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January 1 Atlanta-based employment firm Ford & Harrison moves into the Texas market with an office in Dallas. 3 West Lake Hills police find the body of 3rd Court of Appeals Justice Mack Kidd. The Travis County deputy medical examiner rules the death is a suicide. 3 David Deary, a member of Dallas’ Deary Montgomery DeFeo & Canada � who represents a class of former Jenkens & Gilchrist clients who received tax-shelter advice that subsequently came under government scrutiny � announces an $81.55 million settlement between the plaintiffs, Jenkens and its insurers. 6 Houston’s 1st Court of Appeals overturns Andrea P. Yates’ 2002 murder conviction and orders a new trial. She had been found guilty in March 2002 of killing three of her five children. 6 The State Commission on Judicial Conduct releases a public reprimand to Judge Luis Aguilar of El Paso’s 120th District Court, after finding he made derogatory remarks and gestures of a sexual nature about female judges, prosecutors, probation officers and others, in addition to berating a female prosecutor in open court and in his chambers. 7 The U.S. Supreme Court announces it will review accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s criminal conviction on obstruction-of-justice charges stemming from its destruction of Enron Corp.’s documents. 12 Pampa-area District Attorney Richard J. Roach is indicted on federal firearms and drug possession charges, after being arrested the day before in the courtroom of 223rd District Judge Leland Waters. 12 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial requires that federal sentencing guidelines be advisory, not mandatory. 13 State Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, files S.B. 5, a workers’ compensation overhaul bill, which would authorize the establishment of physician networks and cut the number of commissioners on the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission from six to one. 14 A military jury at Fort Hood finds U.S. Army Reservist Charles Graner Jr. guilty on charges of conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of subordinates, aggravated assault and indecent acts for his role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. 18 Senior District Judge David Gleason of Amarillo, sitting by assignment, sentences Tom Coleman, the former undercover officer involved in the controversial 1999 Tulia drug busts, to 10 years of probation for an aggravated perjury conviction. Coleman plans to appeal. 19 In a Memorandum and Order in United States of America v. Richard A. Causey, et al., U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston denies motions filed by former Enron bigwigs Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and Richard Causey to transfer their upcoming criminal trial to another venue because they could not receive a fair trial in Houston, where the now-bankrupt Enron Corp. has its headquarters. 28 The Texas Supreme Court issues an order approving amendments to Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 1.04, which eliminates the pure forwarding fee by requiring lawyers to bear continuing responsibility for cases they refer, requiring lawyers to tell clients in advance that they’re going to refer a case, and requiring lawyers to provide clients with specifics of the fee-splitting agreement. 28 The State Bar of Texas board of directors chooses John P. Edwards, a former electric utility executive, as the Bar’s executive director. February 8 U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, files a bill in the U.S. Senate that would require corporations to file for bankruptcy where their principal place of business or principal assets are located. 8 As part of a plea bargain, former Pampa DA Richard J. Roach pleads guilty to a felony charge of being an addict or unlawful user in possession of firearms. An indictment had alleged that Roach was in possession of two pistols plus 1 ounce each of methamphetamine and cocaine. 10 The U.S. Senate passes the Class Action Fairness Act. 15 Mike DeGeurin files a motion asking U.S. District Judge David Hittner of Houston to vacate the sentence he imposed in June 2004 and to impose a new one that would allow DeGeurin’s client, Lea W. Fastow, the wife of former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow, out of prison early. 18 U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin of New York issues a Final Judgment and Order of Dismissal of Claims against Jenkens & Gilchrist in Thomas Denney, et al. v. Jenkens & Gilchrist, et al., a class-action suit pending against the firm and other defendants regarding tax-shelter advice. 24 State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, files S.B. 730, which authorizes the University of North Texas System to operate a public law school in Dallas. The bill subsequently passed the Senate but died in the House Calendars Committee. 25 A Kerr County jury returns a $65.5 million verdict against Baker Botts and other defendants in Kathleen C. Cailloux v. Baker Botts, et al., finding Baker Botts breached its fiduciary duty in connection with estate planning work done for a wealthy widow. 26 Robert Dawson, Texas’ foremost scholar on juvenile law who had a hand in nearly every significant law change in that practice area since the early 1970s, dies at age 65. 28 Former Jenkens & Gilchrist shareholder Roger L. Maxwell files Roger L. Maxwell v. Jenkens & Gilchrist in the Northern District of Texas alleging the firm acted unlawfully when terminating him in 2004 on the ground he was “totally and permanently disabled.” The firm denies the allegations. March 1 The U.S. Supreme Court decides Roper v. Simmons, forbidding the execution of juvenile offenders. Of the nation’s 70 death-row inmates who committed crimes while juveniles, 28 are in Texas. 