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Houston’s Response to Human Trafficking: Then and Now Challenges in Federal Sex Trafficking Prosecution Combatting Human Trafficking in Harris County: An Interview with Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia Harris County’s Battle Against Human Trafficking Using Civil Remedies



inside... Targeting Trafficking

Volume 50 – Number 2

September/October 2012

Human Trafficking In Houston

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contents Volume 50 Number 2

September/October 2012



FEATURES Trafficking 10 Targeting By Anne Chandler Response to Human 14 Houston’s Trafficking: Then and Now By Kendra Penry

in Federal Sex 18 Challenges Trafficking Prosecution By Sherri L. Zack and Ruben Perez



Human Trafficking 24 Combatting in Harris County: An Interview with Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia By Erika Anderson

County’s Battle 28 Harris Against Human Trafficking Using Civil Remedies By Linda S. Geffin

Texas College of Law 31 South Tackles Trafficking By Sheila Hansel

The Houston Lawyer


The Houston Lawyer (ISSN 0439-660X, U.S.P.S 008-175) is published bimonTHLy by The Houston Bar Association, 1300 First City Tower, 1001 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77002-6715. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. Subscription rate: $12 for members. $25.00 non-members. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Houston Lawyer, 1300 First City Tower, 1001 Fannin, Houston, TX 77002. Telephone: 713-759-1133. All editorial inquiries should be addressed to The Houston Lawyer at the above address. All advertising inquiries should be addressed to: Quantum/SUR, 12818 Willow Centre Dr., Ste. B, Houston, TX 77066, 281-955-2449 ext 16, www.thehoustonlawyer.com, e-mail: leo@quantumsur.com Views expressed in The Houston Lawyer are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the Houston Bar Association. Publishing of an advertisement does not imply endorsement of any product or service offered. ©The Houston Bar Association, 2012. All rights reserved.


September/October 2012


contents Volume 50 Number 2

September/October 2012

34 31


departments Message 6 President’s Houston Leads in Dark Statistic By Brent Benoit the Editor 8 From Let’s (Not) Get Political! By Keri D. Brown Lawyers 31 Houston Who Made a Difference

By Hon. Mark Davidson



Profile in Professionalism 33 AWalter P. Zivley Locke Lord LLP

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September/October 2012


president’s message

By Brent Benoit Locke Lord LLP

Houston Leads in Dark Statistic

The Houston Lawyer


ouston is a city that stands Houston is a hub for human trafficking. out in many admirable reYou may be surprised to hear that, but the spects. Houston leads in facts are undeniable. It is estimated that economic development, between 18,000 to 20,000 foreign nationmedical research, cultural al victims of human trafficking enter the diversity, and many other United States each year. There are many areas. Perhaps because of more domestic victims “Houston is a hub for our success, and maybe each year. One out of because we live in Texas, every 5 of these indihuman trafficking. we take pride in so many viduals come through You may be surprised to of Houston’s amazing Texas. It is estimated achievements that make that less than 1% of huhear that, but the facts are Houston unique, friendman trafficking victims undeniable. It is estimated ly, and prosperous. are rescued. Of those, apthat between 18,000 to Unfortunately, underproximately a quarter are neath the surface of all rescued in Texas, most of 20,000 foreign national of this success Houston them in Houston. victims of human trafficking leads in a shameful area: There are a number of human trafficking. Mayreasons why our city is enter the United States be you react to the subuniquely afflicted with each year. There are many ject of human trafficking this problem. We are like I once did. I used to a large city that is geomore domestic victims each think that it really cannot graphically close to a year. One out of every 5 be that bad. Human trafborder connecting us to of these individuals come ficking is a third world Mexico, Central Ameriissue, not an issue for ca, and South America. through Texas.” a world class city like We have a large port, inHouston. ternational airports, and a number of interA few months ago, I was at a Center for state highways that simplify the movement Houston’s Future workshop and attended of individuals in the human trafficking a presentation on the human trafficking trade. We have a large number of sexually problem in Houston. The facts were not oriented businesses feeding the demand only alarming, they were frankly stunning. for sex trafficking. Our agricultural and It became clear to me that we must raise ranching industry drives demand for inexawareness of this issue. pensive labor. 6

September/October 2012


Human trafficking occurs literally all around us. For example, the FBI reports that there are more than 120 active brothels in Houston. Many are in the same zip code as the Galleria. So while we shop with our families in a mall that symbolizes Houston’s success, literally down the street one of our greatest failures continues unabated and victims of human trafficking are repeatedly abused. This is a problem that is hidden, that people do not like to discuss, and that is frankly uncomfortable. Therefore, it slides under the radar, undetected by many of us. I was shocked when I learned the extent of the human trafficking problem in Houston, and as I talk to more people about it, I find the same reaction. Human trafficking is not only a profound moral issue, it is an affront to the civil liberties that make our nation great and that our profession has committed to protect. As a result, it is proper for the Houston Bar Association to raise awareness in our community so that we can each advocate for solutions that will stop this tragedy from proceeding any further in our community. We are not alone. American Bar Association president, Laurel Bellows, has announced that she will focus on mobilizing the legal community to pursue justice for victims. C.E. Rhodes, the new president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, will develop a public awareness campaign. Houston Mayor Annise Parker recently an-

nounced a new 10-member Committee on Human Trafficking charged with devising strategies and goals for a community-based awareness campaign to engage citizens in reporting and preventing this crime. We will do our part to educate our legal community. Here are some of the things that the HBA is doing this year to focus on the facts and legal realities of human trafficking. • Our Gender Fairness Committee sponsored a luncheon program in late September featuring a panel of leaders from law enforcement, rescue organizations and advocacy groups that examined the problem, discussed their roles in helping victims and prosecuting criminals, and suggested ways that individuals can get involved in assisting victims. • This issue of The Houston Lawyer is focused on human trafficking. It includes articles by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Harris County sheriff, and the Harris County attorney on their increased focus and successful prosecution of traffickers. The directors of local rescue organizations describe victims’ heartbreaking stories and their efforts to help them regain their lives. A law school reports on its clinical program to help victims. I hope you find it informative and thought provoking. • Our Continuing Legal Education Committee is planning an additional program later in the year that will focus on human trafficking issues. • Our annual Law & the Media seminar, which brings together journalists and attorneys to discuss topics of mutual interest, will have a component on human trafficking. I hope you will participate in the HBA, ABA, and TYLA programs addressing human trafficking. Most of all, I hope that this issue of The Houston Lawyer causes us to think actively about real solutions for this tragic problem that should not exist in our city.

Defending Texans Since 1994 Former Assistant United States Attorney Former Assistant District Attorney Founding Member of the National College of DUI Defense of Counsel Williams Kherkher LLP Law Offices of Ned Barnett

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September/October 2012


from the editor

By Keri D. Brown Baker Botts L.L.P.

Associate Editors

Julie Barry Attorney at Law

Angela L. Dixon Attorney at Law

Robert W. Painter Painter Law Firm PLLC

The Houston Lawyer

Don Rogers Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Jill Yaziji Yaziji Law Firm


Let’s (Not) Get Political!


he over 11,500 members of the Houston Bar Association have political beliefs as varied as they come. As the magazine of the HBA, The Houston Lawyer chooses to remain sensitive to those political beliefs, with a resulting policy that we do not publish articles that take political positions. That means that you will not read in our magazine an editorial supporting or opposing the controversial or divisive issues of the day. For example, we may publish an article on the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act1 (whether you refer to it as “healthcare reform” or “Obamacare”), but we would not publish an article touting the merits of one side of the debate and blasting the other side. When we receive proposed articles for publication, one of our review criteria is neutrality, or at least the ability to make the article neutral. If the proposed article does not pass this test, no matter how well written, it will not be published. Some of you rightfully may point out that there is nothing wrong with political debate. We agree. But The Houston Lawyer’s obligation is to inform and educate our members on interesting legal issues and we actively choose not to take political sides. One area where we are allowed to “get political” is in encouraging our members to vote. Before the next issue of The Houston Lawyer hits your desk, there will be another presidential (and congressional, state, and local) election. The Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments give most U.S. citizens the right to vote, and voter turnout in presidential election years typically exceeds 50% of the voting-age population. (Historic voter turnout on other federal election years typically hovers around 37% of the voting-age population.) Early voting in Harris County runs from October 22 through November 2, and election day is Tuesday, November 6. See you at the polls! Let’s turn to the subject of our special issue. Houston is making a concerted effort to raise awareness of and reduce human trafficking. On August 29 of this year, Mayor Annise Parker announced the creation of a tenmember Committee on Human Trafficking, formed to

September/October 2012


involve citizens in reporting and preventing human trafficking. The committee members include Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who participated in a Q&A in this issue of The Houston Lawyer to discuss the criminal impact of human trafficking in Harris County and the efforts his office is making to halt human trafficking; Naomi Bang of FosterQuan, LLP and an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law, who is leading the charge behind STCL’s human trafficking clinic, also featured in this issue; and committee chair Maria Trujillo, Executive Director of the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. Kendra Penry, director of programs for the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, contributes an article here describing the important work of the Coalition and their ongoing efforts to halt the spread of human trafficking. Penry’s article also provides an interesting historic overview of Houston’s involvement in, and attention to, this issue. You may find it surprising to know that Houston did not have an active human trafficking alliance prior to late 2004. Assistant United States Attorneys Ruben Perez and Sherri Zack contribute an article on the challenges that their office faces in dealing with victims of human trafficking on a federal level. Anne Chandler, director of the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, writes about the tools Tahirih is using in dealing with human trafficking on a local level. Finally, Linda Geffin, Senior Assistant County Attorney, writes about the creative tools the County uses to combat human trafficking, such as public nuisance lawsuits. The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board members Julie Barry and Erika Anderson performed remarkably in serving as guest editors of this special issue. The September/October issue historically must be pulled together in about a month, given that it is the first special issue of the bar year and requires bringing on board the new Editorial Board members and getting them up to speed. Julie and Erika took on the challenge, and the product of their hard work is ready for you. Endnote 1.

In fact, we published a legal trend on the Supreme Court’s opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius in our July/August 2012 issue.



