Tell us what you think via @statebaroftexas, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 12487, Austin, TX 78711-2487. Letters addressed to the Texas Bar Journal may be edited for clarity and length and become the property of the magazine, which owns all rights to their use.
REOPEN THE COURTS FOR LIVE HEARINGS
The suspension of live hearings is a severe downgrade of Texan justice; a trial can be held over the internet but will justice be the result? Possibly but not likely.
The confrontation of hostile witnesses is the cornerstone of justice. But wouldn’t it be rather difficult for the trier of fact to observe whether or not a lying witness is “squirming” in his or her chair if the only thing which can be seen is the head of that witness on a screen? Or what if that off-site witness is giving testimony while surreptitiously referencing notes or taking cues from someone else?
What if there were service problems—legitimate or otherwise—with an electrical or internet connection in one of the multiple remote locations during the middle of a trial? Will mistrial become the rule and not the exception? More importantly, would the citizens keep faith in such a system? Or would that faith be compromised thereby inviting a slow descent into anarchy?
How would you feel if you were informed by a television screen that you were committed to a mental institution where the state had the authority to inject you with psychoactive drugs against your will? What if you were found guilty of a crime that you did not commit by a jury that you had never seen? Would you consider that just?
Those who would trade justice for security deserve neither. Accordingly, I respectfully make the constitutional demand that the courts are reopened for live hearings!
Roy Golsan, Grapevine
THE STATE BAR PRESIDENT MUST RESIGN
July 15, 2020
Dear Mr. Apffel:
As alumni of LeadershipSBOT, we collectively write to express deep
concern and disappointment related to State Bar of Texas President Larry
McDougal’s history of public comments regarding Black Lives Matter and
other social issues.
A 2019 State Bar survey indicated that as of last year, there were 21,697 minority attorneys in Texas. Minorities represent roughly one-fifth of the attorneys in Texas. It is our duty to ensure all voices of membership are heard, especially those of our Black colleagues.
Mr. McDougal framed his comments as “a legal opinion.” However, attorneys can commit malpractice and potentially be disbarred for incorrect legal opinions. Posting a wildly off-base, hate-fueled social media post grounded in conspiracy theories is not a proper response to a problematic legal opinion.
The SBOT president should be eager to fairly represent all Texas lawyers. We respectfully demand the following:
• Mr. McDougal immediately resign from the office of State Bar of Texas president and transition the role to the president-elect;
• The State Bar of Texas develop a proposed removal process that allows membership to remove an individual from State Bar office;
• Said proposal is distributed to membership on or before August 31, 2020; and
• The State Bar establish a chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer.