THE MAGAZINE OF
SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW HOUSTON
2020 OVERCOMING CHALLENGES, CELEBRATING COMMUNITY, AND LOOKING TOWARD THE NEXT 100 YEARS
FA L L 2020
Remembering Coach Treece page 12
COVER IMAGE: ESTHER-SARAH WILMOT â€˜20
THE MAGAZINE OF SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW HOUSTON
FA L L 2020
CONTENTS MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT AND DEAN
REMEMBERING T. GERALD TREECE
A tribute to the life and legacy of one of South Texas’ most beloved professors LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Alexander Kuiper ’13 honors his father’s memory with a generous gift to STCL Houston. BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN CITIZENS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
Michael Dirden ’92 is using his legal education to create safe spaces in which citizens and the police can work together to resolve issues in the community. UNPRECEDENTED: STCL HOUSTON’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Virtual classrooms, long-distance recruiting, and innovative solutions: How South Texas has thrived in a challenging year SECOND-CENTURY STRATEGIC PLAN
Explore the f ive pillars of STCL Houston’s vision for 2023 and beyond, and learn about two major initiatives that will help us achieve that vision.
12 16 18 20 30
SEEKING JUSTICE IN THE CAMP LOGAN TRIAL
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE
MEET STCL HOUSTON’S NEWEST PROFESSOR
Professor Guha Krishnamurthi talks with InRe Magazine about his multidisciplinary approach and how he used the sitcom “Seinfeld” to teach criminal law. A century after the largest military trial in our nation’s history, the STCL Houston community f ights for justice. A look back at how women lawyers led in activism and advocacy to support the 19th Amendment
6 ONE TO WATCH | Barrett Blackmon 38 CLASS NOTES 52 FACULTY NOTES 60 DISCOVERY 44 ON THE RECORD 58 STACKS | Recommended reading from South Texas faculty and staff 46 MY TESTIMONY | EVP emeritus and Professor Helen B. Jenkins 50 IN BRIEF
SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW HOUSTON ADMINISTRATION
Michael F. Barry President and Dean Steve Alderman Vice President and General Counsel Catherine Greene Burnett Vice President, Associate Dean for Experiential Education Ted L. Field Vice President, Associate Dean for Faculty Mindy Guthrie Vice President, Advancement and Alumni Engagement Randy Marak Vice President, Information Systems Shelby A.D. Moore Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mark E. Steiner Vice President, Associate Dean for Students
Diane Summers Vice President, Marketing and Communications Cherie O. Taylor Vice President, Associate Dean for Academics BOARD OF DIRECTORS
J. Kenneth Johnson ’86 Chairman Larry A. Baillargeon ’74 Genora K. Boykins ’85 Darryl M. Burman ’83 The Hon. Theresa W. Chang ’96 The Hon.Robert A. Eckels ’93 Stewart W. Gagnon ’74 The Hon. Eva Guzman ’89 Chris P. Hanslik ’95 Ryan K. Haun ’06 Michael S. Hays ’74 Randy R. Howry ’85 Don D. Jordan ’69 Nicholas J. Lanza Jr. ’89 Joseph K. Lopez ’78 The Hon. Debra Ibarra Mayfield ’99 Michael W. Milich ’97 Imogen S. Papadopoulos ’84 Gordon J. Quan ’77 Andy B. Sommerman ’86 Randall O. Sorrels ’87 James D. Thompson III ’86 Ruthie Nelson White ’96
South Texas College of Law Houston
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ryan K. Haun ’06 President Aaron Reimer ’07 President-Elect Wally Kronzer ’87 Vice President, Career Networking Donald Kidd ’91 Vice President, Development Committee Courtney Carlson ’08 Vice President, Special Events Brant Stogner ’06 Immediate Past President Byron Alfred ’12 Tim Ballengee ’09 Brad Bell ’99 Rick Berlin ’06 Elizabeth Bolt ’07 Melanie Cheairs ’89 Robert Cowan ’01 Adam Curley ’08 Paul Darrow ’07 Darcy Douglas ’07 Jen Falk ’06 Samantha Frazier ’11 Judge Keith Giblin ’89 Bradford Gilde ’04 Katherine Gonyea ’08
Ronald Haggerty ’96 Misty Hataway-Coné ’01 James Helton ’14 Christine Herron ’10 Chastiti Horne ’98 Lisa Ketai ’84 Gabe Lerner ’10 Xerxes Martin ’11 Troy McKinney ’86 Chris Miner ’94 Lindsey Moorhead ’11 Avishay “Avi” Moshenberg ’12 Gus Pappas ’88 Andrew Pearce ’07 Catina Perry ’06 Bill Pritchett ’14 Tonya McLaughlin ’06 Trey Sandoval ’04 Sharon Schweitzer ’89 Donald Sepolio ’89 Carl Shaw ’90 René Sigman ’02 The Hon. D’Lisa Simmons ’90 Jennifer Stogner ’06 Brad Tegeler ’02 Samantha Torres ’13 Gabe Vick ’07 Peter Wells ’05 Paul Wyatt ’13 INRE STAFF
Claire Caton Director, Public Relations Amanda Jackson Green Director, Communications and Editor-in-Chief
Amanda Simonian Director, Multimedia Diane Summers Vice President, Marketing and Communications Pete Vogel Director, Creative Services and Designer CONTRIBUTORS
Amber Ambrose Todd Green Lauren McDowell Lauren Patterson InRe is published by South Texas College of Law Houston for the law school’s alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. Please direct correspondence and inquiries to: South Texas College of Law Houston Attn: Amanda Jackson Green 1303 San Jacinto Houston, TX 77002-7006 713-646-1760 firstname.lastname@example.org COPYRIGHT 2020
SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW HOUSTON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A Message from the President & Dean
The year 2020 has not gone exactly as any of us had planned. Like the rest of the world, South Texas faced unpredictable circumstances and unforeseen challenges this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safe distancing practices changed the way we teach, learn, study, and work — and how we communicate, connect, and celebrate. But the pandemic also presented South Texas with the opportunity to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to educational excellence, to serving others and to supporting our students and keeping our community safe. The stories in the coming pages offer a glimpse at the ways in which we as a school have risen to the pandemic’s challenges — and the ways in which our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have overcome, persevered, and excelled despite the difficulties we’ve faced in recent months. It has taken great creativity, cooperation, and a lot of hard work (and many Zoom meetings…), but the results speak for themselves. The resilience our community has shown this year has allowed STCL Houston to continue to advance our mission. In “Evicting Injustice,” on page 26, you’ll read about how South Texas students and staff attorneys in the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics have taken the lead to protect tenants from illegal evictions at a time when many Americans are economically vulnerable. And on page 42, you’ll discover how our Actual Innocence Clinic is leading the effort to seek posthumous pardons for defendants in the largest criminal trial in our nation’s history. And the pandemic has not stopped us from planning ahead. Looking forward to our centennial celebration in 2023, we are laying the foundation for South Texas’ second century. On page 30, you can explore the foundational components of our Second-Century Strategy — and make an early commitment to help us see it through. You’ll also learn about two initiatives the law school launched this spring: the Legal Writing Center and the Office of Diversity, Equity, an Inclusion — two major steps toward realizing our vision. 2020 will go down in history for many reasons. I will remember it as the year I had the distinct honor of working with and supporting incredibly persistent, unshakable, exceptional faculty, staff, students and alumni during unprecedented times. I am proud of all that we have accomplished, grateful to be part of the South Texas community, and optimistic about our future. Stay safe, and all the best,
Michael F. Barry President and Dean
IN BRIEF THE HOUSTON FOOD SCENE ASSOC. DEAN MARK STEINER WELCOMES
John Nechman ‘95 WEDNESDAY, JULY 1, 7P.M.
CELEBRATING OUR CITY, OUR CULTURE, AND OUR COMMUNITY
Summer Lecture Series celebrates Houston arts and culture During this summer’s remote learning session, South Texas found new and creative ways to engage the campus community. Mark E. Steiner, associate dean for students, hosted a summer lecture series titled “Houston: Style and Substance.” The four-week series featured alumnus John Nechman ’95 and other friends of the law school, who shared their expertise on the city’s street art, food scene, distinctive hip-hop culture, and demographic trends. Lecture recordings are available online at stcl.edu/Houston-speaker-series.
its commitment to the law school’s mission by offering two $12,500 scholarships for deserving students for the 2020-2021 school year. Thank you to the Bauer Foundation and all of STCL Houston’s dedicated supporters!
Spring 2020 Celebration of Graduates goes online South Texas faculty and staff quickly pivoted to host a Celebration of Graduates in May 2020, after COVID-19 safety considerations forced the law school to postpone an in-person hooding ceremony until October. Graduates and more than 900 of their friends and family members from across the globe logged on to watch the livestream on the school’s YouTube channel. You can watch the recording at stcl.edu/grads.
C.T. Bauer Foundation renews commitment to South Texas scholars Since 2015, the C.T. Bauer Foundation has offered immense support for South Texas students through its scholarship fund. The Foundation recently renewed
South Texas College of Law Houston
BLSA, ACLU student groups invite campus community to examine racial justice issues In September, the Black Law Students Association and the American Civil Liberties Union student chapter each hosted panel discussions to promote awareness, understanding, and honest discourse surrounding issues of racial bias and inequities in the legal community. Both events were hosted by dynamic panels of South Texas students, faculty, and alumni who reinforced the law school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education and the practice of law.
Alumni Association honors memory of David V. Wilson II ’93 with scholarship fund The STCL Houston Alumni Association’s
current president, Ryan Haun ’06, and immediate past president, Brant Stogner ’06, have established a scholarship fund in honor of the late David V. Wilson II ’93. Wilson was a dedicated South Texas alumnus, advocacy coach, and leader who touched the lives of hundreds of students and alumni. He was a longtime member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and he served as chair of the Association’s development committee. A two-time national David V. Wilson II ’93 advocacy titleholder, Wilson gave back to his alma mater by coaching rising advocates and championing the program through fundraising efforts. At the request of Wilson’s family, the scholarship will support a student with financial need who participates in the advocacy program and demonstrates a commitment to community service. Stogner and Haun continue to raise funds, with the goal of building a
IN BRIEF $50,000 endowment that will support South Texas students well into the future. If you are interested in making a gift to the Wilson scholarship fund, please contact Kia Wissmiller at email@example.com.
Career Resource Center, Alumni Engagement Department launch Career Support Network The STCL Houston Career Resource Center has joined with the law school’s Alumni Engagement department to connect recent graduates, bar takers, and graduating 3L students with alumni and members of the legal community who can provide the guidance and assistance the new attorneys need to jump start their careers. Alumni are invited to participate by volunteering to mentor a graduate in their area of practice, serving as panelists for career information sessions, and/or offering employment or internship opportunities for South Texas graduates. For more information, visit my.stcl.edu/CSN.
Alumni Engagement Survey drives new programming The Alumni Association thanks all who participated in the 2020 Alumni Engagement Survey. The information gathered will help the Association develop its programming and provide new benefits for South Texas alumni. A key finding was a high demand for online engagement opportunities and continuing education programs. Look out for more of these events on the calendar this fall and spring.
THANK YOU TO OUR GALA 2020 SUPPORTERS Due to safety restrictions, South Texas was forced to cancel its annual gala fundraiser. We thank the Gala 2020 volunteers and sponsors who made an early commitment to support student scholarship at STCL Houston. THE LANIER LAW FIRM
CHAIRS MITCHELL KATINE ’85 AND JOHN A. NECHMAN ’95
MR. ALLEN GELWICK, LOCKTON COMPANIES HAYNES AND BOONE, LLP
RANDY HOWRY ’85 / HOWRY BREEN AND HERMAN, L.L.P.
HOST COMMITTEE CHAIRS THE HON. JOSE R. LOPEZ II ’87 LAUREN N. HERRERA ’14, AND NORMAN ROSER ’86
MICHAEL HURST ’90 / LYNN PINKER COX AND HURST, L.L.P. JACKSON WALKER L.L.P. JENKINS & KAMIN, LLP
PLATINUM SPONSORS RICHARD H. ANDERSON JR. ’82 AND SUSAN K. ANDERSON GOLD SPONSORS
DON D. JORDAN ’69
SALLY J. LANGSTON ’91
LAW OFFICE OF JOSE R. LOPEZ II THE HONORABLE DEBRA IBARRA MAYFIELD ’99
ANNIE BECK ’11 & DEBORAH BECK ’92
MR. N. BROOK NUTTER ’96 AND DARLA NUTTER
MITCHELL KATINE ’85, JOHN A. NECHMAN ’95/ KATINE, NECHMAN, MCLAURIN LLP
DON KIDD ’91 & TAMMY KIDD ’99 / PERDUE & KIDD
MICHAEL S. HAYS ’74 / MICHAEL HAYS LAW PLLC
IMOGEN S. PAPADOPOULOS '84
ABRAHAM, WATKINS, NICHOLS, SORRELS, AGOSTO, AZIZ & STOGNER
ANINDITA BANERJEE ’96 / BANERJEE & ASSOCIATES
GENORA KENDRICK BOYKINS ’85
LARRY A. BAILLARGEON ’74
BARNES & NOBLE COLLEGE BOOKSELLERS, LLC
JUDGE JAY KARAHAN ’83 AND DR. CYNTHIA DOERR
THE HONORABLE THERESA W. CHANG ’96
ROBERT COWAN '01, AARON HECKAMAN ’07, AND CAMP BAILEY/BAILEY COWAN HECKAMAN, PLLC APARNA M. DAVE ’02
HOPE & CAUSEY, P.C.
DANIEL D. HOROWITZ III, PC
GORDON QUAN ’77 AND SYLVIA QUAN
POHLMAN USA COURT REPORTING AND LITIGATION SERVICES
THE HONORABLE EMILIANO J. SALCINES JR. ’63 AND ELSA M. SALCINES
FROST BANK GRAY REED
SYNERMARK PROPERTIES, INC.
GREENWAY MEDIATION CENTER
The gala committee is planning for a spring 2021 return. Please contact Mindy Guthrie at 713-646-1797 if you would like to join the planning committee or reserve your sponsorship.
YEARS OF EXCELLENCE South Texas will celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2023.
South Texas College of Law Houston
Mark your calendar, and look forward to an exciting slate of celebrations, lecture series, and opportunities to show your support for the law school as we mark this important milestone.
S COLLE XA
Effective January 1, 2021, the Young Alumni Council will be designated as an Alumni Association affinity chapter. As the Young Alumni Chapter, the organization will benefit from the chapter model’s leadership structure, electing a president and executive officers. The chapter will continue to organize young alumni-focused programming. The group has developed a taskforce to determine officer election dates and procedures, which they will communicate to current and potential members this winter.
Young Alumni Council transitions to affinity chapter status
IN BRIEF A gracious welcome In November 2019, South Texas Professor Pamela George and retired attorney Paul Easterwood welcomed Lee and Michael F. Barry to the law school with a gathering of friends from the local legal community and beyond. The couple hosted 30 people in their home, a converted medical facility in Houston’s Historic 6th Ward, designed to highlight their eclectic collection of paintings and sculptures by Texas and New Mexico artists. “Paul and I were honored to bring so many from the legal and business communities together for this celebration of welcome. In retrospect, the evening took on special significance as the last large dinner party we hosted in our Houston home in a pre-pandemic world. We hope everyone’s memories of that evening are as happy as ours,” said George. New to Houston, Dean Barry and his wife, Lee, appreciated the introduction to many of our graduates and members of the legal community.
