• Monday, October 22, 2018

Recent News

2018 Santa Fe CLE Breaks Attendance Record!

The 2018 Santa Fe CLE Roundup and Annual Dinner had the highest attendance of any of the previous programs. We had 145 lawyers, who, along with spouses and guests, brought the total number of attendees to 220 people.

There were many first-time attendees, including ABOTA Foundation President, Jan Gunderson, Brad West, Oklahoma chapter President and Jake Courtney, Los Angeles chapter President.

Cynthia McGuinn, ABOTA President, returned for a second time, as did Andre Rekte, President, San Bernardino/Riverside, CA chapter, Bill Smith, President, CAL-ABOTA and Charles Bentley, SEABOTA Treasurer.

This year, we went to the  Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum for our Friday event.  Once again, the Santa Fe School of Cooking was very well attended and folks loved the tacos they made.

Annual award winners were announced at the Saturday evening dinner.  They are:
Jurist of the Year – Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, East Texas
Trial Lawyer of the Year – John Kim, Houston
Champion(s) of Civil Justice – Dr. Joyce Johnston, East Texas; Deborah Keen, Dallas

We have already set the date of June 27-June 30 for our 2019 program, so be sure and mark your calendars.  Registration and booking information will be coming out at the first of the year.

See pictures from Thursday and Saturday night events here.



2018 James Otis Lecture – September 18, 2018

The annual TEX-ABOTA James Otis Lecture Series will take place on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. As is our tradition, it will be held in the chambers of the Texas House of Representatives.

We are pleased to announce that Prof. H.W. “Bill” Brands, will be our speaker again this year.  He will discuss the Constitution and his book, “The General Vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War”. Prof. Brands is an American educator, author and historian. He has authored 30 books on U.S. history. He holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his Ph.D. in history in 1985.

Up to 150 high school students from around the state of Texas will gather at the Texas State Capitol at 9:00am Tuesday morning for a tour of the Capitol, then gather in the chambers for our program. After the program, we will have lunch at the First United Methodist Church, where Prof. Brands will autograph copies of the books which will have been sent to the students. The students will then be presented with their James Otis Scholar certificates.

If you know of a school that would like to have their students participate, please contact either Karen Burgess, program Chairperson,  or Cay Dickson, Executive Director of TEX-ABOTA. The deadline to enter the program is August 24, 2018.

Here is the agenda for the day:

James Otis Lecture Series

Schedule for the Day

September 18, 2018


9:00 a.m. SHARP Students arrive and register upstairs by House Chambers
9:30 a.m. Tours of the Capitol (in groups, depending on number of students)
10:45 a.m. Students are seated on the floor of the House of Representatives
11:00 a.m. TEX-ABOTA and ABOTA representatives speak to the students
11:05 – 11:10 or 11:15 a.m. ABOTA Foundation and efforts with Youth
11:15 a.m. Introduction of Dr. H.W. “Bill” Brands
11:15 a.m. Dr. Brands addresses the students
12:00 p.m. Head to Fellowship Hall at the First United Methodist Church (walking distance)   Dr. Brands may attend to autograph his book
12:15 p.m. Lunch (sandwich, chips, cookie, apple) is served
1:00 p.m. Certificates as a James Otis Lecture Scholar presented to students
1:45-2:00 p.m. End of program, students released then or at 3:00 p.m.


presented by TEX-ABOTA

Texas chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates


Contact: Ms. Cay Dickson: (713) 562-4105 (Executive Director)

Mrs. Karen Burgess – (512) 797-0175 (Chair)

Ms. Grace Weatherly – 940-565-6565 (Chair)


Here are relevant documents for the program:
Texas State Capitol Map (students should enter on the East side)

Dress code is slacks, collared shirts, pantsuits, dresses, skirts. No flip flops, no shorts.

Media Release Form_JOL revised 9-14-17 (should we use a group shot on our website)


Elizabeth Ray Receives Sarah T. Hughes Women Lawyers of Achievement Award

WACO, Texas –

Baylor Lawyer, the Honorable Elizabeth (Peach) Ray, was recently named the 2018 recipient of the Sarah T. Hughes Women Lawyers of Achievement Award by the Women and the Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. The award ”honors the accomplishments of women who have achieved outstanding recognition in their professional area and who, by doing so, have paved the way for success for other women attorneys.” A nominee must have excelled in her field and have worked to influence other women to pursue legal careers, advance the role of women in legal positions that historically have been closed to women, or otherwise promote opportunities for women within a practice area or segment of the legal profession.

Dean Brad Toben congratulates Judge Ray at the 2018 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting

“As lawyers, we have the ethical obligation to protect and defend our system of justice. We have to stop the erosion of our judiciary and the continuous, unrelenting attack on our constitutional right to trial by jury,” stated Judge Ray upon receiving the award. “We need to empower other women; help them up, hold them up, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” she added.

Judge Ray graduated with thirteen other women from Baylor Law in 1978, determined to become a civil litigator. Immediately after leaving Baylor Law, she began a clerkship with U.S. Magistrate Judge Alex McGlinchey in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1981, with a law degree and clerkship experience, she approached her father, a prominent tax litigation attorney, hoping to land an associate position with his firm. He told her, in no uncertain terms, that female attorneys “do not litigate” and encouraged her to instead focus on a different specialty.

