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In Memory of Dean John F. Sutton Print E-mail
by John Browning    Tue, May 21, 2013, 10:35 PM

          In the nearly 24 years that I’ve been practicing law, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some accolades from my colleagues.  A number of these have been for a commitment to legal ethics and improving professionalism.  I look at it as giving something back to the profession that’s given so much to me.  Many of the most important lessons I learned began at the University of Texas School of Law, where so many of the subjects I took were taught by the giants of their respective fields.  To name just a few, I learned constitutional law from the great Charles Alan Wright (of Wright & Miller on Federal Courts), and I learned the intricacies of civil procedure from Michael Tigar, one of the preeminent trial lawyers of the last 50 years.  And my teacher for professional responsibility—legal ethics—was John F. Sutton, Jr., who literally wrote the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct—the bible of an attorney’s professional duties that have been adopted by virtually every state in the union.


          Dean Sutton passed away on April 19, 2013, at the ripe old age of 95.  He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Nancy, as well as a son and daughter, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.  But he is also survived by a rich legacy—not only the many students he taught over the years, but the legacy he left as a scholar and as an architect of the very tenets by which the legal profession is governed.  John Sutton was raised in San Angelo, the son of a district court judge who was also a rancher.  He inherited a love of the law as well as a love of ranching and agriculture.  Although he lacked an undergraduate degree (law school standards were different then), John entered the University of Texas School of Law, where he excelled and received his degree with honors in 1941.  After briefly practicing law, with the outbreak of World War II he became a Special Agent with the FBI.  After the war, and during the Korean War, John served with the U.S. Army Reserve as a judge advocate general.  From 1950 to 1957, he was in private practice.


          In 1957, legal academia beckoned, and John became a full professor at UT Law School.  He would go on to teach there for 46 years, retiring in 2003 at the age of 85.  From 1979 to 1985, he also served as dean.  He was an accomplished scholar, writing law review articles and co-authoring textbooks on professional responsibility as well as on evidence.  However, his greatest gift to the legal profession was working with the American Bar Association in drafting the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility, a task which began in 1965 and lasted until 1970.  At the time, the ethical guidelines for lawyers hadn’t been updated since 1908—and the profession had, to put it mildly, changed quite a bit since then.  A few years later, his work would culminate in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which replaced the Model Code of Professional Responsibility.  A titan among legal ethics scholars, John served for years on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and on the State Bar of Texas Professional Ethics Committee (including several stints as chairman).  Even at the age of 90, he was serving on the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.


          The honors and accolades bestowed upon John Sutton would fill several articles, and they are just a small part of the rich legacy he leaves.  His name lives on in the endowed presidential scholarship that bears his name, in the Dean John F. Sutton, Jr. Chair in Lawyering and the Legal Process, and in the law society at UT that was named after him in 2004.  His friends and family (including son John E. Sutton and a grandson who are both UT Law School graduates as well) form much more of the lasting legacy of Dean Sutton.  His wife, Nancy Ewing Sutton, was his law school classmate and one-time law partner.  But the part of Dean Sutton’s legacy that I know best was that of a genuinely caring, dedicated teacher who gave the subject of professional responsibility meaning and resonance.  As his son puts it, “What set Dad apart as a teacher was he . . . had some real world life experiences that he loved to share, he made things come alive.  He gave the law relevance.”


          To this day, whether I am serving clients as an advocate or trying to serve the profession as a writer and teacher, I continue to be guided by what I learned as one of John F. Sutton’s many students.  In the classroom, he wasn’t the intellectually intimidating legal scholar whose name was on my textbook.  He eschewed abstract theory, instead reminding us, above all else, to do what was right because our actions would impact real people.  Thank you, Dean Sutton.