Photos: 1. Hosts, Professor Pamela George and Paul Easterwood, retired attorney 2. President and Dean Mike Barry and Lee Barry 3. Bobby Newman ’94 and Dawn Archer ’09 4. Lee Barry, President and Dean Mike Barry, Deasa Turner and Dr. Stephan Wexler ’11 5. Benny Agosto ’95, Professor Elaine Carlson ’78, Bob Carlson and Nicole Agosto 6. Annie Beck ’11; Debbie Beck ’92; and Nicole Agosto 7. Stacey Draper Lafitte ’06 and Marc Lafitte 8. Susannah Mitcham ’20 and her father David Mitcham 9. J.D. Bucky Allshouse ’75, Lauren Waddell ’02 and John Smither 10. S.J. Swanson ’01, Pamela George, Myra Wilson ’01 and Stacey Draper Lafitte ’06 Photography: Phyllis Hand 4
South Texas College of Law Houston
Safety considerations led STCL Houston to delay commencement exercises — originally scheduled for May 2020 — to October, with the hopes that a large gathering would be feasible by the fall. When the end of summer arrived and the George R. Brown Convention Center remained closed to large groups amid continued public health concerns, South Texas faculty and staff began to explore other options. A survey of graduates showed the overwhelming preference was to host 12 hooding ceremonies on campus, accommodating up to 20 students — plus eight guests each — per ceremony. The events took place on Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18 in the Joe Green Auditorium, honoring nearly 300 graduates from the December 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020 cohorts. “From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, STCL Houston acted swiftly and effectively not only to protect the health and safety of our community, but also to focus on supporting our students,” said President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “A commencement ceremony marks an important transition from the world of
South Texas College of Law Houston
Celebrating 2020 Graduates academia to the world of practice. As our students have displayed impressive flexibility and creativity over the past seven months, we were delighted to honor them with this distinctive experience. While this is not the commencement any of us had planned, I am confident that our graduates and their families appreciated the efforts we undertook to enable these students to walk the stage and celebrate this important event.” As with commencements in years past, participating students donned full graduation regalia, were treated to a commencement address by Barry, and
received individual recognition on the commencement stage. Each ceremony included attendance by a variety of faculty members and board members, as well. When Ryan Haun ’06, president of the STCL Houston Alumni Association, first learned of the idea to host multiple ceremonies, he thought it was bold, ambitious, and a little crazy. But he knew the payoff would be worthwhile. “Seeing the families and graduates celebrate in the law school was incredible,” said Haun. “I was equally proud of the staff and faculty efforts — and the community’s heart and willingness to innovate for the students.” Graduates and their family members also expressed deep appreciation for the innovative approach. “I am eternally grateful for the opportunity not only to be able to have a graduation ceremony to share with family and friends, but also for the way STCL Houston and Dean Barry have really been there for our graduating class through the ups and downs we’ve experienced this year,” said Ivy B. Cuellar, spring 2020 STCL Houston graduate. “It really has meant the world to us.”
“It is so poignant to see Coach’s chair empty. I have so many memories of talking about everything under the sun with T. Gerald: Advocacy, students, classes, history, art, music, literature, poetry, baseball, politics, television — there was nothing we wouldn’t talk about. I still miss him so very much.”
— Shaun Devine ’93
South Texas College of Law Houston
T. Gerald Treece April 9, 1945 – July 13, 2020
WRITTEN BY AMANDA GREEN
Gerald Treece was — among many other things — a proud Odessa native, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, an avid Houston Astros fan, and a man of faith. He was a beloved father to son Justin and daughter Trisha, devoted husband to Sue, and a cherished teacher, mentor, colleague, public figure, and friend. Treece joined the full-time faculty at South Texas in 1978, as director of the law school’s then-fledgling Advocacy program. In an interview with the student newspaper that year, he said, “South Texas College of Law has the potential to produce the best advocacy team in the country.” He spent the next four decades nurturing and fulfilling that vision. With his straight-shooting logic, signature West Texas adages, and love and support for his students, Treece led the South Texas Advocacy program to become the winningest team in the nation — with 133 national titles and counting. He trained some of the country’s most successful litigators, and his contributions and accomplishments will leave an indelible legacy at South Texas College of Law Houston.
The program has earned numerous accolades from U.S. News & World Report, the Blakely Advocacy Institute, and preLaw Magazine, which named it the Best Moot Court of the Decade in 2016. Some of Texas’ most formidable litigators earned their chops and refined their skills in Treece’s classroom, including U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick ’06 and Randy Sorrels ’87, former president of the State Bar of Texas. “I don’t know of any one person who has left a greater mark on South Texas College of Law Houston than Coach Treece,” said Sorrels. “He raised the level of advocacy at every school across the country by creating a new standard.” What Treece built was more than a winning program. It was a family — and he was the warm, funny, encouraging patriarch. Affectionately known by his students as “Coach,” Treece led with love — for the law, for zealous advocacy, and for his students. For 42 years, his business was molding champions, but his calling was shaping lives. “Coach made us feel loved and wanted,” recalls Michael Hurst ’90, a South Texas graduate and former board member. “We were driven to succeed because we didn’t want to
“You have made my life. Painters and conductors have great works they’re proud of. I am proud of you.” – T. Gerald Treece
He made us feel like we were part of something big and big things were ahead for us. That kind of confidence and sense of belonging propelled so many of us to succeed, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.” — Michael Hurst ’90 let him down. He made us feel like we were part of something big and big things were ahead for us. That kind of confidence and sense of belonging propelled so many of us to succeed, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.” Treece made a point to keep in touch with his students after graduation. He often sent an email or a handwritten note when he learned about a recent promotion, courtroom victory, or personal milestone. He even officiated a handful of alumni weddings. A humble leader, Treece took every opportunity to recognize that the program’s success did not rest on his shoulders alone. In particular, he often credited Shaun Devine ’93 — his dear friend and coordinator for the Advocacy program — with “keeping the wagons moving.” In a speech at his 40th anniversary celebration, he said, “Advocacy is a team sport at STCL Houston, and the success of our program rests on the backs of so many … who give so generously of their time and talents to support our current students. I am grateful for what we have built together.” When he wasn’t molding future attorneys at South Texas, Treece served as an on-air legal analyst for the local CBS News affiliate, KHOU11 News. At the news desk, Treece demystified 14
South Texas College of Law Houston
the law for the layman and served as an ambassador for the profession by demonstrating compassion, intellect, and honesty. For more than 30 years, Houstonians tuned into his Saturday morning segment, where he answered viewers’ inquiries and explained the day’s complex legal questions in a way only he could: using straight-shooting logic, charming wit, and down-home expressions (such as, “It’s just your classic, garden-variety tort!”). It did not matter what time of year it was or what the team’s current record was: He signed off every news segment (and most in-person interactions) with a hearty, “Go Astros!” Whether it was baseball or advocacy, Coach Treece loved the game. But he loved the players more. He once said of his past and present advocates, “You have made my life. Painters and conductors have great works they’re proud of. I am proud of you.” The South Texas community will remember him for his endless patience, hearty laugh, unfailing thoughtfulness, and his innate ability to make every interaction meaningful and every person feel special. We honor his legacy, and we will continue to heed his charge: “Keep the wagons moving.”
south texas college of law advocacy program
Building on a winning legacy Robert Galloway ’91, who recently was asked to direct appellate advocacy, says his goal is to uphold the program’s award-winning traditions and continue to build upon them.
“The greatest way I can honor Dean Treece’s memory is to keep our Advocacy wagons moving and to get our teams ready to compete, even if we are forced to do so online,” Galloway said. “Coach Treece had an incredible knack for identifying and unlocking the potential in students, which led to incredible opportunities in the practice of law for so many, including me.” Galloway joined STCL Houston in 1992 as an adjunct professor, later becoming an assistant professor of Clinical Studies and the associate director of the Advocacy program. Since 2007, he has managed key components of the program. He also has coached teams that won 40 national championships, 44 regional championships, and eight state championships. The newly formed National Association of Legal Advocacy Educators (NALAE), a nationwide organization of advocacy coaches and teachers, also recently elected Galloway its inaugural president. “I’m pleased that Rob will be leading our exceptional Advocacy program,” said STCL Houston President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “A pillar of our distinguished program, Rob recently spearheaded a new set of standards applicable to remote Advocacy competitions — all designed to promote fairness, consistency, and clear expectations for advocates in our new virtual world. I thank Rob for his leadership and for ensuring that South Texas College of Law Houston remains a national leader in advocacy.” Galloway recognizes the program’s longevity will depend on the ability of its students, coaches, and staff to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. In the spring, advocates worked tirelessly to adjust their arguments and strategy to accommodate virtual competitions. “It was an interesting transition,” Galloway said. “Arguing a case inside a 2-by-2inch box on a screen is completely different from practicing in a courtroom. But we rose to the challenge.” This fall, Galloway and Barry assembled a 12-person planning committee to explore opportunities for ensuring the Advocacy program remains successful and integral to the South Texas community — including further incorporating advocacy skills into the broader curriculum and exploring the potential for additional courses in Texas pre-trial and litigation as the state shifts to the Universal Bar Examination (UBE). “We have a firm foundation on which to build,” Galloway said. “I’m grateful to be able to continue our long-standing tradition of excellence, and I look forward to working with our students, alumni, faculty, and staff to raise the bar in the years to come.”
Alexander A. Kuiper ’13
Leading by Example
Alumnus funds endowed professorship, challenges fellow alumni to follow suit WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CATON
South Texas College of Law Houston alumnus is taking a proactive role in bolstering his alma mater — and he is encouraging fellow alumni to follow suit. This fall, Alexander A. Kuiper ’13 established an endowed distinguished professorship at STCL Houston in anticipation of the law school’s centennial year in 2023. With a substantial gift, Kuiper and his wife, Hillary, established the Gary A. Kuiper Distinguished Professorship of National Security Law in honor of his late father. The professorship is designed to support a noted law professor whose scholarship focuses on national security. On behalf of the faculty, South Texas President and Dean Michael F. Barry awarded the professorship to Professor Geoffrey S. Corn, a globally recognized expert in national security law and the international law of armed conflict. Following the example of his father, Gary A. Kuiper — a U.S. Army veteran who served his country in the Vietnam War — Alex Kuiper enlisted in the Marines immediately following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. During his years in the Corps, Kuiper – ALEXANDER A. KUIPER '13 deployed to Iraq and participated in the battle of Fallujah. When Alex was five years old, Gary A. Kuiper adopted him, along with his brothers, when he married their mother, Galena. Alex — who, like his father, attended law school after serving in the military — notes he has followed the wise lead of his dad in all aspects of life. His father’s example continues to influence Kuiper as an attorney, husband, father of daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, and citizen; Kuiper credits much of his remarkable success to that influence. “We lived the wonderful life we had because of my dad,” said Kuiper. “His life continues to have an impact on me every
“I believe it is incumbent on successful graduates to support the institutions that have helped them accomplish so much.
Alexander Kuiper ’13 with wife Hillary and daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
South Texas College of Law Houston
Alexander A. Kuiper ’13
Clockwise from left: Galena Kuiper and late husband Gary pose with former President George W. Bush. An early portrait of the Kuiper family. The Kuipers are all smiles at a wedding reception.
day. He was a great legal mind and the smartest man I’ve ever known. With this gift to STCL Houston, I hope to honor my father’s legacy and keep his memory alive. “I also wanted to establish an endowed faculty professorship at STCL Houston to enable a talented faculty member to continue to perform critical research and teaching in the field of national security law. Professor Corn continues to be an important mentor to me, both professionally and personally. I’m pleased the law school has honored him with this professorship.” Corn — a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel — enjoyed a 22-year military career, including service as an intelligence officer, prosecutor, regional public defender, chief of international law for U.S. Army Europe, and the Army’s senior law of war expert advisor. Since joining the South Texas faculty in 2005, Corn has published more than 60 scholarly articles, co-authored texts on national security and international law, and has earned the Faculty Excellence Award by the Student Bar Association every year since 2006. “It is genuinely difficult for me to express how meaningful this remarkable expression of support for our law school and for my field of practice and scholarship is,” said Corn. “The fact that the bond of military service connects me both to Alex and to his father makes this all the more meaningful. Alex is a role model of the type of honorable, determined, and successful graduates our law school aspires to CORN produce. It is my hope that his example — both of success in transactional practice and of generosity — will serve as an inspiration for students and other alumni whose support is so central to fulfilling the school’s legacy as we move into our second century of legal education and service to our community.” Kuiper is managing partner of the Kuiper Law Firm, PLLC, a highly respected oil and gas boutique law firm in Houston. He practices oil and gas, employment, and bankruptcy law. Kuiper also acts as outside counsel for private equity oil and gas companies and Fortune 500 companies. Following his time in the Army, Gary A. Kuiper earned a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. To help support himself through law school, Gary worked at a halfway house for individuals
recently released from prison. After law school, Gary clerked for U.S. District Judge Wendell Miles and Magistrate Judge Hugh W. Brennemanin, of both of whom he was very fond. Gary then moved to Houston to become an assistant to Special Master Vincent Nathan in the supervision of the Texas prison system. He later served as a bankruptcy lawyer for Resolution Trust Corporation and then transitioned to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), where he worked as legal counsel for nearly 30 years in Washington, D.C. During his time in the Army in the 1960s, Gary guarded German Nazi leader Rudolph Hess in Spandau prison in Germany, where Hess served the life sentence handed down by the Nuremburg International Military Tribunal. With his gift, Kuiper hopes to inspire fellow alumni to give back to their alma mater. “I think it’s important to give back when you are in a position to do so,” said Kuiper. “I believe it is incumbent on successful graduates to support the institutions that have helped them accomplish so much. I see it as a duty — a way of paying forward the time, talents, and efforts that have contributed to our own achievements.” Barry said, “Alex Kuiper’s generosity and selfless gift to South Texas is a remarkable testament — not only to the legacy of his father, Gary Kuiper, but also to the life- and career-changing impact of his mentor, Professor Geoffrey Corn. Knowing the farreaching benefits of his gift — both to the school and to future generations of students committed to pursuing national security law — I am grateful that his contribution will help ensure our ability to attract and retain exceptional faculty members.” Barry also praised Professor Corn: “Professor Geoff Corn is well-deserving of this recognition. He is a most-successful classroom teacher, frequently earning ‘Best Teacher’ accolades from students. Importantly, as well, he has made significant contributions to the field of national security law, and he is called upon both nationally and internationally. STCL Houston is proud to honor him with this professorship.” stcl.edu
Michael Dirden ’92
Michael Dirden ’92 builds bridges between citizens and law enforcement WRITTEN BY LAUREN MCDOWELL
South Texas College of Law Houston
resh out of The University of Texas at Austin with an economics degree, Michael Dirden ‘92 found himself at a crossroads. It was 1985, and he was back in his hometown of Houston contemplating his next career move. The big picture seemed simple enough. He had always been drawn to the idea of law school, then going on to teach as a professor. But before he could put that plan into motion, there were more immediate concerns — he needed a way to provide for his young family. A friend helped convince Dirden that the Houston Police Department (HPD) might offer just what he was looking for. As Dirden says, “I had a very close friend who used to rag me about being broke. He had graduated from a university, and he was working at HPD at night and going to dental school during the day. He suggested it could also be a solution for me.” What started as a means to an end would turn into a long career marrying law enforcement with legal education, as Dirden rose through the ranks of the Houston Police Department to eventually become the executive assistant chief of police. When then-patrolman Dirden began attending South Texas College of Law Houston, the plan was still to graduate and go the professor route.