Brent Benoit

Laura Gibson



David A. Chaumette

M. Carter Crow

First Vice President

Past President

Benny Agosto, Jr.

Denise Scofield

Second Vice President

Todd M. Frankfort

DIRECTORS (2011-2013)

Hon. David O. Fraga Neil D. Kelly

Alistair B. Dawson Brent C. Perry

Jennifer Hasley Daniella D. Landers

DIRECTORS (2012-2014) Warren W. Harris John K. Spiller

editorial staff Editor in Chief

Keri D. Brown Associate Editors

Julie Barry Robert W. Painter Jill Yaziji

Angela L. Dixon Don Rogers

Erika Anderson Suzanne Chauvin Jonathan C.C. Day Polly Graham Stephanie Harp Hon. Dan Hinde Chance McMillan Nick Nicholas Hon. Josefina Rendon Tamara Stiner Toomer

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By Anne Chandler

Targeting Trafficking d assiste Clients enter C Justice

Projec ap r o o t T e h t y b

t for t he



ouston is commonly and correctly cited as a national hub for human trafficking. While both the nativeborn and foreign-born can fall prey to traffickers, immigrants can find themselves with greater obstacles and fewer resources to enable them to escape. For the most vulnerable among us, Houston can be a hell rather than a haven.

Sadly, the scope of abuse and exploitation of women and girls seems to have no bounds. Many are compelled to drink or take drugs with clients at sleazy strip clubs and then forced to perform sexual services. They are forced to work in filthy, dangerous conditions or for bone-crushing long hours in debt peonage to try to discharge loans taken out by relatives for their “safe” passage to America. Default on the debt, which is somehow never paid off, is unthinkable because gangs watch and control the victim’s every move. And even if the victim could somehow escape, those same multinational gangs would order the death of her relatives back in her home country. Strip clubs and sweatshops are not the only settings for modern-day slavery. A woman or girl brought here by a wealthy foreign family can be at that family’s beck and call 24 hours a day as their nanny or servant, forbidden to leave the household, denied compensation, and relegated to a boiler room floor for sleep and table scraps for food. Or a woman may be brought to Houston to join an American fiancé, only to realize that he intended to enrich himself by confiscating all her money and pay, or worse, that he intended her merely to be his maid and personal prostitute, even “lending” her to his friends. I have supervised the representation of dozens of trafficking survivors. The vast majority has suffered horrendous forms of violence to ensure their servitude—from a slave being beaten viciously by her master for bringing back insufficient tips, to a mother forced to watch a video of her 13-yearold daughter being sexually molested and threatened by worse if the mother did not comply with the traffickers’ demands. The cruel common thread in these cases is that the abusers and traffickers—many of whom are actually American citizens or legal permanent

factory workers, restaurant workers, residents—use their victims’ lack of sales clerks or models. To distinguish a legal status, or the fact that the victims victim of “trafficking in persons” from are dependent on the perpetrator for a prostitute or a worker subject to abulegal status, as a control mechanism, a sive labor practices, Congress instructkind of “trump card” that keeps their ed judges, federal immigration officials victims silent and compliant. They and law enforcement to analyze wheththreaten to turn victims over to the poer force, fraud or coercion was used to lice, or report them to the Department subject an individual to involuntary of Homeland Security, or to withdraw servitude, peonage, debt bondage or or withhold filing the sponsorship paslavery. Congress defined “trafficker” pers that are needed to keep the victim broadly to include all those involved in legal status. Abusers and traffickin the recruitment, harboring, transers also keep victims isolated and deportation, provision or pendent. Victims are “Abusers and traffickers obtaining such servicoften unfamiliar with es. The TVPA enlisted American laws and take advantage of immigrant victims to come from countries and exploit the fear help prosecute their where the authorities traffickers. Victims are feared rather than and ignorance of their who are in the United trusted. Abusers and victims, so much so that States as a result of a traffickers take advansevere form of trafficktage of and exploit the even empty threats have ing in persons, who fear and ignorance of real coercive power would suffer extreme their victims, so much hardship (for example, so that even empty over their victims.” retaliation and re-trafthreats have real coerficking) if deported, and who coopercive power over their victims. ate with law enforcement investigaDespite such horrific evil, we can tions, are eligible for “T” visas. This take some comfort that this nation lifesaving legal protection gives vicis fighting back against this scourge. tims the safety and security they need Twelve years ago, Congress passed to recover from their trauma, and gives the Trafficking Victims Protection Act law enforcement the help they need to (TVPA), finding trafficking in persons put traffickers away. to be the “modern form of slavery” and Another legal mechanism avail“the largest manifestation of slavery able to victims of exploitation is the today,” and estimating that 700,000 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). persons annually are trafficked within With the 1994 passage and subsequent or across international borders. Subsere-authorizations of VAWA, Congress quent estimates from the Department established protections intended to of State have figured that up to 17,000 encourage immigrant victims without women and children are trafficked into legal status, or who depend on their the United States alone each year. abusers or the perpetrators of the The TVPA strengthened law enforcecrimes against them for legal status, to ment tools and established legal protecescape violence, report crimes, and cotions for immigrant victims to enable operate with the police without fearing law enforcement to successfully prosthat they will face automatic deportaecute those that lure women and girls tion. away from their home communities to These protections for VAWA victims unfamiliar destinations and into their include the “U” visa for non-citizen networks through false promises of victims who have suffered “substantial decent working conditions at relatively injury” as a result of certain particulargood pay as nannies, maids, dancers, thehoustonlawyer.com

September/October 2012


ly serious crimes enumerated by statute (including involuntary servitude), provided they agree to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator. By holding perpetrators accountable, the VAWA protections not only protect victims but also promote public safety, helping translate crime statistics into conviction statistics. Consider the situation of “Asma.”1 At her family’s urging, Asma accepted the marriage proposal of Farhan, a naturalized American citizen. Asma entered the United States on a fiancée visa and married within two months of arriving in Houston, in keeping with the terms of that visa. Asma’s home in America became her prison. Farhan strictly forbade her to leave the home without him. When Farhan discovered that Asma had enrolled in an English class without his permission, he physically abused her. She was punished again when, eight months pregnant, she tried to rearrange the furniture to cover


September/October 2012

the spot where her husband had earlier banged her head into the plastered wall. For these and other supposed “offenses,” she was forced to sleep on the porch on hot summer nights and awake to the tickle of cockroaches scurrying across her body. Farhan maintained his power by deliberately failing to file the necessary papers to change her legal status from fiancée to spouse. Thus, after she stayed beyond her initial visa term, he forced her to become “illegal.” She acquiesced because she had no support system in the United States and because he threatened to separate her from her child and send her back to Pakistan, an outcome that would bring unforgivable shame upon her family. Asma found help through a local nonprofit organization, Tahirih Justice Center, which helped her file an application for legal status independent of her husband, taking advantage of the protections afforded by VAWA. On May 16, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the VAWA Re-


authorization Act of 2012.2 If this bill becomes law, it would change some VAWA parameters, including elimination of the ability of a U visa-holder ever to become a legal permanent resident, except in narrow circumstances (where the perpetrator (1) was ultimately convicted of the same crime included in the U visa application, (2) was an immigrant from the same country as the victim, and (3) was deported prior to the expiration of the victim’s U visa). This would mean that U visa-holders who would be newly ineligible for legal permanent resident status would include any victim whose abuser, trafficker or perpetrator was charged with attempted murder but pled to a lesser crime; was a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or immigrant from any other country than the victim; or was put away for a jail term longer than the duration of the victim’s U visa. If the House bill becomes law, justice may come too late to save women like Asma.

Tackling the daunting challenge of human trafficking requires many resources. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act and Violence Against Women Act are currently the best available federal laws to protect victims of human trafficking. In addition to federal legislation, Houston is fortunate to have a network of nonprofit organizations that are collaborating and assembling resources to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking through educational initiatives. In the public realm, the Harris County District Courts’ innovative Girls Court is bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to support victims of child sexual trafficking while the Harris County Attorney’s Office is creatively tackling the problem by filing nuisance abatement suits against landlords that financially benefit from the slave trade. With these organizations and resources, and growing public awareness, we have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of victims of human trafficking.

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Anne Chandler is the Director of Tahirih Justice Center’s Houston office. The Tahirih Justice Center provides protection to immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence throughout the country and through public policy and advocacy. Endnotes 1. 2.

Names and certain details modified to preserve anonymity and protect safety. H.R. 4970, 112th Cong. (2012), available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/ z?d112:h.r.4970


September/October 2012


Houston’s Response to Human Trafficking: Then and Now

By Kendra Penry


he night of November 13, 2005, forever changed the way that Houston addresses the issue of human trafficking. In that one night, over 100 victims of human trafficking were rescued in “Operation Bar Belles,” or the Mondragon case. This was not the first case of human trafficking, nor was it the last, but for Houston, this remains the largest case and the motivation for significant changes in the way the community has responded to such exploitation. In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), declaring for the first time that human trafficking in all its forms is a federal crime.1 In 2003, Texas became one of the first two states to enact laws making human trafficking illegal at the state level.2 Both of these incredibly important developments were motivated by the belief that trafficking is one of the largest crimes affecting our nation and the world. At the time of the TVPA’s enactment, 12.3 million slaves were being sold annually around the globe, more than any time in human history.3 According to the 2003 reauthorization of the TVPA, 18,000 to 20,000 foreign national victims were entering the U.S. every year.4 The Department of Justice included Houston in its list of the most intense jurisdictions for human trafficking in 2005.5 Estimates of domestic underage victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. were somewhere between 100,000-200,000.6 The numbers were staggering, and the government

