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JUSTICE FOR ALL Students enjoy once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Malta




Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted a week during summer 2017 to lecture STCL Houston students in the Malta study abroad program. COVER AND INSIDE FRONT COVER: NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES


South Texas College of Law Houston



CONTENTS Message from the President and Dean 5

In Brief 6 Recent happenings, announcements, and accomplishments


Rethinking Reformation 10 Judge Robert Francis ’85 is transforming the way Texas handles repeat drug offense cases

New Criminal Defense Program 14 How STCL Houston is promoting access to court-appointed defenders in Harris County

Agent for Change 16 Gabriel Trevino ’05 is influencing national security policy at FBI headquarters

A Flying Start 18 Judge Janis Graham Jack ’81 is shining a light on injustices in the Texas foster care system

Meeting the Muse 22

Study abroad students get rare opportunity to learn from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Discovery 20 A peek into the law school archives

Class Notes 29 Faculty Notes 36 Stacks 40 Faculty book recommendations

Chambers 46



Donald J. Guter President and Dean Steve Alderman Vice President of Human Resources and General Counsel Gregory A. Brothers Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Catherine Greene Burnett Vice President, Associate Dean, and Professor of Law Maxine Goodman Vice President, Associate Dean of Academic Administration, and Professor of Law Jennifer Hudson Corporate Secretary and Senior Executive Assistant to the President and Dean Mindy Guthrie Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations Randy Marak Vice President of Information Technology and Director of Information Systems 4

T. Gerald Treece Vice President, Associate Dean, Special Counsel to the President, Professor of Law, and Director of Advocacy Jeffrey Rensberger Vice President for Strategic Planning, Institutional Research and Professor of Law Diane Summers Vice President of Marketing and Communications John J. Worley Vice President and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Law BOARD OF DIRECTORS

J. Kenneth Johnson ’86 Chairman Larry Baillargeon ’74 Genora Boykins ’85 Darryl M. Burman ’83 Elizabeth Campbell The Hon. Theresa Chang ’96 The Hon. Robert A. Eckels ’93 Stewart W. Gagnon ’74 The Hon. Eva Guzman ’89 Chris Hanslik ’95 Michael Hays ’74 Randy R. Howry ’85 Michael K. Hurst ’90

South Texas College of Law Houston

Don D. Jordan ’69 Nick Lanza ’89 Joseph K. Lopez ’78 Michael W. Milich ’97 Imogen S. Papadopoulos ’84 Gordon Quan ’77 Jeff Rusk ’83 Andy Sommerman ’86 Randall Sorrels ’87 James D. Thompson III ’86 Ruthie Nelson White ’96 ALUMNI ASSOCIATION


Jon Paul Hoelscher ’05 President Brant J. Stogner ’06 President-Elect Elizabeth W. Dwyer ’07 Vice President of Admissions Committee David V. Wilson II ’93 Vice President of Development/ Fundraising Committee Ryan K. Haun ’06 Vice President of Career Networking Committee Nick Lanza ’89 Immediate Past President

Tim W. Ballengee ’09 Bradley S. Bell ’99 Richard D. Berlin ’06 Courtney T. Carlson ’08 Melanie R. Cheairs ’89 Adam P. Curley ’08 Darcy M. Douglas ’07 Jennifer L. Falk-Massoud ’06 Samantha E. Frazier ’11 The Hon. Keith F. Giblin ’89 Bradford J. Gilde ’04 Katherine M. Gonyea ’08 Ronald W. Haggerty ’96 + Misty A Hataway-Coné ’01 Catina M. Haynes ’06 Christine D. Herron ’10 Trace A. Holmes ’10 + Chastiti N. Horne ’98 Walter J. Kronzer III ’87 E. Xerxes Martin IV ’11 Lindsey C. Moorhead ’11 Desrye M. Morgan ’96 Gus E. Pappas ’88 Wade R. Quinn ’88 Aaron M. Reimer ’07 Sharon M. Schweitzer ’89 Donald S. Sepolio ’89+ Gabe T. Vick III ’07 Peter B. Wells IV ’05 Paul B. Wyatt ’13

+ Affinity Chapter Representative


Amanda Jackson Green Managing Editor Diane Summers Vice President of Marketing & Communications Claire Caton Manager of Public Relations Pete Vogel Creative Direction & Design Nicole Villafana Writer InRe is published by South Texas College of Law Houston for the law school’s alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. Please direct correspondence or inquiries to: Amanda Jackson Green South Texas College of Law Houston 1303 San Jacinto, Houston, Texas 77002-7006 713-646-1760 COPYRIGHT 2017



A Message from the President & Dean

Justice. The word itself stirs up many thoughts and emotions. Passion. Duty. Fairness. Virtue. If you asked a hundred people to define justice, you would likely get as many answers as responders. For the attorney, justice is a guiding principle, a core value, and an ultimate goal. It guides us in all our decisions and gives us a compass to follow. The stories throughout this issue of InRe demonstrate the way our thoughts, ideas, and actions surrounding justice have changed over time, and how they remain steadfast. Judge Robert Francis ’85 works to shift the way we address repeat offenders— from one of condemnation to one of compassion. Gabriel Trevino ’05 provides legal and policy advice to FBI executives charged with protecting our individual and national liberties. In recent case opinions, Judge Janis Graham Jack ’81 challenged the constitutionality of the Texas foster care system. Regardless of the verdict, she has shone a spotlight on injustice that will challenge a struggling system. You also will read about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently taught STCL Houston students in a summer study abroad course. Throughout her storied career, Ginsburg has been a fierce advocate for social, political, and legal justice. Her contributions have inspired others to pursue justice as both an ideal and a profession. Additionally, I am excited to share more about our new Criminal Defense Certification Program, which will prepare students to provide effective representation for indigent criminal defendants in Houston. The program is STCL Houston’s contribution to citywide efforts to reduce the strain on an overburdened system and assure that every Houstonian has a fair chance at trial. I think this issue offers something for everyone, and I hope you enjoy reading about the bold, brave, and meaningful work of your fellow alumni. We are eager to hear from you, too! If you have a great story about a professional or personal pursuit, or you would like to contribute to the discussions on these pages, please email our editor at Thank you for your continued support of South Texas College of Law Houston, and have a happy new year! Kind regards,

Donald J. Guter President and Dean



Members of the new Hispanic Alumni Chapter at one of their first events, a happy hour social at Pistolero’s.

Alumni Association launches two new chapters In April 2017, the Alumni Association established two new affinity chapters – the Black Alumni Chapter and the Hispanic Alumni Chapter – as another way to bring together alumni with common interests and experiences. Under the leadership of Donald Sepolio ’89, the Hispanic Alumni Chapter has planned events and projects in conjunction with the Hispanic Law Student Association with the long-term goal of attracting future generations of Hispanic graduates to become active members of the alumni community.

Members of the Black Alumni Chapter share a joyful moment at the Alumni Association’s Annual Meeting and Luncheon.

“We have a strong community of black alumni who have a deep love for South Texas,” said Black Alumni Chapter President Ron Haggerty ’96. “The establishment of the Black Alumni Chapter is an opportunity for us to focus our efforts and offer guidance for students who have similar cultures, backgrounds, and challenges.” The two new chapters join the existing affinity chapters — the Energy Alumni Chapter and Young Alumni Chapter — on the law school’s growing list of opportunities for alumni to connect and contribute. For more information about joining a regional or affinity chapter, contact Megan Graf, director of

Alumni Relations, at or 713-646-2968.

Alumni travel to Washington, D.C. for admission to Supreme Court Bar On June 5, 2017, 27 alumni stood before all nine justices, who swore the lawyers into practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Alumni hailed from Texas, Mississippi, and Florida. Twelve alumni participated via written motion as well. Immediately following the ceremony, alumni and their families met Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The group then enjoyed a luncheon at Charlie Palmer Steak,

South Texas alumni gather with Dean Donald Guter at the Supreme Court swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. 6

South Texas College of Law Houston

IN BRIEF Donor by type FRIENDS





Thank you to all those who participated in raising more than $90,000 in 24 hours! The law school celebrated its inaugural Give Day in conjunction with the school’s 94th anniversary in April 2017.


















featuring remarks from President and Dean Donald Guter and a guided tour of the Library of Congress. The next opportunity to attend a Supreme Court Admissions Ceremony with South Texas College of Law Houston is on June 11, 2018. The law school is accepting open court and written motion applications. For more information, please visit

Distinguished alumni honored at annual meeting and luncheon

The South Texas College of Law Houston Alumni Association recognized three notable graduates at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon held on October 20 at the Marriott Marquis. Kim Ogg ’86, the Harris County district attorney and a nationally recognized victims’ rights advocate, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Marc R. Eichenbaum ’08 accepted the Public Service Award for his work as the special assistant to the mayor for homeless initiatives. Courtney T. Carlson ’08, partner in the litigation section at Jackson Walker, earned the Young Alumni Award for being a leader in the community and at South Texas. In addition to the award presentation, current Alumni Association President Nick Lanza ’89 passed the gavel to incoming President Jon Paul Hoelscher ’05 and introduced the other members of the 2018 Alumni Association board.

New traditions The STCL Houston Alumni Association started a new tradition at the spring commencement ceremony: greeting graduates with personal messages from alumni, welcoming them to the community and providing advice and encouragement for their next chapter.



STCL Houston named “2017 Great College To Work For” South Texas College of Law Houston is a “Great College to Work For,” according to a recent study by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities. The law school was one of only 79 institutions

nationwide to earn the recognition. Additionally, STCL Houston made the Chronicle’s prestigious “Honor Roll” for earning distinction in 10 out of 12 categories, including compensation and benefits, job satisfaction, and work/life balance.

New grant supports Domestic Violence Clinic’s efforts to assist crime victims In August, the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics received a $40,000 grant from the state’s Office of the Attorney General to support a crime victims’ assistance program. Students and staff in the Domestic Violence Clinic will use the funds to represent victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, facilitate community outreach programs on victims’ rights and resources, and train legal professionals to identify signs of victimization. Client representation — led by staff 8

South Texas College of Law Houston

The Chronicle used a two-part assessment process to determine which schools make the list: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and

attorney Kimberly Ashworth and paralegal Liz Scallan — could include securing protective orders, pursuing child custody and divorce from an abusive spouse, and other civil legal assistance, as necessary.

Jennifer Pammit, 3L and Amanda Barrington, 2L joined more than 80 other students who tried out for dispute resolution teams at this year’s Porter Hedges LLP ADR Intramural Tournament, held Oct. 6 and 7. The teams participate in up to nine regional, national, and international dispute resolution competitions each year. They have won 14 first-place titles in the past five years!

professional support staff. The law school commemorated the accomplishment with a daylong staff appreciation celebration, complete with carnival-style activities, yard games, chair massages, and refreshments.


Get connected on social media.

Be an ambassador by showing your South Texas pride, sharing milestones and memories, and commenting on posts. Find us on Facebook: STCLHoustonAlumni

Share your knowledge.