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Is It Wise to Leave Our Homes Unlocked at Night or When We’re Away? Print E-mail
by James Reza    Sat, May 18, 2013, 07:45 AM

The headline I posted on my piece is sort of stupid isn’t it?  Of course, we all (I hope) indeed need to secure our homes at night or when we are away.  And that goes for our cars and our garages, where most homeowners and renters store their garden tools, yard equipment and other essential tools (auto repair tools, table saws, routers, etc.) to fix or repair our autos and home.  However, even when we secure our property people often fall victims to a burglary, which is indeed unfortunate.  I once left my garage door unlocked and fell victim to a burglary.  Folks, those sorry thieves took many of my valuable wood working tools.  Luckily, and here’s a word to the wise, I had the receipts for all the tools that were stolen in my house safe and my insurance luckily covered my loss.  However, I had to pony up a deductible of 200 dollars that I could have put to better use than fallen victim to a burglary had I locked my garage door.

“Well, what are you up to now James?” some might ask.  Well my dear conservative friends I have to chuckle at the new attempt to offer amnesty to millions (11 plus) of illegal immigrants and am sadden that Republicans are joining the bandwagon because they think that siding with Democrats to allow illegal immigrants to a free and easy pass to U.S. citizenship they will be liked by Hispanics and hopefully get more Hispanic votes.  Man, these guys (Republicans) just don’t get it don’t they?  My, how quick they have forgotten that President Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to over 6 millions illegals back in the 80s and they still don’t vote in large numbers for Republicans.  Nor will they ever, due that Democrats give those of all stripes who vote for them lots of government freebees such as welfare, rental assistance, now telephones and Lord knows what else all funded by us the hardworking American workers and businessmen who daily bust our rear ends to provide for our families and the lazy Americans and an untold number of illegals on welfare.  Let’s be honest, government handouts keep many living off the government dole voting for Democrats.  My friends that is the gospel truth!  Sadly, those individuals on the government dole will almost always be poor and never reach their full potential to enjoy the fruits of earning a good living and reaping the benefits of being self-reliant on their God given talents.  Many will never experience the joy of buying and owning their own home, nice autos and fine clothes for themselves and their loved ones.

Just recently the citizens of Boston went through a traumatic experience when two supposedly innocent good looking recent Muslim immigrants from the Russian region of Dagestan, detonated 2 homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon where several were killed and many innocent people were maimed for life.  After one of the terrorists was killed the mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, of the two terrorists Tamerlan (who was killed) and Dzhokhar blamed the United States for the hatred her sons had for our country.  My God, if the sons of this woman hated the U.S. why in the world didn’t they go back to be with her and their dad?  She also stated that she thought America would protect her sons and it would be a safe place for them.  However, she never mention that she went back to her country because she was facing shoplifting chargers against her dating 2012.  This Muslim woman reminds me so much of so many illegal immigrants who come here, commit crimes of every imaginable offenses and quickly go back to Mexico or elsewhere to evade prosecution for their crimes.  Most American criminals don’t have that privilege illegal alien criminals have.  They have to own up to their crimes by having to go to jail.  And yes, over 27% of criminals in jail are illegal immigrants.  But one has to wonder how many are walking around scot-free in their country for crimes they’ve committed here.

When President Reagan gave amnesty to 6 million plus illegal immigrants he did it because there was a part of the new immigration law (Simpson-Mazzoli) that would punish those who hired illegal immigrants with a stiff fine.  Sadly, that part of the immigration law has never been implemented and so the flow of illegal immigrants continued as before. Now, 20 plus years later we have another 11 million undocumented illegals and again they are writing up laws to allow them to stay here and supposedly our politicians are going to make a new immigration law so tough that immigrants will not want to come here anymore if they pass this immigration law now in the works in Washington.  Tell me, my fellow Americans do any of you believe this political BS?  “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”, is our answer don’t ya’ll agree?