Then, Operation Bar Belles happened. rightfully recognized a need to act. But Suddenly, there were over 100 victims of despite the strong legislation, cases retrafficking to address in one night, and mained few and far between. Victim Houston was confronted with the realidentification was low and prosecutions ity that human trafficking was happenwere even fewer. In 2004, the year prior ing here and on a scale much larger than to Operation Bar Belles, only 228 victhe general community was aware. All tims were identified nationally, and the of the defendants in the Mondragon case Department of Justice initiated prosecusubsequently were sentenced to jail, and tions against only 59 traffickers, which, the head of the enterprise, Maximino while few, was more than any previous 7 Mondragon, is currently serving 13 fiscal year. For a crime estimated to be years in federal prison for trafficking.10 affecting millions, rescued victims still numbered less than a thousand. From that perspective, this case was a In Houston, the Human Trafficking success. Victims were rescued and the Rescue Alliance (HTRA) was founded traffickers were prosecuted. But despite in August 2004, in response to efforts the success on paper, many questions reled by U.S. Attorney General John Ashmained. Why had it taken until 2005 for croft and President such a large case of trafGeorge W. Bush to ficking to arise if this “Operation Bar address human trafwas really the problem Belles was not only ficking. The HTRA, a that researchers were dedicated alliance of claiming it was? Why a wake-up call law enforcement and was the response to social service providthe Mondragon case so for the legal and ers, was designed to disjointed? Victims reslaw enforcement focus exclusively on cued in Houston were identifying and assistreceiving services from sectors, but also ing the victims of huorganizations in Austin, the community.” man trafficking and to Dallas, and even Florieffectively identify, apda. Since Houston had prehend and prosecute those engaged in the resources available, could it not be trafficking offenses.8 Despite the dedicamade easier for victims to receive services locally and, therefore, have more station of officials in the highest levels of bility and an easier rehabilitation? Trygovernment and the commitment of the ing to answer those questions inspired time and resources of prosecutors and much of what is done today to combat investigators, as of the end of fiscal year human trafficking in Houston. Opera2005, the HTRA had prosecuted only tion Bar Belles was not only a wake-up ten defendants and rescued fewer than 9 call for the legal and law enforcement 100 victims. The numbers continued sectors, but also the community. In the to frustrate those working in the field.


September/October 2012


very same month, interested community members formed the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition (HRRC), which aims to bring community members, service providers and law enforcement together to communicate more openly and work together to raise awareness about trafficking. If there were to be more cases prosecuted and more victims rescued, then there needed to be more awareness of what trafficking is and how it affects the Houston area. Investigations and res-

cues cannot happen unless the community and the frontline professionals who are seeing the victims know how to identify them as such and report the cases. For the past seven years, the mission of HRRC has been “to prevent and confront modern-day slavery by educating the public, training professionals and empowering the community to take action for the purpose of identifying, rescuing and restoring trafficking victims to freedom.” The Houston area consistently ac-



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September/October 2012


counts for over 30 percent of calls from Texas to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Since the hotline’s inception, calls from Houston have been increasing every year.11 This increase in tips has resulted in more cases and victim rescues. Frontline professional training HRRC targets key front-line professionals who are in the best position to come into contact with a victim of human trafficking and provides them the tools to identify and communicate with a potential victim. The Look Beneath the Surface and H.E.A.R Your Patient program is a three-part series designed to educate health care professionals about human trafficking, how to identify a victim in a clinical setting, and what policies and procedures should be followed to connect that victim with appropriate services. The Law Enforcement Training Program aims to inform law enforcement agents about the issue of human trafficking, the federal and state laws on trafficking, red flags, investigative techniques, resources available, and how to connect victims to appropriate services. The Domestic Minor Trafficking Training Program brings awareness to professionals who are most likely to come into contact with a potential domestic minor sex or labor trafficking victim, such as school counselors/educators, child protective service employees, juvenile probation officers and others. This program defines domestic minor trafficking, provides red flags, debunks common myths and stereotypes about at-risk youth and provides intake tools for better assessment and provision of resources for this victim population. In addition to these training programs, HRRC sponsors community activities including prevention programs, awareness activities, a multi-lingual media campaign, a fair trade initiative and a volunteer program. Solving Houston’s epidemic human trafficking will take effective legal tools, aggressive public servants and an engaged community informed by public-

private partnerships such as HRRC. Together, we are the modern-day abolitionists. Kendra Penry is the Director of Programs for the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. Penry joined HRRC in 2010 after receiving her Master’s Degree in International Affairs, Conflict and Conflict Resolution from the George Washington University. Penry’s role with HRRC includes conducting law enforcement, first responder, and domestic minor trafficking trainings along with prevention programming and leading the Fair Trade Initiative. Her recent work includes the Rapid Field Assessment of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in Harris and Galveston Counties, published in 2011. Endnotes 1.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, State Letter #01-13, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/ policy/sl01-13.htm. U.S. Commission on Human Rights, Human Trafficking in Texas, Aug. 2011, available at http:// www.usccr.gov/pubs/TX_HT_Report--ver%20 50--FINAL.pdf.

U.S. Department of State, 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report, available at http://www.state.gov/j/ tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46606.htm. 4. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, H.R. 2620, 108th Cong. (2003), available at http://www.state.gov/documents/ organization/28225.pdf. This number has since been amended in the 2006 Trafficking in Persons report to be 14,500 to 17,500, available at http://www.state. gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006. 5. The Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, Report 2011 to the Texas Legislature, available at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/AG_ Publications/pdfs/human_trafficking.pdf. 6. Richard Estes & Neil Alan Weiner, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, University of Pennsylvania, 2002, available at http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/restes/CSEC_ Files/Complete_CSEC_020220.pdf. 7. U.S. Department of State, 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report, available at http://www.state.gov/j/ tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46606.htm. 8. HTRA presentation to the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, February 8, 2011. 9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Human Trafficking Into and Within the United States: A Review of the Literature, available at http:// www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/humantrafficking/ docs/ReportHumanTraffickingIntoandWithinUS. pdf. 10. Lise Olsen, Houston Sex Trafficking Ringleader Gets 13 Years in Prison, Houston Chronicle, Apr. 27, 2009, available at http://www.chron.com/news/ article/Houston-sex-trafficking-ringleader-gets-13years-1735028.php. 11. Polaris Project, Texas State Reports, available at www.polarisproject.org. 3.

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September/October 2012


By Sherri L. Zack and Ruben Perez

Challenges in Federal Sex Trafficking Prosecution


he Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)1 is the most comprehensive federal law enacted to protect victims, both foreign and domestic, of sex trafficking and to prosecute their traffickers. Under the TVPA, individuals can be prosecuted for sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or by the mere fact that the person being induced was not 18 years of age or older. The TVPA has given prosecutors the legal tools to combat the traffickers in court, but the law itself cannot overcome the additional inherent challenges faced in addressing the sex trafficking of children. Sixteen years old, three months pregnant and turning tricks for her pimp— this is where Josie2 found herself when she ran away from the maternity center for pregnant juveniles. Her mother advised officers that Josie had logged onto her MySpace account several times since running away. Through America Online, officers were able to determine whose account she was using to gain internet access. Officers logged onto MySpace and found information that led them to several nude lascivious photographs. In one of the photos, Josie was wearing cowboy boots and little else. Under her image were the words, “Ride Em Cowboy.” These photos were used to lure customers into hiring Josie. Josie was using an account being paid for by her pimp’s father, who did not have a computer and claimed not to know the location of his son. Officers determined that the person doing the posting was located at a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana; the pimp’s father lived in Houston. This hotel was being used by the pimp as both a shelter and base of business for him and Josie. By the time law enforcement determined their location, they had checked out. A message was posted to Josie’s MySpace page by law enforcement warning her that she may be in danger and informing her pimp to return her to Houston. Officers also instructed the pimp’s father to have his son contact law

enforcement immediately. The pimp actually called the FBI and claimed that he did not have Josie but may know where she was located. The agents told him that they knew she was with him and that she had to be returned immediately and safely to Houston. Once again, law enforcement tracked them to a hotel, this time in Mississippi. While it was confirmed that they had been there, law enforcement officers arrived too late—Josie’s pimp had already checked out and they were on the move. The next day, Josie was intercepted at the Houston Greyhound bus station by law enforcement. She confirmed that she had been in the hotels in New Orleans and Mississippi, that one of the pimp’s friends took the nude photographs that were posted online, and that the pimp had posted them using his laptop computer. Ultimately, Josie opened up to law enforcement about how her pimp lured her into the prostitution business with promises of love, affection and attention. He repeatedly raped her and forced her to prostitute for him, knowing that she was a child and pregnant. Josie believed that she loved him. He paid for her to have a tattoo placed on the back of her neck, branding her for life with his pimp moniker. Her pimp took all the money she earned, beat her if she defied him, stole her self esteem and childhood, turning her into someone her family didn’t recognize. Josie’s mother now raises the grandchild Josie was pregnant with when she was first seduced by this pimp and a second grandchild conceived in the aftermath. As her mother puts it, “The children may live in Josie’s heart but the pimp lives in her head.” The truth of that statement was never more evident than when the prosecution was preparing for trial. Josie, five years later, was still struggling to put the pimp’s actions in perspective and attempt to move past her feelings of affection for him while describing in the same breath the atrocities he visited on her. She was beaten, raped, supplied drugs, photographed nude and sold to

strangers. For this, her pimp was given over 30 years in prison.3 That sentence, while a strong statement against sex trafficking, does little to erase the ghosts Josie faces every day. After the trial, Josie was offered state funds to remove the tattoo. She did not take advantage of that opportunity. Once again she fell into the underworld of sex trafficking, moved around the country being prostituted by other pimps, and struggled to survive. Thankfully, Josie has now escaped that world and is enrolled in school, training for a future that does not involve sexual exploitation. What the reading of the horrific events above does not show is that Josie is a beautiful girl, six feet tall, blond, blue-eyed and very bright. She is a voracious reader and very inquisitive. However, nothing will ever be able to undo the injustices she suffered at the hands of the adult males that used and abused her for their financial gain. While many of the challenges faced by foreign and domestic victims are the same, there are some distinct differences. First, most foreign victims are in the United States because they have been brought across the border illegally and are under the control of their traffickers “working” off their debt. These children know that they are being victimized but fear law enforcement and have no way to escape from the traffickers. Even if they could escape they do not speak the language, know where they are or whom to trust. Second, because the foreign victims lack status in the United States they can be held in custody until their immigration issues are resolved. This affords them the opportunity to obtain services while it affords the prosecution the benefit of knowing where their victims are for the purposes of trial. The greatest challenge faced in the

prosecution of domestic sex traffickers, those persons commonly known as “pimps,” is removing the victims from their immediate environment for a long enough period of time for them to realize they are actually victims, and do need assistance. Until recently, the criminal justice system was a revolving door for America’s trafficked youth. With the assistance of recent legislation and new placement opportunities, victims are being given a chance to get their lives back. In In the Matter of B.W., the Texas Supreme Court made it illegal to prosecute a child under the age of 14 for prostitution, preventing the criminalization of a child of such tender years.4 While this is a good starting point, it does not address the victims in the 14- to 18-year-old range5 who are arrested and often prosecuted as adults. Underage girls are often arrested in vice stings. At the instruction of their pimps, they give a fake name and date of birth, which then places them in the system as adults. Until recently, no one questioned a “woman” entering a plea to prostitution. As awareness of this issue is on the rise, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are starting to question arrested individuals more closely. If it is determined that an arrested individual is underage, several options are available: the child can be sent to juvenile court, she can be sent to Harris County’s Girls Court or her case can be dismissed. Most importantly, if she has not already been questioned, she can be questioned by law enforcement specifically trained to investigate sex trafficking in the hope that she will reveal information about her pimp. This process can last weeks because it often takes the victims quite some time to turn on their pimp. While international sex trafficking victims face many of the same challenges as