Join the Career Advisor Directory (CAD), an online directory of alumni who make themselves available to answer students’ career-related questions and offer professional guidance. Visit to sign up

Attend an event.

Chow down on crawfish with former classmates, celebrate alumni achievements at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon, make connections at Networking Night, remember old times at Alumni Weekend, and much more. Get the full calendar at

Volunteer your time.

Judge an advocacy tournament, join the Young Alumni Council, help plan alumni events in your area, or provide career assistance for current students. Learn more at

Join a regional or affinity chapter.

No matter where in the world you are, it is easy to maintain a thriving network of South Texas friends. Socialize, cultivate business opportunities, and reconnect with fellow alumni by geography, area of practice, or affinity. Find the place for you at


Judge Robert Francis ’85, pictured here in his Dallas chambers.


South Texas College of Law Houston

Judge Robert Francis ’85



Alumnus takes a personal approach to help drug offenders reclaim their lives WRITTEN BY AMANDA GREEN


ike Roth entered the justice system as a high school senior, when he says he was wrongfully accused of a crime (a judge later dropped the case). The situation led Roth to lose a golf scholarship for college and created tension between him and other members of his small community. “I felt defeated,” Roth said. “The whole experience made me so angry at the justice system. I felt like, ‘If they’re going to label me a screw-up, I’ll show them what a real screw-up is.’ I took on a victim mentality. I regret that now.” Roth soon began experimenting with drugs, leading to a 10-year pattern of methamphetamine usage, more than two dozen arrests, numerous probation violations, and a total of six years spent behind bars. “It came to a point where I wasn’t afraid of jail; that wasn’t a motivator to — MIKE ROTH change my behavior,” Roth recalled. “Honestly, jail had become a home away from home — with three free meals, utilities, and a space to work out.” Roth’s story follows a pattern ubiquitous among drug offenders. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, up to 80 percent of drug abusers commit a new crime after release from prison, and approximately 95 percent return to drug abuse after release from prison. The Bureau also reports that the

“The whole experience made me so angry at the justice system. I felt like, ‘If they’re going to label me a screw-up, I’ll show them what a real screw-up is.’”


Judge Robert Francis ’85

“I have two rules: don’t lie and don’t run. If they show up to do the work and they are honest about what’s going on outside this courtroom, we are on good terms. Because that’s what it takes to succeed at this.”


nation’s incarceration rate has nearly quadrupled in the past 25 years — an alarming statistic for communities, politicians, legal practitioners, and social researchers alike. Aside from the sociological implications of increasing incarceration, sending people to prison is a significant drain of economic resources. In fact, the Texas legislature in 2007 projected that if the state’s imprisonment rate kept growing in proportion to population growth, construction and hiring for new prisons would cost taxpayers an additional $1 billion by 2012. It was time to consider other interventions. In an effort to mitigate their budget concerns, lawmakers allocated funds to rehabilitation programs, mental health treatment, and the expansion of specialty “drug courts” that focused on reformation along with punishment. Fortunately, Texas already had a model to follow. Judge Robert Francis ’85, STCL Houston alumnus and criminal district court judge in Dallas, was seven years into the development of a drug court that focused on alternative methods to reduce repeat offenses. Growing tired of being what he referred to as a “housing relocation specialist” — transferring repeat offenders from one correctional facility to the next — Francis piloted the program in 2000, managing the administration part time in addition to his duties on the bench. In 2009, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice provided 12

South Texas College of Law Houston

funding so Francis could lead the program full time and hire a complete staff. The 4-C Reentry Court now functions as an aftercare component for probationers who have completed treatment at a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFPF), a mandatory rehab facility within the walls of a prison but separate from the general population. The “4-C” provides guidance to more than 200 individuals per year, giving them the tools to remain sober, learn essential life skills, and ultimately, become self-sufficient. Francis, known by participants as “Judge Bobby,” serves as counselor, mentor, social worker, cheerleader, and disciplinarian. “I have two rules: don’t lie and don’t run,” Francis said. “If they show up to do the work and they are honest about what’s going on outside this courtroom, we are on good terms. Because that’s what it takes to succeed at this.” Roth, who entered the program in 2016, says following Judge Bobby’s rules gave him the fresh start he was prepared to accept. A few weeks into the program, Roth — who was living with his mother in a motel at the time — fell into bad company. He failed to show up to court for a week, during which time he relapsed. “I messed up, but I wanted to get better, and I knew [the 4-C program] could be my last chance,” Roth said. “I knew I was going to need support if I wanted out of this situation, and that meant I had to be honest.” Riddled with anxiety and hesitation, Roth returned to the courthouse. He walked in and out the revolving door several times before working up the nerve to get on the elevator to the seventh floor and fess up to the judge. “I knew that, in the eyes of the justice system, I was nothing more than a career criminal,” Roth said. “I assumed my confession was going to send me to prison anyway, so I might as well tell the truth and hope for some mercy.” To Roth’s surprise, his honesty begat grace, not punishment. Judge Francis helped him secure placement in a sober living facility and allowed 4-C staff to testify on his behalf during his probation violation hearing in a neighboring county. During that hearing, Roth turned down a 2-year plea deal (of which he would have served less than 10 months because of previous time served) in favor of the rigorous, 15-month 4-C program. Francis wants his participants to succeed, and he gives them the benefit of the doubt as long as they remain steadfast to his

For Roth, candor opened the door to a supportive living situation and eventually, to something much bigger.

two unbreakable rules. For Roth, candor opened the door to a supportive living situation and eventually, to something much bigger. When Roth began to form a friendship with another program participant, a young woman named Echo, the two approached the judge to let him know about the romantic feelings that were developing between them. The program generally prohibits fraternization among probationers, but Francis respected the couple’s forthrightness and gave them his blessing, with a serious warning about the risks involved. An addict whose partner relapses is highly likely to follow suit. “I understand even more now what a chance we were taking. Fortunately, it paid off,” Mike said. The pair — who married in the spring — completed the program in September 2017, and continue to attend regular recovery meetings together. Both have celebrated their longest sobriety milestones this year, are working full-time jobs, and are saving for a new home. While Francis makes every effort to provide his charges with the support they need to reform their lives, he maintains high standards for them and has a low tolerance for excuses. He has earned a reputation for his fair but tough approach to a rigorous, challenging program. Participants in reentry court start out with a strictly regimented schedule including weekly meetings with in-house probation officers and counselors and random drug testing. Check-ins become less frequent as a probationer shows progress and earns trust. Echo said the 4-C program gave her the discipline and accountability that ultimately helped her earn back her family’s trust and support, which was essential to her recovery. “The steps I took at 4-C saved my life, for sure,” Echo said. “I believe things would have been completely different had I gone back to jail, or even a halfway house. In both cases, you are tossed back out into the world without learning to make better decisions. With Judge Bobby, we are not just another case file. He cares what happens to each person in that courtroom.” The program typically takes about a year to complete, in addition to a three-month follow-up period including frequent check-ins with the probation supervisor. The Roths are just one example of the program’s compelling outcomes. Participants have an 18-percent lower recidivism rate than probationers who do

Mike and Echo Roth met as participants in the 4-C reentry court program. The pair have supported each other through recovery and were married last spring.

not participate in a similar program. On top of that, Texas avoided opening those new prisons back in 2007 and has since closed several more. Texas now has more than 200 registered programs similar to 4-C. Unfortunately, drug courts nationwide remain underutilized. The NADCP estimates that drug courts serve only about half of non-violent, drug-addicted arrestees who are currently eligible for the programs. Francis encourages prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and judges to familiarize themselves with the treatment courts in their jurisdictions. “These courts are designed to get better results, as opposed to just meting out punishments,” Francis said. “By changing our approach to dealing with certain offenders, we have the potential to improve their lives, their kids’ lives, and our society as a whole.”





Promoting access to court-appointed defenders in Harris County WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CATON


South Texas College of Law Houston

“Without enough trained advocates to


n the spring of 2017, South Texas College of Law Houston received a $1.27 million multi-year gift to launch a Criminal Defense Certification Program and develop a pipeline of well-trained defense attorneys who can provide effective representation for indigent criminal defendants in Houston’s courts. Funded by an anonymous donor, this unique pilot program is the first of its kind in the state and has the potential to make a significant impact on the criminal defense system in Texas. “Without enough trained advocates to provide quality criminal defense at the trial level, indigent defendants have no real chance at justice and due process,” said Catherine Greene Burnett, vice president, associate dean, and professor of law at South Texas College of Law Houston. “This program aims to increase the number of qualified defense attorneys who can accept court appointments — as approved by local criminal court judges — and provide client-centered representation and ardent defense.” Newly licensed criminal defense attorneys often struggle to meet the experience minimums required by the Harris County courts; therefore, it can be difficult for these lawyers to break into the system, and the quality of indigent criminal defense in the city suffers as a result. For example, in 2016, 451 attorneys accepted nearly 70,000 indigent appointments of counsel in the district and county courts in Harris County alone. The top 10 percent of these attorneys — 46 individuals — accepted indigent court appointments for more than 375 cases each over the course of the year. A report

issued by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission in January 2015, “Guidelines for Indigent Defense Caseloads,” suggests an indigent defender’s annual caseload should be closer to between 77 and 236 cases, depending on the level of offenses handled. To join Harris County’s list for indigent appointments in criminal court, an attorney must have at least four years of practice experience in criminal law, with at least four felony jury trials that are tried to verdict. The impact of these experience requirements is felt in the continually exclusive list of aging criminal defense attorneys who meet the appointment qualifications, and the growing list of young attorneys — eager to provide quality representation to indigent defendants — who end up disillusioned by the process and pursue careers in other areas of law that are less-exclusionary and more profitable. “Clearly, the system is broken,” said Burnett. “With the Harris County Public Defender’s Office only able to responsibly take nine percent of the indigent criminal cases, there are too many convicted individuals left asking, ‘What if…’” The law school’s Criminal Defense Certification Program aims to right this wrong — from the outset of a future defense attorney’s legal education through his or her first year as a mentored, practicing lawyer. Law students interested in criminal defense can opt into the program beginning their second year, which includes focused study on criminal law and procedures. These students also will participate in a yearlong Criminal Defense Clinic — a new addition to the school’s Randall

provide quality criminal defense at the trial level, indigent defendants have no real chance at justice and due process.” – CATHERINE GREENE BURNETT

O. Sorrels Legal Clinics — in which they, working alongside criminal defense attorneys on staff (who are themselves included on the county’s indigent appointment list), will advocate for actual clients. After graduation, the new lawyers will receive hands-on mentoring from Houston-area criminal defense attorneys in an effort to ease their transition into practice. This extended mentorship program effectively will transform law students interested in entering the indigent criminal defense profession into qualified and practice-ready attorneys eager to provide passionate advocacy for their clients. After completing the final year of the program and post-graduation mentoring, participants will receive a certificate attesting to their satisfactory completion of the Criminal Defense Certification Program. “This program is an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between legal education and practice in a novel way, benefitting both law students and their future clients,” said Burnett.