Michael Dirden ’92
“My education at STCL Houston equipped me to assist in creating a safe space in which the community and the police can work collaboratively to resolve issues.” – MICHAEL DIRDEN ’92
After graduating in 1992, Dirden was working in the legal services unit of the police department, looking toward the future and trying to determine a career path. Samuel Nuchia ’83, a former assistant U.S. attorney and the chief of police at the time, saw promise in the young officer and urged him to stay. “Instead of going out and making a lot of money, [Nuchia] challenged me to take my knowledge and use that to help reform the profession,” says Dirden. “My education at STCL Houston equipped me to assist in creating a safe space in which the community and the police can work collaboratively to resolve issues.” The notion stuck, and it became Dirden’s central mission in almost three decades of working for HPD. Over the next two decades, Dirden would take on dual roles as a high-ranking police officer: working externally with the public while working towards accountability inside the department. As a sergeant working in the Organizational Development Unit, he helped redesign the structure of the department and its core processes. When he became assistant chief of police, he led Professional Standards and Criminal Investigations oversight. And in his final role as executive assistant chief of police, Dirden’s responsibilities included oversight for a wide-ranging set of operational divisions, from patrol to mental health to apartment enforcement and differential police response, among others. Looking back on his time at South Texas, Dirden is grateful for the way law school fit into a life he was already building with a broad coalition of coworkers and friends. “I think the ability to bring practical knowledge and infuse that with legal talent makes South Texas unique. For me as a working student, there was never a sense that there was a distinction between full-time students and students who were working full time. We all were given the opportunity to succeed and participate in the law school and most of us took advantage of that.” Combining knowledge and experience from the legal and law enforcement worlds helps Dirden remain objective in today’s highly charged national conversation about the roles police officers play in the communities they serve.
“I believe it is important to recognize the value of critical dialogue instead of hateful rhetoric,” he said. “Obviously, events occurring in this country demonstrate some police officers may not respect and value Black or minority lives as they should. It is important that they be removed as soon as possible, considering police officers are afforded due process. I believe police must come to understand that greater civilian oversight of their duties is coming.” Now retired, Dirden’s job is different, but his work is far from over. As a senior subject-matter expert for a security risk management firm, Dirden consults on police department operations in cities throughout the United States, offering top to bottom assessment and evaluation of law enforcement agencies. “Some cities and agencies want to know if their policies and practices are consistent with contemporary standards in the profession, e.g., use of force, internal investigation, transparency and constitutional policing. Some clients may ask us to review certain events; how well did we respond to the protest or civil unrest, what did we do well, what lessons can we learn, how can we improve community engagement? Examination of department records, training, force and internal affairs complaints, and discipline are issues of concern to most clients.” Dirden says that every engagement involves discussion with government officials, members of the organization, stakeholders, and those in the community, especially those who are adversely affected by an incident or policy. “Analysis of data is important, so our team will include researchers as well as professionals who are experienced and knowledgeable about the profession...someone experienced in community engagement, use of force, training, etc. The deliverable provides findings and recommendations that the stakeholders can use to move the organization forward.” Asked about the legacy he hopes to leave behind, he said, “My focus has always been on giving others an opportunity to actualize their potential. If a leader accomplishes that, the positive benefit to the community and the organization is enduring.”
UNPRECEDENTED How South Texas students, faculty, and staff have united, overcome, and persevered under unusual circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic
WRITTEN BY AMBER AMBROSE
South Texas College of Law Houston
Temporary solutions become positive changes If the rapid onset of adversity were an exam, South Texas College of Law Houston professor Derek Fincham and Ted Field, associate dean for faculty, would pass with flying colors.
From adding “cheerleader” to a resumé to piecing together an optimized schedule for both virtual and in-person instruction for the fall, these two — and the entire faculty — realize this paradigm shift in higher education is not just a temporary reality. Now that some time has passed to allow for more perspective, they’ve reflected on just how much has changed. “I felt closer to my students in some ways, even though we were physically separate,” says Fincham. “I really stressed to them that the number one thing was to be safe, to take care of themselves, and that we’d get the schoolwork done. I was almost an emotional support professor, FINCHAM too, in a way I hadn’t been before. Part of what I was doing was cheerleading.” While Fincham was keeping students encouraged through the madness, adapting to online and remote learning, Dean Field was wishing for his Magic 8-Ball to help him predict the future and better plan the fall schedule.
“We had to shift on a dime. We had to plan for contingencies.” — TED FIELD, ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR FACULTY AND PROFESSOR OF LAW
“We had to figure out how to plan as if we were all in person, all online, or somewhere in between,” says Field. “We had to shift on a dime. Here’s what we’re doing now, and here’s what we’re doing now to plan for the future. We had to plan for contingencies.” Field worked closely with Mandi Gibson, assistant dean of students, to shift classes to different times of the day, find ways to maximize the space in the building, ensure onsite social distancing, and put as many classes online as possible to limit the number of people coming into the building — a daunting feat requiring creativity and ingenuity. Throughout it all, Gibson and Field believe many of these shifts will FIELD
prove advantageous for the foreseeable future for both faculty and students, including permanent changes in teaching styles. “Certain things that might seem dry, like citation or basic skills that GIBSON don’t lend themselves to a straight lecture, I’ve been able to slice and dice up into more bite-sized chunks for students,” says Fincham. “This summer we [the writing professors] realized if we pooled our resources and did one asynchronous module apiece or one legal writing class, we’ve got eight modules done that we can remix and use. It allowed us to see what each professor was doing and maybe even up my game, or vice versa.” And the benefits of these shifts aren’t limited to instruction alone. Students experienced real-world takeaways that could positively influence their future as lawyers. “Students learning to take depositions or doing other things like that online are going to have a leg up on those who have been around longer but don’t have that same experience,” adds Field. “The whole practice of law could change.”
Virtual but victorious: Student enrollment healthy despite challenges presented by COVID-19 When COVID-19 hit, like most people, Alicia Cramer, assistant dean of Admissions, was scared. The “What if I can’t adapt?” thoughts came creeping in.
There were fears of not being able to meet enrollment numbers, because when the world is turned upside-down, do people still want to go to law school? While the CRAMER adventure continues to unfold in realtime, Cramer is confident about the future. Realizing that “nothing is going to be the same,” means something very different now than it did in March, and Cramer is looking ahead with excitement and optimism. “My thought was that perhaps people were going to be fearful about in-person learning or the pandemic itself, ” says Cramer. Thankfully, those worries were easily put to bed, though it wasn’t without ingenuity and an overnight pivot on the admissions process. Transitioning from in-person to virtual recruitment
South Texas College of Law Houston
“The resilience of people has not been surprising, but reaffirming.” — ALICIA CRAMER, ASSISTANT DEAN OF ADMISSIONS
events meant going from the usual two on-campus receptions for admitted students to 16 or more events via Zoom video conferencing between April and June. Cramer thinks the flexibility and versatility of virtual meetings ended up creating opportunities. Remote attendance meant students didn’t need to travel, and more frequent events meant flexibility for students’ schedules. “When we’re having to make so much more of an impact to help these students understand who we are, what we’re about, what we have to offer and they can’t come to campus, that was a challenge,” says Cramer. “But people got
a good sense of who we were.” Ultimately, South Texas welcomed a robust, class of 306 talented 1L students this fall. Cramer knows the quick adjustments to strategy OLIVARES played a role in enrollment success, but she acknowledges that teamwork really does make the dream work —not only on the part of her Admissions colleagues Antigone Olivares and Melanie Krugel — but across multiple departments (Faculty, Communications, and Instructional Technology to name a few). “I have even more respect for the people KRUGEL that I work with,” says Cramer. “The teamwork that came out of trying to make things happen when someone else was struggling — to pitch in, was pretty cool.”
One problem (and solution) at a time: Instructional Technology rises to the remote learning occasion Terry Smith immediately downplays his role and that of his department when the term “rise to the occasion” is brought up in conversation.
The senior director of Instructional Technology insists that a team effort was essential to keeping things functioning for faculty, students, and staff at South Texas SMITH College of Law Houston in the sudden post-COVID-19 turnaround. He’s humble and gracious, but he does admit to working more intensely than before and agrees that there were plenty of creative solutions that contributed to keeping the STCL community connected when it mattered most. “We were working crazy hours,” says Smith, referencing the huge evolution of his department in a very small amount of time. “It totally shifted the way we do things, but we maintained ourselves in a virtual office.” When Smith uses the term “virtual office,” he isn’t just throwing phrases around. He means a literal, open-like-an-actual-physical-office virtual space where faculty, staff, and students can pop in whenever they like
“We were working crazy hours. It totally shifted the way we do things, but we maintained ourselves in a virtual office.” — TERRY SMITH, SENIOR DIRECTOR, INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY
during working hours to get help and find resources. “It’s a Zoom account and we [Instructional Technology staff ] meet in it, and that’s where we are all day,” says Smith. “It’s a virtual office that we’re running from early in the morning until 7 p.m., depending on what we’ve got going on. And people come and go. They make use of it, trust me.” Similar to visiting the IT counter on campus, the virtual office allows for drop-ins between set hours. The
signature Zoom doorbell sound effect alerts Smith and fellow staff that a visitor is waiting and needs assistance. Problems are solved just like they would be in a physical space, through conversation, patience and troubleshooting. “It makes it easier to deal with things and gives everyone the feeling that we’re there for them,” says Smith. Technical support has never been more necessary, which is why the virtual office became so important, but there were more internal developments needed to handle the massive scale of a fully remote campus. Smith says the technology team solved this issue by breaking down duties like a virtual assembly line. Staff members all handled one task in the process between recording each lecture and having it uploaded, labeled and ready to view by students. Transitioning to a hybrid model in the fall with both in-person and virtual classes has added a layer of complexity to an already complex operation, but Smith has been here before and puts his faith in a simple but effective philosophy in making it work. “You find a problem, you find a solution, and then you move to the next thing.”
Ensuring success with small changes For 2L student Lorena Valle, the transition to remote learning was difficult at first, but she made adjustments to ensure she kept on track in her coursework. Armed with months of
experience and a good set of noise-cancelling headphones, Valle is making the
best of the circumstances. “The most important thing is having a routine,” she said, noting that she has maintained her study schedule and her habit of taking handwritten notes during lectures. She also has found comfort in the support of faculty.
“[My professors] make themselves available to their classes,” she says. “They understand that students could get lost. That accessibility is more important now than ever before.”
Taking comfort in community As a first-generation college student and the first in his family to get a graduate degree, Mikheal Khan enjoys immersing himself in the student experience. He is actively involved
in several student organizations — serving as a senator in the Student Bar Association; a vice president of the part-time student law society, the Night O.W.L.S.; and a member of the International Law and National Security Society. While these organizations have had to adapt their activities to a remote environment, Khan says online learning has unique benefits. From welcome
South Texas College of Law Houston
interruptions by classmates’ pets to meeting their toddlers, Khan says online learning has allowed him to “get to know classmates on a more personal level that I wouldn’t otherwise.” Khan also is impressed with the changes that faculty have made during the pandemic. “From the beginning, I got the feeling professors were looking out for us and genuinely cared. We are truly a community.”
Remaining focused despite challenges The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as Eric Williams was approaching the end of his first year of law school. “[Before the pandemic] campus was my safe haven. I spent 12 hours a day at school.
[Remote learning] threw my schedule upside down.” With years of professional work experience behind him, Williams approached the challenge as
a business problem. “I took a work-like approach to the problem,” he said. “I transformed my apartment, creating a small area dedicated solely to studying.” He credits the division with helping him remain focused. Throughout the fall semester, he has taken advantage of the added support provided by faculty, many of whom remain on Zoom after
class to answer students’ questions. “I’m impressed with the way the school has handled crises this year — whether related to social justice issues or the pandemic. This experience has solidified my belief that I made the right choice. South Texas really is a place that puts students first.”
Finding work-life balance Part-time student Ashley Ekster says one positive aspect of the pandemic is that her family has been able to build stronger bonds. In fact, Ekster reports
that her son helps her to take breaks, ensuring she gets up from her desk from time to time. “It can be done. The balance with work and family is possible!” she exclaimed. She also is pleased that her online courses have maintained the same quality she experienced on campus. The faculty “have been working
nonstop to ensure a rigorous learning environment.” In fact, she says, remote learning has pushed faculty to explore new ways to engage students. In addition to the typical lectures, her professors have introduced videos, in-class polls, and a variety of online learning tools. “Courses may have gone from the classroom to the computer, but the conversations haven’t changed,” Ekster states. “The quality is still there.”
Evicting Injustice: STCL Houston staff and students gain national acclaim for client advocacy amid COVID -19 WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CATON
Sometimes passive support will suffice. And other times, nothing less than impassioned advocacy will do.
As German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” South Texas College of Law Houston staff attorney Eric Kwartler has been driving spokes and exposing injustice for months — garnering wins for his illegally evicted clients and national media attention for STCL Houston in the process. Kwartler and his team of students in the school’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics conducted extensive research on illegal evictions in Harris County from March 27 to July 25, 2020 — the moratorium period mandated by the U.S. Congress through the CARES Act to prevent evictions. The alarming data they uncovered significantly undermined prevailing narratives about the efficacy of the CARES Act. In August, Kwartler released his proprietary data revealing that more than one in five — nearly 24 percent — of all evictions filed in Harris County during the moratorium were illegal.
South Texas College of Law Houston
“One of the golden rules of providing access to justice for low-income clients is to make asserting their basic rights as simple and convenient as possible.” — ERIC KWARTLER, STCL HOUSTON STAFF ATTORNEY
Regardless of whether the tenants ultimately lost their homes, these eviction filings remain on tenants’ records for years, substantively impacting both their employment and housing opportunities. “With the shockingly high rate of evictions filed in violation of the CARES Act moratorium, Harris County stands as a tragically clear example of the substantial legislative and enforcement shortcomings of the Act,” said Kwartler. Because Congress failed to provide clear guidance for the CARES Act
— and the legislation itself lacks any federal or state enforcement mechanism — a dire situation was made even more complex and threatening for thousands of low-income Houstonians. Kwartler’s team — who worked closely with pro bono attorneys from Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Lone Star Legal Aid on their research — created a database to carefully analyze the more than 5,600 evictions filed in Harris County during the moratorium period. Of this number, they confirmed that 1,334 of these cases were illegal evictions, leaving tenants with little recourse without effective legal representation. In late March, President Donald Trump signed a federal moratorium forbidding certain categories of properties from filing evictions for unpaid rent, including properties with a federally backed mortgage; public housing properties; low-income, tax-credit properties; and properties that lease to tenants with Housing Choice/Section 8 vouchers. Critically, if one tenant of an apartment complex has a Housing Choice voucher, every tenant in the building is subject to the same CARES Act eviction protection. While a public database of multifamily properties with federally backed
mortgages existed, no such database existed for properties that take vouchers. As a result, tenants and attorneys alike had no way to tell whether landlords who filed evictions were covered by that provision. To remedy this situation, Kwartler and Leesa Everitt, an attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, filed a Texas Public Information Act request with both the Harris County Housing Authority and the Houston Housing Authority for the address of every tenant in Harris County receiving assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. With this information, Kwartler created Harris County’s most comprehensive database of properties covered by the CARES Act. Until the Texas Supreme Court issued its 15th COVID-19 Emergency Order on May 15, landlords were not even required to address whether their property was covered under the CARES Act before they could evict tenants. This lack of accountability and enforcement left over 1,000 Houston-area families — who should have had federal protection from eviction — facing nearly insurmountable housing crises amid growing COVID-19-related unemployment. Though the CARES Act moratorium officially expired at midnight July 24, Houstonians’ eviction concerns remain. Many evictions filed during the moratorium period still are active in the courts, and landlords of covered properties still are required to give a 30day notice to tenants they aim to evict. However, many landlords are ignoring that requirement, giving covered tenants three days, rather than 30 days, to move. Harris County landlords continue to systematically violate the CARES Act, and Kwartler and his team — with their proprietary data — are the only ones currently able to measure the scale of the issue. In addition to facing the end result of eviction, tenants must confront the very real threat of COVID-19 exposure from attending packed courthouse proceedings and securing new housing during a pandemic. In a quote provided to the Washington Post this summer, Kwartler noted, “Many people don’t realize that the actual process of eviction poses a significant danger to public health. Even
A production team from NBC National News recently flew to Houston to interview Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics attorney Eric Kwartler and student Gaspar Gonzalez on the thousands of illegal evictions occurring in Harris County despite the CARES Act moratorium.
with the CARES Act moratorium in place, Houston-area tenants frequently have been forced to risk infection by congregating with over 100 people at a small courthouse just to attend their eviction trials, and the vast majority of them have lost anyway. “Thousands of people and families received eviction notices during the moratorium who should have been covered — and they continue to face eviction at an alarming rate,” Kwartler said. “No other legal aid organizations are capable of monitoring this situation.” To offer relief to these and other families facing eviction, Kwartler spearheaded the Eviction Defense Coalition — composed of pro bono attorneys from STCL Houston, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Lone Star Legal Aid, the University of Houston Law Center’s Legal Clinics, and the Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Social Policy at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law — to provide them with effective legal counsel. In the months since the pandemic began, the Coalition has significantly expanded the availability of pro bono representation in court to Harris County tenants facing eviction. Kwartler is quick to applaud the thousands of Harris County landlords who remain in compliance with restrictions on evictions, as he simultaneously works to support tenants of less law-abiding landlords. Kwartler and STCL Houston have extended their advocacy for tenants in Harris County this fall. As part of a new
collaboration with the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office and the Eviction Defense Coalition — with funding from the Harris County Constable Precinct One Foundation — the law school has hired 10 recent STCL Houston graduates to provide legal counsel for individuals facing eviction. Through a three-pronged eviction prevention program, these recent graduates will advise clients at special drive-thru stations, at static clinics set up in the community, and through an eviction hotline. Under the supervision of staff attorneys in the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics, the “eviction preventers” will help tenants determine whether the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium applies to them and, if it does, help them invoke the moratorium to put a halt to their evictions. Houstonians facing evictions — or those who are unsure of their legal rights — are encouraged to contact the law school to learn about potential pro bono representation. As quoted by Bloomberg in September, Kwartler said, “One of the golden rules of providing access to justice for low-income clients is to make asserting their basic rights as simple and convenient as possible.” In a nutshell, this truth captures the enduring impact of STCL Houston’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics — and the mission of Houston’s oldest law school.