September/October 2012


domestic sex trafficking victims, there are some distinct differences. Many of the differences stem from the fact that the international victims are typically looking to escape poverty rather than a negative family life. Many of the pimps know the families of the victims in their home country. Many of the pimps have legal status in the United States and, as a result, travel easily from the United States to their home country. When visiting their home countries, the pimps dress in nice clothing, drive nice cars, and demonstrate all the trappings of success. The pimps convince the parents of these young girls that their daughters will travel to the United States and work as domestics, waitresses, at car washes, and the like. The young girls will make enough money to pay off their smuggling debts and send money home to ease the burden of living in poverty. Sometimes the pimps take a different approach. The pimps may demonstrate a love for their daughters. The pimp will travel to the


September/October 2012

United States with the daughter, promising to marry the daughter and live the American dream. Once in the United States, the dream becomes a nightmare. The smuggling debt is never paid off. The debt is perpetual and inflated by the pimp to retain control over the victims. The trafficker buys food, but the food bill is huge. The trafficker buys the daughter a $10.00 dress which is suddenly worth $100.00. The rent is no longer $200.00 but $500.00. If the victim does not willingly go into prostitution, the trafficker uses force to gain her compliance. Beatings and threats of beatings may commence to get the victim under control. In most domestic sex trafficking cases, the pimp has no relationship with the victims’ families; however, the trafficker pimp uses the threat of harm to the victims’ parents, family members or children back in their home country as a means to control her. While less common among domestic


pimps, the international trafficker/pimp can be a man or woman. The trafficker may find controlling the victims very difficult and there is the constant risk that the victim may escape. Sometimes, the trafficker/pimp reinvents himself/ herself as a landlord supplying a venue (brothel) for other trafficker/pimps to work their victims for a fee. While each sex trafficking victim is a unique individual, they all have the same vulnerabilities that are exploited by those who make a living selling these children for sex over and over again. The victim is trapped, vulnerable, and at the total mercy of her persecutors. One of the most common challenges facing prosecutors in all sex trafficking cases, whether foreign or domestic, is that information is revealed by the victim over time. The process often poses problems when the case is placed in front of a jury. The defense often attempts to paint the victim as a liar and someone who has changed her story several times. The truth is that the vic-

tim has not changed her story, she has just come to trust those trying to help her. It is the prosecutor’s job to make sure that the jury understands why the victim has revealed the facts over time rather than all at once. Her description of events becomes more detailed as she moves forward and is distanced from her pimp. Typically, this process is not smooth and often the victim will return to the pimp, the streets, or another pimp before she can get the help she needs. Much like victims of domestic violence, the process is cyclical; it can take several contacts with law enforcement, or getting beaten enough by the pimp, for a victim to break the cycle. An integral part of this process is placement. It is much easier to place international victims; because of their illegal status in the United States they can be detained. Authorities cannot detain an American citizen if she has not committed a crime. Once an American girl has been identified as a victim, the issue becomes where she should be placed.


September/October 2012


Traditionally, she would have been sent to a juvenile facility or placed back with her family. The problem with these options is that neither is a secure placement. She can walk away from either and back into the waiting arms of her pimp. To combat this obstacle, a special Girls Court has been developed in Harris County to address the needs of this unique population of teens. This court recognizes that the needs of this group are different than the average juvenile in the system. Once identified, participation in this system can provide much-needed services and options not previously available to these victims. Now that these crimes are recognized for what they are and the victims are seen as victims rather than criminals, assistance for placement is becoming available. Non-governmental organizations have started to address the needs of the domestic minor sex trafficking victim. Within the last several years, entities such as the Y (formerly known as the YMCA) have won grants to address human traf-

ficking with specific monies earmarked for domestic victims. For many years, the Y has been assisting foreign victims, but was not in a position to aid American victims. Additionally, safe houses are starting to develop as a safe haven for victims who are United States citizens. While the victims can be ordered by a court to be placed at these facilities, they are not locked in as if in jail. They are encouraged to stay by well trained, highly dedicated staff. The physical locations of these facilities also discourage running, as they are in remote areas far enough from metropolitan centers for the girls to be able to make it to a major city without a very long trek. As much as these victims originally believe the pimp loves them, he does not love them enough to try to “rescue” them or to have his car photographed arriving in the vicinity of these shelters. To the pimp, these girls are a renewable resource and it is easier for the pimp to get another girl and train her rather than trying to recover a girl who he has lost to the system.

Conclusion To combat sex trafficking, public perceptions will have to change. Until society can overcome the misconceptions that this does not happen in their neighborhoods and that these young girls and the adults they become want to be prostitutes, the battle will be fought only by those whose occupations expose them to this terrible crisis. The ongoing efforts of the justice system, non-governmental organizations, and non-profit organizations to research and document the problem, prosecute offenders, rehabilitate victims, and educate the community will serve the greater good on a multitude of levels, and hopefully meet and overcome these challenges. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the agency or the United States. Assistant United States Attorney Ruben R. Perez is the Chief of the Human Trafficking/ Civil Rights Unit and the Deputy Coordinator of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance. He received his law degree from Texas Southern University in 1980 and prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, in 1992, he served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Houston and as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney. Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. Zack prosecutes domestic minor sex trafficking as part of the Department of Justice initiative Project Safe Childhood. She is a 1994 graduate of Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center. Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office in 2008, she was an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County, Florida. Endnotes 1.

2. 3.

4. 5.


September/October 2012


Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, P.L. 1006-386, available at http://www.state.gov/documents/ organization/10492.pdf . All names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals. U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, Houston Man Sentenced to More Than 30 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking, available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/txs/1News/ Releases/2010%20November/111210%20Davis.htm. In the Matter of B.W., 313 S.W. 3d 818 (Texas 2010). The authors note that the age of majority in Texas is 17; however, federal law considers 18 the age of majority.

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September/October 2012


By Erika Anderson

Combatting Human Trafficking in Harris County: An Interview with Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia


arris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia recently participated in a Q&A with The Houston Lawyer to discuss human trafficking issues in Harris County, what the County is doing to address those issues, and how ordinary citizens can help. Q: What does “human trafficking” mean in Harris County? A: Harris County has a major international port, highways with less than a day’s trip to Mexico, a vast geography of more than 1,700 square miles, and a di-


September/October 2012


verse population of more than four million people. Harris County is a global crossroads. Criminals try to exploit and/ or enslave foreign nationals who initially become captive to those who transport them to the county. They use Harris County’s density and vast geography to try to hide their illegal activities. For a number of years, the trafficking in humans has been identified as an increasing criminal problem in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area (GHMSA). It was not until recently that it became evident that many of those being smuggled across the 450-mile long border that the Southern District of Texas shares with Mexico were being transported against their will, being held in captivity and forced to turn over all their wages or forced into labor and commercial sex activities. The following geographic and demographic data indicates that the GHMSA is conducive to human trafficking: • Houston is the largest city in the southern United States and the fourth largest city in the nation, with a population of 2,119,831. • There are three major interstate highways that intersect in the Houston area and connect the Mexican border to the rest of the United States. In fact, the Department of Justice designated the I-10 corridor, which intersects Houston, as the main human trafficking route in the U.S. • Houston’s airports form one of North America’s largest public airport systems and position Houston as the international gateway to the south central United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. Each year, approximately 50 million travelers arrive in and depart out of Houston’s airports, including seven million international passengers. Houston’s airports connect directly to 182 cities worldwide. • The Port of Houston is a 25-mile long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours of sailing time from the Gulf of

Mexico. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne commerce, second in the U.S. in total tonnage, and tenth in the world in total tonnage. • In spite of the massive population in the GHMSA, there is a significant number of agricultural and livestock communities, which increases the demand for cheap, hard labor. The population of the GHMSA is 40.9% Hispanic, 18.8% African-American, 33.6% Anglo, and 6.7% Asian/Other. There are 83 different languages spoken, and more than 30,000 Asian owned businesses.1 This diversity creates an environment where victims can easily blend in and become invisible. This, in turn, creates an economic opportunity for the establishment of commercial sex industries, such as massage parlors, modeling studios, strip clubs, and cantinas. Texas is also considered a “hotspot” for the sex trafficking of domestic minors. In a study of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children released in 2001, researchers found that as many as 300,000 American youth may be at risk for commercial sexual exploitation at any time, with the homeless and runaways most vulnerable.2 According to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Youth, Houston, Austin and Dallas have many runaway youth, with estimates for Houston at about 6,000 runaways annually. The same site reports that one out of every three children on the streets is lured into sex trafficking within days of running away and that the average age for sex trafficking is between 12 and 13 years old.3

Q: How is human trafficking different from illegal immigration? A: Most forms of immigration, legal or illegal, are conducted voluntarily. Human trafficking differs due to the elements of force, coercion and/or deception. The majority of the victims of human trafficking are enslaved in the sex or labor trade. Q: What is the role of organized crime in human trafficking? A: Organized crime plays a major role in human trafficking because of the numerous individuals involved in obtaining, controlling, enforcing, and transporting the victims—whether for the sex trade or the labor trade. Traffickers or culprits are also known as “pimps” and “madams.”

