• Sunday, February 25, 2018

Recent News

2018 Santa Fe CLE Roundup & Annual Dinner

The 2018 TEX-ABOTA CLE Roundup & Annual Dinner will be held from June 7-10, 2018, at the Inn & Spa at Loretto.

Dicky Grigg is once again lining up speakers that will leave you informed, entertained, pondering and happy that you attended.

Information on booking your rooms will be coming out via email in the next week. (during the week of February 5-9).

We have one more detail to finalize, then registration to attend the CLE will be open, and will be announced via email to members.

Remember that booking your room and registering to attend our events are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, so be sure you take care of them both.

We cannot urge you strongly enough to book your room as soon as possible.  We will sell out of our block of rooms very quickly, after which time, you will possibly have to pay the going rate or book a room at another hotel.  La Fonda, a lovely hotel next to ours, has historically given us a courtesy block of 10 rooms, to handle our overflow. That has not been confirmed yet, but I will post it as soon as I hear from them.

TEX-ABOTA 2018 Meetings

TEX-ABOTA will have its four regular Board Meetings in new venues this year, and we are very excited about it. Any ABOTA member is welcome to attend any of our meetings.

Saturday, February 17 – Omni Royal Orleans Hotel – New Orleans, LA
9:00am-11:00am (note earlier meeting time)
TEX-ABOTA is a sponsor of the Advance Trial Strategies Seminar and also be hosting a reception on Thursday February 15

Saturday, April 7 – Baylor Law School – Waco
Dutch Treat dinner is Friday, April 6 at the Baylor Club, RSVP/payment will be announced
1001 South Martin Luther King Blvd.
Waco, Texas 76704

Sunday, June 10 Inn & Spa at Loretto – Santa Fe
8:00am-10:00am – MDT
This meeting is in conjunction with the TEX-ABOTA Annual seminar and meeting

Saturday, October 27 – ABOTA National Office – Dallas
2001 Bryan St., Suite 3000
Dallas, TX 75201
Dutch treat dinner TBA


Texas chapter members stole the show at the October ABOTA National Board meeting in Nashville, TN. We had outstanding representation at the meeting and we’re glad we were there. Here are the reasons:

The Dallas Chapter was the recipient of the 2017 National Chapter of the Year Award.

Brian Lauten and Marquette Wolf (Dallas) were recipients of the inaugural Founders’ Award presented by the National ABOTA Foundation.  They were recognized for their implementation of the ad litem fees program, which has now been adopted by Houston and other Chapters. If you don’t know about it, it’s a great way to contribute to the ABOTA Foundation by donating your ad litem fees.

Karen Burgess (Austin) was elected 2018 National Treasurer, and served as a panelist during the Jury Summit prior to the national board meeting.

Lewis Sifford (Dallas) was recognized for his many years of service as co-chair of the Presidential Task Force, and his continuous dedication to the various activities of ABOTA, including the National Trial College.

Grace Weatherly (Dallas) was recognized for her many years of service on the Foundation Board, and will be 2018 Chair of the Awards Committee, replacing Bill Shapiro (CA).  Bill will continue to serve as an advisor on the committee.

Jennifer Doan (East Texas) will serve on the 2018 National Board as a Presidential appointee.

Carlyle Chapman (Dallas) will continue to serve in numerous capacities, including former President of the ABOTA Foundation Board.

We are very proud of our TEX-ABOTA members and we hope to see more names from Texas in the coming year.

Congratulations and thank you to each of you for your active participation in ABOTA.

Robby Alden

Jack Baldwin

Karen Burgess

Carlyle Chapman

Cynthia Diggs

Jennifer Doan

Winford Dunn

David Halpern

Charles Henke

Ann Hennis

Steve Laird

Brian Lauten

Andrew Mouton

Leslie Palmer

Dan Sciano

Lewis Sifford

William Toles

David Towler

Grace Weatherly

Marquette Wolf

TEX-ABOTA & State Bar of Texas – Advanced Trial Strategies 2018

We hope you plan to attend the State Bar of Texas Advanced Trial Strategies Course in New Orleans, February 15-16, 2018. (TEX-ABOTA Board Meeting on Saturday, February 17th.)