2 The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Van Orden v. Perry, regarding the constitutionality of a 6-foot-tall stone slab engraved with the Ten Commandments that sits on the grounds of the Texas Capitol in Austin. 3 Troutman Sanders announces that 91 lawyers from Jenkens & Gilchrist’s New York office will join Troutman, opening Troutman’s New York office. 11 Trial courts have wide discretion in allowing rehabilitation or further questioning of veniremembers who express what appears to be bias, holds the Texas Supreme Court in Cortez, et al. v. HCCI-San Antonio Inc. D/B/A Alta Vista Nursing Center. 11 The Texas Supreme Court tosses out The Hearst Corp. D/B/A The Houston Chronicle, et al. v. Jack Skeen Jr., et al., a libel suit filed by former Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen Jr. and two of his assistant DAs against The Houston Chronicle, because the plaintiffs failed to raise an issue of actual malice. 15 Gov. Rick Perry announces that he’s chosen 7th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Phil Johnson to fill a seat on the Texas Supreme Court left vacant by the departure of Michael Schneider for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Tyler. 29 Famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran dies of a brain tumor at age 67, but attorneys Walt Roper and Edward Moore of the Cochran Firm’s Dallas office say they have every intention of continuing with the firm, which opened its doors in Dallas on Jan. 14. 31 Bracewell & Patterson changes its name to Bracewell & Giuliani, after bringing on former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a partner to launch its New York office. April 4 Judge Edward Aparicio of Edinburg is found dead in his home; his lawyers say they were close to finalizing a plea agreement on his behalf in connection with a federal investigation into bribery allegations. 6 Kerrville’s 198th District Judge Karl Emil Prohl signs a judgment in Kathleen C. Cailloux v. Baker Botts, et al. ordering Baker Botts and Wells Fargo Bank Texas to pay $71 million in damages to former estate-planning client Kathleen C. Cailloux, a wealthy widow. 8 The Texas Supreme Court grants rehearing in F.F.P. Operating Partners v. Zavier Duenez, et al., a dram-shop case decided in September 2004 by a 5-4 majority that included three justices who have since left the court. 8 The State Bar of Texas board of directors elects Tom Godbold, a partner in Houston’s Fulbright & Jaworski, as its next chairman. 16 Officials at the University of Texas School of Law dedicate the Susman Godfrey Atrium, a gathering place named in honor of the Houston-based firm that donated $2 million to the law school. 20 A former associate with Dallas’ Jenkens & Gilchrist receives no money and agrees to drop her discrimination suit against the firm as part of a settlement with Jenkens. Kandice Bridges alleged in Bridges v. Jenkens & Gilchrist that she had been “constructively discharged” from Jenkens, because she was pregnant. The firm denied the allegations. 27 The Texas Senate unanimously passes S.B. 15, which would establish new requirements for claimants who bring personal-injury and wrongful-death suits for exposure to asbestos or silica. 29 Eric G. Andell, an official at the U.S. Department of Education and a former Houston juvenile and appeals court judge, pleads guilty to one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest, a violation of 18 U.S.C. �208(a), in connection with travel he approved for himself at government expense that included some travel for personal reasons, according to the factual basis for the plea, signed on March 10. May 2 Martha Dickie, of counsel at Akin & Almanza, defeats Dan Boulware, a partner in Cleburne’s MacLean & Boulware, to become the State Bar of Texas’ next president-elect. Karin Crump, of counsel at Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom, defeats Fort Worth solo Greg Jackson in the Texas Young Lawyers Association president-elect race. 6 The Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee votes to recommend a rule change to allow a computer to shuffle the jury panel prior to voir dire in a civil case. 9 A report by Special Prosecutor Jack Zimmerman on the actions of lawyers connected to Dallas’ “fake drugs” scandal is released. Despite criticizing and praising some prosecutors and defense lawyers, the report ultimately concludes that “there was no evidence of criminal intent” by the Dallas prosecutors, defense attorneys, magistrate judges and drug lab personnel who Zimmerman investigated. 12 The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issues a public admonition of Dallas 363rd District Judge Faith Johnson for throwing a party in her courtroom � complete with streamers, balloons and a cake � to celebrate the return of a fugitive defendant. 19 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that civil attorneys, just like criminal attorneys, have a duty to investigate the source of funds with which a client pays, in Federal Trade Commission v. Assail Inc., et al. 20 In In Re: Commitment of Michael Fisher, the Texas Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of a state statute providing for the civil commitment of violent sex offenders for treatment following their release from prison. 20 President George W. Bush announces that he plans to nominate Tom Luce, a founder and retired partner in Hughes & Luce, to be assistant secretary of education. 25 The U.S. Senate confirms Priscilla Owen for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 25 The Texas House gives final approval to a bill raising juror pay from $6 per day to $40 per day, beginning on the second day of service. 