Q: How widespread is human trafficking in Harris County? A: It is a constant issue and can be found in urban and suburban settings. We are making arrests and have ongoing investigations, but more needs to be done. Q: Who are the victims of human trafficking? A: There is no specific type of individual. In general, most victims are immigrants (legal or illegal). But in some instances, there have been victims of human trafficking who are natural-born citizens of the United States. Though there is no


September/October 2012


specific type of individual, they are often treated in similar ways. Victims are generally isolated and kept away from their families and friends. Q: What types of industries are involved with human trafficking? A: Industries involved in human trafficking include service-oriented businesses, (e.g., restaurants, spas, and massage parlors), and unskilled labor (e.g., sweatshops, janitorial services, and agricultural labor).

Q: How does the legal system address the problem of human trafficking? A: In concert with local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the county attorney’s office and the district attorney’s office use the court system to bring traffickers to justice and shut down their operations. Q: How does the Harris County Sheriff’s Office catch traffickers?

A: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office works in coordination with the FBI’s Homeland Security Investigations. The Sheriff’s Office receives information through local tips and help from the public and many non-governmental organizations. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the YMCA were awarded a federally-funded grant under the Department of Justice that has been utilized to combat human trafficking on a domestic as well as international front. In addition, we are putting technology in the hands of the community through our mobile phone app, iWatchHarrisCounty, which the community can use to text anonymous tips with digital pictures and/or video using a smart phone. Q: How does the Harris County Sheriff’s Office assist victims of human trafficking? A: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office works with special courts and non-profit organizations to view victims as victims rather than small-time criminals and to provide services such as housing, assistance with immigration status, and medical and financial aid. Q: What are some of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s biggest challenges in tackling the problem of human trafficking? A: One of the biggest problems in tackling the human trafficking problem is public education on the issue. Also, the victim’s refusal to cooperate with law enforcement can hinder an investigation’s success. Maintaining a trusting relationship between the community and local law enforcement is important so that persons who have information can feel confident and comfortable coming forward to share their information. Q: How many traffickers are caught and convicted? A: Since the inception of the Human Trafficking Task Force in 2005, there have been over 200 victims rescued and 53 traffickers caught and convicted.


July/August 2012


Q: How can someone who suspects human trafficking report it? A: He or she should contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in person, by phone, e-mail, postal mail or other means, the most convenient of which may be our free app, iWatchHarrisCounty. It allows users to send texts, photos and videos anonymously. This interview was conducted by Erika Anderson, an associate with The Stinemetz Law Firm, PLLC and a member of The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board. She received her law degree from New York University School of Law in 2011. Endnotes 1.



Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Census Population by Area, 2010, available at http://www.dshs. state.tx.us/chs/popdat/ST2010.shtm. Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S. Canada and Mexico, University of Pennsylvania, at 3 (2001) Children at Risk, Child Trafficking in Texas, available at http://childrenatrisk.org/research/child-trafficking/ texas-overview.

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July/August 2012


By Linda S. Geffin

Harris H County’s Battle Against Human Trafficking Using Civil Remedies

uman trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world and, as a $32 billion industry, is second only to drug and gun running. Despite Houston being a leading site for human trafficking—notably in the commercial sex slave trade—this crisis has flown mostly under the public’s radar. To help combat this well-organized criminal web, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan created the Special Prosecutions Unit in 2009. The Special Prosecutions Unit is designed to address both human trafficking and other neighborhood nuisances that affect health, safety and welfare. Shortly after its creation, the unit received complaints that some questionable massage parlors had their windows covered up, with neon “open” signs flashing and cars coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Prosecutors suspected that these were not legitimate business enterprises. Additionally, investigations uncovered that many nail salons, cantinas and other establishments were covers for illicit activities, including human trafficking, in which women were threatened, beaten, and coerced to service customers up to 15 times per night. Women were forced to work, eat, and sleep in cramped conditions, usually under constant supervision. The Special Prosecutions Unit has attorneys and paralegals designated to investigate and prosecute suspected human trafficking cases, developing relationships and working closely with law enforcement agencies that have a similar focus. This network holds regular meetings that provide a forum to disseminate critical information and collaborate on finding ways to use all available legal remedies to abate these serious crimes. One of the innovative approaches

used by the Harris County Attorney’s Office is filing public nuisance civil lawsuits. The process starts with a thorough investigation, drawing on the resources of all available law enforcement agencies. While police reports of the criminal activity are a given, that is just where the interagency cooperation begins. The Fire Marshal and Building Code inspectors go to the site to inspect the suspected premises. When applicable, prosecutors coordinate with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for enforcement of its regulations, as well as other agencies for Occupations Code and sign permit violations. While the criminal violations are the backbone of the County Attorney’s legal petitions, these civil or administrative additional violations provide judges with sufficient evidence that these locations are not only hotbeds of criminal activity but also do, in fact, endanger the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhoods. A lawsuit for injunctive relief is another effective tool to stop the proliferation of criminal enterprises that exploit the vulnerable in exchange for huge profits. Stopping the influx of cash flowing into the criminal enterprises by closing them down may help victims of human trafficking take the first steps toward freedom. Chapter 243 of the Texas Local Government Code gives municipalities and counties the authority to regulate sexuallyoriented businesses. Section 243.010 gives specific authority for a municipality or county to file a lawsuit in district court for an injunction to prohibit the violation of any regulation adopted under this chapter. Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Chapter 125 provides the framework for the abatement of common and public nuisances. A “common” nuisance is defined as a place where people continually go to engage in criminal activities such as gambling, prostitution, organized criminal activity, or to deliver a controlled sub-

stance. A “public” nuisance is defined ers often evict the bad actors and clean as a place that is habitually used for up the strip center, equally often they criminal activities such as prostitujust re-lease the premises to another tion, the manufacture of obscene matenant pursuing criminal activities. terials, gambling, or deviant sexual Other locations are best addressed intercourse. By covering a variety of by immediately filing a court petition activities, the common and public that details the criminal activity taknuisance statutes allow municipalities ing place at the location. It is essento thwart criminal activity and make tial to allege in the petition that the the neighborhoods safe for all residefendant has knowingly tolerated the dents. The statute states that a person criminal activity to habitually occur maintains a common nuisance if he or and has failed to make reasonable atshe maintains a place to which othtempts to abate the activity. A carefully ers habitually go for crafted petition must “While the criminal any of the twenty-two also allege that unenumerated offenses, less the court enjoins violations are the knowingly tolerates the defendant to cease the activity, and fails and abate the activity, backbone of the County to make reasonable atthe citizens will suffer Attorney’s legal petitions, tempts to abate the acirreparable harm and tivity. The laundry list that there is no other these civil or administrative of offenses range from remedy at law. additional violations the reckless discharge If the lawsuit is filed of a firearm, drug use, in rem, a judgment in provide judges with engaging in organized rem may be entered sufficient evidence that criminal activity, asagainst the property sault, sexual assault, as well as a judgment these locations are not and all the way up to against the defendant. only hotbeds of criminal capital murder. NotaThe judgment must bly, during the 2009 order that the place activity but also do, in Texas legislative seswhere the nuisance sion, the legislature fact, endanger the health, exists be closed for added unlicensed one year after the date safety and welfare of the massage service as a of judgment and can violation of the Occualso order a significant neighborhoods.” pations Code. In 2011, fine. the statute was enhanced to include Many citizens are surprised to learn employing a minor at a sexually-oriof the varied arsenal used by the Harented business and trafficking of perris County’s Attorney’s Office and law sons. enforcement authorities. We try to Because most enterprises engagthink “out of the box” and use crimiing in criminal activities are merely nal laws, as well as all civil remedies tenants of the premises, the County at our disposal, to shut down human Attorney’s Office has also found it eftrafficking locations and make a real fective to notify property owners and impact in the fight against modern day others with a financial stake in the slavery. property of the suspected criminal activities occurring on site. These letters Linda S. Geffin is a Senior Assistant provide the legally-mandated notice County Attorney with Harris County and frequently open dialogue between Attorney Vince Ryan’s office using civil property owners and the investigating remedies to enhance the health, safety and law enforcement officers. While ownwelfare of the citizens of Harris County. thehoustonlawyer.com

September/October 2012


Equal Access


What does it take to become an “Equal Access Champion”? The firms and corporations listed below have signed 5-year commitment forms that indicate they will uphold a pledge to provide representation in a certain number of cases each year, based on the number of attorneys in the firm or legal department. The goal is to provide pro bono representation in at least 1,500 cases through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program each year, and to increase that goal each year. For more information contact Kay Sim at (713) 759-1133.