TEX-ABOTA is once again a proud co-sponsor of this event and we hope to see you in Louisiana.

Please click here to tell us what you will attend so we will have an accurate headcount for our reception and Board Meeting.

The event will be at the
Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans
621 St. Louis Street
New Orleans, LA   70140
(504) 529-5333

Register to attend the CLE by February 1 and save $50! TEX-ABOTA members can save up to $75!

Call the Omni Royal Orleans at 504-529-5333 before the January 24 deadline and indicate that you will be attending this State Bar of Texas course to get the special rate of $219++ per night, single or double. (available on first come-first served basis)

Make your HOTEL reservations online

If room block is sold out, please contact Kathleen Korrodi (at SBOT) at Katherine.Korrodi@TEXASBAR.COM.

>>> If you plan to attend the Saturday TEX-ABOTA Board Meeting, book your room now, as they only have a limited number of rooms Friday evening.

You must make your own CLE program and hotel reservations.


TEX-ABOTA will have our first Board Meeting of the year that Saturday, February 17th. It will be from 9:30am-11:30am. All ABOTA members are welcome to attend.

TEX-ABOTA Schedule:

Thursday, February 15th – TEX-ABOTA will host a cocktail reception at the hotel for all attendees immediately after the rolling excitement of Second Line!

Saturday, February 17th – TEX-ABOTA Board meeting at the hotel from 9:30-11:30am

Please RSVP for the Thursday TEX-ABOTA Cocktail Party and Board Meeting here.


More Info or Register for the CLE program: Click here


About the Seminar:

Advanced Trial Strategies 2018 (live)

MCLE Credit: 13.50 hrs (includes 2.75 hrs ethics)

MCLE No: 928014051

Designed for the experienced practitioner, this course is in-depth and highly advanced, providing unique opportunities to interact with experts on the most crucial issues you face daily. This course should not be missed by lawyers who litigate for a living.

Topics Include:

Initiating Litigation

Jury Selection

Insurance Litigation Strategies

Fees as Strategic Elements in Litigation

The More Things Change… The Trial Lawyer’s Special Role in Defending the Rule of Law

Strategic Use of eDiscovery

Artificial Intelligence on Trial

Strategic Use of Motions

Opening and Closing Arguments

Hot Topics… You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Trial Technology: Demonstrative Evidence

Preservation of Error

Discovery Strategies

Knowing Your Audience – The Art of Resonating with Different Generations

Damages: Can I Give the Plaintiff More Than He Asks For?

Ethics Jeopardy

Course Amenities:

  • Chicory coffee, beignets, and king cake served daily
  • Cajun, Creole, and New Orleans cuisine provided at lunch both days
  • Complimentary wireless signal in the meeting room
  • Materials provided as a hard copy book and PDF download, or download only for a discount!

2017 James Otis Lecture Series Soars – Again

2017 James Otis Lecture Scholars - photo by Michael Mayfield

2017 James Otis Lecture Scholars – photo by Michael Mayfield

The 2017 James Otis Lecture Series program was held at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, September 19th. The program is normally held on Constitution Day, September 17th, but since it fell on a Saturday, the program was moved to the following Tuesday.

Over 100 students from across Texas arrived at the Texas State Capitol at 9:00 a.m. and were treated to a personal tour of the Capitol before the program began.

The students sit in the actual seats of the Representatives! They are surrounded by Texas history, including portraits of many of our great leaders and the room where decisions about our state have been made.

We were honored to have Richard Middleton, ABOTA Foundation President, with us for our event.

The students were treated to a discussion by “rock star” history Professor H.W. “Bill”Brands. Each student received a copy of his newest book, The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War.