We need to empower other women; help them up, hold them up, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them”

–Judge Elizabeth Ray

Undeterred, Ray co-founded her own civil litigation firm, Dillard & Ray, with her former classmate and close friend, Diane Dillard. Dillard & Ray opened its doors in 1987 as one of the first female-owned law firms in Houston. In 1992, she was appointed by Governor Ann Richards to serve as the Judge for the 165th State District Court in Harris County, where, over the following seventeen years, she assembled an all-female staff. While on the bench, she was named Trial Judge of the Year by the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists and served twice as the judiciary-elected Chief Administrative Judge.

“Judge Ray has been recognized as a luminary in the judiciary,” said Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law. “She continually demonstrates true leadership by combining passion and compassion, an unwavering belief in the primacy of the law, and an uncompromising desire to empower other women in the legal profession.”

Judge Ray is currently an active member of the National Association of Women Judges, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Association of Women Attorneys, for whom she served on the Board of Directors from 2013 – 2014. She has an unshakeable commitment to encouraging women in the legal profession. She currently conducts complex arbitrations and mediations, and sits as a visiting judge (senior status) by assignment in the State of Texas.

The Sarah T. Hughes Women Lawyers of Achievement Award is named in recognition of Judge Hughes, who solidified her place in history as the judge who swore in Lyndon Johnson as president aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kenned. Long before that historic moment, she had been making headlines here in Texas. In 1935, when Hughes was appointed to the 14th State District Court and became the first woman state district judge in Texas, it was despite opposition by a state senator who issued a public statement that “Mrs. Hughes ought to be home washing dishes.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Ed Nelson, Director of Marketing & Communications
EMAIL: Ed_Nelson@Baylor.edu 
PHONE: 254-710-6681

Link to article: https://www.baylor.edu/law/news.php?action=story&story=200466


2018 Annual Award Recipients

TEX-ABOTA selected the recipients of the prestigious Annual Awards for 2018 at their last board meeting.

There were several worthy nominees in each category, but when the dust settled, these were the recipients:

Jurist of the Year – Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, East Texas

Curt Fenley, Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, Jennifer Doan

Curt Fenley, Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, Jennifer Doan

Trial Lawyer of the Year – John Kim, Houston

John Kim, Curt Fenley

John Kim, Curt Fenley

Champion(s) of Civil Justice – Dr. Joyce Johnston, East Texas; Deborah Keen, Dallas

Judge & Mrs. Russell, Woody Roark, Dr. Johnston

Judge & Mrs. Russell, Woody Roark, Dr. Johnston

The Keens, Curt Fenley

The Keens, Curt Fenley


Each of the recipients came to Santa Fe to accept their awards at the dinner, except for Dr. Johnston, who had a session of her pre-law high school students that weekend.  She sent a lovely video, including a young student who most likely will become a stellar citizen and possibly, a lawyer after high school.

Congratulations to the winners of our 2018 Annual Awards.


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!

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.

Click here to register to attend the
Santa Fe CLE Roundup & Annual Awards Dinner

Dicky Grigg has once again gathered speakers that will leave you informed, entertained, pondering and happy that you attended.


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

Our block of rooms is currently sold out, but please get on the WAIT LIST. 

Here is what we suggest:

1. Get on the WAIT LIST by contacting Ms. Elissa Eccles at eeccles@hhandr.com or call her at 505-984-7909
2. Make a reservation at nearby hotels including two “sister” hotels, both of which are “boutique” hotels, or a favorite hotel of yours:
– Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe – 505-988-4900
– Hotel St. Francis –   800-529-5700
– La Fonda on the Plaza (just behind our hotel) – we have a courtesy block of rooms at $199++ per night. Mention TEX-ABOTA for the group rate. Call 800-523-5002.
Important: if you book a room at Inn & Spa at Loretto, and have to cancel within 30 days of the event, do NOT cancel directly with the hotel. Please let Cay Dickson know before you cancel your room. We can use it for someone who is unable to get a room.

The deadline to register for the CLE program is Friday, May 25th.

Speakers as of 4/5/18

Darrell Barger
Jim Brosnahan
David Chamberlain
Guy Choate
Richard Durbin
Mark Lanier

Cliff Edwards

Dean Andrea Lyon
Cynthia McGuinn – National ABOTA President
Richard Mithoff
Eric Nichols
Hon. Karen Sage
Steve Watt
Brett Whipple

Tentative Schedule of Events

Thursday, June 7
1:00-4:45pm – Registration
5:30-7:00pm – Welcome Reception – Hotel Garden
– Dinner at your leisure, reservations recommended

Friday, June 8
7:00-8:00am – CLE Attendee Breakfast (Hotel garden)
7:00-10:00am – Spouse/Guest breakfast at Luminaria (hotel restaurant)
8:00am-12noon – CLE Program
1:30-when you leave – Private tour of New Mexico History Museum (an outstanding record of the state’s history, told in creative, engaging exhibits)
5:00-6:00pm – WABOTA Reception (women ABOTA members only)
6:00-7:30pm – Cocktail Reception – La Terraza (atop La Fonda Hotel)

Saturday, June 9
7:00-8:00am – CLE Attendee Breakfast (Hotel garden)
7:00-8:00am – Past TEX-ABOTA and ABOTA Presidents’ breakfast
7:00-10:00am – Spouse/Guest breakfast at Luminaria (hotel restaurant)
8:00am-12noon – CLE Program
1:30-4:00pm – Santa Fe School of Cooking hands-on class
1:30-5:30pm – Golf at Las Campanas (Shotgun start at 1:30, box lunches at course for you)
6:30-7:30 – Cocktail Reception – Hotel Garden
7:30-10:00pm – Annual Dinner & Award Presentation

Sunday, June 10
8:00-10:00am (MDT) – TEX-ABOTA Board Meeting (all ABOTA members welcome)


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

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 ✪