With more time at home this year, members of the South Texas community are exploring new ways to get creative, stay fit, and reduce stress. Prior to the pandemic, Alicia Cramer, assistant dean of admissions, began her mornings with a visit to the gym. In March, she shifted her workout routine to her garage, using barbells, a yoga mat, and a step ladder that doubles as a ballet barre. South Texas 3L student Jessica Ogin and her husband Paul used their 3D printer to create plastic ear guards. Worn across the back of the head as an anchor for face masks, the guards eliminate common ear pain resulting from conventional use of masks. The couple has distributed nearly 8,000 ear guards to essential workers in 32 states and three countries, free of charge.
Prof. Jeff Rensberger has started a walking routine while listening to the History of English podcast. He has listened to 73 episodes (which gets to about the year 1130) and has walked nearly 500 miles. As a result, he can tell you why the plural of “chief” is “chiefs” but the plural of "thief" is "thieves" and why the initial sound in “chief” is a ch- sound but is a sh- sound in “chef,” even though both words came into English from the same French word.
Prof. Katherine Vukadin's family volunteered their time at Avondale House, a school for students with autism. The family helped prepare a new group home for residents and led a school supplies drive that contributed more than 2,600 items for students’ needs.
Prof. Amanda Peters has enjoyed reading for pleasure. She read several nonfiction books on topics covering the Biltmore Estate, the crime of domestic violence, Syria, and Egypt (written by one of her favorite authors, Peter Hessler). She also enjoyed rereading one of her favorite Shakespeare plays with her family: The Taming of the Shrew.
Prof. Sharon Finegan, along with several friends, participated in virtual cooking classes hosted by a group called I’ll Have What She’s Having. The organization hosts culinary events, proceeds from which they donate to support women’s health care initiatives. Says Finegan: “I don’t know that I became a better chef, but I definitely had a ton of fun. It was a great way to connect with friends when we couldn’t see each other in person.”
South Texas College of Law Houston
With online streaming capabilities, our faculty can now participate in international forums without leaving Houston. Prof. Kenneth Williams was one of three featured speakers in an online discussion for the academic and legal communities in Brazil. The discussion topic was “George Floyd: Racism in Brazil and the U.S.” Prof. Williams’ remarks were translated from English into Portuguese.
Ashley Ekster, a 2L student, is using her creative skills to earn additional income making wooden home décor items. Ekster says the pandemic prompted her to take on the new endeavor, and she remains open to the possibilities of how her business may evolve.
Amanda Simonian, director, multimedia, is taking advantage of extended time at home to hone her skills in crafting balloon creations. During a team meeting with colleagues, she proudly modeled a unique balloon that she had recently designed.
Alumnus and member of the South Texas board of directors, Stewart Gagnon ‘74, alternates his time between creating new dinner concoctions and training his new Labrador puppy, Harper. The puppy is making great progress — and so are Gagnon’s cooking skills!
Kent Brazelton, senior director, safety and security, enjoys riding the Texas backroads to get his "wind therapy," saying that there's something about the open road on a bike that helps him relax and decompress from stress. Brazelton, a motorcycle rider since he was fiveyears old, hopes to ride forever.
Professor Maxine Goodman has enjoyed growing rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, and parsley. She waters the herbs when she remembers, and she enjoys eating them when someone else cooks.
Monica Ortale, associate director for public services, enjoys all sorts of crafts. For more than a year she has knitted baby blankets, distributing them to various charities.
2020 hasn’t been a straightforward year for the leader of any organization. President and Dean Michael F. Barry maintains some continuity by fitting in a good run several times a week. stcl.edu
“Our Second-Century Strategic Plan must lay the foundation for our law school’s next 100 years of excellence and leadership. Join us as we design our future.” — Michael F. Barry, President and Dean
South Texas College of Law Houston
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE SECOND CENTURY WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CATON
Shortly after his arrival at STCL Houston in
August 2019, President and Dean Michael F.
Barry traveled to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio,
Tampa, Fla., and locations throughout Houston to meet with alumni and gather their feedback on the law school’s greatest strengths and biggest challenges.
He conducted countless town hall and one-on-one meetings with students,
faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters to understand their greatest desires for STCL
Houston and to learn their concerns about operations, curriculum, and community. And he hosted a retreat of the South Texas board of directors to discuss
administrative and academic priorities, high-level goals, and essential elements of
STCL Houston’s strategic planning leading up to the school’s centennial in 2023.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Dean Barry recognizes that South Texas must
Above: President and Dean Michael F. Barry meets with a focus group comprised of student leaders to collect insight and feedback for the law school’s strategic plan.
continue to focus on its future. He therefore is engaging the South Texas community to develop a Second-Century Strategic Plan to help ensure South Texas’ success beyond its 100th year.
The following pages identify five foundational principles that will help inform
the next Strategic Plan.
BUILDING THE SECOND-CENTURY STRATEGIC PLAN
Five foundational principles:
Deliver Excellence in Legal Education:
Engage the Larger Community in Houston (and Beyond):
Enhance STCL Houston’s Strong Community:
• Match the law school curriculum to the evolving needs of employers Prepare students for emerging • technologies and practice areas • Provide students with relevant skills and experiences that increase their employability Foster exceptional faculty teaching, scholarship, and service
• Establish a board of visitors to
advise — and to advocate for — STCL Houston Engage with law firms, businesses, governmental entities, philanthropic organizations, foundations, and chambers of commerce Expand academic offerings to meet changing business and legal needs Create strong alumni networks throughout the community
• • •
• Foster a one-of-a-kind student
experience — the “South Texas Difference” Develop alumni programs that enhance engagement and involvement with STCL Houston Recruit, retain, and support exceptional faculty and staff Continue to prioritize the law school community’s commitment to student success
• • •
STRATEGIC PLAN TIMELINE
Michael F. Barry joins STCL Houston as president and dean
Dean Barry meets with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters to learn their priorities for STCL Houston
Dean Barry travels to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Tampa on a Listening Tour to gather alumni feedback on the history — and future — of the law school
Dean Barry and the STCL Houston leadership develop the foundational principles of the Second-Century Strategic Plan
South Texas College of Law Houston
Reinforce Our Diversity — Our Mission and Our Future:
Maintain and Grow Our Financial Strength:
• Nurture an environment that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion Create additional opportunities for •
• Launch a campaign leading into the centennial in 2023 Increase the funds available for •
diverse students to attend South Texas affordably Ensure that the student body, the faculty, and the staff better reflect the communities we serve Set the standard for diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education
What You Can Do
We need your participation and support through this strategic planning process.
Contact Dean Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.646.1819 to share your ideas and tell us how you’d like to help!
scholarships, professorships, student opportunities, and educational programming Modernize the STCL Houston campus to enhance educational opportunities Bolster the endowment to ensure continued success in the law school’s second century
Mission South Texas College of Law Houston provides a diverse body of students with the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education, preparing graduates to serve their community and the profession with distinction.
Dean Barry hosts a retreat with the board of directors to gather input from school leadership
STCL Houston establishes the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Dean Barry appoints Professor Shelby Moore as its first leader
Dean Barry restructures the law school leadership team to support new strategic initiatives
STCL Houston establishes a new Writing Center to support students
STCL Houston plans to establish a new board of visitors to connect with the external community
FROM DREAM TO REALITY:
Introducing the new South Texas Writing Center
Writing Specialist Cara Shaffer maintains safe distancing practices during a coaching session with a student in the newly launched STCL Houston Writing Center.
WRITTEN BY AMANDA GREEN
ithin weeks of President and Dean Michael Barry’s arrival at STCL Houston in the fall of 2019, Legal Research and Writing (LRW) Professor Maxine Goodman scheduled time to speak with him about establishing a new Writing Center at the law school. “I don’t think I let him put his briefcase down before I started to make my case!” Goodman said. Goodman leapt into a proposal for her passion project. She had data — both quantitative and anecdotal — to support the need for such a program. In her nearly 20 years of teaching LRW courses, she had recognized a trend; regardless of undergraduate institution, major, or work experience, new law students increasingly struggle with writing. “My students are brilliant,” Goodman said. “They come to law school prepared to think like a lawyer, and they are adept at analyzing complex arguments. But, often through no fault of their own, many find it challenging to convey their ideas on paper.”
An innovative solution to a common problem
This phenomenon is in no way unique to South Texas students. Hordes of education researchers, c-level executives, and job recruiters have written articles, op-eds, and blog posts about the U.S. workforce’s declining written communication skills. Some decry the rise of text messaging shorthand. Others blame 34
South Texas College of Law Houston
standardized testing. But many subject-matter experts point to pedagogical shifts; curricula — from grade school to graduate school — prioritize theory and analysis over teaching the basic mechanics of GOODMAN writing. Regardless of why students grapple with it, skilled writing is in high demand in the job market. Writing samples and resumés often are an employer’s first impression of a candidate, and that judgment can be critical. A 2019 study from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire showed that readers strongly correlate a writers’ grammar and technique with characteristics like competence, work ethic, and teamwork. And writing is even more critical in the legal field, where a misplaced comma could cost a client their livelihood. Barry gave Goodman the green light before she even fired up her PowerPoint presentation. “This was a natural progression for the law school and our LRW program,” Barry said. “As an institution whose mission is to train practice-ready lawyers, we have a moral imperative to do everything within our power to equip our students with the skills they need to excel — both in their course of study and as they go on to become interns, clerks, and attorneys.” Goodman spent her fall 2019 sabbatical interviewing directors of writing centers at other institutions, researching different models for the program, and assessing the best fit for South Texas. Ultimately, with
input from fellow faculty members, Goodman and Barry decided on a proficiencybased model supported by an in-house writing specialist, and the STCL Houston Writing Center was born. Finding the right fit
With a generous pledge of support from an anonymous donor, Goodman organized a committee composed of faculty and students to select the program’s first writing specialist. Cara Shaffer, a former associate at Bowman and Brooke in Austin, arose as the top choice. She especially impressed the students on the committee with her approachability and accessible SHAFFER teaching style. Kendra Wilson was one of those students. “It was clear that Ms. Shaffer has the experience to make the [Writing Center] successful,” she said. “But her passion and excitement for the program really made her stand out. She has a genuine desire and motivation to help students succeed.” A 2018 graduate of The University
of Texas School of Law, Shaffer worked through law school tutoring college hopefuls on the verbal section of the SAT. After graduation, UT’s undergraduate mock trial team recruited her as a coach, an experience that reinforced her passion for teaching. “Advocacy and teaching really light me up,” Shaffer exclaimed. “This job is a miraculous union of all the things that I love to do, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to support South Texas students in developing such an important skill.” The Writing Center serves as a complement to the law school’s award-winnin LRW and Advocacy programs, and faculty from both programs collaborate with Shaffer to provide students with a series of writing seminars and skills workshops. Shaffer also meets with students for individualized sessions to address their concerns about specific writing assignments or skills like organization, grammar, punctuation, and usage. “What we’re offering is not a proofreading service,” Shaffer explained. “It is a true coaching session; my goal is to give students the tools to be the best editors of their own work.”
“What we’re offering is not a proofreading service. It is a true coaching session; my goal is to give students the tools to be the best editors of their own work.” – CARA SHAFFER, WRITING SPECIALIST
The Writing Center already has become a go-to resource for South Texas students; Shaffer has hosted as many as 22 coaching sessions per week since the start of the fall term. Faculty and staff are making plans for the program’s future, too. “It’s a very exciting time to be starting a writing center,” Shaffer said. “Similar programs have really taken off in the past five to 10 years, so there is a wealth of research and collaboration going on in institutions across the country. I’m excited to grow the program, implementing best practices that serve our community’s needs.” Beginning in fall 2021, the program will introduce metrics to identify and address students’ specific writing needs from the first day of law school. The program
is exploring opportunities for incoming 1L students to take a written diagnostic test, and then, based on their results, receive personalized recommendations for on-campus writing workshops and one-on-one sessions with the writing specialist. As the program evolves, the Center will expand its services to include consultations and coaching for upper-level students focused on briefs and legal writing samples. “I am excited to see where the future takes us,” Goodman said. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure every South Texas graduate enters the workforce with the legal writing skills — and the confidence — they need to succeed.”
