Executive Director’s Page
It’s Past Time to Reckon With Racial Injustice
Ever since the Memorial Day killing of Houston’s George Floyd in the
custody of Minneapolis police and the ensuing protests across the
country, our nation has been called anew to wrestle with its shameful
history of violence against and mistreatment of black Americans and
other people of color. It is past time that we truly reckon with these
issues if we are to move forward together toward a better future and a
more perfect union.
Some moments call for people of conscience to take a stand. These moments transcend politics and challenge us to unite in our shared humanity. I believe this is one of those moments.
In that spirit, I joined 2019-2020 State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels in issuing a statement on June 9 reinforcing the State Bar’s commitment to the rule of law, including the constitutional rights of free speech and peaceful protest and the principle that all people are entitled to equal justice under law.
We, as lawyers, take an oath to defend the constitutions of this state and of the United States. That is what makes our profession different from any other. We must always work to do better in all we do, not only as lawyers, but more importantly as people. We must always listen. We must always see. We must always learn. We must always grow. And we must always acknowledge. Our voices, and indeed our courage, will be needed in the days and weeks ahead as our state and nation form solutions.
Here are a few ways you can help right now:
Volunteer to help people with legal needs related to the coronavirus pandemic at probonotexas.org/covid. Research has indicated the pandemic is disproportionately affecting communities of color.
Let us know your thoughts on additional actions the State Bar of Texas can take consistent with its statutory purposes by contacting us at texasbar.com/contactus.
State Bar Lawsuit Update
On May 29, Judge Lee Yeakel, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, granted the State Bar’s cross-motion for summary judgment in McDonald v. Sorrels, in which three lawyers sued the State Bar, challenging the requirement that they join the State Bar and pay mandatory dues in order to practice law. The plaintiffs have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. “We are very pleased with Judge Yeakel’s measured and thoughtful decision. Almost six decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent supports the constitutionality of the unified bar structure,” President Sorrels said in a statement. “This is reinforced by the recent decisions of the court to deny the plaintiffs’ petitions for certiorari in Fleck v. Wetch and Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin challenging mandatory membership in the state bars of North Dakota and Wisconsin. The State Bar of Texas is carrying out its statutory obligations by regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services in Texas.”
You may have noticed a subtle redesign when you received your June issue of the Texas Bar Journal. Working with the Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors, we made the design cleaner and more modern with easier-to-read fonts, an open and inviting look achieved by adding more white space, and a new logo. The logo—emphasizing the initials TBJ—reflects what many people already called the Texas Bar Journal and reinforces the brand in the digital space. (The website is texasbar.com/tbj and the digital magazine edition is at texasbar.com/digitaltbj.)
While the Journal’s design has changed, it continues to feature all the content our readers have come to know and enjoy. Let us know what you think at my email address above.