News From Around The Bar October 2021
Dallas Bar Announces Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn as Inaugural DBA
Jurist of the Year
The Dallas Bar Association has named Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, as the inaugural recipient of the DBA’s Jurist of the Year Award. Lynn will receive her award at the DBA’s Bench Bar Conference in Horseshoe Bay, which is scheduled for November. Lynn was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in March 1999. She was confirmed in November 1999. Lynn became chief judge of the court in May 2016, being the first woman to hold the position. The award was established to honor judges who make significant contributions to the legal community in North Texas and demonstrate high ideals, exemplary personal character, and judicial competence. The award will henceforth be known as the Barbara M.G. Lynn Jurist of the Year Award. Lynn was recognized for her dedication to the betterment of the legal profession. “I have thought for a long time there is more we can do to honor our judiciary,” DBA President Aaron Tobin said in a press release. “For those of us who practice in our Dallas courts, we know how fortunate we are to have—at both the state and federal level—one of the strongest benches in the country. Our judges not only work tirelessly in the courtroom but also spend considerable time giving back to the profession and to our community. To create an award that honors and recognizes the great work of our outstanding judges is a natural thing for the Dallas Bar Association to do.” For more information about the Dallas Bar Association, go to dallasbar.org.
Texas Access to Justice Foundation receives $20 million grant to provide
COVID-19-related housing legal services
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, or TAJF, received a $20 million Housing Stability Services Program grant package from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for COVID-19-related housing legal services. The grant will allow legal aid organizations throughout Texas to provide free civil legal services to eligible households experiencing housing insecurity. Services include offering housing stability clinics to assist COVID-19-impacted low-income households in applying for the Texas Rent Relief Program or Texas Eviction Diversion Program and providing legal information and representation for low-income households in COVID-19-related eviction proceedings in justice of the peace courts and eviction appeals in county courts. “We are so grateful to have received invaluable funding through the Housing Stability Services Program to help Texans still suffering in the fallout of the pandemic, especially for those dealing with the loss of their homes,” TAJF Executive Director Betty Balli Torres said in a press release. “The need for legal services remains high, and this grant will allow our legal aid organizations to continue doing critical legal services to keep families in their homes.” Grant funds are provided through the U.S. Treasury Department Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Legal services qualifying under the grant include eviction defense, help accessing local and state rental assistance, and other legal services that keep Texans in stable housing. To access legal help with COVID-19-related housing issues, go to TexasLawHelp.org/eviction-information.
Committee seeks public comments on proposed ethics opinion
The Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas is accepting public comments on the following proposed ethics opinion through October 16: Proposed Opinion 21-3—Do the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit a lawyer who is employed by a nonprofit agency that provides legal services to clients from requesting that, as part of the client intake process, a client sign a consent authorizing the lawyer to reveal a client’s confidential information in response to future requests by third-party grantors or their grant administrators? Go to texasbar.com/pec and click on “Public Comment” to read the proposed opinion and provide comments.
2021 Texas Gavel Awards winners announced
Journalists representing Texas Monthly, The Texas Tribune, San Antonio Express-News, and Austin’s KXAN-TV were selected as winners of the 2021 Texas Gavel Awards. Hosted by the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee, the awards honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system. An independent panel of out-of-state journalists, editors, and journalism professors judged the entries. The winners include: Print—Major Metro: Michael Hall, of Texas Monthly; Print—Non-Metro: Emilie Eaton, of the San Antonio Express-News; Broadcast—Major Metro: KXAN’s Catalyst team—Josh Hinkle, David Barer, Arezow Doost, Chris Nelson, Eric Henrikson, Robert Sims, and Rachel Garza; and Online-Only: Emma Platoff, formerly of The Texas Tribune. For more information, go to texasbar.com/gavelawards.
Texas Office of Court Administration selects vendors to support
statewide Uniform Case Management System
The Texas Office of Court Administration has selected three vendors to support the new statewide Uniform Case Management System, or UCMS— Icon Software, iDocket, and Tyler Technologies. UCMS is an opt-in system aimed at supporting Texas counties with a population less than 20,000, which equates to more than half of the state’s counties. Counties will be able to choose one of the three vendors to access UCMS. The system is free to counties and supported by more than $30 million in state appropriations to OCA. “Once implemented, the system will close critical information gaps and provide immediate access to court information to our clerks and magistrates,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht said in a press release. For more information, go to txcourts.gov/programs-services/uniform-case-management-system/. TBJ