26 Senior District Judge Joe Hart of Austin rules that Bill Ceverha, treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority `Political Action Committee and a former state representative, violated Chapter 254 of the Texas Election Code by failing to report $613,433 in contributions � including more than $500,000 from corporate donors � and $684,507 in expenditures for the 2002 state elections. 27 In Excess Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, et al. v. Frank’s Casing Crew & Rental Tools Inc., the Texas Supreme Court makes a significant change in insurance law by holding that an agreement to reimburse an insurance company for settlement costs for an uncovered claim is implied in law in certain circumstances. 27 The Texas Supreme Court rules that professional associations can be held jointly and severally liable for the negligence of their employees, in Battaglia, et al. v. Lisa Jones Alexander, et al. 30 S.B. 368, a judicial pay raise bill, dies in the final moments of the Texas legislative session. 31 In Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the jury in the criminal trial of accounting firm Arthur Andersen was improperly instructed about the meaning of the law under which Andersen was convicted. June 1 U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson of Amarillo sentences former District Attorney Richard J. Roach to 60 months in prison for a drug-related firearms charge. 6 Judge Priscilla Owen takes the oath of office in a ceremony marking her investiture to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 7 Former 4th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Phil Hardberger wins a runoff election, defeating Gonzales Hoblit & Ferguson associate Julian Castro to become mayor of San Antonio. 10 Citigroup Inc. announces a $2 billion settlement with disgruntled Enron investors in a class action securities suit, Newby, et al. v. Enron Corp., et al. Four days later, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announces it will pay a $2.2 billion settlement. 11 Michael Shelby, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, leaves his post. He subsequently joined Fulbright & Jaworski as a partner. 13 In Miller-El v. Dretke, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the conviction of a death row inmate, because of the racial bias that tainted jury selection in his Dallas murder trial. 13 A jury convicts Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law professor Jane Dolkart of aggravated assault, after she hit a biking Dallas attorney, Tom M. Thomas II, with her car. The next day, a jury sentenced her to five years of probation. 15 Former Swisher County District Attorney Terry D. McEachern begins a two-year probated suspension from the practice of law, after reaching an agreed judgment with the State Bar of Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline in connection with his role in prosecuting several of the 46 defendants arrested in the Tulia drug sting. 16 A State Bar of Texas evidentiary panel issues a default judgment of disbarment against Dallas criminal-defense solo Catherine Shelton. Shelton will later file a motion for new trial with the State Bar’s Board of Disciplinary Appeals. She had previously been disbarred in a separate default judgment on March 18, but that disbarment was set aside in May after the judge granted her motion for new trial. 22 The Commission for Lawyer Discipline unanimously selects John A. Neal, chief of the Criminal Law Enforcement Division at the Texas Office of the Attorney General, to become the new head of the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel. Neal succeeds Dawn Miller, who announced on April 7 that she would step down as chief disciplinary counsel. 27 The U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in Van Orden v. Perry, finding that the Ten Commandments monument can remain on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. 30 U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi issues a 249-page order in In Re Silica Products Liability Litigation, finding that “[i]n a majority of cases, these diagnoses were more the creation of lawyers than of doctors.” July 6 The Texas Supreme Court hears arguments in Shirley Neeley, et al. v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District, et al. regarding the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system. 13 In Peck v. Peck, Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals upholds a permanent injunction imposed by Judge John L. McCraw that barred two divorcing parents from having a person of the opposite sex stay overnight while in possession of the couple’s child. 19 President George W. Bush nominates D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. 20 The government’s federal case against five former employees of Enron Broadband Services, United States v. Joseph Hirko, et al., ends in acquittals, a hung jury and mistrials. 29 Eric G. Andell, a former juvenile and appeals court judge in Houston, is sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation on a misdemeanor criminal charge in connection with expense reports filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. August 4 Consolidated Sports Media Group files Consolidated Sports Media Group v. Godwin Gruber, et al. in Dallas’ 101st District Court. The petition names Godwin Gruber and Phillip W. Offill Jr., a Godwin Gruber partner, as defendants, and includes allegations involving stock promotion, NASCAR’s trademark and a video titled “Race Track Girls Go Nutz” featuring nude women, which CSMG distributed. The defendants deny the allegations. 