Large Firm Champions Andrews Kurth LLP Baker Botts L.L.P. Bracewell & Giuliani LLP Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. Locke Lord LLP Vinson & Elkins LLP Corporate Champions Baker Hughes Incorporated BP America Inc. CenterPoint Energy, Inc. ConocoPhillips Exxon Mobil Corporation LyondellBasell Marathon Oil Company Port of Houston Authority Shell Oil Company Intermediate Firm Champions Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. King & Spalding LLP Mid-Size Firm Champions Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Adams & Reese LLP Baker Hostetler LLP Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, L.L.P. Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry Greenberg Traurig, LLP Jackson Walker L.L.P. Jones Day

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Porter Hedges, L.L.P. Strasburger & Price, L.L.P. Susman Godfrey LLP Weil, Gotshal & Manges Winstead PC Small Firm Champions Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend Beck, Redden & Secrest, L.L.P. Gibbs & Bruns LLP Hays, McConn, Rice & Pickering, P.C. Hughes Watters Askanase LLP Johnson DeLuca Kurisky & Gould, P.C. Kroger | Burrus Schwartz, Junell, Greenberg & Oathout, L.L.P Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C. Yetter Coleman LLP Boutique Firm Champions Blank Rome LLP Coane & Associates Connelly • Baker • Wotring LLP Edison, McDowell & Hetherington LLP Fullenweider Wilhite PC Funderburk & Funderburk, L.L.P. Hicks Thomas LLP Jenkins & Kamin, L.L.P. Ogden, Gibson, Broocks, Longoria & Hall, L.L.P. Squire Sanders LLP

Sutton McAughan Deaver LLP Strong Pipkin Bissell & Ledyard, L.L.P. Wilson, Cribbs & Goren, P.C. Solo Champions Law Office of O. Elaine Archie Peter J. Bennett Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C. Law Office of David Hsu Brogden Law Office of Robbie Gail Charette Chaumette, PLLC Law Office of Papa M. Dieye The Ericksen Law Firm Frye & Cantu, PLLC Fuqua & Associates Terry L. Hart Law Office of James and Stagg, PLLC Katine & Nechman L.L.P. The Keaton Law Firm, PLLC Gregory S. Lindley Law Office of Maria S. Lowry Martin R. G. Marasigan Law Offices The Law Office of Evangeline Mitchell, PLLC Bertrand C. Moser Pilgrim Law Office Robert E. Price Cindi L. Robison Scardino & Fazel Shortt & Nguyen, P.C. Jeff Skarda Tindall & England, P.C. Diane C. Treich Norma Levine Trusch

Houston Lawyers Who Made a Difference

Thomas H. Ball, Jr. By Hon. Mark Davidson


he importance of the Port of Houston to the development of Houston cannot be overstated. Without it, we would probably have remained a sleepy backwater town in a semitropical environment. With its creation, Houston started the growth that has made it one of the leading cities in America and the world. Its existence can be credited to the work of one man – Thomas H. Ball, Jr. Thomas Ball was elected to the United States Congress in 1896. At the time of his election, he was a resident of Huntsville (Harris County did not yet have sufficient population to get its own congressional district),

South Texas College of Law Tackles Trafficking By Sheila Hansel


tudents at South Texas College of Law now play a powerful role in changing the lives of dozens of victims of human trafficking each year. The South Texas Human Trafficking/Immigration Clinic, now in its third year of operation, provides the legal means to free men, women, and children from their captors. The students, working under the supervision of Adjunct Professor Naomi Bang, represent clients in federal and state courts, immigration courts, before administrative agencies, and work

and he knew little about plans to turn Buffalo Bayou into a navigable waterway. Upon his election, Houston civic leaders prevailed upon him to make it a priority. He did, and would make the Port of Houston his life’s work. After getting a bill passed through the congress authorizing the port, he got the incredible sum of $4,000,000.00 to dredge a 25 foot deep channel from Galveston to Harrisburg. When the money ran out with the project uncompleted, he lobbied the Texas Legislature to create the Harris County Navigation District, the forerunner to the Harris County Port Authority. When business at the port was slow, he helped found the Houston & Texas Central Railroad to enable products from around the state to be shipped around the world. The

rail station at Peck’s Landing, 35 miles northwest of Houston, was renamed “Tomball” in his honor. He was also a founder of the firm of Andrews and Ball, today known as Andrews & Kurth. To everyone whose job depends on Houston being an international city, and to the millions around the world that benefit from products shipped to or from Houston, Tom Ball made a difference that endures, and will forever.

with myriad law enforcement agencies. Bang, a senior attorney at FosterQuan, LLP, is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, attorney trainer in Southeast Asia with the International Human Rights Law Group, and consultant on the rule of law for several international governmental and non-profit organizations. Bang and Rebekah Rodriguez, a 2011 graduate of the law school, teach the human trafficking class and coordinate the clinical work of the students. The students work with partners in the community including Free the Captives, Catholic Charities, Kids in Need of Defense, Boat People SOS, and the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force. In addition to helping victims of human trafficking, the students learn valuable professional skills. The students’ successes this past year have generated poignant stories that demonstrate the value of the services that these dedicated students provide. The Clinic has been successful in obtaining affirmative asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, trafficking (“T”) visas, and filing civil lawsuits against traffickers.

They continue to work on new and exciting cases. For example, Clinic members are actively involved in a federal lawsuit against certain unidentified companies and the Vietnamese government, based on allegations of forced labor of Vietnamese workers in Jordan. The workers were promised more money than they were paid, and when they decided to strike, they were locked inside a factory without sufficient food and water for over a month. The Clinic is assisting lead counsel in defending these powerful defendants from causes of action under the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, Civil RICO, the Alien Tort Claims Act, and other common law causes of action. The high-profile nature of what the students and clinic attorneys do has generated a great deal of attention in the local media and some international coverage. This has raised awareness of the human trafficking problem in Houston. Sheila Hansel is an attorney and the public relations manager at South Texas College of Law.


September/October 2012


A Profile in professionalism

Walter P. Zivley Locke Lord LLP


lack’s Law Dictionary defines professionalism as “the practice of a learned act in a characteristically methodically, courteous and ethical manner.” In my view, that definition is much too narrow in today’s environment and is one that is not so narrowly used by individual lawyers, firms and the Houston Bar Association. I am continually impressed with the scope of our local lawyers and the Houston Bar Association in its efforts to improve those in need. I am constantly reminded of blood drives, training for young and disadvantaged children, legal aid clinics in one form or the other, community service in general and similar programs. The HBA has developed initiatives this year for awareness and dealing with human trafficking, developing funds for the Food Bank and replacing trees in Houston for those lost in the recent drought. In this issue of The Houston

Lawyer, articles appear on the subject of awareness of human trafficking in our society and the efforts of the HBA to end this tragic plight on humanity. Though in many respects, professionalism for a lawyer relates solely to his or her legal career, client representation and the like, it has become much broader than that in the community service area. I am proud of the local lawyers, the HBA and the multitude of efforts to improve societal problems. Of course, we need to faithfully and effectively represent our clients. But, as indicated above, in my opinion, professionalism requires more and giving back to society is a great start. We all need to leave this place better than we found it. May God continue to bless our society and the local lawyers and the HBA, and energize all to deal with the problems that we, as lawyers, can handle most effectively. That, in my opinion, is the new professionalism.


September/October 2012



Golf Committee Supports Camaraderie and a Cause By Sammy Ford

The Houston Lawyer


lmost every year since the 1940’s, the Houston Bar Association puts on a golf tournament for its members. When it began, its only purpose was to foster friendship and camaraderie in the legal community. That goal has remained constant through to the present day. But the tournament has also grown and changed. While the primary mission – hosting an annual golf tournament allowing members of the bench and bar to gather together outside of the courtroom and other formal legal venues – has remained constant, a new, charitable component has been added. Since 1995, the tournament’s proceeds have primarily benefitted the Houston Bar Foundation, but some exceptions have been made for other worthwhile causes. For example, in 2001 and 2002, the money raised went to the Habitat for Humanity. And in response to the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010, a portion of that year’s record proceeds of $18,770.05 went to benefit the American Red Cross’ Haitian Relief Fund. In fact, the tournament has raised over $155,000 for the charities mentioned above since 1995. 34

September/October 2012

In other words, even though fundraising is the primary objective of each spring’s golf tournament, participants are able to enjoy the camaraderie in a relaxed atmosphere of giving. And what of the atmosphere? Each year since 2003, the tournament has seen between 100 and 180 players play

on courses ranging from that at the Redstone Golf Club, the home of the Shell Houston Open, to the recently-renovated Memorial Park Golf Course. The continued financial success of the golf tournament requires the support of not only the golf teams and individual players, who last year generated approximately half of the tournament’s income, but also its underwriters and sponsors. Sponsorship opportunities abound for vendors and law firms. Many of the sponsors have become familiar to those who


have played or participated in the golf tournament and spectators because they furnish such things as t-shirts, golf balls, and trophies and awards for outstanding accomplishment during the tournament, among others. As a co-chair of this year’s committee along with Bruce Hurley of King & Spalding, I can say that our goal this year is to put on the biggest and best golf tournament in HBA history. Even though the committee is ultimately responsible for the annual HBA Golf Tournament, HBA members can help the committee achieve that goal so it can continue to support the Houston Bar Foundation and other worthwhile causes. Anyone interested in volunteering time to assist the committee with planning and putting on the golf tournament or otherwise contributing to it can contact Claire Nelson (ClaireN@ hba.org) or Bonnie Simmons (BonnieS@ hba.org) via email or by calling the HBA office at (713) 759-1133. Sammy Ford is an associate at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend where he practices civil plaintiff’s litigation. He is also a member of The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board, and is co-chair of the Golf Committee for 2012-2013.


Teri Danish:

Of Sailing, Snow, Fog and Oysters By Gary Wiener


eri Danish has developed a love for sailing and enjoys the sport every chance she gets. Over the July 4th week, Teri and her boyfriend sailed his Tartan 37 sailboat Felicity down to Naples, Florida, then overnight to the Dry Tortugas National Park, which she said was absolutely beautiful anchorage. They explored Loggerhead Key via their dinghy while there, and then traveled up to Key West. “One of the most peaceful things about sailing,” the senior counsel for Fulbright & Jaworski said, “is that you learn quickly who’s in charge, and it’s not you – it’s the weather.” By day, Teri is a labor and employment litigator, trial lawyer, and frequent speaker on employment law issues. The Texas A&M alumnus has rejoined Fulbright for her second stint with the firm (she was previously an associate from 1990 to 1996, upon her graduation from the University of San Diego School of Law). “Before I came back to Fulbright, I was a partner with a firm in the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. The Brownsville firm provided an option for each partner to take a six-month leave of absence. In 2008, Teri was the first partner to take them up on it. She and her boyfriend, a retired attorney, planned to sail from Brownsville along the Intracoastal Waterway to Key West, Florida. Teri made it as far as Palacios, midway between Corpus Christi and Galveston – it took three months to get there – before she had to fly back to the office to try a case. After the trial concluded, she flew back to the sailboat. Because the Intracoastal Waterway has fixed bridges, it also has height limitations for passing boats; and because the Tartan sailboat’s mast was too tall, at four points along the way Teri found herself sailing in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The crew of two made it safely to Key West, but at the end of her sabbatical, Teri had to return to work. Her boyfriend sailed the