Trevino ’05| in brief |Gabriel


Alumnus informs national security policy at FBI Headquarters WRITTEN BY AMANDA GREEN


awyers have a significant responsibility to pursue justice and to protect the rule of law. For Gabriel Trevino ’05, a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Office of the General Counsel, National Security and Cyber Law Branch, that charge comes with serious national and international stakes. “It is not a position you take on lightly,” Trevino said. “But the responsibility is what makes it so rewarding — knowing that we have a hand in protecting the country and its citizens. Every task makes a difference.” As special counsel to the executive assistant director of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch, Trevino provides legal and policy advice and counsel. Currently, his portfolio encompasses issues related to information sharing with state and local law enforcement and international partners; operational technology and “going dark” issues; and FBI laboratory operations, among others. On any given day, he may be engaged in policy discussions at National Security Committee meetings/working groups, working with colleagues from various federal agencies, or sitting across the table from

agency executives as they prepare to testify before Congress. Admittedly, however, he spends a lot of time at work developing pro/con lists, brainstorming with colleagues, and analyzing the legal and policy issues of the day. The FBI’s attorneys work collaboratively, which is where Trevino’s South Texas training serves him well. “At South Texas, there is a strong emphasis on relationship building and practical application,” he said. “My professors taught me how to think differently, to examine a problem and make compelling arguments on both sides. In this job, it is crucial that I’m able to effectively explain the benefits and pitfalls of a situation and consider the potential consequences of every option.” Trevino made the decision to go into government service as an undergraduate at the University of Houston, when he interned at the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. He spent that spring interacting with executives, legislators, and everyone in between, many of whom had a law degree in common. It opened his eyes to the paths a J.D. degree could open for him,

whether or not he chose to practice law in the traditional sense. After South Texas, he went on to earn an LL.M. in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practices from Washington College of Law at American University, worked a brief stint as a legislative assistant for a congressman from New Jersey, and eventually went through the FBI’s rigorous background process. Even still, he continues to be surprised by the level of influence and involvement lawyers can have on important societal and policy issues. He remains focused and grounded by keeping in mind the people behind the policies on which he advises. “I never want to lose sight of the practical implications of the decisions we make here,” Trevino said. “It’s one thing to understand the letter of the law, but it means nothing if you don’t consider how people will live within it. Effective policy cannot be separated from humanity.”

“It’s one thing to understand the letter of the law, but it means nothing if you don’t consider how people will live within it. Effective policy cannot be separated from humanity.” – GABRIEL TREVINO ’05


South Texas College of Law Houston

Make justice your legacy. “South Texas trained me to think critically and apply the law practically — skills that helped me rise to the challenges and opportunities I faced throughout my career in business. A bequest is a way to show my gratitude and pay it forward to the next generation.”

– jim farr ’77 A bequest is an easy and flexible way to make a meaningful contribution to South Texas College of Law Houston. If you already have a will, you can add STCL Houston to it by simply executing an addendum (codicil). Visit for your complimentary estate-planning guide.




From a 200-mile law school commute to a seat on the bench – alumna journeys above and beyond magine this routine: You wake up in the morning at your home in Corpus Christi, Texas. After you take your daughter to school, you drive directly to the airport to catch a one-hour flight to Houston Hobby, where you get into the run-down car you keep parked at the airport for the express purpose of driving to class at South Texas College of Law Houston. Between noon and 5:15 p.m., you sit through Torts and Civ Pro then study in the library before catching the 10:35 p.m. flight back to Corpus Christi. You will do it all again later in the week. Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack ‘81 did this commute twice a week for two-and-a-half years before graduating from South Texas. She was a full-time student, mom, wife, and realtor during her first year in law school.



South Texas College of Law Houston

Following a brief career in nursing, Jack became interested in studying law. However, she and her husband — William, a cardiologist —subsequently made the move to Corpus Christi where he would launch his private practice. Corpus Christi did not have a law school; Jack put her goal on hold until she could find a way to attend. Luckily, Southwest Airlines soon began offering affordable, direct flights from Corpus Christi to Houston, opening up the possibility to attend South Texas. “I flew to South Texas to see Dean [Garland] Walker. I had no appointment, so I waited until he could see me. I told him that I was going to be the best student and that I would commute. He really looked horrified! He said, ‘well go take a number.’ I had no idea what that meant.” The number was Jack’s ticket for admission to South Texas; she registered for classes the next semester.

Judge Janis Graham Jack ’81

While the commute was strenuous, Jack especially appreciated Associate Dean T. Gerald Treece and other faculty who helped her achieve her law degree, saying, “Dean Treece made everything welcoming, and made every accommodation for me. He was such a good guy, and everyone was so supportive and worked with my schedule.” Even with such a solid support system, Jack says she was scared for most of her first year. “Everything was in a new language,” she said. “You have to learn quickly to think like a lawyer, and eventually you begin to learn this language. The second year is so much more interesting because everything is not as foreign.” Jack worked in private practice in Corpus Christi from 1981 until 1993, when President Bill Clinton nominated her to the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The Senate confirmed the appointment on March 10, 1994, and she received her commission the following day. Dean Treece was among the first to call and congratulate her on her nomination, offering the school’s full support. The passion and perseverance she showed in her years as a law student have allowed Jack to lead a successful, thorough, fair and honorable courtroom. She takes her job very seriously, earning a reputation for reading every piece of paper submitted on a case. She wants every lawyer who enters her courtroom to be confident that she is well versed on the case at hand. “It is such an honor to have this job,” Jack said. “I mean, sometimes I look around and can’t believe I am sitting on this bench, and I am humbled by the power that goes with the office. It requires a lot of caution.” Jack gained major attention when she admonished a group of plaintiffs’ lawyers in a 249-page opinion on a 2005 silicosis tort case, “In Re: Silica Products Liability Litigation.” More than 10,000 plaintiffs who worked with silica dust filed suit against their employers, claiming the exposure led them to contract silicosis, a disabling and often fatal lung disease. After pretrial proceedings and three days of hearings, Jack concluded that most of the claims “were essentially manufactured on an assembly line” made up of plaintiff ’s lawyers, screening companies, and doctors who fabricated phony diagnoses, often without ever seeing the patient in person. She called for sanctions against one of the plaintiffs’ law

firms and sent all but one of the cases back to the state courts where they originated. The ruling set a new precedent for mass tort litigation and sent a strong message to the attorneys who file such claims — they had better have their facts straight. The court would not permit further attempts at “overwhelming the system to prevent examination of each individual claim and to extract mass settlements.” Jack did recognize one legitimate case among the falsehoods, and concluded her report by expressing compassion for those truly affected by unhealthy work conditions, stating, “Silicosis is a continuing tragedy in our country. Those suffering the effects of the disease do not need an inflated number of claims to lend gravitas to their situation. Their tragedy stands on its own.” Currently, Jack is working on another notable class-action case, M.D. v. Abbott, which questions the current Texas foster care system. The case focuses on not only foster kids, but on all vulnerable kids— almost 30,000 of them— whose welfare is in the hands of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The documents provided in the case analyze Texas child-welfare procedures in more precise detail than many DFPS bureaucrats have been able to define at trial, identifying decades of systematic failings. In her published case opinions to date, Jack has deemed the Texas foster care system unconstitutional and broken. “Texas [foster] children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm,” she wrote. “These children have for too long been forgotten. Their stories deserve to be told.” The case, still ongoing, may have drastic implications for the system’s future. Her strong opinions in the DFPS case gave Jack statewide media exposure and led to her nomination and win for 2016 Texan of the Year by Dallas News – one of many distinguished awards she has received throughout her career, including STCL Houston Distinguished Alumna in 1998. Jack, who finished second in her class at South Texas, attributes much of her success to her solid support system— her daughter, husband and parents who loved and supported her through law school and beyond — and the law school that gave her a chance. “Without South Texas, I could not have done this. It truly took a village to get me here.”

“It is such an honor to have this job. I mean, sometimes I look around and can’t believe I am sitting on this bench, and I am humbled by the power that goes with the office. It requires a lot of caution.” – JUDGE JANIS GRAHAM JACK ’81


from the archives

1923 A Spirit of Civic Unity The Fred Parks Law Library’s manuscript collection chronicles the legal history of Houston and Texas through personal papers written by alumni, faculty, lawyers, firms, and members of the judiciary. Shown here, a call for civic unity by Judge Sam Streetman, the school’s second dean. Also shown are handwritten speeches Streetman delivered throughout his career, complete with notes and edits in his own hand.







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Students had the honor of learning from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a study abroad course in Valletta, Malta. MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES



South Texas College of Law Houston

STCL Houston students and administrators attend a reception honoring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (center) in Valletta, Malta

Law Students Enjoy Once-in-a-Lifetime Privilege to Learn from Supreme Court Justice in Malta


hen Jessica Revils, a third-year student at South Texas College of Law Houston, named her dog “Ginsburg” in honor of her role model, she never dreamed she would have the chance to show the Honorable U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a photo of her namesake over a shared laugh (pictured above). Revils and several of her classmates enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of learning from Justice Ginsburg in Malta during the third session of STCL Houston’s study abroad program at the University of Malta’s Valletta campus over the summer.


Justice Ginsburg provided the future lawyers with a retrospective of prominent Supreme Court cases over the past year, conducted a Q&A session, and attended a reception for participating students and faculty in her honor. “Justice Ginsburg is one of the reasons I went to law school: to change the world for women and minorities through law,” said Revils. “So to meet the woman who is both a large reason I chose to go to law school, and that I’m even able to go to law school, was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.” During their one-on-one conversation, Revils gave her legal muse a photograph of “Ginsburg” dressed in a “Stand with Texas Women” T-shirt from her

participation in the Austin’s Women’s March in January. “She had a chuckle of it!” said Revils. “I didn’t expect her to open the photos in front of me, so that was a treat.” Revils’ gift to Justice Ginsburg was most appropriate, as the progressive Supreme Court icon is well known for raising the bar for women’s rights in the United States and blazing the way for generations of talented, hard-working women who follow in her stead. Her tireless pursuit of equal justice for women – and people of all colors and creeds – is born of her own experiences facing gender discrimination, both in academia and the workplace. Despite earning the highest grades and professional


Students Tyler Basham and Kacie Penman share a laugh with President and Dean Donald Guter at a study abroad reception in Valletta, Malta.

Ardalan Attar kneels for a photo with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice Ginsburg reviews recent Supreme Court decisions during a panel discussion with Dean Guter at the University of Malta.

Left to right, Megan Barcak, Amy Alexander, Justice Ginsburg, and Jacquelyn Toman capture a photo at sunset on a terrace in Malta.