Professor Shelby Moore leads new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion WRITTEN BY AMANDA GREEN
“It’s important to exemplify our values inside our building. But true success demands that we bring as many people as possible along for this journey.” – SHELBY MOORE VICE PRESIDENT OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
South Texas College of Law Houston
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
To survive, succeed, and advance we must be a community that strives – every day and in every way – to respect the diversity in others and
embrace our shared characteristics. Even in disagreement we must strive for understanding. This kind of community encourages the very best in its
individual members and consequently elevates the community as a whole. P REAMBLE of the SO U T H T EXAS COMMUNI T Y of RESP ECT P LED GE
his is the vision cast in the preamble of the South Texas Community of Respect Pledge shared with faculty, staff, and students this fall. The pledge is among the first initiatives of STCL Houston’s new Office of Diversity, Equality, Inclusion, Justice, and Engagement. The program is a critical component of the law school’s strategic vision to support a student body that reflects the demographics of the Houston community — which last year officially became the most ethnically diverse city in America, according the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Most importantly, it is a natural progression of the institution’s mission, of which diversity and opportunity are cornerstones. “One of the hallmarks of South Texas is its inclusive, welcoming community,” President and Dean Michael Barry said in a May 2020 memo announcing the launch of the program. “Maintaining that community — and enhancing it further — cannot be left to chance, but must be fostered and intentional.” Barry appointed Professor Shelby Moore to lead the charge as the vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Moore has been a member of the South Texas faculty since 1992, during which time she has taught Criminal Law, Property, Torts, and the Politics of Race in America. She also has served as chair of the Academic Assistance Advisory Committee, which focuses on creating new and innovative ways to assist students academically, professionally, and personally. She is well-known among the campus community for her commitment to inclusivity and her dedication to mentoring students, graduates, and colleagues — all of whom offered enthusiastic endorsements for her leadership of this important endeavor. “I am truly honored by the opportunity to lead such a critical program,” Moore said. “And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the law school’s approaching centennial than to renew our commitment to such meaningful ideals as diversity, equity, and inclusion.” In early fall 2020, Moore began assembling a broad-based coalition of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members to oversee the program. The committee will provide
leadership and support to advance the law school’s ongoing efforts to foster a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment for all members of the South Texas community and to promote a culture of empathy, accountability and respect. The committee’s first task will be to complete a review of the law school’s policies, procedures, curricula, and programs to identify what is working and to identify areas for innovation and improvement. In addition to the Community of Respect Pledge, the Office introduced an implicit bias training module to this year’s 1L orientation. Students were encouraged to take at least one Implicit Association Test (IAT) prior to the session. Developed by researchers at Harvard University, the IAT measures potentially unconscious attitudes and beliefs about others based on race, religion, gender orientation, sexual orientation, disability, and weight. During the session, Moore and alumnus Judge Peter Estrada ’88 drove home the importance of self-awareness and empathy in the practice of law. “It’s not enough to be diverse and inclusive,” Moore declared. “As attorneys, we have to be equitable. This is not about political correctness. Political correctness does not require critical thinking. It demands that you ascribe to rigid boundaries around your words and actions. “We want to train you to know yourself, to know which assumptions have the potential to jeopardize your pursuit of justice. Implicit bias is a risk to your success. If you make assumptions about your client or your competition, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage.” Moore and Barry’s long-term vision includes a comprehensive slate of educational programs, research projects, and training opportunities that will engage the entire law school community. They also have plans to extend their efforts beyond the campus walls, serving as a resource for law firms, nonprofit organizations, and other educational institutions. “It’s important to exemplify our values inside our building,” Moore said. “But true success demands that we bring as many people as possible along for this journey. We are the guardians of justice. So, we need to be the standard bearers for diversity, equity, and inclusion.” stcl.edu
South Texas College of Law Houston
One to Watch
Successful Health Care Executive Pursues the Law WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CATON
ith an MBA, nearly two decades of business experience, and a full-time role as a health care executive, 2L Barrett Blackmon defines success. As a parent of three, he embodies handson, dedicated fatherhood to daughters Bella, 16, and Ava, 12, and son, Bryce, 8. And as a part-time law student at STCL Houston, he epitomizes the adage that “it’s never too late to follow your dreams.” Blackmon currently serves as regional vice president of Oncology Services at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute — the cancer service within HCA Healthcare. In this role, he oversees oncology for over a dozen HCA hospitals in South Texas, from Conroe to Harlingen. In addition to collaborating with hospital executives to advance programs and services offered at their respective facilities, he unites independently employed oncology practitioners — from medical oncologists, to surgeons, to radiation oncologists — into one group, resulting in excellent, convenient care for patients and strategic growth for all stakeholders. Blackmon creates cohesive teams of oncology specialists and provides effective strategies around the patient population and their need for cancer care. Prior to this role, Blackmon served as chief administrator for the surgical oncology department at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Blackmon has devoted his entire career to oncology following the cancer death of his father — when Blackmon was only 16 — and the successful treatment of his mother and sister from the same disease. With a law degree, he hopes to continue to contribute to the field in a legal capacity. “I’m grateful that I’ve already begun to integrate my health care background and legal studies,” he said. Blackmon recently became the student representative for the Cancer Advocacy Group in the American Bar Association’s Health Law Practice Section. “With involvement in this group, I’m really excited to be able to impact cancer patients on an even larger scale through the law. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity.” Health care has had such an impact in his life that he wrote a soon-to-be-released book called, “Metastatic America,” which parallels the cancer journey with the current state of race, religion, and politics in the United States. As a first-time author, Blackmon hopes that his book is educational, entertaining, and motivational. Despite his weighty work load, Blackmon recently was
admitted to the STCL Houston Presidential Fellows program, denoting academic excellence during his first year of law school. Blackmon notes that the most challenging aspect of law school is finding balance while juggling disparate roles. “Several of my health care colleagues have expressed interest in earning a JD,” he said. “I tell them that South Texas College of Law Houston offers the flexibility that makes it possible to pursue a law degree while being engaged in an extremely demanding career. “I also tell them that they better be ready for the challenge of a lifetime,” he said. “It’s not for the faint of heart, and no matter how well they know business and how many accolades they have achieved, law challenges the brain in ways it never has been challenged before. I’ve been significantly humbled by this experience. Despite my background in health care and business, law school has been a reality check!” When asked how he manages to balance the significant responsibilities of family, career, and law school, he responds, “I don’t sleep much!” Thankfully, he has the full support of his children and new wife, Jasmine — whom he married in May under the authority of his fellow law student, Joe Stephens, a Harris County justice of the peace. He notes that — when work or school prohibits his attendance at his daughters’ gymnastics meets or musical theater performances — they remain understanding and grateful for his hard work to provide for the family. “Some of my children’s activities are out of town,” he said. “I’ve literally taken books and read cases on the plane and in the hotel room, just to be as present as possible in their lives.” While Blackmon has the full support of his family, he also has found encouragement from those in the South Texas family. When the COVID-19 pandemic developed during his second semester of law school, he found a friend and confidant in Professor Maxine Goodman. “Professor Goodman is fantastic!” he said. “She is incredibly approachable. When the pandemic hit, she opened her office door and just talked with me — and not even always about class. She genuinely asked me how I was doing and her compassion was so welcome during that time of such uncertainty.” Barrett noted, “I feel privileged to attend STCL Houston. I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that I’ll be successful in my legal career in large part because of my experience at this law school. The people I’ve met and the rigors I’ve overcome have really enriched my life in ways I did not anticipate.” stcl.edu
South Texas College of Law Houston
Meet STCL Houston’s Newest Professor: Guha Krishnamurthi WRITTEN BY TODD GREEN
rofessor Guha Krishnamurthi is a logician through and through, even when he’s leading a lecture concerning “a show about nothing.” Friendly and energetic, the newest faculty member at South Texas College of Law Houston spoke with InRe Magazine about his multidisciplinary approach to law, his current research, and the virtual Seinfeld Criminal Law lecture he gave this summer. Outfitted with a trio of advanced degrees, Professor Krishnamurthi bolsters his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law with an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas. His love of logic and fascination with the framework of law are deeply rooted in the rigorous methodology required of mathematicians and the reflective, esoteric musings of philosophers focused on the letter and spirit of the law. Krishnamurthi’s multidisciplinary education influences his teaching methods and research topics, and as a lecturer of criminal law, he encourages students to bring their own expertise to their studies. Whether it be a prior degree, work or life experience, the professor believes it is critical to apply the lens through which we understand the world to law. As a researcher, he embraces his philosophy background, exploring theories of punishment and the admissibility of confessions within criminal proceedings. Of particular interest to Krishnamurthi are incidents surrounding confessions made by those with disabilities. He notes that there are many stories to suggest that people who are incapable of complying during an arrest are at a higher risk of coercion or abuse from law enforcement. This area of research has led the professor to apply
for a seat on the board of directors of The Arc, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which he is slated to join soon. Outside the lecture hall, Krishnamurthi follows the NBA and professional cricket, and watches reruns of Seinfeld — one of which recently became more than just a way to unwind. This July, he joined Professor Gregory Shill of the University of Iowa, and other law professors from around the country, to produce a series of volunteer lectures on — you guessed it — Seinfeld and the law. They called it the Yada Yada Law School. For his lecture, now on YouTube, Krishnamurthi selected Seinfeld Criminal Law. The hour-long discussion explores how everyone’s favorite “show about nothing” is really about a lot of things, including the interpretation of statutes. And that goes far beyond debating the unwritten rules of society: double-dipping or Elaine’s offensive dancing, for example. In fact, the professor’s lecture touches on several violations of criminal law, including mail fraud by Kramer and Jerry and, of course, the Good Samaritan Law featured in the series finale. No spoilers though: The only way to find out if Professor Krishnamurthi thinks the Seinfeld gang was guilty — and see why the college is so thrilled to welcome him to the faculty — is to watch the lecture. Prior to joining South Texas College of Law Houston, Krishnamurthi was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer at Harvard University. He also clerked for the Honorable Goodwin H. Liu of the California Supreme Court, the Honorable Andrea R. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Of particular interest to Professor Krishnamurthi are incidents surrounding confessions made by those with disabilities.
Guha Krishnamurthi and wife Charanya Krishnaswami, center, celebrate their wedding with Krishnaswami’s parents, Sundara and Anusuya, left, and Krishnamurthi’s parents, Manjula and Subramaniam, right.
A Century After the Largest Military Criminal Trial in the Country, the STCL Houston Community Fights for Justice WRITTEN BY LAUREN MCDOWELL
ABOVE IMAGES: COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES | OPPOSITE PAGE IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES
South Texas College of Law Houston
At sunrise on December 11, 1917, 13 condemned men — Black soldiers of the Third Battalion of the 24th Infantry Regiment in the United States Army — were hanged near Salado Creek in Bexar County. hey were buried in unmarked graves, identified only by numbers corresponding with the order in which they were executed. Just two weeks prior, those men had been convicted of insubordination, mutiny, murder, and aggravated assault for their role in violent confrontations with local police and civilians known as the Camp Logan Riots. The trial that led to their execution would earn the infamous distinction as the largest single military criminal trial in U.S. history, leading to decades of criticism from members of military and civilian communities. This includes South Texas College of Law Houston Professor Geoffrey Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. Above: A courtroom “The experience these men suffered, photo depicts the from being thrust into a racist environscene during the ment, being humiliated by having to build court martial of 64 facilities so white novice draftees could members of the 24th Infantry. The trial was train to go fight in a war they would be held in Gift Chapel excluded from; to a rushed and biased at Fort Sam Houston. process that didn’t even meet the miniOpposite: Forty of mal standards of military justice fairness the more than 100 Black soldiers who of their day, compelled me to do what I were charged in the could...to expose the injustice they suffered violent conflict often and to develop a comprehensive narrative referred to as the Camp Logan Riots. of events.”
The first of three courts-martial, United States v. William C. Nesbit, took place November 1, 1917. During that trial, a single officer — not a licensed attorney — represented 58 of 64 soldiers; all pleaded not guilty. A month later, the court delivered five acquittals and 58 convictions, including 41 lifetime imprisonments and 13 death sentences. On December 10, 1917, the guilty findings and sentences were approved with no outside review of the case. Scaffolding was hastily constructed overnight, and the executions took place the following morning, with no prior notification to the prisoners or their families. Seeking Justice in the 21st Century
Corn first became aware of the initiative to bring justice to the Camp Logan soldiers through Clyde Lemon, a Houston attorney and representative of the Veterans Affairs Committee of the local NAACP. When asked what drives his interest in the trials, Corn said, “Every JAG officer who learns of this event is stunned that such a defective process was used to try and punish these men, almost all of whom were among a very small number of Americans who gave years of honorable and courageous service to the nation as members of the regular Army.” The path to restoring the soldiers’ honor felt like an essential obligation for Corn, who “believes passionately that every soldier deserves to be treated fairly during any disciplinary or criminal process,” especially if “bigotry or discrimination impact that fairness.” As the complexities and scope of the project unfolded, Corn stcl.edu
The Camp Logan Riots The Camp Logan Riots occurred on August 23, 1917 after a series of racially charged incidents and continued abuse of Black soldiers from the 24th United States Infantry Regiment by local police officers. The riot resulted in 17 dead, including four police officers, nine civilians, and two soldiers. Following the riot, military tribunals indicted 118 Black soldiers and found 110 guilty. Though two white officers faced courtsmartial, they were released, and no white civilians or police officers were brought to trial. ©HOUSTON CHRONICLE. USED WITH PERMISSION
enlisted the help of STCL Houston librarians Heather Kushnerick and Monica Ortale in his research efforts, as well as military law expert Dru Brenner-Beck — also a retired lieutenant colonel. Corn calls Brenner-Beck “one of the finest lawyers I ever worked with during my Army career,” and said that “her devotion to the highest ideals of justice, and her love of the Army and its soldiers” made her an ideal sounding board for the project. Now an adjunct professor at STCL Houston, Brenner-Beck oversees students in the Actual Innocence Clinic as they develop comprehensive records to support pardon petitions for the soldiers in partnership with Catherine Burnett, vice president, associate dean, and director of clinical programs. Ashley Cromika, a student contributor on the project, has spent innumerable hours researching specific defendants — unearthing everything from their extensive military records to letters they wrote to loved ones from jail cells. “The details of this trial are gut-wrenching,” she says. “The riots happened right here in our city, and so many people don’t even know about it. Justice requires that we right these wrongs. These men, their families, and our country deserve at least that much.” Corn and Brenner-Beck have not only expanded their team, but their pardon efforts as well — to include every convict– DRU BRENNER-BECK ed Camp Logan soldier, not just those who were executed. According to Brenner-Beck, “These soldiers were tried as a military unit, and the deficiencies in the process affected them all.” The new scope was cemented at a meeting between regional NAACP representatives at STCL Houston in April 2019. The Fred Parks Law Library houses the most comprehensive
These courtsmartial marked a salient turning point in the development of American military law ... ”
South Texas College of Law Houston
historical record of the events surrounding the Camp Logan riots, making South Texas a prime setting for the discussion. Looking to the Future
Professor Corn has worked diligently to make the case known to high-level military connections. In one positive development, he connected with the acting General Counsel of the Army, Michele A. Pearce. Pearce expressed interest in supporting the cause and visited STCL Houston this fall to meet with students and faculty to review the project. In another victory, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy recently submitted a letter to the director of Veterans Affairs requesting placement of proper markers on the soldiers’ gravesites. Though Corn’s aim is for McCarthy to “order that all dishonorably discharged soldiers have their service changed to honorable,” the fact that the injustices suffered by the Camp Logan soldiers is now a focus of the secretary of the Army’s interest is encouraging. While advocating for modifying all discharges to honorable, Corn and the legal minds at STCL Houston are also developing individual dossiers to support a pardon request submitted through the secretary of the Army to the president of the United States. And as they continue their work, they are all aware that the road to justice is rarely quick, simple, or straightforward. As Brenner-Beck says, “These courts-martial were legal, but they were not just. This effort is not simply an exercise in revisionist history. These courts-martial marked a salient turning point in the development of American military law, making the correction of the injustices in these trials even more imperative — it is never too late to right a fundamental wrong. These soldiers deserve no less from the Army and nation they served.”
Give the gift that pays you back
If you are seeking a way to support South Texas and receive a steady income stream, a charitable gift annuity (CGA) might be right for you. When you make a gift to fund a charitable gift annuity at STCL Houston, you can make a lasting difference and: n Supplement your retirement income and/or provide your loved ones fixed, dependable yearly payments for life. n Receive tax advantages and an immediate federal income tax deduction. n Receive the satisfaction that your gift will have an immediate impact on South Texas. Immediate Payment Charitable Gift Annuity Rates* $10,000 cash gift for a single beneficiary Beneficiary Age 65 70 75 80 85 Annuity Rate
4.20% 4.70% 5.40% 6.50% 7.60%
Sample Charitable Tax Deduction
*Please note that this information is for illustrative purposes and is not intended as tax or legal advice. Rates are subject to change and are based on rates recommended by American Council on Gift Annuities. The example above is based on $10,000 gift with rates as of July 1, 2020.
To start a conversation, contact Mindy Guthrie at email@example.com or 713-646-1797. To learn more and calculate your potential benefits, go to www.stcl.edu/cga.
South Texas College of Law Houston
From a data-focused vision of Houston as the city of the future to a delightful imagining of London as a portal for magical travel, South Texas faculty and staff review the books they are diving into this fall. Daniel Correa Mark Steiner
1 The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leaonard Mlodinow
3 Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Assistant Professor of Law
Leonard Mlodinow challenges readers to give chance a chance. Many people judge world events according to outcomes and ascribe value to others according to results, misjudging the control any person has over what happens in the world. Mlodinow argues that chance plays a central role in bringing about these outcomes and results, and that we may improve our judgments about such events — and about one another — by understanding the nature of random processes. Lawyers strive to present their clients' cases as neatly as possible, focusing on the obvious and direct. Random occurrences or processes often do not make the cut, as they appear trivial or irrelevant. When randomness does make the cut, it often plays an inordinate role in the case, particularly for the defense. Mlodinow's methodological approach to problem solving with random processes as the central focus provides jurists and aspiring jurists alike with a new perspective of randomness, which may aid resolution of future cases and improve our jurisprudence.