Professor Brands spoke about the Constitution and what it took to create this most important document. It wasn’t just something that happened easily and quickly, and he wove a compelling story that relates to today’s global events.

Students from Texas School for the Deaf, with Dr. Brands

Students from Texas School for the Deaf, with Dr. Brands

Students from Houston, Canyon Lake, Carrizo Springs, Palestine, Austin and Dripping Springs were part of the event. TEX-ABOTA was again honored to have students from the Texas School for the Deaf, along with their interpreters, with us this year. Juan and Eva Dominguez  brought the students from Carrizo Springs, leaving at 4:00a.m. Tuesday morning to arrive on time.

After Dr. Brands’ talk, the group walked across the Capitol grounds to the First United Methodist Church for lunch. Dr. Brands autographed the books that TEX-ABOTA provided to them. After lunch, each student was recognized and received a certificate naming them as a James Otis Lecture Series scholar.

These students are our future and TEX-ABOTA wants them to have as many learning and experiential opportunities as possible.

2017 Santa Fe CLE Roundup – WOW!

The 2017 TEX-ABOTA Santa Fe CLE Roundup – WOW!

Once again, we are proud to say that our annual CLE program was an overwhelming success. Dicky Grigg pulled a huge rabbit out of his “speaker hat”, thanks to cooperation from Dallas ABOTA member, Randy Johnston.

The first speaker on Friday morning had been touted as a “Mystery Speaker”.  There could be no advance promotion and we all had to turn in any device that could take a photograph before entering the room. The guesses on who it was ranged from Oprah to Sandra Bullock to Barack Obama to John Grisham to former Pres. George W. Bush, to name a few.

After a poignant, emotional introduction by Randy Johnston, our speaker walked from the back of the room to the podium.  It was Mark Owen, a member of SEAL Team Six who participated in the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips and the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. He spoke to us about his passion for becoming a member of the elite team and what it took to achieve that. He also told us about being on the helicopter that crashed inside the compound where Osama Bin Laden had been living for five years! His team somehow survived the crash and continued on their mission to find Bin Laden.  Mark was the second person through the door when Bin Laden was killed.

But his story wasn’t as much about that event as it was about the importance of teamwork and always trying your best in everything you do. Needless to say, our members were moved by his remarks.

Certainly, that was a hard act to follow, but our other speakers held their own as they spoke about the reality of “virtual lawyers”,  sex discrimination claims at universities and the fallout at Baylor, representing unpopular clients such as Robert Durst and a visit from long-deceased former Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Naturally, fun was had at our cocktail receptions and other activities, including a visit to the surreal immersive art experience, Meow Wolf.

This years annual award winners were:

Lawyer of the Year:   Kenneth Tekell, Houston

Kenneth Tekell, Sr.

Kenneth Tekell, Sr.







Jurist of the Year: Hon. Ken Molberg, Dallas (Remarks of Hon. Ken Molberg Santa Fe 071717)

Hon. Ken Molberg

Hon. Ken Molberg







Champion of Civil Justice:  Robert L. Duncan, Lubbock

Robert Duncan

Robert Duncan







The weather cooperated with us this year, so there were no last-minute dashes inside to dodge rain drops.

See photos of the 2017 Santa Fe CLE Roundup and Annual Dinner here.

Thank you to all of our sponsors for your support.

Speakers      Sponsors


Saturday Night Dinner:Freese Goss 30618_FG_Logo_VectorFreese & Goss, Dallas

Saturday Night Cocktail Reception:


Crain Lewis Brogdon

Full Color Logo Horizontal

Stanton LLP

Friday Night Cocktail Reception Sponsor :

TXMLC-Spaced Out-01-01 323 SMTexas Medical Legal Consultants


CLE Program Sponsors:



A&M_Corporate_PMS7463Alvarez & Marsal

Davis Settlement logo-web

HDBD Logo (2017F)


The Rose/Cates Group (Dallas)

Welcome Reception Sponsors:

