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Multicultural Santa Forget the colorful holiday lights and staid Nativity scenes adorning the lawns of Highland Park in Dallas and River Oaks in Houston. No need to take a horse-and-buggy ride to evoke the spirit of Christmas past, present or future. Now, one can breeze past the law office of West & Associates in Dallas and catch a glimpse of the multicultural Santa, whose large image graces the side of the firm’s building, Town View Plaza, and alternates from African-American to Hispanic to Anglo. “Our multi-ethnic Santa is a way of celebrating the diversity of our neighborhood,” says state Sen. Royce West, who founded the firm and owns the building. “It’s a way of building community spirit by showing there is a Santa Claus for all of us.” To complete the towering display, West asked members of the community to send digital photos of their children, along with their children’s Christmas wish lists. So in place of the firm’s usual electronic billboard illuminating, say, West & Associates’ attorney of the week, says West, “there is a big ole bubble above Santa’s head that displays photos of neighborhood children telling Santa what they want for Christmas.” It can be someone as reasonable as Alexandra, who says she wants a Dora the Explorer Talking Kitchen, to the bigger-dreaming Victoria, who says she wants a Jeep. Although West says he has spent more money on the display than he wanted to, the money doesn’t seem to matter. “I have my health. I have accomplished a few things in the Legislature. Ninety-five percent of my clients seem satisfied,” he says. “I’m in a good Christmas mood right now.” Client Goes Home Houston attorney Murray Fogler thought he had done all he could do for his client, Salim Muhood Adem, a Sudanese citizen and Guantanamo detainee. [See "The Guantanamo Bar Association," Texas Lawyer, Jan. 23, 2006, page 1.] After signing on to represent Adem in January 2005, Fogler, along with co-counsel Rachel Clingman, a partner in Sutherland Asbill & Brennan in Houston, filed a habeas petition on Adem’s behalf; reviewed classified information regarding Adem’s continued detention; prepared a written submission on Adem’s behalf to an Administrative Review Board, which determined Adem was not a security risk to the United States and designated him eligible for transfer to his home country; and traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in May 2006 to visit with their client. “Mr. Adem told us he did not want us to represent him � that his own words would prove his innocence,” recalls Fogler, a partner in Houston’s Beck, Redden & Secrest. “I just didn’t take no for an answer and continued to file stuff as warranted.” Despite Fogler’s efforts, the government refused to release Adem, and he remained in Guantanamo for five-and-a-half years. Then around Thanksgiving, says Fogler, he received notice that the U.S. government had made arrangements to transfer Adem to the government of Sudan. “The State Department was not in a big hurry to work out the details of the transfer,” says Fogler. “They will only turn over a detainee to the government of their home country if they get some kind of assurance that [the home country] is not going to torture them and will provide them with due process, which, in light of the way we treated them, is ironic.” A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State did not respond prior to presstime on Dec. 20. The Sudanese government gave its assurances, and on Dec. 12, Adem and another Sudanese detainee were placed on a cargo plane and flown back to Sudan, where they were greeted by their families, says Fogler, who learned about the circumstances of their return from another attorney who represents detainees. With Adem’s return, Fogler’s interest in this term’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush � which will decide whether Congress overstepped its bounds by stripping federal district courts of their habeas jurisdiction and was argued Dec. 6 � is somewhat academic. Then again, “I may re-up and volunteer to take on someone else,” he says. “I am still very interested in the process.”

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