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April 17, 2023
Contact: The Honorable Lora J. Livingston (Ret.) | 512-427-1855



Champions of Justice Gala to Benefit Legal Aid for
Texas Veterans 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25

AUSTIN – The Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans is an annual event to raise awareness about the need for civil legal aid among low-income Texas veterans. Since its inception in 2010, the Gala has raised in excess of $5.3 million to address that need.

This year’s featured speaker for the Macey and Harry Reasoner Access to Justice Lecture Series will be Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas, the longest-serving member of that court and the longest-tenured Texas judge in active service. The chief justice leads the Supreme Court of Texas’s efforts to ensure that Texans living below the poverty level or with limited means have access to basic civil legal services. As a nationally recognized expert on access to justice issues, Chief Justice Hecht speaks on the subject with authority attained from experience, knowledge honed from study, and compassion cultivated by understanding.

This annual event is sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Commission and the State Bar of Texas. Co-chairs for the 2023 event are Jerry K. Clements with Locke Lord LLP in Austin; Elizabeth Gibson with Toyota Motor North America, Inc. | Toyota Legal One in Plano; Monica Karuturi with CenterPoint Energy in Houston; David R. McAtee II with AT&T Inc. in Dallas; Richard Warren Mithoff with Mithoff Law in Houston; Ross R. Moody with the Moody Foundation in Austin; Stephen C. Mount with H-E-B in San Antonio; Marie Yeates with Vinson & Elkins LLP in Houston; and Carlos M. Zaffirini, Jr. with Audrey & Carlos Zaffirini, Jr. Family Foundation in Austin. Harry M. Reasoner, of Vinson & Elkins LLP, serves as gala chair and chair emeritus of the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

During the event, three awards will be presented.

The James B. Sales Boots on the Ground Award recognizes a legal services program attorney or pro bono attorney who is an exemplary advocate and gives selflessly of their time and talent to provide legal help to low-income Texans. This year, the James B. Sales Boots on the Ground Award will be presented to two individuals: Victor L. Hunt, of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and Maureen O’Connell, of Disability Rights Texas.

The Harry M. Reasoner Justice for All Award is named after Texas legal icon and Texas Access to Justice Commission Chair Emeritus Harry Reasoner. This award recognizes an outstanding attorney who demonstrates dedication and commitment to providing pro bono legal services and promoting a culture of pro bono within the Bar. The Harry M. Reasoner Justice for All Award will be presented to Thomas S. Leatherbury, who currently directs the First Amendment Clinic at SMU Dedman School of Law.

The Emily C. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award reflects the highest honor given for a career dedicated to supporting legal aid for low-income Texans. This award, named for the first executive director of the commission, recognizes an outstanding individual whose extraordinary spirit and demonstrated commitment to legal aid has improved our society and inspired others. The Emily C. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Betty Balli Torres, who has worked for 22 years as the executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Sponsorships and individual tickets are available for purchase at

What: Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans

When: Tuesday, April 25
6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Dinner

Where: The Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78701

The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit

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