9 The state Senate passes H.B. 11, the judicial pay raise bill, and sends it to Gov. Rick Perry. The House approved the bill in July. 17 In Adams v. Gottwald, a dental malpractice case, the 4th Court of Appeals strikes down the limitations period H.B. 4 created for medical malpractice claims, as the limitations period was applied to minors. 19 Houston plaintiffs lawyer W. Mark Lanier wins the nation’s first Vioxx-related personal-injury suit, Carol A. Ernst, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., scoring a $253.5 million verdict for the wife of a 59-year-old Wal-Mart produce manager who died after taking Vioxx for eight months. 22 Dallas-based investment manager Highland Capital Management and three entities it manages sue Houston-based Andrews Kurth in Dallas’ 101st District Court. In their original petition in Highland Crusader Offshore Partners, et al. v. Andrews Kurth, the plaintiffs allege they relied on an April 15 opinion letter provided by Andrews Kurth in which the firm assured them that a stock sale by Motient Corp., a wireless service provider, did not violate the corporation’s governing documents, when in fact the certificate of incorporation prohibited the sale. The firm denies the allegations. 24 Gov. Rick Perry appoints Don R. Willett to the Texas Supreme Court to replace former Justice Priscilla Owen, now a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Willett most recently served as chief legal counsel to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and is a former adviser to President George W. Bush. Perry also appoints Alan Waldrop, a partner in the litigation section of Locke Liddell & Sapp, to the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin to fill a seat left vacant since Justice Mack Kidd’s death in January. 24 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Willy v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Department of Labor that an in-house lawyer can use a report he wrote, which criticized his former employer, in his whistle-blower litigation against his former employer, despite the former employer’s claims of attorney-client privilege. 27 As Hurricane Katrina bears down on the Gulf Coast, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cancels its oral arguments for the upcoming week and tells staff to leave New Orleans for their safety. September 2 The Texas Supreme Court issues an order allowing displaced lawyers who are licensed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to practice in Texas for 30 days without fear of reprisal from Texas’ Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. 2 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals relocates from the John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans to the Bob Casey U.S. Courthouse in Houston for an estimated two to three months. 3 U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dies after a 10-month battle with thyroid cancer. President George W. Bush subsequently renominates John Roberts Jr. to fill the chief’s slot. 10 Pat Maloney Sr., who started the Law Offices of Pat Maloney 50 years ago in San Antonio, dies from pulmonary fibrosis, a rare lung disease. He was 81. 12 U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore sets three separate trial dates for five defendants in the Enron Broadband Services trial, which, when the five were tried together, was called United States v. Joseph Hirko, et al. 14 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears oral argument in Ex Parte Jose Ernesto Medellin, a death penalty case involving the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, Texas criminal procedure rules, executive branch power and the International Court of Justice. 14 In National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), et al. v. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York-based Weil Gotshal faces allegations that it negligently advised a nonprofit corporation to file bankruptcy in Texas and pursued a litigation plan designed to generate excessive fees for the firm rather than saving its client from financial ruin. Filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Antonio before Judge Ronald King, the nonprofit filed the suit as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy that is still pending in King’s court. The firm denies the allegations. 21 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holds that an insurer can intervene post-judgment in a suit against its insured, because the insured abandoned his appeal. The decision in Dwayne Ross, et al. v. Matthew Curtis Marshall, et al. reverses a $10 million judgment awarded to an African-American family victimized by a cross-burning incident. 23 The State Bar of Texas board of directors approves creation of a proposed Poverty Law Section. 24 Hurricane Rita hits East Texas, decimating trees in Beaumont, flooding portions of Port Arthur, dumping torrential rains on Jasper and knocking out power in nearly 400,000 homes. 28 A 167th District Court grand jury indicts U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and two political associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, and James Ellis, DeLay’s chief fundraiser in Washington, D.C., on charges of conspiracy to violate Chapter 253 of the Texas Election Code. 28 The Texas Supreme Court hears oral argument in UPLC v. American Home Assurance Co. Inc. and Travelers Indemnity Co., regarding insurers’ use of staff counsel, also known as “captive firms.” 29 The U.S. Senate votes 78-22 to confirm John Roberts Jr. as the nation’s 17th chief justice. 