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“People often ask me, ‘Well, did you always want to be a judge?’ My answer is it just wasn’t in the realm of the possible until Jimmy Carter became president and was determined to draw on the talent of all of the people, not just some of them.” — JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG

accolades early in her legal career, Justice Ginsburg smashed into the glass ceiling before the phrase was officially acknowledged. Long before writer Alice Sargent coined the term in an interview with the Washington Post in 1987 stating, “Women in corporate America are bumping their heads on the glass ceiling,” Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer fighting against it. During the 1993 nomination hearings for her seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg noted, “I surely would not be in this room today without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams of equal citizenship alive in days when few would listen. People like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Tubman come to mind. I stand on the shoulders of those brave people.” Jacquelyn Toman, a second-year law student at STCL Houston, feels similarly about her role model, whom she met in the school’s Malta study abroad program. “As a law student, it doesn’t get any more inspiring than meeting and learning from a member of the United States Supreme Court,” she said. “And to get that faceto-face opportunity with a true pioneer of the modern women’s movement is a memory I will always value. Because of the sacrifices she made to earn equal footing for women in politics, the workplace, and society, future generations of women now are free to chase and realize their own dreams.” David Elder, a third-year South Texas student, also enjoyed the opportunity of meeting Justice Ginsburg in Malta. He said, “I was the very first person among my peers to shake her hand when she walked into the room. I wanted to make sure she had a big Texas welcome, even if we were in Malta at the moment.” Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), the Malta program is one of several international legal study abroad options available to South Texas College of Law Houston students through the Consortium for Innovative

Legal Education (CILE), which includes California Western School of Law, New England Law | Boston, and Mitchell Hamline School of Law, in addition to STCL Houston. Justice Ginsburg followed in the stead of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the late Justice Antonin G. Scalia; both taught in previous international study abroad programs offered through CILE-affiliated schools in Malta, England, Ireland, Chile, and the Czech Republic. “Justice Ginsburg’s participation with STCL Houston’s Malta program this summer is an experience our students will forever treasure,” said Donald J. Guter, president and dean of South Texas College of Law Houston. “In addition to hearing her unique perspective on groundbreaking cases of the past year, the students were treated to her great sense of humor and grace in an interactive setting, which most students and attorneys never have the opportunity to experience.” In addition to teaching law students, Justice Ginsburg made the most of her time in Malta, touring the St. John’s Co-Cathedral; the 5,000-year-old Hypogeum underground burial site; and the Hagar Qim Neolithic temple complex, dating from approximately 3400 B.C. “Having the opportunity to share a one-on-one moment with Justice Ginsburg and tell her just how much I admire and respect her will forever be one of the highlights of my life,” said Morgan Walls, a second-year student at South Texas College of Law Houston. “I will take many cherished memories – of classmates and professors and shared experiences – with me when I graduate from law school. But, without a doubt, learning from such a legal trailblazer and true champion of women will be one of the greatest.”

OF NOTE n Despite earning the prestigious honor of acceptance to Harvard Law School in 1956 — one of only nine women in her entering class — Justice Ginsburg was asked by the dean, “How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?” n Upon making Law Review and graduating first in her class from Columbia Law School in 1959, Justice Ginsburg was recommended for a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Felix Frankfurter by her Harvard Law School professor Albert Sachs. However, because Justice Frankfurter “was not ready to hire a woman,” he asked Sachs to recommend a man instead. n When Justice Ginsburg became a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark in 1963, she was one of fewer than 20 female law professors in the country. When she asked why her salary was less than her male colleagues’, she was told, “You have a husband who earns a good salary.” Finding this answer unacceptable, she marshalled an equal pay campaign along with other women teaching at the university, resulting in significant pay raises for female professors. n After hiding her second pregnancy to avoid discriminatory employment practices while teaching at Rutgers, she later advocated to change the law, resulting in the successful Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. n Based on her own experiences of gender discrimination, Justice Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project (WRP) at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1972, and became general counsel of the organization the following year. Under her leadership, the WRP and ACLU participated in more than 300 gender discrimination cases in two years, and Justice Ginsburg personally argued six gender discrimination cases before the U.S. Supreme Court from 1973 to 1976, winning five of them.


1972 Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project THE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Ginsburg Through the decades


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Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Chambers, U.S. Courthouse. TERRY ASHE/THE LIFE IMAGES COLLECTION/ GETTY IMAGES

“Whatever community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization, or fighting for racial justice … you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.” — JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG




Ruth Bader Ginsburg receives honorary degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice RAMIN TALAIE/GETTY IMAGES

Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a guest speaking visit at Harvard University GETTY IMAGES



Early life:

Fight for equality:

U.S. Supreme Court:

n March 15, 1933: Joan Ruth Bader, nicknamed “Kiki,” is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

n 1963: Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the second woman to teach full time at Rutgers School of Law. At this time, she is one of fewer than 20 female law professors in the United States.

n June 14, 1993: President Bill Clinton nominates Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, making her only the second female appointee in the history of the High Court.

n Sept. 8, 1965: Her son, James Ginsburg, is born.

n Aug. 10, 1993: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is confirmed by a 96 to 3 vote, and she takes the judicial oath to the Supreme Court.

n June 23, 1954: Ruth Bader graduates as the highest-ranking female in her class at Cornell University, and marries Martin Ginsburg a month later. n July 21, 1955: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s daughter, Jane Ginsburg, is born. n Fall 1956: She enrolls at Harvard Law School, one of nine women in her class of 500. The Harvard Law dean reportedly asked her and her fellow female classmates, “How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?” n 1958: Ruth Bader Ginsburg transfers to Columbia University School of Law when her husband graduates from Harvard Law School. n 1959: She graduates at the top of her Columbia Law School class after becoming the first woman to be on two major law reviews: Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review.

n 1970: She cofounds the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the nation to focus solely on women’s rights. n 1972: Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first female tenured professor to teach at Columbia Law School. n Spring 1972: She cofounds the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). n 1973: Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the general counsel of the ACLU.

n June 26, 1996: She writes the majority opinion in the landmark case United States v. Virginia, which requires the Virginia Military Institute to admit women. n Dec. 12, 2000: Justice Ginsburg is one of four dissenters in Bush v. Gore, which declares George W. Bush president of the United States.

n April 14, 1980: President Jimmy Carter appoints Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where she will go on to serve for 13 years.


My Testimony

HIS I KNOW: Don Jordan ’69 hen Don Jordan ’69 left his small hometown on Corpus Christi Bay to attend Wharton County Junior College, he had never even seen a college campus before. As the first person in his family to graduate from high school, Jordan was determined to discover what the world had to offer and to make his parents proud. After taking a break to attend welding school and joining the U.S. Naval Reserve, Jordan returned to his studies at the University of Texas and took a job at Houston Lighting & Power Company (later known as Reliant Energy) after graduation. He later attended South Texas College of Law Houston, hoping a law degree would give him a competitive edge as he strived to stand out in the corporate world. That decision — along with a lot of hard work and determination — launched Jordan into a prolific career as a businessman and leader. At age 42, he became the youngest-ever president of any major electric utility company in the U.S. at the time. In addition to serving the law school as a board member (he recently retired after 25 years and remains chairman emeritus), he has served as president or chair of nearly every national organization for energy professionals and several global ones, including the World Energy Council. In this edition of My Testimony, Jordan shares with us some of the most important lessons he has learned along the way.


MY TESTIMONY In this InRe feature, we share firsthand stories, opinions, and accounts from your fellow alumni. Want to share something notable you’ve done recently? A tale of your first time in the courtroom? Some insight you’ve gained since graduation? Email us at with the subject line: “My Testimony.”


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My legal training was valuable as an executive because it taught me never to allow any person or situation to intimidate me. Law school put me in a different category that gave me opportunities I would not otherwise have had. Without it, I would not have become CEO and stayed in that job for 25 years. We go into business to change lives. Ratings, rankings, and criticism mean nothing as long as we stay true to that mission. Be on time. Always.

You always win through preparation. You don’t always win just because you’re right. You don’t always lose just because you’re wrong. Preparation puts you in a position to come out on top better than any other thing.

Either you earn allegiance or you don’t deserve it. People will give you loyalty and respect when you invest in them and build them up. Never quit. Never surrender. Never allow the pressures of a situation to cripple you. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a moment to breathe and think through the problem. Hard work is the great equalizer. I have faced many competitors who were smarter than I was, but I never allowed them to work harder.

Life will test you every step of the way. Every time you pass a test, you earn a chance at the next, more difficult test. Don’t fear that. Embrace it. That’s how you make your way up the ladder. Do the best you can at the job you have now. Don’t lose sight of your place in the bigger picture, even as you pursue the next thing. The work immediately before you is always the most important.

CLASS NOTES Have you visited Online Class Notes yet? Enjoy 24-hour access to news about fellow alumni at

Michael J. McCartney ’76 retired on Sept. 15, 2017 from a 41-year certified civil trial practice in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Submit your news and photos or search for fellow alumni from any class year at

Kenneth M. Robison ’74 retired in October 2017. He thanks South Texas and blesses Garland Walker.

All submissions to Class Notes are subject to editing for length, clarity, accuracy, and appropriateness.


1970-1979 The Honorable Richard L. Abrams ’73 completed two LL.M. degrees — in international law and health law — from University of Houston Law Center in May 2017. Scott E. Albert ’79 moved back to Pennsylvania in 1989. Six years ago, he was elected as a local magisterial district judge, and he continues to serve in that capacity in Lancaster County, Pa. He also is entering his 39th year of solo practice. Philip W. Boyko ’77 traveled to Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome, and Amalfi Coast) with his wife of 45 years, Linda, for 17 spectacular days in May. They were a little late in getting there, but wow, what a time they had! J. Alexander Johnson ’75 published the lead article, “Civil RICO: The Weapon of Choice and The Art of Direct Examination” in the 2017 New York State Bar Association Journal. He recently published “Patent Reform” in Michigan Lawyers Weekly and “Long Tail Claims” in the American Bar Association TIPS — Toxic Tort & Environmental Law. Alexander is an accomplished trial lawyer and is an active member of the Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Federal Court Bars.

Michael J. Alman ’80 was a finalist in the Family Law category of the 2015 South Florida Business & Wealth’s Leaders in Law Awards. Otis M. Cohn Jr. ’89 currently is serving as mayor of Cleveland, Texas. Danny K. Easterling ’80, partner at Easterling & Easterling P.C., has been recognized as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 15 consecutive years, each year that this award has been in existence. The Honorable Peter F. Estrada ’88 was appointed chair of the Florida Supreme Court Full Committee on Fairness and Diversity 2016. Gregory T. Farrell ’87 is proud to announce his oldest daughter was wed in October 2017. The Honorable Ronald N. Ficarrotta ’82 was unanimously re-elected as chief judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, for a two-year term beginning July 1, 2017. Judge Ficarrotta has served in this position since January 2015. Judge Ficarrotta recently received the Jurist of the Year award from the Florida Chapter of American Board of Trial Advocates. Brian E. Holland ’89 retired in August 2014 at age 67, and began a new career as a lounge lizard.