Vice President, Associate Dean for Students, Professor of Law
2 Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America (2020) by Stephen Klineberg Stephen Klineberg, professor emeritus of sociology and founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, has done an annual survey of Houston for the last 38 years. His new book draws upon that research to describe the past, present, and future of Houston. Klineberg stresses how our present is America’s future — 20 years from now “the nation’s overall demographics will look very much like Harris County today.” I enjoyed reading this book because I’ve lived in Houston most of my life and I’ve seen the changes that Klineberg describes so well. The book is very informative and thoughtful, and it clearly lays out the challenges ahead for Houston.
Professor of Law
Just Mercy is the firsthand account of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer who rejected lucrative opportunities to practice corporate law to represent death row inmates in Alabama. Stevenson recounts the challenges of obtaining justice for death row inmates who, according to Stevenson, "never [would] have been convicted of capital murder if [they] had the money for a decent lawyer." Stevenson discusses several of his cases, but the book’s primary focus is on his representation of Walter McMillian, an African-American man who was sentenced to death for killing a white woman after a trial that lasted a day and a half. During post-conviction proceedings, Stevenson exposed the fact that McMillian had been convicted and sentenced to death based on coerced and perjured testimony. As an attorney who has spent the bulk of my legal career representing death row inmates in Texas, I related to many of the obstacles Stevenson faced in pursuing justice for his clients. Like Stevenson, I also had strong cases in which my clients deserved relief only to be thwarted by the courts. However, the book
is not just an insider's account. It is sure to be fascinating for anyone committed to justice and learning about the flaws of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Cara Shaffer Legal Writing Specialist
4 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab This fantastically magical novel tells the story of a boy who can cross into four parallel versions of London and a girl who cannot. Kell is a magician in Red London where magic pulses through the river Thames. Lila is an orphaned pickpocket in our own world's London. Soon, dark forces from White London begin to threaten all four worlds. Kell and Lila are thrown into an adventure involving aspiring pirates, a roguish prince, and a sadistic villain. The good characters are complex and interesting. The villains are deeply nefarious. And the world-building is masterful. Sometimes, one just needs a piece of escapist fantasy with wicked prose. Schwab delivers. I greatly enjoyed falling into the rabbit-hole of this dark fairytale for a few hours.
celebrating 100 years of
Women’s Suffrage WRITTEN BY LAUREN PATTERSON
This year marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, a pivotal moment in the country’s voting history. ver a century later, the pursuit and protection of equal voting rights for all U.S. citizens remains just as urgent, and the South Texas College of Law Houston community continues to build on a legacy of advocates, including those who fought for their own right to vote.
Women lawyers led on suffrage activism and advocacy
Women lawyers practiced law in the United States for decades before they could vote, and many took up the cause of suffrage with fervor in the earliest days of the movement. Lawyers like Inez Milholland and Lettie Burlingame were vocal suffragettes, and professional organizations like the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and its predecessor, the Women’s Lawyers Club, helped garner support for voting rights for women. In Houston, the early 1900s saw a flurry of organizing, lobbying, and rallying for women’s suffrage. The Houston Equal Suffrage League and the Texas Woman Suffrage Association (TWSA)1 EQUAL VOTING RIGHTS
MILESTONES n 1848 — The women’s suffrage movement
began at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York. n 1869 — The first woman admitted to the bar
in the U.S. was Arabella Mansfield in Iowa. n 1870 — Ada Kepley became the first woman
to earn a law degree in the U.S. n 1872 — Charlotte Ray became the first
African American woman to be admitted to the bar in the U.S.
South Texas College of Law Houston
paved the way for the 1918 law passed by the Texas Legislature, granting women the right to vote in primary elections two years before the federal women’s suffrage amendment would pass. Houston’s own lawyer suffragette, Hortense Sparks Ward, was the first woman to pass the Texas State Bar exam in 1910 and helped enact the Married Women’s Property Rights Law in 1913. She spearheaded the lobbying efforts for Hortense Sparks Ward Texas’ 1918 primary voting law and then led the charge to the polls as the first woman to register to vote in Harris County. Progress is made but exclusion continues
The Texas Legislature approved the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage in 1919, becoming the ninth state and the first Southern state to do so. In 1920, Tennessee became the final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment, at last giving women the legal right to vote across the United States. But this was far from an arrival in the fight for suffrage for all women. Jim Crow laws and racist, xenophobic policies restricted voting access for African American women, women of color, immigrants, and Native Americans for decades. Threats of violence and discriminatory practices like poll taxes and literacy tests would not be deemed illegal until much later, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. n 1875 — In Minor v. Happersett, the U.S.
Supreme Court rules that the 14th Amendment’s privileges and immunities clause does extend suffrage to women. n 1886 — Lettie Burlingame founded the Equity
Club for women law students and alumnae, the first professional organization for women lawyers. n 1893 — Texas Equal Rights Association, the first
Texas suffrage organization, formed in Dallas. n 1899 — The National Association of Women
Lawyers (called the Women Lawyers’ Club at the outset) was founded.
STCL Houston professor Sharon Finegan, who specializes in criminal law and teaches civil rights as part of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, believes “It’s important to recognize the difference between the eligibility to vote and the ability to vote. They are not one and the same.” So, as we celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, we also reflect on the role lawyers continue to play in the fight for voting rights across the country. “Lawyers play a particularly crucial role in advancing voting rights, either by joining advocacy groups to lobby Congress or actually becoming members of the legislature to enact law that protects access to the right to vote,” Finegan says. “There are also small actions, like getting certified to register citizens to vote, or volunteering to work at the polls as an observer to ensure that people aren't being turned away for improper reasons.” Members of the ACLU student chapter at STCL Houston recently engaged in one of the small acts of service about which Finegan speaks. The group organized a drive-through voter registration event in the law school’s faculty and staff parking lot. Volunteer deputy registrars, all of whom are ACLU members, registered new voters and educated veteran voters on voting rights and procedures. “Voting is central to the way our country works, and yet [voting laws] can be incredibly complicated,” said Markia Bordeaux, current president of the ACLU student chapter. “As attorneys and future attorneys, we are uniquely empowered to serve our communities by sharing our time and the knowledge we have gained through our legal education and training."
n 1919 — The Texas legislature voted to ratify the
19th Amendment, becoming the first southern state to do so. n Aug. 1920 — The 19th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution was ratified. n Nov. 1920 — More than 8 million women across
the U.S. voted in elections for the first time.
Professor Sharon Finegan
Protecting the right to vote
Modern day forms of voter suppression like closure of poll locations in underprivileged neighborhoods, restrictive voter I.D. laws, and complex voter registration processes, alongside partisan practices like gerrymandering, work to disenfranchise citizens and jeopardize their ability to participate in our democracy. “It’s our duty to ensure that voting rights are not being abridged in overt ways, but also in smaller incremental ways that can have a huge impact,” Professor Finegan stresses. “As lawyers, we have both an ethical and a moral obligation to make sure that laws reflect the best interests of our citizenry. And we do that by making sure the population — the entire population — can vote for the representatives who enact those laws.”
n 1964 — Ratification of the 24th Amendment
prohibited payment of a poll tax to vote in any federal election. n 1965 — The Voting Rights Act was passed. n 1971 — The 26th Amendment lowered the
voting age to 18. In Texas, the requirement for annual voter registration was removed.
n 1924 — Federal suffrage is extended to Native
n 1975 — Congress amended the Voting Rights
Americans of both sexes by an act of Congress.
Act of 1965 by adding Section 203, requiring states to provide election and voting materials in Spanish and other languages.
n 1928 — Puerto Rican women won suffrage. n 1944 — The Supreme Court declared the prac-
tice of excluding Black people from voting in the Democratic Primary in Harris County to be illegal.
n 1993 — The National Voter Registration Act
passed, making voter registration available at the DMV and other public agencies.
Renamed the Texas Equal Suffrage Association (TESA), and later became the Texas League of Women Voters. stcl.edu
My Testimony Helen B. Jenkins
executive vice president emeritus and professor of law
South Texas College of Law Houston
annah Cherry was born into enslavement on a plantation in 1856. According to oral histories, she was separated as a baby from her mother, Ellen, whose master sold her further South as punishment for refusing a sexual advance from his son. Hannah was eight years old when the U.S. Congress ratified the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States. The news, however, did not immediately make it from Capitol Hill to the dirt floor hut where Hannah lay her head on a pallet bed after long days in the tobacco fields of North Carolina. Her master defied the law, retaining Hannah in enslavement until she was 10 years old. After she was emancipated, Hannah reunited with her mother, who — for three years following the Civil War — traveled by foot to find her baby girl. Hannah Cherry was my great-grandmother. Her memory is my inspiration. Today, many people consider slavery in the abstract — as a decades-old institution which our nation has long overcome. But for me, the legal enslavement of people who look like me is a mere three generations removed. It is a fact that colors my view of the world. For this reason, I both laud the composers of our U.S. Constitution as remarkable scriveners and thinkers, and refrain from holding up the Founding Fathers as beacons of justice and morality. Many of the same men who defined our rights and freedoms also bought, sold, tortured, and hanged my ancestors. It is a jarring contradiction, but — as any student of the law must learn — legality does not necessarily equate to morality. As we engage with our history, legal texts, and one another, we must do so with deep empathy. We must bear in mind that each of us carries a unique history and set of experiences. At times, those worldviews will serve us in our endeavor to understand the law. Other times, they will make that endeavor more challenging. With this awareness, we can create space for our students to learn and uphold the letter of the law and — in some instances — also reckon with its spirit. While not always easy, both are possible. And, in the pursuit of true justice, both are required.
Seated, Hannah Cherry holds a large family bible in her lap, surrounded by her children. Born into enslavement, Cherry learned to read after she was emancipated at age 10.
In this InRe feature, we share firsthand stories, opinions, and interviews from South Texas professors and alumni. Want to share your experiences or insights? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “My Testimony.”
CLASS NOTES 1970-1979 J. Alexander Johnson ’75, former assistant attorney general-Department of Justice, is an accomplished attorney and an active member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, U. S. Supreme Court, Texas, Michigan and Massachusetts bars. He recently published “Twenty-First Century Insurance in The Computer & Internet Lawyer” (CCH-Wolters Kluwer); “Induced Patent Infringement” in the New York State Bar Association Journal; “Equine Law and Insurance” and “Cyber Crime and Insurance” in the New York State Bar Association - Torts, Insurance & Compensation Law Section; and book reviews of “Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson” in the Michigan Bar Journal and in the Washington Lawyer (District of Columbia Bar Journal Jan/Feb 2020). Kenneth Raney ’77, who recently retired as assistant general counsel of American Electric Power after almost 30 years, is president of the Kilgore College Foundation. He also is a life member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and past president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and Texas Bar Historical Foundation. He recently was elected to the board of directors for the Texas Historical Foundation. Since 1954, the Texas Historical Foundation has funded preservation and education projects around the state and promoted the cultural legacy of Texas. Among the group’s main efforts are its preservation grants program and award-winning Texas HERITAGE quarterly magazine.
1980-1989 Richard Evrard ’83 was recently selected for inclusion in 2020 and
2021 Best Lawyers in America in the field of Sports Law. Richard represents colleges and universities nationwide in NCAA compliance, infractions, and legal matters. He has represented and consulted with members of the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, Big East, American Athletic, Big West and Big South conferences and Conference USA. He also works with collegiate coaches and administrators and conference commissioners. Best Lawyers compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys through peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity. Michael Hancock ’87, personal injury lawyer at Hancock Injury Attorneys, has been selected to be included in the 27th edition of The Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs. Hancock has earned recognition for his work and accomplishments in the field of personal injury litigation on behalf of plaintiffs. During his first eight years as a litigator, Hancock worked for two notable insurance defense firms, gaining a valuable and transferable awareness of how some of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the world evaluate personal injury and wrongful death claims. Steven Laird ’80 was one of the first three attorneys in Texas to achieve board certification in truck accident law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Texas (by Thomson Reuters) for 16 of the past
South Texas College of Law Houston
17 years. He is board certified in personal injury trial law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and in civil trial advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Laird practices personal injury trial, law representing families in Fort Worth and throughout the state of Texas. Justice David Medina ’89 was promoted to shareholder at Chamberlain Hrdlicka in the firm’s Houston office. The firm represents both public and private companies, as well as individuals and familyowned businesses across the nation. Justice Medina works with clients, appeals, and business transactions. Justice Medina previously served on the Texas Supreme Court and authored over 90 Supreme Court opinions. Garrett Rice ’18 and Suzy Rice ‘85 are trial attorneys with the corporate and commercial business litigation firm of RICE & RICE.
Randall O. Sorrels ’87, immediate past president of the State Bar of Texas and a named partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, has again been named one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas and Houston by Texas Super Lawyers for 2019, marking his 17th year of recognition. Double board certified in personal
injury trial law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Sorrels has been practicing personal injury and business litigation at Abraham Watkins for almost 30 years. The lawyers of Texas elected Sorrels to be the president of the State Bar by the largest-ever margin of victory. He is a former president of the Houston Bar Association, the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, the Houston Trial Lawyers Foundation, and the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.
1990-1999 Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95, partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, has been named to the Texas Super Lawyers list for the 15th year and the Top 100: Houston Super Lawyers list for the third year. Attorneys are evaluated based on peer recognition, professional achievement, and independent research. Board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Agosto has been practicing personal injury law in Texas for 24 years and at Abraham Watkins for 21 of those years. In addition, he served as the 2019-2020 president of the Houston Bar Association, which is one of the largest metropolitan bar associations in the United States, with nearly 11,000 members. Robert Loughran ’92, managing partner of Foster LLP's Austin office, was — for the third time — named the Immigration Law Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers 2020 in Austin, TX. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has
CLASS NOTES become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Recognition by Best Lawyers is based on peer review designed to capture the consensus opinion of almost 50,000 leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. With a concentration in corporate immigration, investor immigration, and emigration to third countries, Loughran has received numerous recognitions for his work in immigration and nationality law, including his recognition as one of The Best Lawyers in America (20082020 editions). Michael Lyons ’99 formed Lyons & Simmons, LLP, a trial firm focused on handling personal injury and wrongful death matters as well as complex business disputes in Texas and throughout the United States. Additionally, Lyons was selected among the Top 100 Dallas-Fort Worth attorneys in the 2019 edition of the Texas Super Lawyers legal guide, the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers for 2020, and the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America as “One to Watch.” He earned recognition among the state's leading trial lawyers for his work handling catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, and complex business disputes. James Marrow ’99 joined Wright Close & Barger LLP as a partner. With more than 20 years in practice, Marrow has handled trials and arbitrations on both sides of the docket. He has worked on appeals in state and federal court and is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Marrow is admitted to practice before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals and the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas. Reid Martin ’91 of Martin Walker PC has earned recognition in the 2020 issue of The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and one of the most respected legal guides in the nation. Best Lawyers in America honorees are chosen through voting by lawyers in the same practice and geographic areas. In addition, Martin is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he has more than 25 years of courtroom experience. Matthew Motes ’93 became a partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton LLP in Dallas, Texas. Motes represents general contractors, builders, subcontractors, developers, suppliers, and owners in real estate and construction litigation. He is a former chair of the Tarrant County Bar Association Construction Law Section and is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the Texas Association of Builders, and the Greater Fort Worth Builders Association. Mark Ritchie ‘96 is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and has earned admission to the CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals. Ritchie also completed the certificate program in international commercial arbitration offered through American University/ Washington College of Law, was elected as a council member for the International Law Section of
the Houston Bar Association, and currently serves as a member of the communications committee for the Chartered Institute's North American Branch (NAB). Denmon Sigler ‘98 was named chair of Baker McKenzie's North American oil and gas practice. Denmon has held several leadership roles at the firm, including serving on the Global Oil and Gas Steering Committee, which oversees global strategy and client collaboration. She is a member of the firm's Texas offices management and business development teams. She also serves as head of the Houston chapter of BakerWomen's, an internal group dedicated to the development, retention, and promotion of women attorneys. T. Jason Smith ’98 was elected as chair of the State Bar of Texas Corporate Counsel Section. Smith has served on the council for 10 years and has been chair of the Section's Technology and Social Media Committee for the last eight years. He also was elected as a Global Council Member for the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM), representing Texas and the U.S. Central region as well as the Global Legal Council. Drew B. Tipton ’94, partner at Baker Hostetler LLP in Houston, was selected to serve as judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Tipton previously served as a law clerk to Judge John D. Rainey of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Griffin D. Vance IV ’99 was named chief operating officer of Sentai Holdings LLC (SENTAI), a Houston-based media and entertainment company. This follows
a substantial investment by Cool Japan Fund, Inc. into SENTAI in a transaction announced August 2019. John F. Walker ’92, co-founder of the Tyler-based trial law firm Martin Walker PC, earned recognition in the 2020 issue of The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and one of the most respected legal guides in the nation. Walker has been board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1999.