 ✪ Spivey & Grigg  ✪  Kim Law Firm
✪ Ware Jackson Lee O’Neill Smith & Barrow, LLP ✪
✪ Ben C. Martin ✪ Capshaw & Associates ✪ Henke, Williams & Boll, LLP
✪ Holmes, Diggs, Eames & Sadler, PLL C ✪ Roach & Newton
✪ Scott Douglass & McConnico, LLP’s ✪ Richardson & Burgess LLP
✪ Winckler Harvey ✪ Howry Breen & Herman
✪Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees, Cheng, Alsaffar, & Higginbotham, PLLC ✪

2017 James Otis Lecture Series

Media Release Form                                   2017 Agenda – JOL


The 2017 James Otis Lecture Series program will be held at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, September 19th. The program is typically held on Constitution Day, September 17th, but since it fell on a Saturday, the program was moved to the following Tuesday.

Over 125 students from across Texas will arrive first thing in the morning and be taken on a personal tour of the Capitol before the program begins.

The program has been held in the chambers of the House of Representatives since 2012.  The students actually sit in the seats of the Representatives! It is a truly historical setting, and so full of Texas history.

We are honored to have Richard Middleton, ABOTA Foundation President, with us for our event. He is coming from Savannah, GA to experience the TEX-ABOTA “JOL” program.

We are thrilled that once again, the students will treated to a discussion by “rock star” history Professor H.W. “Bill”Brands. The topic will be his newest book, The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War.

Professor Brands will no doubt weave numerous strands of this history into a compelling story that might actually relate to today’s global events.

Students from Houston, Canyon Lake, Carrizo Springs, Palestine, Austin and Dripping Springs will participate in the event. TEX-ABOTA is again honored to have students from the Texas School for the Deaf, along with their interpreters, with us this year. Juan and Eva Dominguez will bring the students from Carrizo Springs, leaving at 4:00a.m. Tuesday morning to arrive on time.

After Dr. Brands’ talk, the group will walk across the Capitol grounds to the First United Methodist Church for lunch. Dr. Brands will most likely autograph the books that TEX-ABOTA has provided to student. After lunch, each student will be recognized and receive a certificate naming them as a James Otis Lecture Series scholar.

These students are interested in civics and government and history.  They are our future and TEX-ABOTA wants to present them with as many learning and experiential opportunities as possible.

2018 TEX-ABOTA Santa Fe CLE Roundup

Our 2018 program will be held June 7-10, 2018 at the Inn & Spa at Loretto.

Registration information will be sent to members as soon as details are in place.

Questions? Contact Cay Dickson at tex-abota@abota.org.

ABOTA Defends Texas Judge

ABOTA defends Judge Rodney Gilstrap from attacks by House Chairman

Constitutional separation of powers requires judges to decide cases impartially without political pressure

DALLAS (July 19, 2017) — The American Board of Trial Advocates, a non-partisan national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges, opposes the direct personal attacks made by Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, about U.S. District Judge J. Rodney Gilstrap. ABOTA is dedicated to the preservation of a fair and impartial judiciary and the right to trial by jury. State and federal judges are accountable to the law, not to special interests or political pressure.

Recently, Rep. Issa criticized a recent ruling of Judge Gilstrap, District Judge for the United States Court of the Eastern District of Texas, calling his conduct “reprehensible” and insinuating the decision was motivated by a personal bias to local community interests rather than the law. Regrettably, Rep. Issa’s criticism extended beyond a challenge of the legal precedent to a personal attack on Judge Gilstrap and his integrity as a jurist.

“One of our primary purposes is the preservation of the independence of the judiciary,” said F. Dulin Kelly, ABOTA National President. “The judicial canons preclude judges from responding to public criticism of their rulings and when a member of the judiciary has been publicly criticized, our ABOTA protocol requires us to evaluate the criticism and determine whether a response on behalf of the judge or court is appropriate.”