Marsha L. Kelliher ’87 is the new president and CEO of Walsh College in Troy, MI. Harry H. Kelso ’82 joined the U.S. Department of Defense as Deputy DoD General Counsel (Environment, Energy & Installations) on Sept. 5, 2017. Steven C. Laird ’80 has been selected as one of the Top 100 lawyers in the state by the Texas Super Lawyers listing for 2017. Steven has earned a reputation as one of the country’s top attorneys for trucking accident victims. He is also the author of a popular blog on trucking and transportation safety issues: http://texlawyers. com/blog. One of the few Texas lawyers to be board certified in both personal injury trial law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Steven also has earned national certification in civil trial law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. The legal community has recognized Steven since 2005 as a Top Personal Injury Attorney in Tarrant County in a survey conducted by Fort Worth, Texas Magazine. Lynne Liberato ’80 was appointed to chair the United Way Hurricane Harvey Recovery Taskforce. The taskforce’s mission is to assess needs for both disaster response and long-term recovery and allocate funds according to those needs. Jorge A. Lorenzo ’87 served in the U.S. Army as defense counsel for military personnel accused of criminal offenses and as chief of operational law during Desert Storm, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service during war. He has been practicing law for nearly 30 years and is licensed to practice law in Florida and Texas.

William F. Magness ’84 is president and managing principal of MCS, a firm focused on capital project development and claims management services. Kurt A. F. Malmquist II ’83 has law practices in Texas and Wisconsin. He also owns Hawthorne Farms. His companies support military families and conservation organizations. He grew up in the south but fell in love with the North Woods. Neil C. McCabe ’82 was recognized as a 2017 Texas Super Lawyer. Robert W. Musemeche ’88 is pleased to announce that he opened Musemeche Law, PC – Divorce, Probate & Trial Law. The firm is in the NASA/Clear Lake area, serving Houston, Galveston, League City, and Friendswood. Donna J. Petrone ’89 is the 2017 recipient of the Leon Jaworski Award from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary. She was nominated by Catholic Charities for her work. Donna has participated in and sponsored numerous pro bono activities including citizenship and DACA clinics, pro se divorce clinics, and veterans clinics. She also has handled Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) cases. She is counsel with the Exxon Mobil Corporation. Douglas W. Rommelmann ’88 joined Bracewell LLP’s Houston property practice.


CLASS NOTES Sharon M. Schweitzer ’89, is pleased to announce her first book, Access to Asia (Wiley 2015), now in its third printing; it was named a Best Book of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews. Sharon is a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

“Best Lawyer in Dallas” for business litigation by D Magazine from 2008-2016, and a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation in 2017. Additionally, Michael currently is the president-elect of the Dallas Bar Association. Derrick Johnson ’97 was named interim president and CEO of the NAACP. in recognition of his support and compassionate commitment to the community. Elizabeth D. Barron ’95 completed 21 years with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Aaron G. Carlson ’95 recently was appointed vice president and deputy general counsel of Noble Energy, Inc.

Donald S. Sepolio ’89 received his license to practice law as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2008. He lived in London for most of 20102012 and continues to commute between Houston and London. His son, Cory Sepolio ’03, is running for judge of the 269th Civil District Court in Harris County, Texas. Keith S. Weise ’84 has, for the third time, returned to prosecution after 18 years as a solo criminal defense attorney. He is an assistant district attorney in Edna, Jackson County. Ronald P. Wright ’84 moved his practice to McKinney, Texas after more than 30 years of practicing in Dallas, Texas. He is a founding member of the McKinney Bar Association and a member of its board of directors.

1990-1999 Bernardino Agosto Jr. ’95 received the Humanitarian Award in the category of Male Philanthropist by the Latino Learning Center


Jarrett Coleman ’96 has been appointed general counsel of Lokal Homes, a top-200 homebuilder headquartered in the greater Denver, Colorado area. J. Todd Culwell ’93 joined Reed Smith’s global Energy & Natural Resources practice. The Honorable Craig Estlinbaum ’94 was reelected to his fifth term as judge of the 130th District Court in Matagorda County in November 2016 and completed his 13th year as an adjunct professor of law at STCL Houston in May 2017. Angela S. Goodwin ’90 is now the director of enforcement at the Texas Ethics Commission. Joseph R. Gutheinz Jr. ’96 is a partner in the Gutheinz Law Firm, LLP and a retired senior special agent of the NASA Office of Inspector General. In June 2017, he gave a speech at the 28th Annual Global Conference in Nashville, Tenn. on his Omniplan case, the largest criminal case in NASA history. In July,

South Texas College of Law Houston

he joined one of his clients as she earned $1.8 million at Southerby’s for an Apollo 11 lunar bag, which she won title to after suing NASA. In October, Joe gave a speech at the University of Aruba on a NASA undercover sting operation that he participated in, Operation Lunar Eclipse, which also is the subject of a 2019 full-length film by the same name. This undercover sting operation was a successful effort to recover the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock, valued at $5 million. Jonathan M. Harris ’96 joined Blank Rome LLP as a partner in the Intellectual Property and Technology group. Jim Huggler ’95 has been named a new member of the board of trustees for the National Conference of Bar Foundations (NCBF). The NCBF exists to advance the work of all bar foundations across the country. Michael K. Hurst ’90 of boutique Texas litigation firm Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in commercial litigation by U.S. News & World Report for seven consecutive years. Michael has been recognized as a “Texas Super Lawyer” since 2003 and a “Top 100 Lawyers in Texas” for 11 years as seen in Texas Monthly. Additionally, he has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in labor and employment litigation and real estate litigation by U.S. News & World Report for the past four years. Michael has been selected as a

Michael P. Lyons ’99, co-founder of the trial law firm Deans & Lyons, LLP, was named among the Best Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine for 2017. He is one of only a few lawyers who has been honored for both personal injury and business litigation. Michael W. Magee ’90 has joined MehaffyWeber PC as a shareholder. Magee is a defense trial lawyer who has tried over 75 cases to verdict in state and federal court. He represents a wide variety of clients, including oil and gas companies, property owners, road contractors, and trucking companies. Mike’s practice primarily focuses on personal injury litigation. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and has been named a Texas Super Lawyer for the past seven years. He has been a volunteer for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for the past 25 years. Mario A. Martinez ’99 is now board certified in the areas of civil trial law (2016) and consumer & commercial law (2012) by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. C. Lane Mears ’97 is serving as the rule of law and good governance team leader at the United States

CLASS NOTES Agency for International Development in San Salvador, El Salvador. Mark H. Ritchie ’96 has his own practice focusing on appeals, arbitration, and complex motion practice. He was admitted in July 2017 as a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and devotes the majority of his discretionary time to studying for admission as a solicitor in England and Wales. Mark had a number of articles published in the HBA Appellate Lawyer over the past year, and in March 2017, he had his first article published in the Texas Bar Journal.

practices in the areas of business and construction litigation in both Texas and Nevada. He has tried more than 100 cases as first chair lawyer. He also has served as lead counsel in over 60 appellate cases, including at the Texas Supreme Court. He serves on the advisory board of Crime Stoppers of Houston and the board of directors of the South Texas College of Law Houston Alumni Association.

Carl D. Shaw ’90, the current assistant chief deputy for the Harris County Constable Precinct One Office, was named “a lawyer leading in law and order” by The Houston Lawyer magazine. T. Jason Smith ’98 recently published an article, “Contract Intelligence: Uncovering the Riches You Already Have”, in the International Legal Technology Association’s Spring 2017 Peer to Peer Magazine. He has been named as a finalist for the International Legal Technology Association’s 2017 Thought Leader of the Year Award. He was a finalist for this award in 2013 and 2015. Jason currently chairs the Technology Committee of the State Bar of Texas Corporate Counsel Section and is a faculty member for the 2017 ACC Annual Conference and the 39th Annual Advanced In-House Counsel Course. Jason is a recipient of the Fastcase 50 Award, an award that honors a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, bar association executives, and people from all walks of life. David V. Wilson II ’93 joined MehaffyWeber PC as a shareholder. He

Inc. as supervisor of lease and contracts over all of the company’s Texas assets. In conjunction with department management, Amy is accountable for contract maintenance and the overall work processes, performance, personnel, and strategic planning activities for Noble’s Texas lease and contracts team. Angela M. Caraway ’05 recently celebrated her one year anniversary with Wells Fargo Private Bank as a senior fiduciary advisory specialist. Tommy L. Coleman ’00, formerly the Polk County assistant district attorney, was recently named assistant U.S. attorney.

Anthony Lopez ’92, Rob Roy ’92, Mike Mooney ’92, all from Tampa, and Anthony Zamora ’92 from San Antonio, came back to campus to celebrate their 25th reunion. The four alumni visited South Texas on Friday, then attended an Astros game that night. The next evening, they met with several friends at The Hay Merchant: The Honorable Mandy White-Rogers ’92, Mary Claire Carmouche Upton ’92, Boyd Bauer ’92, Suzi Lehman Johnson ’92, Marcus Fleming ’92 and Kay Kurtin Egger ’93.

2000-2009 Angela T. Bongat ’04 is now of counsel at the law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC. In her 13 years of practice, she has focused on general civil litigation, product liability, personal injury, and insurance coverage matters. Amy Zolkoski Cann ’07 recently joined the land administration department of Noble Energy,

Bradford Gilde ’04 won an $11 million verdict for the family of a 23-year-old man who died in custody after calling 911 for assistance. Bradford hopes that Harris County will consider making improvements to their policies to avoid similar circumstances in the future. Travis A. Greaves ’08 was appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to serve as a deputy assistant attorney general at the United States Department of Justice on May 12, 2017. He will help oversee and manage the Tax Division, whose mission is to enforce the nation’s tax laws fully, fairly, and consistently, through both criminal and civil litigation. Samuel H. Johnson ’08 announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress, seeking election to represent Texas’ 3rd Congressional District. Shae E. Keefe ’08 joined Winstead’s commercial litigation

practice group as of counsel in the firm’s Houston office. Mark R. Maltsberger ’00 practices in Brazos and surrounding counties, representing citizens who find themselves in the custody of the local constabulary for alleged violations of community expectations. Kathryn E. Blackney Oakes ’08 was promoted to shareholder at Winstead PC.

Cory D. Sepolio ’03 served his community as an assistant district attorney, seeking justice for victims and accused alike. He has represented 1,000 plaintiffs and defendants in cases throughout the state of Texas, fighting for the rights of working-class people and small-business owners and compiling over 100 jury trials in the process. He is running in the March democratic primary to be the next judge of the 269th Civil District Court. Jessica P. Sykora ’08 decided to leave Norton Rose Fulbright after nearly 10 years and has accepted a new job as chief counsel in the litigation department at Energy Transfer Partners. Bradley S. Tegeler ’02 was named as a commissioner to the Austin Airport Advisory Commission. The commission’s purpose is to review and make recommendations to the city council on aviation projects that the Department of Aviation proposes for the capital improvements program, proposed aviation grants, aviation contracts, annual operating budget, and quality of services at ABIA.


