News From Around The Bar

CCA Hears Oral Arguments at Austin College

For the second time in the past six years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard oral arguments in two cases at Austin College in Sherman during the annual Dr. Kenneth W. Street Law Symposium. Brownlow v. State from Kaufman County was a death penalty case with issues as to whether the defendant was intellectually disabled and, thus, exempt from the death penalty; and, also, whether the introduction of certain evidence and argument by the state violated the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights. Watkins v. State from Navarro County was a possession of controlled substance case with an issue as to the meaning and scope of materiality within the Michael Morton Act. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, of the Western District of Texas in Austin, was the luncheon speaker and 12 lawyers and judges throughout the state discussed ethical issues in criminal cases from the perspectives of judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers.


Above, from left: State Bar of Texas Past President Buck Files, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Barbara Hervey, and State Bar of Texas Past President Frank Stevenson.



Texas Access to Justice Commission Seeks Support

The statewide Justice for All Campaign funds civil legal aid organizations that work to preserve the rule of law and fairness in our justice system. Each year, lawyers are asked to make a $150 Access to Justice contribution on their dues statement. Last year, more than 10,000 lawyers donated more than $1.3 million in ATJ contributions. For thousands of Texans, these donations can open the doors of justice—a wrongful eviction in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is averted, desperately needed medical care is secured, rightfully earned wages are obtained, and, occasionally, someone’s life is saved. Justice for all is not an abstract ideal—it’s a way of life. Show your strong support by donating at donate.texasatj.org. For more information, contact Trish McAllister at (512) 427-1862 or tmcallister@texasatj.org.



Center for Legal Ethics seeks nominations for professionalism award

The Texas Center for Legal Ethics seeks nominations for the 11th annual Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award. The award, which will be presented in September, is given to an active or retired appellate lawyer or appellate judge who epitomizes the highest level of professionalism and integrity. The award honors former Chief Justice Jack Pope, who was one of the three founders of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and was the first recipient of the award in 2009. Nominations are being accepted through May 1 and should include a one-page explanation of the nominee’s qualifications and biography. To submit a nomination, email jonathan.smaby@texasbar.com, fax (512) 427-4125, or mail to Texas Center for Legal Ethics, 1414 Colorado, 4th Fl., Austin 78701.



Bishop Lynch High School Wins Texas High School Mock Trial Competition

The team from Bishop Lynch High beat more than 25 high school teams to win the mock trial competition on March 2 at the George L. Allen Sr. Courts Building in Dallas. The teams argued a hypothetical criminal court case that was written by attorneys from the Dallas Bar Association. Judges and attorneys served as jurors and also selected the teams who best prepared and demonstrated exceptional presentation skills. Students served as prosecution, defense attorneys, and witnesses. The teams emerged as the best among their school districts and regions and competed March 2, culminating in a final round, which was won by the Bishop Lynch team. One Day Academy, of Austin, placed second while Regents School of Austin and Lubbock High School were semifinalists. Bishop Lynch will represent Texas at the 2019 National High School Mock Trial Competition in Athens, Georgia, May 16-18.



TBLS Inducts Attorneys and Paralegals

Two hundred and sixty-six attorneys and 35 paralegals were certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or TBLS, during its annual induction ceremony at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on March 1 in Austin. The freshly certified attorneys and paralegals represented myriad areas, including family law, criminal law, and oil and gas law. The ceremony also certified the first group of attorneys in child welfare law and property owners association law. The new inductees class is an increase from 2018’s 194 attorneys and 30 paralegals. Awards were also presented, including the Tom Garner Award to former TBLS Chair David Dickson and the John F. Sheehy, Jr. Distinguished Attorney Award to recently retired Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson. Justice Jeff Brown delivered the keynote address, advising attorneys to treat everyone from legal secretaries to baristas with respect, to take care of themselves, and respect the beliefs of others. “Congrats to you,” Brown said. “Welcome to the rank of the board certified.”TBJ

 

 

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