30 After nine months of suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy, Linda Motheral, judge of the 257th District Court in Harris County, ends her family court tenure. October 3 President George W. Bush nominates White House Counsel Harriet Miers to fill the seat to be left vacant by retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Miers previously served as the first female president of the Dallas Bar Association, the first female president of the State Bar of Texas, the first female president of what was then Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, and chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission. 3 A 403rd District Court grand jury in Austin re-indicts U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, John Colyandro, former executive director of TRMPAC, and James Ellis, DeLay’s chief fundraiser in Washington, D.C., on charges that they conspired to violate the Texas Election Code, and it adds two new charges against DeLay related to money laundering and criminal conspiracy to engage in money laundering, violations of the state Penal Code. 3 Five months after exiting her job as Dallas city attorney, Madeleine Johnson starts work as a principal in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson. 7 Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill e-mails Presiding Judge John Creuzot of the Dallas County criminal district courts, expressing displeasure that all of his prosecutors aren’t welcome on the elevators judges use in the Frank Crowley Courts Building, saying in part, “You are now put on notice, if any harm comes to any of my prosecutors, as a result of you denying them access to the secured elevators, you and the other Criminal District Court Judges will be held personally responsible.” 10 The five-attorney New Orleans office of Locke Liddell & Sapp opens for business for the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit the Big Easy. 10 State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa attempts to board a commercial airplane in McAllen, and the Transportation Security Administration finds a 9 mm handgun in his carry-on luggage. McAllen Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Henley subsequently dismisses the arrest warrant. 17 Six former Texas Supreme Court justices fly to Washington, D.C., in a show of support for Harriet Miers’ U.S. Supreme Court nomination. 18 Renee Jones Page, a former associate with Godwin Gruber, files Renee Jones Page v. Godwin Gruber in the Northern District of Texas, a federal civil-rights suit against the firm alleging she was paid less than male associates with comparable or even less experience. Page, who is African-American, also alleges the firm discriminated against her due to her gender and her race. The firm denies the allegations. 18 Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 5 Judge Manny Alvarez recuses himself from a child abuse case, Texas v. Maria Isabel Hurtado, after the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office files a petition for writ of mandamus with the 5th Court of Appeals. After seeking information on shaken-baby syndrome, Alvarez told jurors he thought they made a mistake on the verdict and that he could “fix” the jury’s verdict, by granting a motion for a new trial. 18 The Texas Supreme Court hears oral argument in Mid-Continent Insurance Co. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., regarding whether a primary insurer has a duty to pay a proportionate share of a settlement against a contractor who is also insured by another primary insurer who agreed to a settlement. 24 W. Mark Lanier, who won a $253.5 million verdict in the nation’s first Vioxx case in August, withdraws as Texas representative on the state liaison committee in the federal Vioxx multidistrict litigation pool. 27 Citing concern “that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country,” Harriet Miers withdraws as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. 27 A Travis County grand jury indicts 365th District Judge Amado Abascal III, alleging that he submitted a campaign finance report that falsely reported 15 people had contributed $1,000 each to his campaign. Abascal’s lawyer, Roy Q. Minton, says the man who delivered a contribution gave the judge’s campaign the list of names. 31 President George W. Bush nominates Judge Samuel Alito Jr. of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. November 1 Senior District Judge C.W. Duncan grants U.S. Rep Tom DeLay’s motion to recuse 331st District Judge Bob Perkins, after hearing testimony that Perkins contributed more than $5,000 to Democratic groups and candidates since 2001. 3 Third Judicial Region Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, who was slated to appoint Judge Bob Perkins’ replacement in the case against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, recuses himself, after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a recusal motion alleging that Schraub made $5,600 in contributions to Republican candidates. Earle subsequently files a recusal motion seeking to prevent Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson from naming someone to take Perkins’ place. Earle alleges that, in 2002, Jefferson received $25,000 from the Republican National State Election Committee, and used Bill Ceverha, TRMPAC’s treasurer, as his campaign treasurer. However, Jefferson had already assigned Senior District Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio to hear State v. DeLay. 3 The 7th Court of Appeals decides Devon Energy Production, et al. v. Hockley County Appraisal District, regarding how counties should assess, for tax purposes, the oil and gas beneath a tract of land, where the formation containing the minerals is located extends into more than one county. The court holds that, if 50 percent of a mineral formation lays within a county’s borders, that county can tax only 50 percent of the formation. 