CLASS NOTES Sean C. Timmons ’08 recently was promoted to managing partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC, where he will lead the firm’s expansion into the state of Texas. Sean opened the Houston, Texas office of Tully Rinckey PLLC on Sept. 1, 2017. Marc M. Tittlebaum ’00 practices commercial litigation and criminal law in Kerrville. He devotes half of his practice to doing pro bono work for indigent clients and recovering alcoholics and addicts in the Texas hill country. James Ure ’07 founded an educational company that builds K-12 schools that promote leadership and the liberal arts. The company has 75 employees, and James loves what he does. He ran the Boston Marathon this year and is married with four kids. He says he loves the education he gained at STCL Houston and how it helps him as an entrepreneur and educational leader. Kyle D. Weynand ’05 joined MehaffyWeber PC as an associate and works with individuals, businesses, and corporations on a variety of commercial, construction, and employment litigation. His practice primarily involves handling complex issues in the energy and commercial construction industries, including matters and disputes relating to breach of contract; breach of warranty; liens, indemnity, payment, and performance bonds; delay and disruption claims; construction defects; and products liability.


2010-2016 Karri M. Axtell ’12 joined The Arc of Fort Bend County as director of youth services in October 2017. Bianca Calderón de Lachica ’13 of Sico Hoelsher Harris & Braugh LLP; Paul Savinov ’14 of The Huynh Law Firm; Sarah Huynh ’14 of The Huynh Law Firm; and David Harris ’06, partner of Sico Hoelscher Harris & Braugh LLP are leading the way into an independent investigation regarding products liability claims against Ford and Turtle Top Inc., involving a deadly Texas church bus crash. Grace M. Crump ’12 established her own law firm in June 2017. McKiernan Crump, P.C. is a boutique firm that provides family law services in the greater Houston area. Christina A. Culver ’11 recently was appointed to partner at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, L.L.P. Christina focuses her practice on complex, multi-party insurance coverage litigation, including bad faith litigation and direct action coverage litigation in Louisiana, involving general liability, environmental pollution, commercial property coverage, construction defects, professional liability, errors and omissions coverage, and supplemental accident-only coverage. She is vice chair-elect for the Animal Law Section of the Houston Bar Association and a member of the ABA’s Insurance Coverage Litigation section. Ryan J. Daley ’12 won his first civil litigation trial in April 2017 in Travis County Court of Law before The Honorable Judge Todd Wong and was awarded a 2017 Covington Pro Bono Award for providing exemplary pro bono services through Volunteer Legal Services in Austin. Jason S. Duke ’10 joined the Houston energy section of Gray Reed & McGraw, where he applies

South Texas College of Law Houston

the experience he gained as a landman of six years. He has worked with clients from leasehold acquisition to divestiture, including drafting of runsheets, title reports, curative instruments, and other documents as necessary. He also has experience working in-house with clients on various projects, including division of interest maintenance and expert witness work. Efrain Gonzalez Jr. ’13 joined MehaffyWeber PC as an associate. He is a civil trial attorney with experience representing clients in various civil litigation matters, including contractual disputes involving damages resulting from catastrophic natural disasters, wrongful death and injury claims resulting from explosions, commercial property damage claims resulting from fires, and various product liability claims.

the one-year anniversary of his family law firm, Boudreaux|Hunter & Associates. Armen G. Merjanian ’12 is running for judge in Harris County Criminal Court No. 5. Teresa Pham Messer ’12 was named a 2017 Lawyer on the Rise by Texas Lawyer magazine. Thomas F. O’Connor ’16 joined the Houston office of Winstead PC as an associate in the firm’s energy law practice group. Luciana C. Petry ’16 is proud to announce her new firm, Colvin Petry, PLLC in the Houston Heights area. The firm focuses on tax, business, and cyber security law.

Ian A. Holcomb ’15 graduated with his Master of Laws in taxation from NYU and accepted a job in KPMG’s Mergers & Acquisitions Tax group. Santos Hinojosa ’15, Hailey Janecka ’15, and Jeremy Dunbar ’15 came to New York to celebrate the occasion. Kevin D. Hunter ’14 got married on June 18, 2017 and celebrated

Cory S. Reed ’10 recently was appointed to partner at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, L.L.P. Cory maintains a diverse professional liability practice, including representing lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants, architects, real estate appraisal management companies, real estate appraisers, real estate agents, and other practicing professionals and groups. In addition, Cory represents employers, managers, and other personnel in employment law matters, including matters involving gender discrim-

CLASS NOTES ination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour disputes, and employment torts. Benjamin L. Ritz ’15 traveled to Palestine, Paris, and Prague...Palestine, Texas; Paris, Texas; and Prague, Okla. He recently started clerking with Judge Melinda Harmon at the Southern District of Texas. Brett A. Sebastian ’14 took a new job as director of advocacy and externals affairs with the American College Health Association and moved to Washington, D.C. J. Ash Shepherd ’11 headed commercial efforts and executed the first production sharing contracts in Mexico since nationalization in 1937, becoming the first international offshore operator to drill an offshore exploratory well in Mexico. He received Oil & Gas Investor’s 30 Under 40 honor for work in the Constitutional Mexico Energy Reforms.

gation, landlord-tenant actions, and labor and employment matters. Timmy T. Yip ‘11 accepted the position of associate attorney at Banerjee & Associates, working with Anindita Banerjee ‘96.

New Arrivals Cordt C. Akers ’12 recently welcomed a baby boy. Jennifer R. Bickley ’06 welcomed a baby boy in July. Delia Cole ’02 welcomed daughter, Olivia Harper Cole, on Aug. 25, 2016. David S. Hsu ’07 welcomed a daughter on Sept. 7, 2017. Evan R. Korngold ’16 and Ana Beatriz Korngold are thrilled to announce the birth of their daughter, Eleanor Dorothy Korngold, born June 13, 2017.

Morgan Kay Swan ’14 married Jacob Alexander Abels on December 29, 2017.

Want to stay connected to the latest alumni events including networking events, happy hours, CLEs, and socials?

Kronzer, born Sept. 27, 2016. Dylan joins big brother Bennett. Mark R. Maltsberger ’00 and his wife, Christen, welcomed their fourth child, Anna Claire, on Dec. 12, 2016. Anna Claire joins big brothers Grant and James and big sister Mary Katherine at the family’s home in College Station. Teresa Pham Messer ’12 welcomed a son on March 6, 2017.

Anna E. Swanson ’16 began a judicial clerkship at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for the 2017-2019 term. Laura J. Thetford ’15 has joined Winstead’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group as an associate in the Austin office. Her practice focuses on complex commercial liti-

Colby R. Nichols ’13 and his wife, Kallie, welcomed their second baby girl on Feb. 22, 2017. Her name is Quinn Kennedy. Her big sister, Lydia Rose, turned 3 in June.

Christopher J. Kronzer ’07 and Sari Pearlman Kronzer ’07 are excited to announce the birth of their second child, Dylan Gray

n Invitations to events in your area are increasingly digital, so stay connected by updating your preferred contact information at Your information will be used for STCL Houston purposes only.

Haleigh A. Shanks ’16 welcomed Cade Archer Shanks on Sept. 11, 2017.

Emily B. Taylor ’14 and her husband welcomed baby Oliver in May! Lauren M. Tunstall ’09 and Zachary E. Bernard ’10 welcomed Parker Tunstall Bernard on Jan. 2, 2017. Parker joined big brother Knox Edward Bernard, born on May 6, 2015. Nhi Le Whitehead ’12 and Andrew L. Whitehead ’07 welcomed a son, Richard Hieu Whitehead, on March 20, 2017.

n All submissions to Class Notes are subject to editing for length, clarity, accuracy, and appropriateness. n If you are celebrating a recent birth, submit a Class Note with your baby’s name and we’ll send you a free “Future Graduate” onesie.



South Texas alumni, faculty, staff, and students are the law school’s greatest legacy. When members of the STCL Houston community pass away, they are remembered and their spirits live on. Send information about deaths to 1923-1969


Leonard N. Martin ’60, July 22, 2017 Allen D. McAshan Jr. ’63, May 3, 2017 Walter D. Pennington ’54, Feb. 14, 2017 George D. Shaffer ’67, March 29, 2017 Barbara L. Welz ’56, March 6, 2017

Cynthia W. Sinatra ’90, April 20, 2017 Jick L. Hill ’91, March 22, 2017 Hal E. Wilson ’92, Aug. 24, 2017


Amy McCauley ’06, Aug. 24, 2017 Mark Conrad ’00, April 24, 2017 John D. Perrigin ’05, April 8, 2017 Bobby J. Vasquez ’03, April 29, 2017

Ronald S. Block ’74, Feb. 17, 2017 The Honorable David Escobar ’73, Aug. 24, 2017 John M. Fultz ’77, March 20, 2017 Robert Grossman ’77, June 20, 2017 William L. Stables Jr. ’74, March 1, 2017


STCL Houston Community


Susan Diederich, former employee, Aug. 25, 2017 Professor Sandra L. DeGraw, former professor, Sept. 30, 2017 Bennie Pellerin Green, former board of directors, March 23, 2017

The Honorable R. H. Bielstein ’89, April 2, 2017 A. David Carlson ’80, Feb. 1, 2017 Clinton F. Greenwood ’86, April 3, 2017 Mark D. Haas ’84, Oct.17, 2017 Sharon K. Messa ’83, March 13, 2017 Pam L. Welch ’84, March 14, 2017

If you are interested in making a gift to honor alumni and friends who have passed, you may make a secured gift online at

In the original print version of this issue that was mailed to alumni and friends, the memoriam page incorrectly listed Anthony B. Marchese ’79 and The Honorable Gaston J. Fernandez ’78 as deceased. This version has been corrected.


South Texas College of Law Houston

Windows on Downtown In the E.J. Salcines Student Lounge, the busy streets of Downtown Houston serve as a backdrop for members of the STCL Houston community as they gather to study, interact, and recharge.


FACULTY NOTES JAMES ALFINI Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law

Professor Alfini gained re-election as delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates from the ABA Dispute Resolution Section. He also participated in a panel discussion on “Judges and Social Media” at the 14th Annual Judicial Symposium of the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence on July 20 in Chicago. He also spoke, along with Professor Debra Berman, in a panel discussion on “Teaching Mediation to Law Students” at the Annual Conference of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section in April in San Francisco. JOSH BLACKMAN Associate Professor of Law

As a preeminent expert on the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the intersection of law and technology, Blackman actively is sought by national and international news media for his legal insight into breaking news stories. From the New York Times, Washington Post, National Law Journal, The Financial Times, Associated Press, ABA Journal, CNN International, Bloomberg Law, USA Today, and Forbes, to BBC Radio and the Australian Broadcasting Channel on the international stage, Blackman’s media resume is prolific. Over the past year, he has published multiple editorials in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The National Review, the New York Daily News, The Hill, and The Post and Courier, among other national newspapers and publications, on a variety of topics including Supreme Court nominees, presidential executive orders,


separation of powers, health care reform, and President Trump’s efforts to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Also of note, he regularly is quoted by top-tier media outlets including Fox News, the Washington Times, National Public Radio, The Economist, Politico, and The Canadian Press.

