern legal trailblazers. AWA Houston has announced the recipients of its Premier Women in Law Awards: Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman; 14th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Kem Frost; Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson; Ruthie White, managing partner in Jackson Lewis; Lauren Waddell, founder of Waddell Law Firm; and Susan Sanchez, corporate counsel and pro bono coordinator to Exxon Mobil Corporation.

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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.