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MCCA Awards Thomas B. Green, senior vice president of law and administration at Dell Inc. in Round Rock, and Ronald D. McCray, senior vice president law and government affairs at Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Dallas, were honored recently with Employer of Choice Awards. The Washington, D.C.-based Minority Corporate Counsel Association gives the Employer of Choice Award to legal departments that do well at hiring and retaining minority lawyers and developing the careers of those lawyers. David C. Fannin, executive vice president and general counsel at Office Depot Inc., of Delray Beach, Fla., also received an Employer of Choice Award at an MCCA diversity dinner on Feb. 26 in Houston. The MCCA also honored Pauline E. Higgins, vice president and general counsel at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in Houston with the Rainbowmaker Award, which honors her work encouraging a diverse work environment at Chase. Dallas-based Godwin Gruber received the Sager Award, which is given to firms that show a commitment to improving the hiring, retention and promotion of minority lawyers. The awards were given in the MCCA’s southeast/south region. School Can Say No A federal judge held on March 3 that the Lubbock Independent School District acted legally when it refused to allow the Gay Straight Alliance to meet on a school campus or to post fliers about its meetings at the school because the group stated as a goal that it would discuss safe sex and made sexual materials available through a link on its Web site. U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings of the Northern District in Lubbock concluded in Caudillo, et al. v. Lubbock Independent School District that neither the First Amendment nor equal access rights “trump” the district’s right to reasonably prohibit sexual materials and discussion of sexual acts from its campuses to maintain order, discipline and the students’ well-being. Cummings granted the district’s motion for summary judgment. Ann Manning, a partner in Lubbock’s McWhorter, Cobb and Johnson and the school district’s attorney, says the ruling is the first based on the well-being-of-the-students exception to the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. �4071. The law prohibits a public secondary school that receives federal funds and allows noncurriculum-related groups to meet on campus from discriminating against students who want to conduct a meeting that fits within the limited open forum on the basis of religious, political, philosophical or other content of the speech at such meetings. But, Manning says, “The students don’t have carte blanche rights to access.” Brian Chase, lead counsel for the students in the GSA, calls Cummings’ decision disappointing. “The judge created an exception to the law that no court in this country has ever recognized before,” says Chase, an attorney with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in Dallas. Time for a Change Leslie Caldwell, the director of the Enron Task Force who has commuted from Washington, D.C., to Houston for the past two years, will leave her post to seek private-sector opportunities, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on March 1. Special Attorney Sam Buell, who served as one of the trial lawyers for the prosecution in the Arthur Andersen obstruction-of-justice trial in 2002, will leave the task force, too, and return to his family, hometown and his position as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. Andrew Weissmann, the deputy director of the task force, will succeed Caldwell. “While I was with the task force, I didn’t feel comfortable even talking to firms; in order to get rid of both any conflicts or appearance of conflicts, I had to leave the task force” before job-searching, Caldwell says. Weissmann says the task force will stay on the same track. “Leslie and I have very similar styles and vision and goals for the task force,” he says. Weissmann notes that there are not only a number of pending cases involving charges against former senior Enron executives and outside investment bankers, but also that two senior prosecutors on the task force are assigned to ongoing investigations. Three white-collar criminal-defense lawyers who represent defendants or witnesses in Enron-related cases agree that Caldwell’s departure doesn’t necessarily signify an end to indictments. “I don’t think her departure is indicative of anything the task force might or might not do,” says Philip H. Hilder, a member of Philip H. Hilder & Associates in Houston and a former federal prosecutor. Hilder believes Weissmann, whom Caldwell handpicked to succeed her, will show continuity in leadership. Another Sign Colorado City solo Pat Barber’s free-speech litigation over his highway sign urging motorists to “Just Say NO to Searches” reached the end of the road on Feb. 23 when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his writ of certiorari. After Barber installed the billboard in 1997, the Texas Department of Transportation asked him to take it down alleging the sign violated the Texas Highway Beautification Act. Barber sued seeking injunctive relief, alleging the act restricted his right to free speech. Last year, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the department in Texas Department of Transportation, et al. v. Barber finding that the act, which restricts the use of billboards on highways, does not violate Barber’s constitutional guarantee of free speech. Barber complied with the transportation department’s demand that he remove the sign and appealed the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. So what is Barber’s next move? He says he’ll erect a similar sign as soon as he can raise the money. Barber says the move is not one of defiance; he will follow the majority opinion from the Texas Supreme Court in erecting a new sign. According to the court’s opinion, “rural property owners could display a sign expressing a political view if some activity was conducted on the property relating to the sign.” So that’s exactly what Barber says he’ll do, putting the sign back up on his land near Interstate 20. The sign will have substantially the same message, but also will allow people to sign a petition attached to it, which Barber believes will satisfy the onsite political activity requirement referenced in the opinion. Barber says he’s just advising people that they don’t have to agree to police searches. “I feel a duty to inform citizens of their constitutional rights.” A spokesman for the Texas Office of the Attorney General, which defended the transportation department in Barber’s case, did not return a call seeking comment.

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