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Out of the Orphanage The true story told in a new book titled “Twelve Mighty Orphans” about how a team from a Fort Worth orphanage came to dominate high school football during the 1930s and 1940s is a great read for those who love Texas history or who need a bit of inspiration. But the well-researched book by Jim Dent, who also wrote a best-selling, historically based sports book called “The Junction Boys,” doesn’t discuss a minor point that would interest most Texans who hold law degrees. Fort Worth’s Masonic Home housed many of North Texas’ orphans and produced the fantastic football team, but the home also housed and educated some prominent Texas lawyers and judges. The home’s legal alumni include Abner McCall, a former Texas Supreme Court justice and president of Baylor University; Eugene Williams, a former Bexar County state district judge; and Perry Pickett, a former Midland County state district judge. Two other attorneys from that era who lived in the orphanage are brothers Sam Biery and Charles Biery. Sam, 90, and Charles, 88, are retired San Antonio family lawyers who partnered in Biery & Biery for decades. Charles says he followed in McCall’s footsteps after high school by winning a Masonic scholarship, which McCall also had won. Charles attended Baylor University, where he earned his law degree. “Growing up, we never saw a lawyer,” Charles says. “I figured Abner had it right.” Sam, who earned his law degree at St. Mary’s University after working as a clerk in a federal agency, says his time at the home gave him a great foundation for law school. “We just got a very good education. The teachers were competent, and the kids were happy,” says Sam, whose son is U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio. Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Greenhill knew McCall and Robert Calvert, another Texas Supreme Court chief justice who grew up in an orphanage. Greenhill says it’s not surprising that some of Texas’ greatest lawyers and judges in the 1940s and 1950s grew up in orphanages. “Orphanages have a way of making people independent,” Greenhill says of McCall and Calvert. “They were both very independent thinkers and people, and I think it strengthened them.” The Hide Inspector On Nov. 6 when voters go to the polls to consider 16 constitutional amendments, most people won’t give much thought to voting on Proposition 10, which would eliminate the county office of inspector of hides and animals from the Texas Constitution. But Jeff McMeans, a criminal and family law attorney who is a partner in Richmond’s McDaniel and McMeans, will. McMeans served as Fort Bend County’s hide and animal inspector for 17 years, ever since he ran for the position in 1989 as a joke. His reign as hide inspector came to an end in 2006; his post was taken off the November ’06 ballot after lawmakers erased the position from the Texas Agriculture Code. The position officially still exists, however, because it is in the state constitution. That position can only be removed by a constitutional amendment, which voters will decide on Nov. 6. McMeans says the job didn’t have any real responsibilities. “You get to ride in the Fort Bend County parade, which is a big parade,” McMeans says. “But there is no office, no pay, no duties.” The job was important in the late 1800s, when the inspector was tasked with stopping cattle rustling and preventing the importation of diseased cattle into Texas. “That was the serious side of it, but it hasn’t been serious for 100 years,” McMeans says. He has a badge and has deputized his friends, even though the office’s responsibilities have been handled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for decades, he says. McMeans has inspected a few animals. “I used to get late-night phone calls from friends: “Is this the meat detective? There’s a dead possum in front of my house.’ ” McMeans says he’s definitely voting against the amendment. He has even asked his friends how he can save his hide-inspecting post. “ We need to get a big billboard to say: “Vote No to Proposition 10.’”

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