8 Texas voters approve a range of state constitutional amendments, including several of interest to lawyers: 1. banning same-sex marriage; 2. clarifying that a city, under Chapter 380 of the Local Government Code, can agree to provide monies or services to a public company for the purpose of economic development without creating debt; 3. authorizing judges to deny bail to a felony defendant awaiting trial, if the defendant violates a condition of release related to the safety of a victim of the alleged offense or to the safety of the community; 4. adding a public member and a constitutional county judge to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct; 5. enabling Texas homeowners who are 62 or older to obtain line-of-credit advances under reverse mortgages; and 6. removing the clouds from land titles in Smith and Upshur counties. But voters reject an amendment that would have allowed the Texas Legislature to define interest rates for large commercial loans. 10 The University of Texas School of Law announces that it has received $500,000 of a $1 million pledge to the school from George Fleming, founder of Fleming & Associates in Houston. The school’s soon-to-be renovated ground-floor dining room facility will be named “George’s Cafe” in honor of Fleming. 11 Dallas County DA Bill Hill announces he won’t run for re-election. 14 Thompson & Knight, based in Dallas, announces an alliance with a firm in Angola, R.C.J.E. Advogados Associados. 14 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Rudy Rodriguez v. ConAgra Grocery Products Co. that making assumptions about a job applicant’s diabetes and refusing to hire based on those assumptions violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. 14 Silber Pearlman closes its Houston office, laying off five attorneys, and the plaintiffs firm laid off another three lawyers at its headquarters in Dallas. 15 The Texas Supreme Court hears oral argument in In the Interest of A.M. and B.M., regarding whether a father who took care of his children when their mother voluntarily gave up custody could be awarded retroactive child support. Corpus Christi’s 13th Court of Appeals had awarded the father retroactive child support against the mother for periods when the divorced couple’s children were in his care. 17 The 14th Court of Appeals finds that two prosecutors’ courtroom re-enactment of a stabbing was supported by the evidence and did not unfairly prejudice the defense of a woman accused of stabbing her husband to death while he was tied to a bed. 21 In a first-of-its-kind suit, State v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sues Sony BMG Music Entertainment under the state’s Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, Texas Business & Commerce Code �48.001, alleging the company implanted spyware on its CDs. 22 The Texas Supreme Court issues a 7-1 ruling in Shirley Neeley, et al. v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District, et al., finding that the funding system for public schools has evolved into a state property tax, in violation of Article 8 �1-e of the Texas Constitution. 29 The first Vioxx personal-injury trial in federal court, Evelyn Irvin Plunkett, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., begins in Houston. 29 Carol F. Graebner, executive vice president and general counsel of Houston’s Dynegy Inc. since March 2003, leaves the company, and J. Kevin Blodgett is promoted into the general counsel job. 30 The Texas Supreme Court hears oral argument in F.F.P. Operating Partners LP v. Xavier Duenez, et al., a dram-shop case. The issue is whether the proportionate responsibility statute, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Chapter 33, applies to a dram-shop claim brought by an innocent third party against a store that sold alcohol to a drunk driver. 30 Silica litigation virtually comes to a halt in Texas, with thousands of claimants’ cases going to a state multidistrict litigation court, because they didn’t meet a Nov. 30 deadline for serving defendants with medical reports. December 1 Dallas criminal-defense attorney Brad Lollar becomes chief of the Dallas County Public Defenders Office. 5 Judge Pat Priest dismisses one indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates, quashing a Sept. 28 indictment alleging DeLay, John Colyandro, former executive director of TRMPAC, and James Ellis, DeLay’s chief fundraiser in Washington, D.C., conspired to violate the Texas Election Code. The judge allows other charges to stand, by denying a motion to quash an indictment that accuses the three of charges related to money laundering. 5 Barbara Radnofsky, a partner in Vinson & Elkins in Houston, signs formal papers with the Texas Democratic Party to enter the March 2006 primary election. Radnofsky wants to be the Democratic candidate seeking the seat in Congress now held by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. 5 Fisher & Phillips, an Atlanta-based management-side labor and employment firm, formally opens its Dallas office. 12 U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon of New Orleans, who was presiding over Evelyn Irvin Plunkett, et al. v Merck & Co. in Houston because of Hurricane Katrina damage in the Big Easy, declares a mistrial in the nation’s first federal Vioxx trial, after a Southern District of Texas jury was unable to decide on a verdict. 12 The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear four consolidated cases brought by opponents of the congressional redistricting plan that Republicans pushed through the Texas Legislature in 2003, despite Democrats’ efforts to block a vote.

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