boat back from Key West to Brownsville alone. Teri has enjoyed sailing since college, but has been fascinated by it since the mid-1990s. She is a certified skipper by the American Sailing Association, and enjoys being on the water whenever possible. Due to the demands of her job, she has only been able to get aboard the sailboat five times since last fall. Last November, however, she chartered a “bareboat” sailboat (no professional crew) in Antigua and spent some time sailing the Caribbean Sea. When asked what her most interesting experience on the water has been, Teri had no harrowing “Perfect Storm” tales of survival to share. She did mention sailing in New Orleans when an icy wind blew in, and she was assured by her friends that “it never snows in New Orleans.” The next morning, she pried open the boat’s hatch to find that the deck of the sailboat was covered in the cold white powder. She also talked about one of her experiences during the passage to Key West, when she and her boyfriend found themselves trapped in Pass Christian, Mississippi in December 2008. What had been intended as an overnight port call turned into a fiveday stay, due to a thick fog that rolled in. “It was so thick, you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” Teri recalled. Still, the experience was far from unpleasant. “We were tied up at the oyster dock during harvest season, and all of the oyster boats would tie up at that dock. We ate fresh oysters for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Did that volume of mollusk consumption have any effect on her opinion toward oysters? Well, there may not be any direct correlation, but... “I’m now a vegetarian,” Teri laughed.. Gary Wiener (Twitter: @GaryWiener) is an e-discovery instructor and subject matter expert for Autonomy, an HP company. He also is a member of The Houston Lawyer Editorial Board. thehoustonlawyer.com

September/October 2012



The Texas Medical Liability Act’s Expansion Into The Non-Subscriber Realm By Chance A. McMillan

The Houston Lawyer


his past June the Texas Supreme Court delivered an opinion that could drastically change the way medical providers handle their workforce. The court held in Texas West Oaks Hospital, LP and Texas Hospital Holdings, LLC v. Frederick Williams1 that employees of medical care providers may be classified as “claimants” under the Texas Medical Liability Act (the “TMLA”)2. The potential effects from this opinion are that medical providers will receive more protection from prospective lawsuits and will have less of an incentive to opt into the Texas Workers’ Compensation system. The opinion stemmed from an altercation between an employee of Texas West Oaks Hospital, Frederick Williams, and one of hospital’s patients in June 2007, whereby the patient died and Mr. Williams was seriously injured. It was undisputed that at the time of the incident Mr. Williams was acting in the course and scope of his employment as a psychiatric technician and professional caregiver for Texas West Oaks. On April 14, 2008, the deceased patient’s family sued Texas West Oaks asserting a health care liability claim un36

September/October 2012

der the TMLA. When Mr. Williams was later added to the lawsuit, he filed a cross claim alleging negligence against the hospital pursuant to the Texas Workers Compensation Act. The hospital filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Williams’ claim arguing it was a health care liability claim under the TMLA, and Mr. Williams failed to provide an expert report. The trial court denied the hospital’s motion and the Fourteenth Court of Appeals affirmed. In a 6-3 opinion, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the prior decisions of the lower courts, thus dismissing Mr. Williams’ case. The majority found Mr. Williams’s claims, like the deceased patient’s, were health care liability claims under the TMLA. Therefore, Mr. Williams should have taken the same steps as the deceased patient’s representatives by providing an expert report to the hospital. The majority’s justification for such a determination turns on its statutory interpretation of the 2003 amendment to the TMLA. Specifically, the majority focused on the replacement of the term “person” with “claimant” under the definition of what a health care liability claim entails. To the majority, the replacement was an indication that health care liability claims should not only include individuals complaining of negligent physicians or medical providers but also those injured while working around physicians or inside medical facilities. The majority’s opinion that Mr. Williams was providing medical service when he was injured was enough to confine his cause of action to the purview of the TMLA. It appears that the wake of the majority’s opinion may have far reaching results. Now, medical providing employers, like Texas West Oaks, who opt out of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act will enjoy certain benefits under the TMLA. For example, employees will have to carefully follow the TMLA’s stringent requirements and put forth additional


costs associated with building a medical malpractice case. This will likely make it more difficult for injured employees to obtain relief and may result in attorneys shying away from representing employees who sustain minor injuries. Also, the employers will enjoy the $250,000.00 cap on non-economic damages. This incentive provided by the TMLA seems in stark contrast to the legislative intent behind §406.033 of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act which acts to punish employers who opt out of the Texas worker’s compensation system by taking away certain common law defenses.3 The Supreme Court’s majority opinion found no conflict between the Texas Medical Liability Act and the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. However, the dissent, written by Justice Lehrmann, argued that the majority’s opinion seems counterproductive to the Texas Workers’ Compensation scheme, citing the difficulty injured employees now will suffer procedurally when bringing an action against their employers and the new statutory caps employers will enjoy. It is uncertain how the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in Texas West Oaks Hospital, LP and Texas Hospital Holdings, LLC v. Frederick Williams will affect Texas citizens. For now, attorneys who represent injured employees against their nonsubscribing medical providing employers should file an expert report and follow the full rigors of the Texas Medical Liability Act. Chance A. McMillan is an associate with Thomas N. Thurlow & Associates located in Houston. His practice is dedicated to personal injury and civil litigation. McMillan is a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board. Endnotes 1.

2. 3.

Texas West Oaks Hospital, LP and Texas Hospital Holdings, LLC v. Frederick Williams, 2012 Tex. LEXIS 561, 55 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1033 (Tex. 2012). See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN., ch. 74, et. seq. See TEX. LAB. CODE ANN. §406.033.

Media Reviews

Legal Mobile Application Developed by the State Bar of Texas Computer & Technology Section


Reviewed by Sammy Ford he big, richly stocked law library is dead. While the exact date of its death is in some dispute, it is beyond question that the ‘library’ is not where the average lawyer now goes when looking to answer an urgent legal question. The first stop is Google. For litigators, O’Connor’s is probably a close second. And when it is time for heavy duty research, lawyers typically turn either to Westlaw or Lexis, depending on preference or contract. With the exception of O’Connor’s, these resources are accessed online; but without exception, they are often accessed in the office, in front of a computer.

But legal work increasingly takes place outside the office. Whether commuting, vacationing, dining, or in the courtroom, the lawyer sometimes needs to access a rule or statute right away. And during those times, the traditional methods are of little help because one’s laptop or book is not always ready at hand. Suppose you are in a hearing and the court has a question regarding the Civil Practices and Remedies Code (CPRC) as it relates to the punitive damages cap, or lack thereof, in a civil assault case. Sup-

pose further that the CPRC references the Penal Code, but that you have forgotten your copy of the Penal Code at the office. Where do you turn? If you are a member of the State Bar of

Texas’ Computer & Technology Section, you could pull out your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and launch the Texas Bar Legal Application. You would select the codes, scroll to the title and chapter, read the text of the statutes, and answer the court’s question. Released in late 2010 (and updated with the most recent 2011 legislative updates,) the Section’s app is available for Apple iDevices, in the App Store, and Google’s Android, in the Droid Market, but not for Blackberry devices. Registered users can access the app using the web application at “webapp. sbot.org.” In addition to the CPRC and the Penal Code, the app puts the Administrative, Bankruptcy, Business & Commerce, Business Organizations, Family, Finance, Probate, Property, Tax, and Trust Codes at the attorney’s fingertips. The app further provides access to state and federal Rules of Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Appellate Procedure, along with state and federal acts related to Intellectual Property. The attorney can also access Google Scholar to search case law, generally and cases that cite a particular


September/October 2012


Media Reviews

statutory provision, specifically. In the iDevice app, you can print the case or statute directly from within the application. And with all versions, you can email it to yourself, opposing counsel, or the court. In short, this app provides just about everything that a civil practitioner trying to answer a legal question needs. So, how much does the application that puts such tremendous resources in one’s pocket cost? Actually, it is free to download and use, as long as the user is a member of the Computer & Technology Section of the State Bar—a $25 annual membership fee. In the interest of full disclosure: I am a member of the Computer & Technology Section’s governing council. I joined the Section in 2010 precisely to gain access to the app, and am so glad I did! That hypothetical posited above about answering the court’s question using the app? That was indeed an actual situation that happened to me. And the court was satisfied with the answer. Sammy Ford IV is an associate with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.

Dead Peasants

The Houston Lawyer

By Larry D. Thompson Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books 292 pages


Reviewed by Robert Painter ead Peasants is part courtroom drama, part romance, and part thriller. Most of all, this is a well-written story that is hard to put down once you open the first page. Dead Peasants is 38

September/October 2012

the third novel by Houston attorney Larry D. Thompson, a partner at Lorance & Thompson, P.C., who draws on decades of his legal experience to construct this highly credible page-turner. The thriller’s main character is Jackson “Jack” Douglas Bryant, an old-school plaintiff’s lawyer— one like so many plaintiff’s lawyers we have known or at least heard about. After a considerably large verdict, Jack decides to retire from his Beaumont practice and relocate to his childhood hometown of Fort Worth. However, it does not take long before Jack gets restless in retirement, and he begins taking on some pro bono cases out of an office he sets up in his luxury RV. June Davis, one of Jack’s pro bono clients, is a recent widow who had lost her husband, Willie, of over 50 years. One day June stops by the RV with a check in hand for $400,000, made payable to Willie’s former employer, a car dealership. The post office had accidentally mangled the cover letter and delivered it to her because hers was the only name that they could make out. June and Jack think the large check is quite odd, considering that Willie had retired 15 years earlier, and earned only $20,000 a year as a porter for the car dealership. With the post office’s help, June unwittingly discovers what the insurance industry calls a “dead peasant policy.” In their heyday, from the 1980s to early 2000s, some employers would purchase life insurance policies on their low-paid rank-and-file employees without ever telling them. The employers would fre-


quently keep paying the low premiums even after the employees retire or quit. When the covered person dies, the company would cash in on the insurance proceeds, with frequently no money from the payout going to the grieving family. When the public became aware of dead peasant policies, there was such an outcry that many companies stopped buying the policies and most states, like Texas, outlawed them. Jack quickly puts his litigation skills to work and the stakes literally turn into life and death. His initial thought that the case involved only one policy proves wrong, as he uncovers that Willie’s prominent former employer had actually taken out policies on hundreds of other former employees. Further investigation reveals that several of these “peasants” turned up dead over a few short months with unexplained circumstances. When Jack starts turning over too many stones, he is threatened and finds himself amidst a plot that reaches far more than his own personal security and threatens his paramour’s life. Revealing much more of the plot line will compromise the suspenseful aspect of this story. Suffice it to say, this is a must-read for lovers of legal thrillers. And the fact that it is set in the familiar settings of Fort Worth and Texas law makes it all the more enjoyable. Robert Painter is a trial lawyer with the Painter Law Firm PLLC, where he handles medical malpractice cases for plaintiffs. He is an associate editor of The Houston Lawyer.

