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Service Fee The State Bar of Texas could begin paying stipends to the Bar’s president and president-elect, starting in June 2008, to help defray the administrative costs that they incur. State Bar President Gib Walton, a partner in Houston’s Vinson & Elkins, says the Bar’s board of directors, meeting in Galveston on Sept. 28, approved the concept of paying stipends in the amounts of $30,000 for the president and $20,000 for the president-elect. “A lot of other states do it,” Walton says. For example, the Florida Bar pays its president and president-elect $34,112 each for office expenses and secretarial help, according to information provided by Zannah Lyle, a spokeswoman for that bar group. Martha Dickie, the State Bar’s immediate past president, characterizes the yearlong service as president-elect as a serious part-time job. “It’s darn near a full-time job when you’re president,” says Dickie, who chairs the Bar’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee that proposed the board policy amendments to allow the stipends. Dickie, a partner in Austin’s Akin & Almanza, says she did all the administrative work associated with her service as president-elect and then president, because she did not think it was fair to ask her six-member firm to incur the costs of doing the work for her. But doing her own administrative work, such as scheduling all the flights for her Bar-related travel and “keeping track of pieces of paper” she needed to seek travel reimbursement, cost her, Dickie says. “When I was doing it myself, I wasn’t out practicing law and making money,” she says. Dickie says the Bar wants to attract candidates from large and small firms. Unless the Bar can help defray some of the incidental costs, candidates will come mostly from big firms that can provide assistance with the administrative work, she says. But before the Bar board implements the policy change, Dickie says she wants to check for possible tax implications. “We want to be smart about this and not get it characterized as income if you’re going to use it to pay an administrative person,” she says. Rule (of Law) Brittania Peter Murphy, a professor at South Texas College of Law (STCL) since 1984, will take a seat on the Crown Court of England beginning Oct. 22. Murphy, a British citizen, earned his B.A., LL.B. and M.A. at the University of Cambridge in England. In an interview conducted through e-mail, Murphy writes that he applied for the judgeship about a year ago. Unlike Texas, England does not elect its judges. Murphy explains that the queen of England appoints judges recommended by the Judicial Appointments Commission, an independent, nongovernmental, nonpolitical body, and the judges are confirmed by a newly created Ministry of Justice. The court on which Murphy will sit tries criminal cases on indictment. “Roughly speaking, we deal with what in the U.S. would be felonies as opposed to misdemeanors, though the distinction has been abolished as such in England,” Murphy writes. Although Murphy could be asked to try a civil case, he predicts that is unlikely, because his main experience is in criminal law. Murphy’s areas of expertise are evidence, procedure and trial advocacy. Since 1998, Murphy has worked as a defense attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague. James Alfini, STCL president and dean, says in a statement, “Although we are saddened at the prospect of losing a highly valued faculty member, I am unaware of any other American law professor who’s been offered a judgeship by the queen of England.” Murphy, 61, writes that the appointment is until the standard retirement age of 70, which is set by statute but can be extended by agreement with a judge on an annual basis until age 75. When he sits on the bench, Murphy will have to wear a wig � at least for the time being. Notes Murphy, “Judges in civil cases will no longer wear wigs as [of] January 2008, and we may well follow suit before too long.” Elrod Confirmed Another Texan is headed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Oct. 4, the full U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Jennifer Elrod to the 5th Circuit. Elrod’s nomination was remarkably smooth, with one minor bump, compared to some nominations to the court. During her July hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans and Democrats gushed over her dedication to legal services and pro bono work. But because Elrod is currently judge of the 190th District Court in Harris County, she has written no opinions; state trial court judges rarely issue written decisions. That seemed to be a problem for U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., who questioned whether Elrod had enough experience to sit on the appellate bench. “Judge Elrod has never written a single judicial opinion,” Cardin said during floor debate. Cardin also pointed out that Elrod had limited experience in criminal law and federal law. But U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, came to Elrod’s defense. “I hope we are not saying that it is a prerequisite to becoming an appellate judge to have previously served as an appellate judge,” Cornyn said. The Senate then confirmed Elrod’s nomination by a voice vote. Elrod did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime on Oct. 4. But her nomination stands in stark contrast to that of Priscilla Owen, the last Texas nominee to the 5th Circuit. Owen, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, waited nearly four years before the Senate confirmed her nomination.

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