My friends, until they secure our borders I have no desire for amnesty for illegal immigrants from wherever they come from.  If others want to come to our country let them do it the correct way as have many other immigrants done and are doing.  Don’t break our U.S. immigration laws and expect me or any other law abiding American to support this immigration amnesty nonsense!  Some time ago they released thousands of illegal immigrants because supposedly they didn’t pose a threat to Americans.  Well, it was discovered that many of these so-called innocent illegal immigrants who were released many had outstanding warrants for criminal activities and others had been in jail before for various crimes.  Are these the types of people we want here my fellow Americans?  My God, we have lots of our own criminals born and raised here and now our politicians are ready to allow more criminals from other countries come here from wherever just so Hispanics will like them and vote for them.  The stupid ness of this whole immigration amnesty mess is that Hispanics have a poor showing at the voting polls.  The real reason amnesty is raising its ugly head again is became American businesses need this cheap labor that our own Americans will not do because many are on welfare and don’t want to work!

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Who’s Teaching Your Children? You Might Be Shocked Print E-mail
by John Browning    Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 08:39 AM

The recently-released movie “The Company You Keep,” directed by and starring Robert Redford, examines what happens when an investigative journalist reveals the hidden Weather Underground past of a mild-mannered Albany attorney implicated in a botched bank robbery in the 1970s during which a security guard was killed.  But if celluloid art were to imitate life, the fugitive radical would be hiding in plain sight, in the world of legal academia.  You see, while law school teaching gigs have been increasingly difficult to come by in the traditional manner, being publicly disgraced, disbarred, or even convicted of a felony seems to be the fast track nowadays to the academy.


Forced to resign from high office after a public scandal?  No problem.  Shortly after achieving public ignominy as “Client No. 9” in a prostitution sting and resigning as governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer was welcomed with open arms to teach “Law and Public Policy” at City College of New York during the fall of 2009.  James McGreevey stepped down as New Jersey’s governor in the face of corruption allegations and revelations of an affair with a male aide.  That didn’t stop Kean University from inviting the now openly gay former governor to lecture on “ethics, law and leadership” in 2007.  Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also left office with his reputation in tatters after revelations of his controversial role in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons.  Yet that didn’t deter Texas Tech University from hiring Gonzales as a professor in 2009, nor did it dissuade Belmont University College of Law in Tennessee from installing the former Attorney General in an endowed professorship in the fall of 2011.


Just as resigning in disgrace seems to pose no obstacle to a future in teaching, neither does actual jail time.  Bill Lerach achieved national notoriety for his law firm’s aggressive tactics as a “go-to” plaintiffs’ class action boutique.  But after it was revealed that members of his firm had paid kickbacks to lead plaintiffs in securities class action litigation, Lerach pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2007.  Upon his release from prison in 2010, Lerach promptly proceeded to find himself in demand for teaching future lawyers.  He lectured at the University of San Diego Law School, and the University of California-Irvine School of Law used taxpayer dollars to have Lerach develop and teach a course entitled “Regulation of Free Market Capitalism—Why Have We Failed?”  Although the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed applauding his hiring (saying “The felon has lessons to teach lawyers”), much of the public, including other legal academics, were outraged.  One commentator summed it up this way: “Law school is supposed to teach, among other things, what it means to play by the rules . . . . What message about the rule of law will Lerach convey to his law students?”


I’ve previously written about Lynne Stewart, the radical activist lawyer (since disbarred) convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism, being invited to lecture on legal ethics at Hofstra Law School in 2007.  But apparently, the real road to a law professor gig that academics would kill for is to, well, kill somebody.  If you’re a former militant Sixties Weather Underground radical who’s done jail time, you’re likely to find yourself on the fast track to teaching at a prestigious law school.  Just look at former Weather Underground member Eleanor Raskin, who went on the run after being indicted for bomb making in the 1970s.  In 1981, Raskin and her husband were arrested in connection with an explosives dump found in 1979 by New Jersey police.  The charges against Raskin were dropped (her husband was put on probation), and she is now an associate professor at Albany Law School.  Bernadine Dohrn, a notorious Weather Underground radical who graced the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and later served 7 months in prison, is now a member of the law faculty at Northwestern.  Her faculty bio lists her role as founder of the Children and Family Justice Center and her scholarly interest in “children’s law, juvenile justice, the needs and rights of youths, and international human rights,” but oddly enough makes no mention of her jail time or her bomb making skills.