ELAINE CARLSON Stanley J. Krist Distinguished Professor

Professor Carlson continues to participate in a number of conferences, educating the bench and bar. She authored a paper, “Superseding Civil Judgments on Appeal,” that Justice Patricia Alvarez of the San Antonio Court of Appeals presented at the Texas Civil Justice Conference in April 2017. Professor Carlson authored “Civil Procedure Case Update,” presented at the Annual Judicial Education Conference sponsored by the Texas Center for the Judiciary held in Houston in September. Professor Carlson co-authored with Courtney Taylor Carlson ’08,“Texas Civil Procedure Update,” a paper focusing on appellate practice, which was presented at the University of Texas Annual Conference on State and Federal Appeals in Austin in June. An update of that paper — highlighting developments in trial practice — was presented at the 41st Annual Page Keeton Civil Litigation Conference sponsored by the University of Texas in Austin in November. Professor Carlson moderated a panel discussion on “The Ethics of Social Media” at that same conference. Other panelists included John Browning and The Honorable Gena Slaughter.

South Texas College of Law Houston

RICHARD CARLSON Professor of Law

Professor Richard Carlson presented a paper, “Employees, Independent Contractors and the Theory of the Firm: Employment by Design,” at the New and Existing Voices in Employment Law program at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools in Boca Raton on August 3. The Arkansas Law Review has accepted the same paper for publication. Professor Carlson also moderated a discussion group on “Employment Law in the Trump Era” at the same meeting on August 4. On August 25, Professor Carlson presented an “Update on Texas Employment Law” at the Labor and Employment Law Section’s Annual Employment Law Institute in San Antonio. MATTHEW FESTA Professor of Law

Professor Festa co-authored a report from The Kinder Institute, titled, “Developing Houston: Land Use Regulation in the ‘Unzoned City’ and its Outcomes.” The report describes the city’s existing system, discusses its limitations, and points to a few possible paths for shaping the city’s development in ways that meet the needs of residents, developers, businesses, and officials. TED L. FIELD

Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal (2017). His recent article, “Write Like a Patent Litigator: Avoid Common Mistakes Made by Non-Patent Lawyers,” will be published in the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law in 2018. DEREK FINCHAM Professor of Law

Professor Fincham’s article, “Intentional Destruction and Spoliation of Cultural Heritage under International Criminal Law,” was published in Volume 23 of the U.C. Davis Journal of International Law and Policy. The piece examines the decision by the International Criminal Court to bring charges for cultural heritage destruction against Ahmad al-Mahdi al-Faqi, charging him with the destruction of buildings in Timbuktu during 2012. AMANDA HARMON COOLEY Wayne Fisher Research Professor of Law

Professor Harmon Cooley’s article, “An Efficacy Examination and Constitutional Critique of School Shaming,” has been accepted for publication by the Ohio State Law Journal (forthcoming 2018).

Professor of Law

Professor Field recently published the article “Obviousness as Fact: The Issue of Obviousness in Patent Law Should Be a Question of Fact Reviewed with Appropriate Deference,” in volume 27 of the Fordham

DONALD J. GUTER President and Dean

Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, JAGC, USN (Ret.) is an internationally recognized expert on military law. He speaks frequently with reporters from top national newspapers and

FACULTY NOTES magazines about the law as it applies to current political and military events. In July, Guter published an editorial in the Houston Chronicle discouraging the nomination of Steven Bradbury to the important post of general counsel of the Department of Transportation based on his support of torture tactics. He noted how Bradbury’s legal sign-off enabled some of the country’s worst abuses after 9/11, and he encouraged U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his committee colleagues to oppose his nomination. Guter concluded, “Torture is contrary to American values… Cruz himself said that ‘[t]orture is wrong, unambiguously. Period. The end,’ and that ‘America does not need torture to protect ourselves.’ I could not agree more.”

R. RANDALL KELSO Spurgeon E. Bell Distinguished Professor

Professor Kelso’s article, “Pace Scalia, Thomas, and Gorsuch, A True Originalist Theory of Constitutional Interpretation Would Adopt the View of a Living Constitution, not a Static or Fixed Constitution,” has been accepted for publication in volume 72 of the University of Miami Law Review (2017). In September, Professor Kelso spoke about First Amendment free speech issues to the American Constitution Society chapter at South Texas College of Law Houston. In the same month, he spoke on constitutional theory to the law school’s Federalist Society chapter. Professor Kelso also spoke to the Federalist Society chapter at Rice University on the constitutionality of President Trump’s travel ban for immigrants and refugees.

CHRIS KULANDER Professor of Law and Director of the Harry L. Reed Oil & Gas Law Institute

Professor Kulander participated in a number of symposia during the second half of 2017. He covered recent Texas oil & gas case law in his paper for the 30th Annual Energy Law Institute for Attorneys and Landmen. He gave a talk titled, “The Judicial Interpretation of the Joint Operating Agreement” at the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s program titled Oil & Gas Joint Operations and the New AAPL Form 610 Model Form Operating Agreement in December in Denver. Two months earlier, he presented a talk titled, “The Oil and Gas Lease: Defining the Royalty Obligation” before the Oil & Gas Law Annual Short Course of the Foundation. He presented a well-received talk before the State Bar of Texas Energy Section covering joint operating agreements in September. Finally, he participated as discussant at the “Innovation, Property Rights, and the Structure of Energy” workshop for the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana in August. Professor Kulander published two articles during the summer and fall: “European Energy Security, American LNG, and the Global Natural Gas Marketplace” in the Oil & Gas, Natural Resources, and Energy Journal; and “2016 Oil & Gas Case Law Update” in the South Texas Law Review. Kulander continued to serve as an editor for the Institute for Energy Law’s Oil & Gas Reporter until September, when the Reporter ended its 65-year run. JOSEPH K. LEAHY Professor of Law

Professor Leahy presented “The Curious Case of Enterprise Products

Partners L.P. v. Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.” at the 2017 National Business Law Scholars Conference sponsored by The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. He also published a blog post entitled “Loftium Unwittingly Forms Partnerships with Homebuyers” on the Unincorporated Business Entities Law blog that was cross-posted on the Business Law Prof Blog and published by Hacker Noon on FRAN ORTIZ Professor of Law

Professor Ortiz participated as a Texas delegate at the Third Annual Animal Law Summit in Chicago, Illinois. She presented on veterinarian exemptions, animal ownership issues, and 2017 revisions to the Texas animal cruelty provisions. AMANDA PETERS Helen & Harry Hutchens Research Professor

Professor Peters presented at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH) Congress in Prague, Czech Republic in July. The panel of speakers, organized by Professor Peters, included law professor Leah Johnston from University of Florida Law School, lawyer Naomi Weinstein with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, psychiatry professor Michael Vitacco from Augusta University, and psychology professor Neil Gowensmith from Denver University. The panel addressed

legal and treatment issues related to conditional release, which often follows an acquittal by reason of insanity and mandatory inpatient treatment. Professor Peters’ presentation, “Rethinking Conditional Release,” examined legal and treatment challenges with traditional conditional release programs across the United States and offered solutions to these problems. JEAN POWERS Professor of Law

In February 2017, Professor Powers gave a presentation on a panel titled, “Reconsidering Remedies” with two other law professors. The presentation was part of KCON XII, a national conference for contracts academics and others interested in contract law, held at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. CHARLES “ROCKY” RHODES Vinson & Elkins Research Professor

Professor Rhodes recently authored an article titled, “Loving Retroactivity” that soon will be published in the Florida State University Law Review, and he presented his article this summer at the annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) during a panel addressing current retroactivity issues arising in the wake of same-sex marriage. Relying on this scholarship, he submitted an amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court regarding the retroactive impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding on marital equality. He also participated with a group of other scholars in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, which relied on one of his articles as guidance for



Professor Bruce McGovern guides his students through a lesson in his _______________ class.

addressing the personal jurisdiction issues in Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court. The ABA Journal highlighted his scholarship and participation as an amicus in the case, in a story discussing the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision. He moderated two other panels at the SEALS conference, one on the Supreme Court’s individual rights decisions during the 2016-2017 term and the other on the role of religion in the development of international law. He participated in a panel discussion on “President Trump and the Courts” for the Federal Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association, and also presented his annual recap to federal judges and practitioners in the Southern District of Texas regarding the Supreme Court’s recently completed term. He continues his frequent media commentary on constitutional and procedural issues, including multiple recent appearances on such


outlets as the National Public Radio statewide program, Texas Standard; the Texas Observer; the Houston Public Media program, Houston Matters; the Houston Chronicle; and other local Houston radio and television stations. ARNOLD ROCHVARG Visiting Professor

During summer 2017, Professor Rochvarg published a paperback version of his book, “The Watergate Conspiracy Conviction and Appeal of Assistant Attorney General Robert Mardian.” Rochvarg was a member of the appellate legal defense team for Mardian in the Watergate case. The book is available from Amazon Books as well as in e-book format from Amazon Kindle.

South Texas College of Law Houston



Professor of Law

Professor of Law

Professor Steiner received two awards this fall for his devoted service to the Houston community. BakerRipley honored him with an eponymous award, the Mark Steiner Award for Immigration Altruism, for his work helping lawful permanent residents navigate the path to citizenship. Additionally, Steiner was one of six Houstonians recognized in Shell Oil Company’s “Heroes for Houston” campaign for showing courage and selflessness during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. In the first five days after the storm, Steiner worked 11-hour shifts at the NRG Center shelter, where he led efforts to organize and distribute baby supplies for those in need.

In April 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Martinez v. Davis, the case of a death row inmate who claimed that the manner in which Texas determined whether he was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment. Professor Williams served as habeas counsel for Mr. Martinez. In addition, Professor Williams published “Why the Death Penalty Is Slowly Dying” in the Death Penalty Symposium issue of the Southwestern Law Review. Finally, Professor Williams spoke on “Affirmative Action in the United States Supreme Court” at the International Congress of Fundamental Rights sponsored by the Catholic University of Salvador in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Hire a South Texas College of Law Houston grad.

Hire a champion.

Named BEST OF THE DECADE by PreLaw Magazine for Best Moot Court. NATIONAL ADVOCACY WINNER: 128 times. No other law school has won half as many. Winner of more ABA NATIONAL APPELLATE ADVOCACY CHAMPIONSHIPS than any other law school in the U.S. Winner of more Scribes BEST BRIEF LEGAL WRITING AWARDS than any other law school in the U.S. Winner of 10 FIRST-PLACE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADR COMPETITIONS, ranking as a top law school for ADR.