2000-2009 Olivia Carbajal de Garcia ‘07 is a partner at Ytterberg Deery Knull LLP. Olivia assists individuals and families with high net worth in all aspects of wealth planning and management, including trust and estate matters. She also advises non-U.S. clients with respect to U.S. gift and estate tax and Texas probate matters. Jeremy Tyler Dunman ‘06 joined the Human Trafficking Institute as special counsel in Uganda. In this role, he works in Uganda's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), providing expertise and supporting prosecutors who are working on trafficking cases. The Institute exists to decimate modern slavery at its source by empowering police and prosecutors to stop traffickers.
CLASS NOTES Working inside criminal justice systems, the Institute provides the embedded experts, world-class training, investigative resources, and evidence-based research necessary to free victims. Tyler, his wife Kimberly, and their three daughters relocated from Texas to Uganda in November 2019. Christopher Fears ’03, co-founding partner of Fears Nachawati Law Firm, earned selection to the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Fears was selected for work involving bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law. With a reputation for successfully litigating highly complex cases, Fears has expanded his practice to focus on mass torts involving water contamination by PFOA and PFOS chemical compounds. Mary Elizondo Frazier ‘07, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, was named a 2020 Texas Rising Star for her work in corporate and individual cases. Rising Stars honorees demonstrate a high level of legal talent across diverse practice areas. Juliana Gaige ’02 joined Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard as an associate in the firm’s Houston office. As an experienced litigator, Gaige focuses on defense of personal injury and commercial claims, employment law, and insurance coverage claims. Dean Gresham ’00 received the National Law Journal's and The National Trial Lawyer's Association's 2019 Elite Trial Lawyer Award for his work on the Meeker v. Starfish Children's Services, et al. case. Addition54
ally, Gresham has earned selection to D Magazine's 2019 Best Lawyers in Dallas each year since 2009. Gresham is known for litigating high-profile catastrophic injury and class action cases across the nation, including the largest vehicular manslaughter case in Texas history; the Midland train wreck case; Atmos gas explosion cases; products liability cases; and class actions against Google, Yahoo, GoDaddy, and other tech companies. Leann Karim ’07, shareholder at Wilson Cribbs + Goren in Houston, was named to the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America. Brian Kilpatrick ’09, shareholder at Wilson Cribbs + Goren in Houston, was named to the inaugural edition of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch list. Diane R. Kliem '09, president of Kliem & Associates PLLC in Victoria, TX, was selected by the American Business Women's Association as the 2020 American Business Woman. This national award is based upon achieving excellence in career, education, and community involvement. Kliem also earned recognition on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020 with her focus on estate planning, business law, real estate, and family law. Natalie Koehler ’02 of Koehler Law Firm P.C. was selected to serve as 2020-2021 nominating chair for District 8 of the Texas Bar
South Texas College of Law Houston
Foundation. Nominating chairs for each of the 17 State Bar of Texas districts identify elite nominees to join the Foundation as fellows. Nominating chairs are selected for their outstanding professional achievements and their demonstrated commitment to the Texas Bar Foundation. Selection is a mark of distinction and recognition of Koehler's contributions to the legal profession.
E. Derick Mendoza ‘01, partner at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, was elected to membership in the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. The Foundation selects fellows based on their outstanding professional achievements and their demonstrated commitment to the improvement of the justice system throughout the state of Texas. Election is a mark of distinction and recognition for Mendoza's contributions to the legal profession. Jason Moore ’04 joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Energy and Natural Resources Department as a shareholder in its Denver office. Moore leverages his significant cross-disciplinary transactional, regulatory, litigation, and government affairs expertise. With a focus on the oil and gas sector, he drafts, reviews, and negotiates a wide variety of commercial contracts. Andrea Perez ’08 joined Carrington, Coleman, Sloman and Blumenthal LLP in Dallas, TX as a senior associate, bolstering its corporate finance, tax, and public securities practices. Perez works with public and private companies, private
equity firms, and family businesses on a comprehensive range of complex corporate matters including mergers, entity formation, governance, intellectual property protection, and commercial contracts. Elinore Tecson ’04 and her husband Patrick Coate welcomed baby George on September 2, 2019. He joins older siblings Elena, Oliver, and Penelope. Kellen Scott ’09 was promoted to shareholder at Chamberlain Hrdlicka in the firm’s Houston office. Scott maintains a general civil litigation practice in state and federal courts, with emphasis on employment law, restrictive covenants, and trade secret matters. He counsels employers and businesses in state and federal courts, arbitration proceedings, and in matters before state and federal administrative agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Charles E. Soechting Jr. ’05 was named shareholder of Simon Greenstone Panatier in December 2019. He oversees the firm's catastrophic personal injury department. Brant J. Stogner ’06, partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, has been named to the Top 100: Texas Super Lawyers list, the Top 100: Houston Super Lawyers list, and the Texas Super Lawyers list for 2019. This marks his seventh consecutive year to
CLASS NOTES be recognized on the Texas Super Lawyers list and his first year to be recognized on each of the Top 100 lists. Stogner has been practicing personal injury at Abraham Watkins for over 11 years, and his practice continues to focus on catastrophic injuries, gas explosions, commercial auto accidents, workplace injuries, and wrongful death cases. He is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and obtained this certification after only five years of practice, the earliest the certification can be achieved in Texas.
in Chamberlain Hrdlicka’s Houston office. Wigginton focuses his practice on commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts, representing businesses and business owners in a wide range of industries. In addition, he guides clients in matters related to business disputes, real estate, construction, professional liability claims, and tort defense.
Jimmy Sunosky ’01, Ian Hernandez ‘02, and Lauryn Raymond Redden ’16 are pleased to announce the opening of Hernandez Redden Sunosky LLP, a law firm helping personal injury clients. Justin E. VandenBout ’07, shareholder at the Chamberlain Hrdlicka Houston office, was named to the 2020 Texas Rising Stars by Super Lawyers Magazine. VandenBout is a trial lawyer who maintains a nationwide litigation practice with an emphasis on commercial litigation and complex insurance coverage litigation. He has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state courts throughout the United States in matters ranging from intellectual property disputes, catastrophic personal injury, products liability, professional liability, construction, and breach of contract. Jeffrey Wigginton, Jr. ’07 was elevated to equity shareholder
Vilina Bhagat ’10 joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka's Houston office as an associate in the tax planning and business transactions practice. Chamberlain Hrdlicka is a diversified business law firm representing both public and private companies. Prior to joining Chamberlain Hrdlicka, Bhagat worked in the mergers and acquisitions tax practice of a Big 4 accounting firm, where she focused on tax structuring and tax diligence engagements.
as the flood control district and the hospital district, in all civil matters. Linkun Chen ‘15 joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka's Houston office as an associate in the commercial litigation practice. Chen is a commercial litigator and corporate counsel representing world-class logistics companies, healthcare conglomerates, financial lenders, and various other business interests in both state and federal court. He is a member of the Houston Bar Association, Houston Young Lawyers Association, and the Houston chapter of Commercial Finance Association YoPro. M. Kaylan Dunn ’10 became a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, practicing commercial litigation in oil and gas, banking, real estate disputes, and fiduciary litigation with an emphasis on trust and estate disputes. Megan Minchew Evitts ’15 joined Cordell & Cordell, the nation's largest domestic litigation firm focusing on representing men in family law cases. Prior to joining Cordell & Cordell, Minchew Evitts practiced family law, probate, estate planning, and civil litigation. Benjamin Fedorko ’14 joined Northern Trust Corporation as vice president and senior trust advisor.
Simrita Chamdal ’19 was appointed by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan to serve as an assistant county attorney with the litigation practice group. Chamdal worked as an intern for the Harris County Attorney's Office in the litigation group in 2017 while she was in law school. The office represents Harris County and related entities, such
Michael Feibus ’13 joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka's Houston office as an associate in the commercial litigation practice. Bringing seven years of complex commercial and personal
injury litigation experience to the firm, his practice will continue to focus on commercial litigation, business disputes, and complex personal injury litigation. Joshua Flores ’13 was promoted to shareholder at Crain Caton & James. Flores’ practice includes representing clients in fiduciary litigation matters relating to the prosecution and defense of claims for will contests, will and trust interpretation, probate and trust administration, and guardianship proceedings. He also represents clients in business and commercial litigation matters, many of which include claims involving breaches of fiduciary duty and corporate governance. Stephanie Gilliam ’12 joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka's Houston office, strengthening the firm’s labor and employment practice. Gilliam has experience with claims in state and federal courts and before administrative bodies, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor. She litigates complex and often contentious matters, including individual, class and collective actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and similar state and federal laws governing workplace rights and obligations. William K. Grubb ’17 joined McGinnis Lochridge as an associate attorney in Houston. He joined the firm's oil & gas practice group, where he represents clients in oil and gas-related litigation. Grubb previously was an associate with Vinson & Elkins in Houston.
CLASS NOTES Erica Jeffcoat ’12 and her husband, Drew, welcomed their third child, Julianne Ruth, on March 9, 2019. She joins big brother, Patrick, and big sister, Evelyn.
Dorothy Meindok ’10 represents veterans against the United States of America under the Federal Torts Claims Act for actions or inactions related to the unlawful hiring, ongoing negligent practices, and residuals causing deaths and a line of deadly infections.
Loren Jones ‘13 and her husband, Donall, welcomed their first child, Emelia Jane Jones, on February 29, 2020. Lena Laurenzo ’15, of the personal injury law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, was recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020. This marks her fourth consecutive year on this annual list, which is published in the Texas Rising Stars issue of the Super Lawyers magazine and the Texas Monthly magazine. Her legal practice continues to cover personal injury matters, including private and commercial automobile accidents, pedestrian accidents, Jones Act and maritime cases, workplace injury, and wrongful death.
Meredith Massey Kloetzer ’13 married Justin Kloetzer in December 2018 in downtown Austin, Texas.
Soroush Montazari ’19 won a case against Allstate and convinced the panel of Harris County jurors to tender a verdict of $125,492.93 for a client. Allstate ignored the client for nearly seven years, and their pre-trial offer was $500. Jason Muriby ’11 joined Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner as an associate. Muriby's practice focuses on personal injury matters including motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, premises liability, construction litigation, insurance disputes, and business litigation. He joins Abraham Watkins with a diverse legal background after working as a briefing attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas and practicing at a large international law firm for six years, where he represented companies involved in high-stakes business litigation. Minna Nashef ’16 was appointed by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan to serve as an assistant county attorney with the protec-
South Texas College of Law Houston
tive services practice group. The office represents Harris County and related entities, such as the flood control district and the hospital district, in all civil matters. Travis Normand ’11 opened his own law firm, The Law Office of Travis G. Normand PLLC, in College Station, TX. His practice focuses primarily on real estate matters while maneuvering other areas of the law. Derek C. Pershing ’13 has been promoted to shareholder at Wilson, Cribbs + Goren P.C. Pershing assists clients with transactional matters involving the development, acquisition and disposition, leasing, and financing of all types and classes of property. Additionally, Pershing was on the 2020 Rising Star list in the Texas edition of Super Lawyers Magazine, the April issue of Texas Monthly magazine, and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch list. Michelle Rice ’12, of the personal injury law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, was recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020. This marks Michelle's second consecutive year on this annual list, which is published in the Texas Rising Stars issue of the Super Lawyers magazine and the Texas Monthly magazine. Michelle's legal practice has focused on a wide range of personal injury matters, including wrongful death, automobile and trucking accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, premises liability, and workplace injury. Jenna Rudoff ’12 joined Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto,
Aziz & Stogner as an associate. Her current legal practice focuses on a wide range of personal injury matters, including catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, medical malpractice, premises liability, and insurance disputes. Rudoff joins Abraham Watkins with a diverse legal background after practicing at another plaintiff's personal injury firm in Houston and serving as an assistant district attorney for Fort Bend County, Texas. Ciro Samperi ’10, of the personal injury law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, was recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020. This marks Ciro's first year on this annual list, which is published in the Texas Rising Stars issue of the Super Lawyers magazine and the Texas Monthly magazine. Ciro has been practicing law in Texas for the last 10 years, focusing on personal injury matters including catastrophic injuries, automobile and 18-wheeler accidents, products liability, premises liability, and wrongful death.
Lt. Stacy Saxon ’15, legal assistance attorney at the Region Legal Service Office Southeast Branch in Fort Worth, was selected as the Navy Legal Service Command Junior Officer of the Year in recognition of her meritorious service.
Serenity Trevino ’18 was appointed by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan to serve as an assistant county attorney with the Environmental Practice Group. The Environmental Practice Group specializes in the enforcement of environmental laws and related county development regulations. It represents the public's interest by opposing the issuance and renewal of environmental permits if the permit would be detrimental to public health. Ellen Vecchio ‘10 joined Phelps Dunbar's Houston office as partner, where she will focus her practice on energy, eminent domain, and litigation issues. Vecchio has focused her entire career on condemnation proceedings, with a particular concentration on water authorities. Kelly Viktorin ’13 of Armstrong & Lee LLP was recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020. This marks Kelly's third consecutive year
on this annual list, which is published in the Texas Rising Stars issue of the Super Lawyers magazine and the Texas Monthly magazine. Kelly has exclusively practiced personal injury, focusing on motor vehicle accidents, premises liability accidents, oil field accidents, defective drugs and products, and maritime injuries. Angelina Wike ’16 of the personal injury law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, was recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list for 2020. Her current legal practice at Abraham Watkins focuses on a wide variety of personal injury matters, including automobile and trucking collisions, premises liability incidents, dram shop litigation, and products liability cases. Ja’Queenett “Jackie” S. Wilhite ’17 joined Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton as a trans-
actional associate in the Houston office. Her practice involves contract negotiation in the commercial and nonprofit sector involving compliance/ethics, bankruptcy, foreclosures, and employment law.
In Memoriam Elizabeth W. Dwyer ’07 passed away on June 8, 2020. Elizabeth was a loyal and dedicated member of the South Texas community. She served as the committee chair for admissions on the Alumni Association board of directors and was an active member of the executive, scholarship, and nominating committees. She was a devoted daughter, sister, wife to Alexander Dwyer ‘07, and mother to Alexander Jr., Lila, Juliet, and Liam. Byrd Warren Goodsen, Jr. ’75 passed away peacefully in his Beaumont home Sunday, August 23, 2020. Warren described himself as a father, soldier, lawyer, and outdoorsman. He was badly wounded in combat and spent a year recovering at Brooks Army Hospital in San Antonio. Due to his severe head injury, it was believed by
many, that his dream of becoming a trial attorney would no longer be a possibility. However, Warren's determination would not waiver. He practiced criminal defense law in Houston and Beaumont and later became the Chief of Appeals for the Galveston County District Attorney's office, from which he retired after 20 years of service. Warren was a strong advocate for a person's right to good legal counsel regardless of their ability to pay. Clyde Jones III ’08, 55, of Bryan/ College Station, died January 17, 2020. Prior to being licensed as an attorney by the State of Texas, Jones served the College Station Police Department from 1988 to 2008 as a police officer, a police detective, and a police commander. Upon retirement from the CSPD, Jones joined the law firm of Gray and Granberry — which later became Gray and Jones, Attorneys at Law — where his over 30 years’ experience in the criminal justice field served him well.