Perhaps most outrageous is the case of former Weather Underground member Kathy Boudin, who pleaded guilty in 1984 to second-degree murder for her role in the infamous 1981 Brinks armored car robbery in Nyack, New York (in which 3 people were killed, including the first black police officer on the Nyack police force).  Boudin was sentenced to 20 years to life, but was paroled in 2003.  By 2008, she landed a plum professorship at Columbia, where her bio describes her as “an educator and counselor with experience in program development since 1964, working with communities with limited resources to solve social problems.”  Earlier this year, it was announced that Boudin was named the Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Law School, where she will lecture on “the politics of parole and re-entry” (Dohrn is also a former Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence—anyone see a pattern here?).  The coveted appointment has outraged the survivors of Boudin’s victims (9 children grew up fatherless due to the actions of Boudin and her fellow accomplices).  Josephine Paige, widow of slain Brinks guard Peter Paige, said “she doesn’t deserve a job at all.  She doesn’t deserve anything.”


So, if you want to be a professor, forget about hard work and all that “publish or perish” nonsense.  Simply find yourself expelled from public office in disgrace or commit a crime.  Of course, if you’re going to make bombs, rob a bank, or shoot innocent people, make sure to say you’re doing so in the name of a leftist cause, and after being caught, call yourself a “political prisoner” rather than a convicted felon.  When you get out, you’ll be a professor in no time.

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Was That You Lord? Print E-mail
by James Reza    Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 09:29 AM

Matthew: 35-39 — For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

Just recently I read one of the most asinine articles “Pope Francis can show the GOP the way” written by Marc A. Thiessen of the Washington Post. The writer in question chides the Republican Party for not being more sympathetic to the poor and the downtrodden of this country as say the Democrats I assume. In his piece, Mr. Thiessen tells the GOP that they must be more like Pope Francis in coming down to the level of the poor and be more caring for them as he was as a cardinal in Buenos Aires when he would visit the poor in the inner cities and barrios. Mr. Thiessen warns the GOP that unless they embrace the poor they have little to no chance to regain the White House or regain seats in the Congress and Senate.

My friends, I don’t know where Mr. Thiessen has been the last 5 years, but one has to wonder if he’s aware that not since the high unemployment rate of 13% (highest since the Depression) of the Democrat led Carter Administration in the 70s, the unemployment rate of 8+% (highest in over 20 years) for the last 5 years has been under the Obama Administration. And what does high unemployment mean to U.S. workers? It means meager unemployment benefits where families suffer to try to provide for their families and pay their debtors, leaving little for not enjoying the benefit of having a job! Unemployment is so prevalent today under the Obama Administration that this last year 2.5 million more people slipped into poverty making the number of Americans living below the official poverty level to 46.2 million people, the highest number in 52 years. The unemployment rate under this administration is higher, but millions are not counted because they simply have stopped looking for work because there are no jobs to be found. Those who are employed are now paying more in taxes and when the Obamacare Health Program kicks in 2014, their paychecks will shrink further. And to add injury to insult, those workers who don’t purchase the mandated government run insurance program will be fined as will be employers!

As for Pope Francis visiting the poor, he can fly to the U.S. and visit the 10 poorest cities in our country where many folks live below the poverty level: Detroit, MI-32.5%; Buffalo, NY-29.9%; Cincinnati, OH-27.8%; Miami, FL-26.9%; St. Louis, MO-26.8%; El Paso, TX-26.4%; Milwaukee, WI-26.2%; Philadelphia, PA-25.1% and Newark, NJ-24.2%. And what do the top ten cities (over 250,000) with the highest poverty rate all have in common? They all have elected Democrat mayors and most have not elected a Republican mayor in years!

