Open Records Reveal Personality Clashes, Power Struggle at Thurgood Marshall

One of Texas’s public law schools has reeled during the past year under the stress of a censure from the nation’s law school accreditor, exacerbated by personality clashes between leaders of the law school and central university.

A series of bad publicity has unveiled problems within Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. The first problem became public in July 2017, when the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which accredits law schools, issued censures against the school for violation of an anti-discrimination accreditation standard, as well as multiple academic standards. Another round of negative press hit in October 2017, when TSU President Austin Lane abruptly canceled a law student organization’s event, which drew rowdy, disruptive protesters. The fiasco—participants said the university violated their free speech—was quickly followed by the resignation of interim law school dean James Douglas.

Documents obtained through a Texas Public Information Act Request reveal details pertaining to personality clashes and power struggles between Lane and Douglas. Interviews with Douglas and former dean Dannye Holley provide more insight about what happened behind the scenes, before and after the ABA’s censures.

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PDF: Open Records Reveal Personality Clashes, Power Struggle at Thurgood Marshall _ Texas Lawyer

Justice Sotomayor Visiting Houston to Discuss Legal Education

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is visiting Houston on Jan. 26 to answer law students’ questions about her life story and sit down with a law professor for a talk about the role of legal education.

Sotomayor’s visit to the University of Houston Law Center will put her face to face with law and pre-law students, who submitted advance questions and will listen as law dean Leonard Baynes moderates a discussion with the Justice about the students’ queries. As Sotomayor has done at past events, it’s likely she will walk among the students in the law classroom during her talk. Students will enjoy that personal touch, Baynes said.

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PDF: Justice Sotomayor Visiting Houston to Discuss Legal Education _ Texas Lawyer

In the Persona of His Toyota, Texas High Court Judge Tweets Away

CamryofJustice

Most people already know about judicial Twitter sensation Don Willett, the Texas Supreme Court justice whom the U.S. Senate confirmed in mid-December for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

But here’s a lesser-known voice in the Twittersphere from the Lone Star State’s highest court: Justice Jeffrey Brown’s Camry. That’s right. His Toyota Camry @CamryofJustice.

The 14-year-old car with the Twitter handle “Camry of Justice” has belonged to Brown since he bought it at CarMax in Houston in 2012. Dubbed the “CoJ” for short, the XLE model “with a sweet V6” (according to its Twitter bio) could be the only car owned by a judge on Twitter. Tweeting from the Camry’s perspective since 2014, Brown writes about his journeys across Texas to meet with lawyers, to speak at legal education seminars or to appear at campaign events. The car, which just crested 212,000 miles, is so beloved on #appellatetwitter that lawyers on the road ask Brown about it first thing when they see him, and seem disappointed if he has flown to his destination rather than driven the Camry.

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PDF: In the Persona of His Toyota, Texas High Court Judge Tweets Away _ Texas Lawyer

Lawyer Convicted of Forging Millionaire’s Will Faces Disbarment

JohnYoung

A West Texas lawyer who was convicted of forging a will to steal the estate of a multimillionaire now faces disbarment, while also seeking a new trial in his criminal case.

John Stacy Young of Sweetwater, currently incarcerated in the Tom Green County Jail in San Angelo, is arguing in a motion for new trial that a new witness has come forward saying her ex-husband, another Sweetwater lawyer, actually forged the multimillionaire’s will. Young pleaded not guilty in the case.

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PDF: Lawyer Convicted of Forging Millionaire_s Will Faces Disbarment _ Texas Lawyer

New Disciplinary Committee Members Appointed by SCOTX and State Bar

The new year has brought a new procedure for changing attorney disciplinary rules and the referendum process that gives lawyers the vote on rule changes.

The Texas Supreme Court and State Bar of Texas have appointed members to the new Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda, which the Texas Legislature created last year in Senate Bill 302. That legislation—the bar’s sunset review bill—also spelled out a new way for the committee to draft rule changes, take feedback from lawyers and seek approval from the state bar and supreme court.

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PDF: New Disciplinary Committee Members Appointed by SCOTX and State Bar _ Texas Lawyer

Texas Law School Enrollment Outpaces National Percentage Growth

The size of this year’s entering class at Texas law schools rose by 4 percent this year compared to last, but total enrollment numbers for 2017 still dropped by 0.3 percent.

Legal educators closely watch the size of the first-year class, since it has financial implications for a law school for the next three years. There were 2,199 first-year law students at the 10 Texas law schools in the Fall of 2017, which is 89 students more than the Fall of 2016.

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PDF: Texas Law School Enrollment Outpaces National Percentage Growth _ Texas Lawyer

Houston-area Courts Crippled by Hurricane Harvey

Pummeled by Hurricane Harvey, federal and state courts along the Texas Gulf Coast have closed their doors and suspended all operations, grinding to a near halt one of the busiest jurisdictions in the country.

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PDF: Houston-area Courts Crippled by Hurricane Harvey _ Law