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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

R.I.P. Joe Jamail

"At the end of trial Thursday, Ferguson got in a shouting match with a young attorney on the defense team who stood up in the gallery and accused him of misstating the record. After Judge Floyd recessed and left the courtroom, the attorney stepped forward. Jamail got in his face. “You’re not lead counsel, so you sit your ass down!” Barger moved between them. “Darrell, you tell him to shut his ass up or I’ll kick the s--t out of him!” Without blinking, the young attorney returned to the gallery.
Afterward, outside the courthouse, Edwards apologized.
'Who the f--- was he?” demanded Jamail.
'One of our appellate attorneys.'
'He looked like a f---ing appellate attorney,' said Jamail."
- See more at: http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/the-greatest-lawyer-who-ever-lived/#sthash.dM3REBMl.dpuf

Except for that lawyer he lost to in his second trial, which was in Fort Worth, the only lawyers who ever every seriously messed with him were bankruptcy and appellate lawyers.

Last in his class at UT Law, Jamail won what was the largest monetary judgment in history at that time. When Percy Foreman had a disciplinary dispute with the State Bar, he hired a very, very young lawyer to represent him-- you guessed it-- Joe Jamail. 

Joe had only one marriage which ended only at his wife's death. I can't find the quote, but he said something like Lee's the one who loved him when he didn't have any money.

H/t to Mike Higgins

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Queen of Qualifications, Mary Lou Keel, Is Ready to Rise

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Larry Meyers must be a strange cat. He was the first Republican of the wave that washed over the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. And then he switched to the Democratic party to run for the Texas Supreme Court, and having not succeeded there, he now defends his seat as the only Democrat not only on his court, but as the only statewide Democrat in Texas.
Mary Lou Keel, presiding judge of Houston's 232nd Judicial District Court, believes that this is her moment.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is an appellate court. Unhappy litigants in criminal court and people claiming that they are illegally imprisoned send papers to the court, and it orders relief or doesn't. Some of the most important work that it does is to write opinions that not only decide cases, but also guide Texas's criminal courts how to do all their cases. These opinions interpret the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States, former opinions of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and Texas statutes among many other authorities. And yet, in this most scholarly and intellectual of Texas criminal courts, prospective judges are sometimes not the strongest scholars.
But this doesn't apply to Judge Keel. She started her career as a briefing attorney for the First Court of Appeals in Houston, an intermediate appellate court. Then she spent eight years as a Harris County prosecutor, first as a trial lawyer, than an appellate lawyer. While she was there, she became board certified in criminal law, which puts her in the specialization elite. After that, she's spent the last two decades-- more actually-- on her bench. And she's no ordinary judge, she's the wiretap judge for the Second Administrative Judicial District. For pro bono work, she does Spanish translations to support Cuban dissident journalists and bloggers.
Poor woman, she grew up in Austin and went to undergraduate school and has lived the rest of her life in the Houston area-- backwards from what I would think is luck.
What bad things do her adversaries say about her? That her husband is a Democrat.
She is a clever, tough campaigner, showing on her candidate website that she's done hundreds of appeals while her adversaries' appeal counts are in the single digits, that she's been a felony judge longer than her adversaries, that she's been a specialist longer than the one of her adversaries who's also a specialist. The one thing that seems conspicuously absent is experience as a defense counsel.
She's an introvert, a little awkward with strange reporters, but of everybody I know who's worked with her closely-- they all love her: former Harris County prosecutors Colleen Barnett (now a realtor), Celeste Blackburn (now a Board Certified Criminal Law specialist in Conroe, Texas), and Brett Ligon (elected Montgomery County District Attorney).
Her Republican adversaries are Ray Wheless and Mr. Chris Oldner.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sid Harle, Long Time San Antone Judge with Many Achievements, Runs for CCA Place 5

Sid L. Harle runs for Texas's Court of Criminal Appeals Place Five to replace retiring Judge Cheryl Johnson. He's been judge of the 226th Judicial District Court in San Antonio since 1988. Has been unopposed since 1990. He was formerly the Chair of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is the kind of job they don't choose chumps for. His background primarily was as a Bexar County Assistant District Attorney, though he had time as a defense lawyer. He has been an adjunct professor at St. Mary's Law School for more than 20 years. He was the judge who supervised the exoneration of Michael Morton, touching Morton and many onlookers with his insistence that enough people had been looking down on Morton long enough, and climbing down from the bench to hand him his exoneration papers. With Red McCombs as a major supporter, his campaign should be well-financed.
Harle is a shy man, who seemed uncomfortable telling me, a stranger, about his accomplishments. The oldest judicial photograph of him here shows a wary man, and each later one shows a man more and more comfortable in his own skin.
Running against Harle as Republicans is Williamson County Assistant District Attorney Brent Webster, somebody named Steve Smith, and another named Scott Walker. A Betsy Walker will run for the Democrats.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Candidates for Texas's Court of Criminal Appeals

Texas's highest criminal court has three openings this election season.
Place Two is presently held by Larry Meyers, who pioneered Republicans' being on the court switched parties last cycle to become the only Democrat holding statewide office in Texas. He runs for reelection as a Democrat. The Republicans vying to challenge him are Houston state District Court judge Mary Lou Keel, Collin County District Judge Mr. Chris Oldner, and Collin County District Judge Ray Wheless. Collin County, county seat McKinney, is a suburban county just north of Dallas, except for the tiny part of Dallas which is in the county.
Cheryl Johnson is retiring out of Place Five on the Court. Republicans seeking to replace her are: San Antonio District Judge Sid Harle, Williamson County prosecutor Brent WebsterSteve Smith, a successful advocate in Hopwood v. Texas in which the Fifth Circuit struck down reverse racial discrimination at UT-Austin until the United States Supremes reversed it- he also won a partial term as a Texas Supreme Court justice, also a Tarrant County lawyer named Scott Walker is running. Somebody named Betsy Johnson, apparently from San Antonio, has signed up to run as a Democrat.
Judge Michael E. Keasler runs for reelection in Place Six. Richard Davis, the Richard Dean Davis from last cycle is running against him for the nomination. . A Robert Burns, apparently from Dallas, will run as a Democrat.