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“ Throughout her remarkable career, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left an indelible mark on how our Constitution is understood, and she was an exemplar of purpose and poise ... As a Supreme Court justice, she eloquently and persuasively articulated her constitutional vision for nearly three decades. As a colleague, she modeled civility, even with her jurisprudential foes.” professor josh blackman “the most important woman lawyer in the history of the republic” politico, sept. 18, 2020
“A law without a penalty isn’t a law. It’s a guideline.” eric kwartler, staff attorney, randall o. sorrels legal clinics “how the cares act failed to protect tenants from eviction” cnbc, aug. 29, 2020
“Courts have traditionally been very reluctant and proceeded very slowly at overturning precedents, but those restraints seem to be lessening more recently as courts become more partisan, as the judges have become more partisan.” professor kenneth williams “what happens to rule of law if the law keeps changing?” the christian science monitor, march 4, 2020
South Texas College of Law Houston
“In a sobering moment, I realized that my success (and that of many people of color) stems from our ability to normalize daily racism. Indeed, our survival as healthy adults depends on it, even if — or perhaps because — it means denying the resultant pain. Like others, I had become a master of wearing a mask.” professor njeri rutledge “i thought i never personally experienced racism. then i realized i just normalized it.” usa today voices, sept. 15, 2020
“ The defender’s office represents the people too. It represents all of us. It keeps our rights protected. It puts a check on police power. It puts a check on racial bias and animus. [The prosecutors and the lawyers] are equally important.” associate dean catherine greene burnett “the woodlands father, son attorneys give voice to the accused” houston chronicle, dec. 2, 2019
“It is quite unfortunate that so few people do show up for [jury duty], something that was considered to be such an important aspect of our liberty.” professor charles “rocky” rhodes “battling the jury duty problem, where fewer than 1 in 4 show up” houston chronicle, jan. 25, 2020
stcl.edu stcl.edu 5959
FACULTY NOTES JAMES ALFINI
AMANDA HARMON COOLEY
Dean and Professor Emeritus
Professor of Law
Professor of Law
Dean Alfini was re-elected by the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) to serve a three-year term in the ABA House of Delegates, the organization’s policy-making arm.
Professor Cooley’s article, “Framers’ Fidelity and Thicket Theory in Educational Establishment Clause Jurisprudence,” will be published in the San Diego Law Review in 2021. She also has become a member of the Houston Bar Association’s Lawyers for Literacy Committee and was selected as a member of the Board of Directors of the West U Methodist Foundation. Additionally, she served as a brief judge for the 2020 National Native American Law Students Association Annual Moot Court Competition; as a brief screener for the 2020 National Scribes Best Brief Competition; and as an article screener for the 2020 National Scribes Law Review Award Competition. Finally, Professor Cooley served as a consultant for the Kids’ Right to Read Project.
Prof. Fincham’s chapter titled “North American Cultural Heritage Law” was published in the Oxford Handbook of International Cultural Heritage Law (OUP 2020). In July, he also completed a short course on online teaching with CALI to prepare for teaching remotely during a pandemic.
JOSH BLACKMAN Professor of Law
Professor Blackman published “An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know” with Randy Barnett (Georgetown). CATHERINE GREENE BURNETT Vice President, Associate Dean for Experiential Education
Dean Burnett’s article, “Choosing Choice: Empowering Indigent Criminal Defendants to Select Their Counsel,” was published in the South Texas College of Law Houston Law Review’s annual ethics symposium issue. In spring 2020, she presented at two virtual continuing legal education programs: “Practical Tips for Writ Litigators” for the University of Texas annual Robert O. Dawson Conference on Criminal Appellate in May, and “Bad Act Evidence” at the State Bar of Texas annual Advanced Criminal Law Course in July. Also in July, she served as a panelist on post-pandemic logistics impacting clinical and experiential education at the University of Utah Law School’s virtual conference.
GEOFFREY CORN Professor of Law
The second edition of “National Security Law and The Constitution” was published by Wolters Kluewer, and includes Professor Corn’s brother Gary P.M. Corn as a co-author. Professor Corn also published the following scholarly articles: “Enhancing Civilian Risk Mitigation by Expanding the Commander’s Information Aperture” in the Global Community Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence; “Strengthening American War Crimes Accountability” in the American University Law Review; “Beyond Human Shielding: Civilian Risk Exploitation and Indirect Civilian Targeting” in the Naval War College International Law Studies;
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The second edition of “National Security Law and The Constitution”
“The Jones Trespass Doctrine and the Need for a Reasonable Solution to Unreasonable Protection” in the Arkansas Law Review; and “Montejo v. Louisiana and The Impact of Premature Miranda Warnings” in the Hofstra Law Review. Professor Corn also published several editorials in USA Today and The Hill, and was interviewed for a BBC World News story on the domestic role of the military in the United States; ABC’s 20/20 for a story on Fort Hood and the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen; Fox 26 News for a story about the President’s relationship with the military; and for several print news stories. MATTHEW FESTA Professor of Law
Professor Festa has presented his research at several academic and public conferences, including the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools; the Texas A&M Citizen Planner program (where he serves as an instructor and advisor); the State and Local Government Scholarship Conference; and the University of Texas Land Use Conference. His article “Scholarly Publishing for Military Lawyers” is forthcoming in The Army Lawyer. Professor Festa also has done extensive work on pro bono cases involving land use law.
SHARON FINEGAN Professor of Law
Professor Finegan’s article, “An Ounce of Prevention: Educating Jurors to Avoid Investigating the Verdict,” was published in Volume 12 of the Northeastern University Law Review. Professor Finegan is co-authoring the 11th Edition of the “Gershowitz, Ashdown, Bacigal, and Finegan’s Criminal Law, Cases and Comments“ casebook. ROBERT GALLOWAY Senior Director, Advocacy
Rob Galloway was selected in August to assume the role of senior director of the law school’s award-winning Advocacy program. This summer, he also was elected by colleagues nationwide as the inaugural president of the newly formed National Association of Legal Advocacy Educators (NALAE).
FACULTY NOTES GUHA KRISHNAMURTHI Assistant Professor of Law
Professor Krishnamurthi’s recent articles include “For Judicial Majoritarianism” in the Journal of Constitutional Law; “The Constitutional Oath Doesn’t Require Originalism,” forthcoming in the Harvard Law and Policy Review; “Bostock and Conceptual Causation,” in the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice & Comment; “Sitting One Out: Strategic Recusal on the Supreme Court,” forthcoming in California Law Review Online; “Is Retributive Corporate Punishment Possible?,” forthcoming in JOTWELL; and “The Court’s Friends,” in The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing. Professor Krishnamurthi also taught Criminal Law over the summer in Yada Yada Law School, an online law school based on teaching legal subjects through the famous sitcom “Seinfeld.” Additionally, Professor Krishnamurthi presented his papers at the Berkeley Law Courts and Judicial Process Colloquium and the AALS General Meeting in its New Jurisprudence Scholars Panel. CHRISTOPHER KULANDER
in Texas” was published in the 73rd volume of the SMU Law Review. His article “The Political and Economic Feasibility of Contracted American Liquefied Natural Gas for Energy Security in Poland and the Baltic States—Can the American Government Help?” will be published in the Bialystok (Poland) Legal Studies Journal in late 2020. His article “The Fred Parks Library Executive Right to Lease in Texas and Louisiana” will be published in the Proceedings of the Annual Mineral Law Institute, in conjunction with his talk for the 67th Mineral Law Institute at the LSU Hebert Law Center in September 2020. In July 2020, the school’s Harry L. Reed Oil & Gas Law Institute, currently helmed by Professor Kulander, launched The Pipeline, an oil and gas law blog. It is hoped that this format will allow faculty, students, and alumni to more quickly discuss late-breaking energy topics that more formal outlets might not have the agility to properly cover. In addition, The Pipeline will deliver lengthier pieces on more abstract questions in oil and gas law. JOSEPH LEAHY
Professor of Law and Director, Harry L. Reed Oil & Gas Law Institute
Professor of Law
Professor Kulander’s article “Down Step by Step — Ratification of Oil and Gas Leases by Royalty Interests
Professor Leahy’s article, titled “An LLC is the Key: The False Dichotomy Between Inadvertent Partnerships
and the Freedom of Contract” was published by the Texas Tech Law Review in February 2020, 52 Tex. Tech. L. Rev. 243 (2020). He also was selected by the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Agency, Partnership and Unincorporated Entities to present that article at the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2020. In September 2020, Professor Leahy published an article on Medium.com titled “President Trump Should Not Be Dismissed from E. Jean Carroll’s Lawsuit.” AMANDA PETERS Helen & Harry Hutchens Research Professor
Professor Peters’ article, currently titled “The Case Against the Causation Doctrine in § 1983 Cases,” will appear in the Pepperdine Law Review in December 2020. This fall, she provided quotes for two Houston Chronicle articles, titled “Defense attorneys group files complaint against District Judge Ramona Franklin over bond revocation” and “Judge orders DA to turn over documents to attorneys for former narcotics officers.”
SCOTT REMPEL Professor of Law
This past academic year, Professor Rempell presented “Integrating Legal Research and Writing into the Law School Curriculum” at Penn. State University. He also presented “Developing Lifelong Learners” at St. Mary’s University. At South Texas, he gave a presentation to his colleagues, entitled “Conceptualizing and Teaching Legal Analysis.” CHARLES W. “ROCKY” RHODES Professor of Law
Professor Rhodes co-authored several articles that have been or will be published in 2020. “A New State Registration Act: Legislating a Longer Arm for Personal Jurisdiction” was published in Volume 57 of the Harvard Journal on Legislation. “Ford’s Jurisdictional Crossroads” will appear in Volume 109 of the Georgetown Law Journal Online. “Ford’s Hidden Fairness Defect” will be published in the Cornell Law Review Online, Volume 106. He and his co-authors — Cassandra Burke Robertson and Linda Sandstrom Simard — also organized and submitted an amicus brief on behalf of
RETIREMENTS RAY MOSES
Professor of Law
Professor of Law
Professor of Law
South Texas College of Law Houston congratulates Professors Ray Moses, Susan Crump, and Olga Moya on their recent retirements. Our students, faculty, and staff are grateful for their contributions during more than 100 years of combined service to the law school.
FACULTY NOTES 15 scholars of procedure and federal courts in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, in the United States Supreme Court. Professor Rhodes made numerous presentations to fellow academics in 2020, including a co-presentation with Professor Robertson to 100 procedural scholars on corporate registration and personal jurisdiction at the Civil Procedure Unavailability Workshop; an interview on a civil procedure podcast; and presentations on state constitutionalism, personal jurisdiction, free speech, and religious liberty during the annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS). At the close of the SEALS Conference, he was elected for a three-year term to the SEALS Board of Trustees. Professor Rhodes continues to be frequently in demand as a public speaker and commentator, presenting his annual recap to federal judges and practitioners in the Southern District of Texas regarding the Supreme Court’s recently completed term; discussing state constitutionalism and federal constitutionalism with civic groups; and providing commentary to national, statewide, and local print and broadcast media on numerous constitutional and procedural issues.
VAL RICKS Professor of Law
Professor Val Ricks authored “Fraud Is Now Legal in Texas (for Some People)”, which was accepted for publication in the Texas A&M Law Review. The article reviews recent decisions from the 14th Court of Appeals and the El Paso Court of Appeals that immunize fraudulent behavior by certain corporate actors.
Fred Parks Law Library
NJERI MATHIS RUTLEDGE Professor of Law
USA TODAY recently named Professor Rutledge to its Board of Contributors. She joins a diverse group of about 50 journalists, educators, and other subject-matter experts who regularly contribute to the publication’s opinion column, sharing their viewpoints on a broad spectrum of issues and current events. MARK E. STEINER Vice President, Associate Dean for Students
For the fifth consecutive year, Dr. Mark E. Steiner qualified for membership in the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas. The Pro Bono College recognizes attorneys who have far exceeded the State Bar's aspirational pro bono goal. His manuscript on Lincoln and citizenship was accepted for publication by Southern Illinois University Press, and the book will appear in spring 2021. His article ""Lincoln, Nativism, and Citizenship"" was accepted for publication by Latvijas Universitātes Žurnāls: Juridiskā zinātne (Law Journal of the University of Latvia). Dean Steiner was elected to a third
South Texas College of Law Houston
consecutive term on the council of the Consumer and Commercial Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. He also was appointed to the advisory board of the BakerRipley Gulfton/ Sharpstown campus and to the professional ethics committee of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. Dr. Steiner gave a presentation on ”Abraham Lincoln, Colonization, and Citizenship“ for the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series, UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois Springfield. He also discussed Lincoln and colonization as part of the Faculty Development and Exchange Series at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He discussed “Lone Stare Decisis: Ethics and Authority in Texas Courts” at the Advanced Consumer and Commercial Law Course, State Bar of Texas. He also presented on “The DTPA and Warranty Law” for the HBA Commercial and Consumer Law Section. KATHERINE VUKADIN Professor of Law
Professor Vukadin was elected to the editorial boards of the Monograph Series of the Legal Writing Institute and the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. She presented this year on bar exam preparation and legal writing pedagogy at the Legal Writing Institute’s Workshop on the
Intersection of Legal Writing and Bar Passage, at the Conference on Excellence in Teaching Legal Research and Writing Online, and at the Association of Legal Writing Directors session, “Integrating Social Justice in the Legal Writing Classroom.” Her recent article, entitled “Why Won’t Private Health Insurance Pay its Share of the Opioid Crisis?” will appear in the Syracuse Law Review in early 2021. KENNETH WILLIAMS Professor of Law
Professor Williams’ article, “The Ultimate Dilemma: Conceding Guilt to Avoid a Death Sentence,” was published in Volume 52 of the Connecticut Law Review Online. In addition, his article, “Why Police Have a Legal Duty to Provide Medical Aid to People They Shoot” will be published in Volume 18 of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. On June 26, 2020, Professor Williams was a member of a panel discussion titled “George Floyd: Racism in Brazil and the United States” sponsored by the Universidade Federal da Bahia. Professor Williams also was quoted by several news organizations regarding the shooting of Botham Jean by Dallas Police officer Amy Gyber, including The Washington Post, NBC News, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
THE J.D. DIFFERENCE Building champions. NAMED #1 BEST OF THE DECADE by PreLaw Magazine for Best Moot Court. NATIONAL ADVOCACY WINNER: 133 TIMES. No other law school has won half as many. More ABA NATIONAL APPELLATE ADVOCACY CHAMPIONSHIPS than any other law school in the U.S. More Scribes BEST BRIEF LEGAL WRITING AWARDS than any other law school in the U.S. 20 FIRST-PLACE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADR COMPETITIONS, ranking as a top law school for ADR.
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Quirky Curios | A unique collection of President Abraham Lincoln bobblehead figures, Dia de los Muertos souvenirs, and artwork by local artists such as Carlos Hernandez and Sylvia Roman adorns the office of Associate Dean Mark E. Steiner.
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WEEKEND January 22-23, 2021 | http://my.stcl.edu/AW HONORING ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
Distinguished Alumni Award: CHRIS HANSLIK ’95
Public Service Award: THE HONORABLE DENISE BRADLEY ’86
Young Alumni Award: CHRISTINE HERRON ’10
South Texas College of Law Houston provides a diverse body of students with the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education, preparing graduates to serve their community and the profession with distinction.