ABOTA is an organization consisting of an equal balance of plaintiff and defense lawyers. The Texas statewide chapter, known as TEX-ABOTA, is made up of 16 local chapters and serves as a consolidated voice of more than 1,300 members. Ann Hennis, TEX-ABOTA President, said the statements about Judge Gilstrap are contrary to the organization’s ideals of disagreeing with respect, seeking a common ground, and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. Kelly added that with members of all political persuasions and both sides of the bar, ABOTA and TEX-ABOTA strongly decry this effort to politicize and denigrate any individual jurist.

In a formal statement posted on ABOTA.org, Mr. Kelly said:

“We reject the attempt to denounce our judges into foregoing their obligation to use their best judgment, devoid of influence, in an appropriate ruling. Whether you agree with isolated decisions or do not, political influence on our Courts is to be opposed.

When our elected representatives choose to issue personal attacks and name calling on any individual judge, demeaning the personal integrity of the jurist, the effect is to undermine the very principles of our liberty and government. Politics have no place in our courts. We believe judges should be selected in a manner that assures well-trained, qualified, experienced, independent and neutral judges. Political attacks that impugn a judge’s character have no legitimate role in the legislative framework. It weakens a critical, co-equal branch of our constitutional government. If we are to remain a nation of laws, we must have independent and neutral judges who will apply the law fairly and impartially. To utilize a personal attack against an individual jurist for the purpose of a political agenda diminishes the authority of our system of justice.”

Preserving the quality and independence of the judiciary has been a hallmark of ABOTA’s efforts for decades, and the organization believes that confidence in the nation’s judicial system is profoundly important. More on this topic can be found in the ABOTA white paper, “Preserving a Fair, Impartial and Independent Judiciary,” on the ABOTA.org website.

For more information contact:
Brian Tyson at (800) 932-2682

TEX-ABOTA “Day at the Capitol” 2017

This year was the first year of the TEX-ABOTA “Day at the Capitol” event, held on Thursday, April 13 at the Texas State Capitol.

TEX-ABOTA members from across the state met with Rep. Hugh Shine, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. John Smithee, Sen. Charles Schwertner, Rep. Ramon Romero, Jr., Rep. Brandon Creighton, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Rep. Ryan Guillen, Rep John Kuempel, Rep. Matt Rinaldi, Rep. Abel Herrero, Rep. Helen Giddings, Rep. Rene Oliveira, Rep. Paul Workman and Rep. J.M. Lozano.  In some cases, if the Legislator was unavailable, the group met with their Legislative Aide or Director.

Some of the members who participated in person included TEX-ABOTA President Ann Hennis, Curt Fenley, III (President Elect), Grace Weatherly (Vice President), Robby Alden (Secretary), Eileen O’Neill (Treasurer), Dan Sciano, Michael Smith, Scott Brann, Gwen Richard, Woody Roark, Scott Scherr, Lance D. Sharp and Robert E. White.

(l-r) Sharp, Roark, Fenley, Sciano and Scherr

(l-r) Sharp, Roark, Fenley, Sciano and Scherr

leg day 2017

Making plans for the meetings.

Meeting with Rep. Todd Hunter.

Meeting with Rep. Todd Hunter.

Day at the Capitol

Day at the Capitol







The main purpose for visiting those members was because of TEX-ABOTA’s interest in several Bills that have been submitted. TEX-ABOTA has passed Resolutions in opposition to the following Bills.  (Click the number to view the introduced Bill and Resolution to view the Resolution).

HB2594 – Chancery Courts aka Special Courts for Special People; Resolution
HB 1038 – TRCP 91a related to award of costs and attorney’s fees in a motion to dismiss that have no basis in law or fact; Resolution
SB 985 – Attempt to eliminate three Dallas County Courts at Law (CC3, CC4, CC5). Resolution

The Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and Texas Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates sent a Chancery Courts Joint Letter.

This was a very successful first effort, and we hope to continue gathering momentum from our members to join us at each Legislative session.