2016 TEXABOTA- CLE Roundup report
TEX-ABOTA CLE ROUNDUP 2016 – SANTA FE
From June 9-12, 2016, Lester Tate, Carrie (Bentley) and I (Charles Bentley) attended the annual TEX-ABOTA CLE ROUNDUP in Santa Fe, NM, as representatives of SEABOTA. The schedule of events and the CLE program are attached. These are my rough notes:
General Observations: TEX-ABOTA is a very dynamic, innovative organization. The Executive Director, Cay Richardson, does a wonderful job. Shortly after the SEABOTA Executive Committee conference call of May 26, 2016, when we determined that Lester and I would represent SEABOTA at the conference, I registered online for the TEX-ABOTA program and was immediately called by Cay. Although TEX-ABOTA’s hotel block was booked, Cay arranged to find a room for us at the hotel. When we checked into the hotel Thursday afternoon, Cay greeted us and had a basket of wine and snacks waiting for us in our room. She introduced us to a lot of the members, including the leadership. That Thursday evening, Lester, Carrie and I were invited to dinner with the President of TEX-ABOTA, his wife, and two other members and their spouses. It was a fun evening and we were treated to a lot of hilarious tales revolving around some rather strange events that have taken place in San Angelo, TX, where the President, Guy Choate, is from. I’m sure Lester can fill you in on those tales over drinks.
The CLE program was eclectic and entertaining, similar in some ways to our recent programs. The Athletic Director of the University of Texas spoke. Two veteran attorneys who had been affiliated with Joe Jamail, were interviewed in front of the audience. The stories from inside the courtroom and socially were very interesting and humorous. Two congressmen spoke. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), a former trial lawyer, had attracted media attention before the conference, by telling Donald Trump what he could do with his wall. The other congressman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), joined his colleague in a discussion of national issues affecting the right to jury trial.
ABOTA national President Chuck Baumberger spoke on “ABOTA’a Fight to Preserve the 7th Amendment.” Randi McGinn, an attorney from Albuquerque, spoke about Billy the Kid: “How a Good Kid Became the World’s Most Famous Outlaw.” Randi had been appointed to advise the Governor regarding whether or not Billy should be pardoned. Randi recommended yes after investigating for a year, but Gov. Richardson rejected the advice. Randi’s husband, Hon. Charles Daniels, is Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. He took us on a tour of the court and gave us a very interesting and humorous talk on the history of law in New Mexico. That evening, Lester, Carrie and I, along with others, went to local nightspot to hear Chief Justice Daniels’ rock band play. The Chief Justice is a good bass player and race car driver in his spare time. He’s about 74, so that made us feel pretty good. Everyone in the band is some sort of Judge. The lead guitarist is a Tribal Judge.
Other highlights from the CLE program included Sam Brooke from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who did a wonderful job filling in for Morris Dees, who had a conflict; the son-in-law of Jack Ruby’s lawyer, who gave an intriguing talk about “Jack Ruby and the Trial of the Century”; and Tim Newsom, a TEX-ABOTA member, gave an outstanding presentation on “The American Jury.” My recollection is that Tim’s presentation was initially conceived by and performed by Dickie Grigg and some other members. Dickie is the guy who always puts together the TEX-ABOTA CLE program. I requested and received the powerpoint slides and lecture from Tim in the event that anyone is interested in learning how to give the presentation. They give it to civic groups and other interested groups. They have found that defense attorneys are especially successful in giving the talk. They have more clout with some of the audiences. The slides and lecture are also available at the TEX-ABOTA website.
Saturday evening at the Awards Banquet, TEX-ABOTA awarded its Champion of Civil Justice Award to Mark Cuban, for his public service work on behalf of ABOTA promoting the 7th Amendment. Cuban appeared by video to accept the award and talked about his experience of being wrongly accused of securities violations and being acquitted by a jury. President Choate introduced Lester and me as representatives of SEABOTA.
On Sunday morning I attended the TEX-ABOTA Board meeting. Some of the highlights: they were successful in having a civility oath included as part of the oath of becoming an attorney; they have a legislative reception when the state legislature is going into session, as they have learned that ABOTA has more credibility with the legislators than plaintiff or defense attorneys acting as part of their interest groups; five of their chapters are now doing a James Otis Lecture Series; TEX-ABOTA doesn’t pay expenses or stipends for speakers other than professors.
It was my understanding that each chapter provides $1,000 for its incoming President or someone who is new to the chapter’s leadership ladder to attend the annual national leadership conference. They think it makes sense to send the Treasurer because there’s a lot geared to that position at the conference. It makes sense to send someone who is newly getting involved so that they have an idea of what ABOTA is about nationally before they succeed up the ladder.
TEX-ABOTA is putting a new emphasis on having chapter historians recreating as much chapter history as possible, and then maintaining the information digitally.
Finally, on a personal note, I am really glad I was able to spend some time with Judge Jim Parsons from East Texas. Jim is a wonderful person and has sort of taken me under his wing since I met him in 2013. Lester, Carrie, and I appreciated the opportunity to represent SEABOTA at this conference. Bill Smith, next year’s President of CAL-ABOTA, was there, and President Chuck Baumberger, but I don’t recall seeing many other members from outside of Texas.
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