Hecht, Brown take oaths at Texas Supreme Court ceremony

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justice Jeff Brown were sworn in Monday during a formal investiture ceremony at the Texas Capitol.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was on hand to administer the ceremonial oaths of office inside a crowded House Chamber. Scalia, who is responsible for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, has sworn in each of the past three Texas chief justices, including Hecht, Wallace Jefferson and Thomas Phillips.

Hecht, a longtime state Supreme Court justice, took office as chief justice Oct. 1 after Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to replace Jefferson, who left the court to return to private practice. Perry then appointed Brown, a justice on the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, to fill Hecht’s seat.

For photos of the event, and from the State Bar of Texas reception that followed, visit the State Bar’s Facebook and Flickr pages.

Proclamations help kick off National Pro Bono Celebration in Texas

Proclamations from Gov. Rick Perry and the Supreme Court of Texas helped the State Bar of Texas kick off its weeklong observance of the National Pro Bono Celebration on Monday.

Perry and the state Supreme Court signed proclamations encouraging Texans to observe the celebration, which is designed to focus attention on the need for pro bono legal services and commend attorneys who perform the work. The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service started the celebration in 2009, after the recession intensified the need for pro bono legal services.

“In 2012, Texas lawyers volunteered more than 2.4 million hours of pro bono work and donated an additional $13.26 million to providing legal assistance for low-income Texans,” Perry said in the proclamation. “Each year, a week in October is dedicated to recognizing those professionals who have stepped up to the plate and to encourage other lawyers to volunteer a portion of their time. The Lone Star State is well known for its hospitality, and these dedicated individuals are doing a great service to their communities and their state.”

During the celebration, the State Bar of Texas is promoting its new Care Campaign, a program designed to further empower Texas attorneys to provide pro bono services. The campaign offers practical training tools, interpreters for clients with limited English-language abilities, and access to malpractice insurance through a specialized network. The program includes a “Care Kit” with all of the resources local bar associations and legal organizations need to easily hold a legal advice clinic.

The national celebration is under way through Saturday and includes events in Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, Beaumont, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Texarkana, Tyler, and other Texas cities. A full list of Texas events is available here

Pictured: Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, left, and State Bar of Texas President Lisa M. Tatum stand with proclamations from the Supreme Court of Texas and Gov. Rick Perry encouraging Texans to observe the National Pro Bono Celebration this week.