Folks, I’m no saint, but I can’t remember the last time I missed mass on Sunday. And, for as many years, I give as much as I can afford to my parish church, as does my wife. Besides donating to my parish I also donate to worthy causes such as to the retired nuns who taught me in Catholic school and to Pro Life groups. Just recently I sent a hefty check to the IRS so they can give my hard earned tax dollars to help feed the poor and hungry of our country. So, I hope the Lord is pleased that I give to my church and pay taxes to help feed the poor and hungry in my country.

My friends I’ve run into a lot of street people who reek of liquor, and have asked me for a handout and truthfully, they just don’t appear to be dying of hunger. I wonder if the Lord will be disappointed that I don’t give these individuals a handout. As an example, do ya’ll think the Lord would be displeased with me when a man once told me he was hungry and wanted money and I in turn offered to buy him a meal where I played music and he told me he didn’t like that damn Mexican food, and I told him to go to hell! Do ya’ll think the Lord will be displeased with me when a young man asked me for a handout in San Antonio because he couldn’t find a job and I told him there was a kitchen job opening at a nearby pizza place and he told me they didn’t pay enough and laughed when he said he made more money panhandling? Do ya’ll think the Lord will be sadden with me when I was angered by an obese woman who bought chips, donuts, cold drinks, candies, and paid with her WIC card and then bought a 6 pack of beer and a carton of cigarettes costing $54 with her ATM card?

As for clothing the poor, my wife and I for years have taken our kids and our clothes to her poor family in Mexico so they can use them or sell them. We also donate all of our old clothes to outlets that sell used clothes to the poor and needy.

In welcoming a stranger, do ya’ll think the Lord will be angry with me in that I don’t believe in illegal immigration? I don’t mind people from wherever coming to my country by abiding our immigration laws. Just recently they caught a man from Mexico who had raped and battered 3 women in Dallas. Last year, an illegal alien raped and killed a young girl in Denton and then set fire to her car with her inside. He then left for Mexico. I personally witnessed a drunk illegal alien at high speed plow into a car killing two occupants as they left their Sunday church services as he fled from the police. He posted his bail bond and has never paid for his crime. I ask my fellow Americans am I wrong in feeling this way about illegal immigration?

Finally, would God and Pope Francis be pleased if I joined a political party like the Democrats who supposedly(?) help the poor, the unemployed, illegal aliens, take money in the form of taxes from hard working Americans and give to those who don’t work and who support killing the unborn and are for same sex marriage? I await your answers to see if ya’ll feel I am wrong in my religious and political beliefs.


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Protecting the Furry Members of the Family Print E-mail
by John Browning    Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 12:35 PM

          The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that owners of companion animals cannot recover non-economic damages from those who killed their pets.  Whether it’s a motorist who hit your child’s adored puppy, a veterinarian who made a careless error, or an irresponsible neighbor whose pit bulls got loose and savaged your beloved family pet, accountability—in the eyes of the highest court in the state—is limited to whatever the “market value” of the dog or cat happened to be.  For nearly all of us, what we paid to buy or adopt a dog or cat pales by comparison to the emotional value that a companion animal holds for us.  Many of us (including myself) regard our dogs or cats as members of the family, and would like the law to reflect that intrinsic bond.


          In certain limited circumstances, some states already have recognized this bond—at least when it comes to the wrongful actions of law enforcement that result in the death of a family pet.  In Colorado, a bipartisan bill known as the “Don’t Shoot My Dog” law has been unanimously approved by the senate judiciary committee and is being considered by the full Colorado Senate.  The measure will require that sheriff’s departments and police departments develop training programs to prepare law enforcement officers for dealing with dogs.  Among other things, the training would stress recognizing dog behavior and employing non-lethal methods to control dogs, according to the bill’s co-authors, Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) and Sen. David Balmer (R-Centennial).