South Texas College of Law Houston builds champions.

Hire a South Texas grad:

1303 SAN JACINTO • HOUSTON, TEXAS • 713-659-8040



Travel through time from the 1936 Olympics to post-WWII Europe, and ponder some of life’s big existential questions with these book recommendations from STCL Houston professors (and a bonus pick from our editor). Check out their personal reviews — in 150 words or less.

Phillip Page

Professor of Law

1 A Clearing In The Forest: Law, Life, and Mind by Steven L. Winter. Don’t be put off by the grand sounding subtitle. In clear, even zesty, prose this book blazes with insight into how cognitive science informs a grasp of the legal regime. It delights as it explores the questions over which our decisions often thoughtlessly blunder or too easily glide (e.g., the “reasonable” person – the WHAT?). Chock full of eye-openers.

Stock your bookshelves

for winter reading!

Complete our reader survey at

by Jan. 26, 2018 for your chance to win all of the books in this feature.

Jeff Rensberger

Professor of Law and Vice-President for Institutional Research & Strategic Planning

2 Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum. This is a wonderful history of the awful sadness that ensued as the Soviet Union unfurled the Iron Curtain across countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, and East Germany. People of my generation take for granted that there was an Iron Curtain, but I had never thought about its implementation. Younger, post-Soviet readers will benefit from learning about the depravity of Soviet-led communist oppression (the concentration camp at Buchenwald was re-purposed by the Soviets as a political prison; mass graves were replaced with new mass graves). Or how about the odd case of Salomon Morel, a Polish Jew who witnessed the murder of his family at the hands of fascists, but who after the war became a notoriously brutal communist prison commandant and torturer of Germans? War crime victim or war crime perpetrator? Both? Great book.


South Texas College of Law Houston

Sharon Finegan

Professor of Law

4 The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This nonfiction book describes the University of Washington crew team that emerged from the Great Depression to compete in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. The book not only provides a fascinating glimpse at what life was like during the depression, but also gives the reader an in-depth look at the lives of the working class men who made up the team. The book might have been a dry recounting of a historical event, but instead it is an absorbing page-turner. I’ve never given much thought to boat racing, but this book had me cheering on the boys in the boat and considering taking up a new hobby.

John J. Worley Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

3 Morality without God? by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Many people believe that religion is necessary for morality – that “without God, everything is permitted.” Distinguished Duke philosopher Sinnott-Armstrong rejects this view and argues that morality should be entirely independent of religion. He identifies and debunks five related claims — that all atheists are morally bad, that secular societies are bound to be morally corrupt, that objective morality is impossible without God, that religious unbelievers have no reason to be good, and that people cannot know what is morally right and wrong without guidance from God or from religious institutions. Using compelling examples, convincing data, and cogent argument, he shows why each of these claims is mistaken. Written for a general audience, this introductory book is engaging, accessible, and even-handed — not claiming too much for the views it endorses while acknowledging the appeal of those it rejects.

Amanda Green



Managing Editor, InRe Magazine

5 Outcasts United by Warren St. John. This is the extraordinary, true story of a group of refugee youth from around the world who come together to form a little league soccer team in Clarkston, Georgia. Displaced from war-torn countries across the world, the self-proclaimed Fugees have little in common except a shared struggle to acclimate to life in Small Town, USA. With their coach as cheerleader and mentor, the boys discover a new sense of home on the field. At once heart wrenching and heartwarming, this book is about the consequences of war, the power of perseverance, and the impact of one woman who took action.





Not all superheroes wear capes. In fact, several South Texas College of Law Houston students donned rain slickers and rubber boots to rescue their neighbors throughout the drowning rains of Hurricane Harvey this summer. While just a sampling of the volunteer efforts of our STCL Houston family, the following three students went above and beyond the call of duty to lend a helping hand to those most impacted by the record-breaking storm.

Sara Lampert (2L) A resident of one of Houston’s hardest hit neighborhoods, Sara Lampert knew she couldn’t sit at home while her neighbors lost their homes and belongings in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters. Instead, the Louisiana native jumped in her kayak and steered through the rain to help those without power in the Westchase area near Briarforest. She shuttled dozens of people from a boat rescue drop-off point in the area to hotels and shelters above the flood zone. “So many people had their children, pets, and maybe one bag,” she said. “Most of them were soaking wet.” But she didn’t stop there. As shelters began to fill, Lampert marshalled a neighborhood network of volunteers to host evacuees in their homes until the water subsided. “One of our neighbors hosted everyone for dinner and drinks one night. It was so good to help everyone get their minds off the storm and just try to feel normal for a bit.”

Brad Corbin (2L) While the law school was closed during Hurricane Harvey flooding, Brad Corbin felt the need to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors facing significant home damage. A part-time law student and full-time IT director in The Woodlands, Corbin took advantage of the time off from work to connect with fellow students and identify significant needs among the STCL Houston family. He and 11 of his classmates joined forces at the home of Professor Amanda Peters, who woke up Sunday morning with approximately six feet of water in her living room. Together, alongside Peters, the students pulled damaged shelves off the walls, cleared out ruined sheetrock, and carried waterlogged furniture into the front yard. “You help people when they are in need,” said Corbin. “We didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done. We saw people in great need all around us and were happy to help alleviate some of their burdens.” However, Corbin is quick to defer any “hero” status to his 9-year-old little helper — his son, Matthew. “He was a rock star!” Corbin said. “He picked up a rake, shovel, or wheelbarrow and worked until he couldn’t go anymore. He fell asleep the minute we got into the car to go home!” INSET: ©HOUSTON CHRONICLE. USED WITH PERMISSION.


South Texas College of Law Houston

STCL Houston’s response South Texas College of Law Houston students, faculty, and staff united in their efforts to find hope and forge a path forward following Hurricane Harvey, a record-breaking storm that dumped 51 inches of rain – equating to 27 trillion gallons of water – over Texas in a six-day period.

Several STCL Houston students gathered at the home of Professor Amanda Peters, which was significantly damaged by Hurricane Harvey, to sweep water out of the home, take out damaged drywall, and remove the base trim and carpet. Pictured left to right: Ryan Fuller, Maria "Carolina" Barrera, Lizeth Jacobo, Professor Amanda Peters, Bradley Corbin and son Matthew.

Lizeth Jacobo (2L) Hurricane Harvey dumped approximately one inch of water into the home of Stafford residents Lizeth Jacobo and her family. Despite this hardship, she recognized that many in her sphere were in more dire straits. After the waters receded from her neighborhood, one of her classmates texted her with the message, “If you are available, Professor Peters needs all the help she can get.” While Jacobo had not taken Peters’ class, she jumped into action to join other volunteers at the damaged League City home. “I like to be where the action is,” said Jacobo. “I was just sitting at home watching the news and wanted to help in relief efforts.” The students swept over a foot of water from Peters’ house, moved unaffected furniture to the dry second floor, removed the base trim and carpet from flooded rooms, and hauled loads of debris to the curb.

“I am so grateful. I didn’t ask any of these students to come to my house and help, but they spread the word, and showed up with supplies and elbow grease.” – PROFESSOR AMANDA PETERS

Students Kurt McWilliams (left), Anna Eady and Fernando Contreras lend a helping hand at the home of Professor Amanda Peters.

Several South Texas students and employees experienced loss from the storm in varying degrees, from the loss of vehicles to entire homes. Alumni and friends acted swiftly to offer financial support through the school’s Hurricane Relief Fund, which raised approximately $30,000 for students and staff in a matter of days. Additionally, through the law school’s yearround Law Suits program, many alumni donated new or gently used business attire to students who lost everything in the floodwaters. While classes were canceled the week of Aug. 28, law school administrators took steps to ensure students did not lose valuable instruction time. After consultation with the American Bar Association (ABA), faculty members offered video streaming, recorded class sessions, and used other ABA-approved instructional methods to accommodate students who were unable to return to campus immediately. The Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics staff responded in real time to the needs of the local community. The week after the storm, they hosted a Hurricane Recovery Session for students, faculty, alumni, and staff. The presentation covered FEMA assistance, insurance filing information, and legal concerns related to lost documents, landlord responsibilities, child custody, and other issues. Clinics staff and students also actively provided resources and services to displaced Houstonians at shelters throughout the city. The STCL Houston family acted quickly and effectively – from volunteering at the Houston Food Bank to helping neighbors rip out drywall – with minimal impact on students’ studies. The school will continue to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey as they seek to rebuild following the storm and return to a renewed sense of normalcy.


“It has been a clear constitutional right for almost 75 years now that you cannot force a student to stand for the pledge of allegiance ... The right to dissent doesn’t mean much if [it] is only about unimportant matters. You can dissent even on something as important as a concern for our flag and our national unity, even in a time of war.” professor charles “rocky” rhodes “houston student sues school district over expulsion for sitting during anthem” houston public media, oct. 9, 2017

“At a time of intense partisan division in our country, opposing torture and those who enable it should be one thing we can all agree on.” president & dean donald guter op-ed, “senators must oppose bradbury’s nomination” houston chronicle, july 31, 2017

“ [The right result] doesn’t necessarily mean winning every case; it means pursuing justice, every time ... A trustworthy justice system is vital to our democracy and essential to our way of life.” harris county district attorney kim ogg ’86, interview with stcl houston, 2017 distinguished alumna profile


South Texas College of Law Houston

“Where an incoming administration reverses a previous administration’s interpretation of statute simply because a new sheriff is in town, courts should verify if the statute bears such a fluid construction.” professor josh blackman “trump’s legal u-turns may test patience of supreme court” new york times, aug. 28, 2017

“ If the question in a classroom came up, 'Professor, can I shoot someone at night [for] putting magic marker on a statue?' I would say no, a thousand times no.” associate dean t. gerald treece “verify: can you shoot someone to stop statue vandalism?” khou news, aug. 22, 2017

“At the very heart of [the Bowe Bergdahl case] is a soldier who breached the most basic duty of being a soldier and did it in a combat zone that resulted in putting his own comrades in jeopardy.” professor geoffrey corn “sentencing to begin in bowe bergdahl’s court martial” los angeles times, oct. 25, 2017

“Justice isn’t just in the result; it’s in the process.” jimmie v. reyna, circuit judge, u.s. court of appeals for the federal district keynote address to may 2017 stcl houston graduates


chambers Treasured Keepsakes | President and Dean Donald Guter’s office displays mementos and challenge coins received throughout his 32-year career in the U.S. Navy. Guter, who retired as a Rear Admiral, served as the Navy’s 37th Judge Advocate General.


South Texas College of Law Houston


South Texas College of Law Houston


1303 San Jacinto Street


Houston, Texas 77002


Ninety-five years


Ninety-five years

of creating brighter futures

– Save the date –

saturday, april 21, 2018

InRe Magazine - Winter 2017  
InRe Magazine - Winter 2017