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Closed Call If Texarkana, Ark., solo Charles Potter slept as the state cross-examined his client, Clyde Moore, during Moore’s 2006 trial for aggravated sexual assault of a child, the brief nap did not harm Moore’s defense, Texarkana’s 6th Court of Appeals held on June 27. Convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison, Moore alleged in his appeal to the 6th Court that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, because his attorney fell asleep. According to the 6th Court’s opinion in Moore v. State, 5th District Judge Ralph Burgess of Texarkana said on the record during the trial that he noticed Potter “had dozed off for a minute or less” at the end of the cross-examination. But, as noted in the opinion, Potter told the judge that over the years he had “developed a habit of listening to testimony such as that with my eyes closed.” Potter did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime on July 5. Chief Justice Josh Morriss III, author of the 6th Court’s opinion, wrote, “The record before us does not demonstrate that Moore’s trial counsel slept through critical or “substantial’ portions of the trial. Instead, the appellate record lends itself to two, equally likely, conclusions: trial counsel may have had a brief lack of consciousness � like a schoolboy lost in a daydream � or a distracted focus on whether or to what degree counsel had to conduct a redirect examination of Moore after the State completed its cross-examination.” Justices Bailey Moseley and Jack Carter joined Morriss in the decision. Texarkana solo Craig Henry, Moore’s appellate attorney, questions the 6th Court’s finding that the prosecution’s cross-examination of Moore was not a critical stage of the trial. “It’s definitely a critical stage,” Henry says. Bowie County District Attorney Bobby Lockhart says it is the prosecution’s position that Potter did not nod off. “If you watched Charlie [Potter] in more than one trial, you’d come to the conclusion that he probably was meditating here,” Lockhart says. Howrey Hike Washington, D.C.-based Howrey has bumped its starting salaries for first-year associates to $160,000, effective July 1, Houston managing partner Steve Cagle says. The 635-lawyer firm also is ramping up work on a new merit-based compensation plan that will replace the old lockstep system of providing raises. “I really love the fact that people are going to be able to make the choice of their own career path,” Cagle says. He notes that the merit-based plan will provide associates with choices they’ve indicated they want � accommodating those who want to bill 2,400 hours per year and make partner as quickly as possible as well as those who want to bill 1,900 hours per year and have a life outside the firm. In addition, Cagle says, the merit-based system will “place a lot of pressure on the partners in the firm. . . . [It] represents a significant commitment on the part of the partnership to get more involved in associate development.” Focus groups, including several to be held in the 60-lawyer Houston office, outside consultants and the firm’s powers that be are working out factors for the merit-based system, which likely will include criteria such as productivity, quality and entrepreneurship. Cagle expects the system to be in place by the first of the year. Third Time the Charm? After experiencing a few twists in her legal career, Becky Gregory may return to her original love � as a prosecutor. On June 29, U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced they had recommended to President George W. Bush that Gregory become the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gregory would replace Matt Orwig, who left the job earlier this year to become managing partner of the Dallas office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. After graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1978, Gregory first joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, working in all facets of that office until she moved to the Eastern District where she was named first assistant to Orwig in 2002. In 2005, Gov. Rick Perry appointed Gregory, a Republican, to the 283rd State District Court bench in Dallas, but she lost her seat in the Democratic sweep of the Dallas courthouse in 2006. In February, Gregory joined Dallas’ Curran Tomko Tarski as senior counsel where she practices white-collar criminal defense. Gregory says she’s excited about the possibility of returning to her old office. “It’s coming back home for me in a sense,” Gregory says. “It’s a terrific bunch of U.S. attorneys and great communities.” Should the president nominate her, Gregory would return to the Eastern District at a time when its dockets as well as its courthouses are expanding. A new federal courthouse is being constructed in Plano. “It’s such an exciting time to be there,” she says, “and they have some of the fastest-growing cities in the whole country. I’ll be working hard to bring more resources to the Eastern District.” Orwig says Gregory, who has applied with Hutchison and Cornyn twice before to be U.S. attorney, would do a great job in the position. “This is a real vindication for her, ” Orwig says. “ It shows that perseverance pays off. . . . She’ll be dedicated, hard-working, and I think her heart is in the right place.”

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