          The legislation was inspired by a growing number of incidents in Colorado and nationwide in which police officers have shot and killed family pets under highly questionable circumstances.  The Colorado senators heard testimony from people like Brittany Moore of Erie, Colorado, who called police on May 10, 2011 because of threatening phone calls she was receiving.  The police officer who arrived initially went to the wrong house; when he walked toward Moore’s residence, her “friendly” dogs Ava and Ivy approached the officer.  He backed up, drawing his gun.  Ms. Moore called to the dogs, causing them to stop.  As Ava turned to go back to her, a rawhide toy still clenched in her mouth, a shot rang out; the officer shot the dog in the back, severing her spinal cord.  He later reported that he “had to” shoot the dog because it was “threatening” him.  Ms. Moore vehemently contradicts the officer’s account, saying “Ava never posed a threat at any time that night.  The only threat that night was an officer discharging his weapon less than five feet away from me in a neighborhood with kids playing outside.”


          In 2011, a federal jury awarded “$333,000 to a family after Chicago police officers shot and killed their black Labrador during a February 2009 search of their home.  The police had a warrant to search two apartment units as part of a drug investigation, including the apartment where brothers Darren and Thomas Russell lived.  18 year-old Thomas raised his hands in the air as the officers entered, and asked for permission to lock up his 9 year-old black Lab, Lady.  The police refused, and when Lady came around the corner with her tail wagging, the police shot and killed her.  According to Thomas Russell, Lady was his “best friend” who never left his side, only sleeping when he slept.  No drugs were found, and the Russells brought a civil rights lawsuit alleging excessive force and infliction of emotional harm.  The damages verdict included a punitive damages award against the police officer who killed Lady.


          In Maryland in 2012, a jury awarded Roger and Sandi Jenkins $620,000 in damages after sherifff’s deputies shot and killed their chocolate Labrador Brandi.  On January 9, 2010, deputies Timothy Brooks and Nathan Rector arrived at the Jenkins’ home in Taneytown, looking for their son Jerrett, who was wanted on a civil warrant.  Roger Jenkins told deputies they could come in and look for his son after he put his dogs away.  The deputies allegedly ignored this (their defense attorney would later claim that Mr. Jenkins could have done more to secure the dogs), and Deputy Brooks claimed that he made a “split-second decision” to shoot Brandi when she loped toward him.  Dashcam video showed the friendly dog coming out to greet the officers.  The jury found the officers’ actions to be grossly negligent and a violation of Mr. & Mrs. Jenkins’ civil rights.


          The October 2011 shooting of a dog by St. Petersburg, Florida police led to a civil lawsuit as well, but more importantly, has already spurred a change in police policy on dealing with loose dogs.  After police killed his 12 year-old, arthritic golden retriever Boomer after the dog escaped his yard, Florida attorney Roy Glass didn’t want money (the lawsuit proceeds, if any, will go to charity), he wanted to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.  Now, St. Petersburg police are to use non-lethal force, such as the catchpoles used by animal control officers.


          Earlier this year, Des Moines, Washington police paid a $51,000 settlement stemming from the killing of a dog in November 2010.  Rosie, a Newfoundland belonging to Charles and Deirdre Wright, got out of her yard while the Wrights were not home.  A neighbor reported the barking dog to police, who chased Rosie for blocks and even attempted to Taser the dog before shooting her 4 times with a high-powered rifle.  Even more egregious were the officers’ comments about shooting the dog (the microphone recordings were obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request), and the fact that local police initially denied knowing what happened to Rosie—until Mr. Wright confronted them with a Taser dart he found on his front lawn.  According to Adam Karp, the Wrights’ attorney, the settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind in Washington state history.


          I’m not saying that law enforcement officers don’t have the right to protect themselves when a dog constitutes a valid threat—like, for example, a drug dealer or gang member’s trained pit bull.  But I consider my dogs members of my family, and if an officer like Timothy Brooks shot at a four-legged member of my family, the two-legged ones are going to shoot back.

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