The Placement Service will assist HBA members by coordinating placement between attorneys and law firms. The service is available to HBA members and provides a convenient process for locating or filling positions. 1. To place an ad, attorneys and law firms must complete a registration record. Once registration is complete, your position wanted or available will be registered with the placement service for six months. If at the end of the six-month period you have not found or filled your position, it will be your responsibility to re-register with the service in writing. 2. If you are registered, resumes will be sent out under their assigned code numbers. Once a firm has reviewed the resumes, they are to contact the placement office with the numbers they are interested in pursuing. The placement coordinator will then contact the attorney, give him/her some background information on the inquiring firm, and the attorney will then let the coordinator know if he/she wishes personal information to be released to the firm. This process will insure maximum confidentiality and get the information to the firms and attorneys in the most expedient manner. 3. In order to promote the efficiency. PLEASE NOTIFY THE PLACEMENT COORDINATOR OF ANY POSITION FOUND OR FILLED. 4. To reply for a position available, send a letter to Pplacement Coordinator at the Houston Bar Association, 1300 First City Tower, 1001 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77002 or e-mail Brooke Benefield at BrookeE@hba.org. Include the code number and a resume for each position. The resume will be forwarded to the firm or company. Your resume will not be sent to your previous or current employers. PLACEMENT DEADLINES Jan. 1 Jan./Feb. Issue Mar. 1 March/April Issue May 1 May/June Issue July 1 July/August Issue Sept. 1 Sept./Oct. Issue Nov. 1 Nov./Dec. Issue If you need information about the Lawyer Placement Service, please contact HBA, placement coordinator, at the HBA office, 713-759-1133.

Positions Available

Positions Wanted

5080 SEEKING ASSOCIATE LEGAL COUNSEL for Houston public pension fund. Approx. 4 years’ experience with retirement plans, employee benefits, administrative law, institutional investing or Texas local government law required. Background checks and drug testing. EOE.

2062 Very Experienced Trial Attorney intimately familiar with the mechanics and operation of the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) industry, including the securitization process of commercial loans and the duties and responsibilities of Mortgage Loan Originators/Depositors, Underwriters of REMIC Trusts, 5094 ESTATE PLANNING Rating Agencies, Trustees, Ser– PROBATE ATTORNEY. vicers and Special Servicers. SUGAR LAND. Board certi- Looking for in-house position. fied attorney, 33 year Houston area practice serving Harris/ the serves you Fort Bend counties, seeking associate attorney with adEnhance your vanced estate planning and probate experience. practice


If you need information about the Lawyer Placement Service, please contact HBA, placement coordinator, at the HBA office:


placement service


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281.955.2449 ext.11




September/October 2012



Document Examiner

Office Space

www.legaldocusa.com legaldocusa@aol.com CV, CR, BK documents All Courts & Archives, UCC, Patent, Trademark Asset & Property Search Document Scanning Complete Service of Process

GALLERIA area office space for sharing arrangement. Available September 1. Up to two attorneys’ spaces are available with space for support staff and files. Attorney offices are about 14’ X 15’ with large windows. We have conference rooms, kitchen and other common areas. This is not an executive suite. Email Kurt Arbuckle, kurt@kurtarbuckle.com

The Houston Lawyer

1.800.487.2245 For classifieds contact:

Mary Chavoustie


281.955.2449 ext.13 September/October 2012

Houston Uptown/Post Oak at Woodway. Premium Class A office space. Available at One Riverway. Share suite with experienced attorneys. One - 210 sq ft window office overlooking downtown Houston. Secretarial/paralegal space available. Internet, phone system, mail center, filing space, kitchen, conference rooms, receptionist and office furniture are available, depending on your needs. Call 713-961-8020 for more information.

Executive Office Space Available: Starting at $700 per month. AmeMIDTOWN – 3000 SMITH nities include: 2 conference rooms; maid and reception services; full Sublease with established law kitchen. Heights Boulevard address.  firm, partner office (20 X 12) with attached assistant office Broker/owner. 713-880-4700 (13 X 12). Use of amenities, re3 offices available in Frost Bank ception area, kitchen, conferBuilding, Bellaire and West Loop. ence room, free covered parking. Call: 713-524-2400. 15X16, 15X12, and 10X12. Conference room, secretarial space, kitchen, copier/scanner/fax. Houston office space for sublease (near Greenway Plaza inside No cover. No minimum. 610 Loop).  Up to 3 large window 713-665-7000 offices, 1 large interior office, 1 assistant station available.  Full KitchGalleria area suite with great view - offices available en. Free Parking.  Can lease one for lease. Top floor of Chase Bank office or entire suite. Furnished or building at Richmond and Sage. Unfurnished. Call 832-236-7047. Approximately 200-225 square feet RIVER OAKS TOWER per office. Well appointed suite inKirby & Richmond. 5 - Family cludes conference room, limited library, wet bar, and free parking. Law Attorneys sharing offices has Fax, copier, reception/secretary 2 office space 10’ X 11’ available service available at additional for sublease. Amenities include cost. $875.00-$925.00 per month. conference room, local and long distance telephone, private voiceDorena 713-961-5555. mail, high speed internet T2 Speed, HOUSTON – Beautifully remodeled printer, copier, fax, Lexis Nexis, 2-story building in ideal location ProDoc, filing and pick up for on I-10 & Heights Boulevard just Court documents, and full kitchen. minutes from Downtown. Offering Accounting Services are available executive suites and virtual offices at an extra charge. Great working with conference rooms, copy/fax and collaborative environment. Call Philip: 713-208-2222. center, kitchen, parking included and much more. MUST SEE! Call 713-861-3595. Position Available

Legal Document Retrieval & Research


HOUSTON / MUSEUM DISTRICT Newly remodeled Historic Home, minutes from the Court House. Onsite Management, receptionist, three conference rooms, kitchen, small library, telephone system, internet access, copier, fax and free parking. Several offices available. Call 713-840-1840


Business Firm Seeks Two Partners. Small AV-rated business firm in The Woodlands positioned for growth, seeks two self-sustaining attorneys to complement practice. Prior experience in a boutique, midsized or large firm with a record of advancement and strong academic record required. Must be team-oriented and willing to be active in firm marketing. Open regarding practice

AV Rated Firm Seeks Of Counsel Attorneys. AV-rated law firm in greater Houston area seeks experienced, accomplished attorneys interested in a virtual of counsel arrangement to grow or supplement their existing practices. Firm has strong web presence and of counsel attorneys are listed on firms’ website. Successful candidates will have developed expertise in a particular practice area, received training at an AV-rated firm, and have a good academic record. Practice areas of interest include family law, personal injury, fiduciary litigation, corporate, real estate, intellectual property, employee benefits, and commercial litigation. Compensation based on business referred between of counsel attorney and firm members. Firm is also interested in selfsufficient candidates who want an office with the firm. Please reply to woodlandslawfirm@yahoo.com



areas, but prefer corporate, real estate, intellectual property, employee benefits, commercial litigation, and estate planning. Compensation based on individual productivity and firm referrals. Firm is also willing to consider opportunities with another firm seeking to grow or establish an office in The Woodlands. All inquiries held in strictest confidence. Please reply to woodlandslawfirm@yahoo.com



treeban k lane , texas 77070 tel: 28 1.894. 8608 cell: 71 3.202. 2994 gsl007 @sbcg lobal. net houston

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P.O. Bo

Sheron R. “Sam” Sheppard Co-owner / president

3101 Highway 59 N. Shepherd, TX 77371 WyVac, Inc. | Texas | USA

Office: (936) 628-1210 Cell: (713) 805-5720 Fax: (936) 628-1207 sam.sheppard@wyvac-inc.com www.wyvac-inc.com

Foreign Language Business Tutorial Mary I. Breeland president

• •

Phone: 832.444.7573 marybreeland@yahoo.com

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Spanish Classes Translations Bilingual Seminars English Classes

1,000 full color business cards (both sides, front & back)

for only



Order today, deliver to your office in less than 2 weeks! for more info email us at

art@quantumsur.com (design services available)

Professional Services Ticket and DWI defense, trafSpecializing in Financial Fraud, fic warrant removal, DPS license Asset Discovery, Due Diligence, Background, hearings, occupational driver’s and White Collar Criminal Matters. licenses, and driver’s license issues. Robert W. Eutsler. Serving Corporate and Legal Communities Worldwide with the utmost discretion. www.TheTicketAttorney.com Our offices are staffed by professional Tel. 713-464-6461. intelligence specialists with experience garnered from premier international government agencies.

2323 South Shepherd, Suite 920 713.520.9191 • noukas@noukasintel.com www.noukasintel.com

Join in concert

Kevin Black Coleton Black Jamie Richards Gary P. Nunn on Sunday, October 14, 2012 in the race to find a cure for Rett syndrome. Tickets: $75 - $125 pp contact Dave Clements at 713-410-6076 or visit www.doseydoe.com Learn more at www.SpendingTimeEndingRett.com.

For classifieds advertising, please contact:

Mary Chavoustie mary@quantumsur.com 281.955.2449 ext.13 thehoustonlawyer.com

September/October 2012


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The Houston Lawyer magazine, September/October issue, 2012


The Houston Lawyer magazine, September/October issue, 2012

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