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State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 5, 2017

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 08:45

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing a daily collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

Important Harvey Links

If you have been adversely affected or wish to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete the State Bar of Texas’ Hurricane Harvey assistance survey.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give through the Texas Bar Foundation by clicking here.

If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

State Bar Disaster Resources for Attorneys — Information on this page includes recovery plans, court closures, court orders, and other items.

State Bar Disaster Resources the Public — The State Bar of Texas legal hotline — (800) 504-7030 — helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters.

MCLE extension available for Texas lawyers affected by Harvey — State Bar of Texas members affected by Hurricane Harvey may request an extension of time for compliance with MCLE requirements. — Texas Bar Blog

Tips for salvaging water-damaged law office records — As floodwaters recede and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts begin throughout the state, many Texas lawyers will face specific challenges getting their practices back up and running. In some cases, salvaging water-damaged client files and other essential business records will be a key part of that recovery. — Texas Bar Blog

Video: How attorneys can assist those affected by HarveyThe State Bar of Texas has released a video with information on how attorneys can help those adversely affected by Hurricane Harvey. — Texas Bar Blog

Latest Harvey News 

Abbott suggests Harvey recovery could cost $180 billion — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sunday the nearly $8 billion requested by the White House for Hurricane Harvey relief was only a small down payment to fuel recovery efforts. — Politico

As storm’s death toll rises to 60, Hurricane Harvey’s displaced stream home to clean up — More survivors of hurricane-ravaged southeast Texas made their way home Monday, even as the tragedy of the storm kept mounting. — The Dallas Morning News

In search for Harvey’s missing, worry grows as some trails get colder — The last time anyone heard from Jim Simmon, he was standing on Bissonnet Street, 20 miles from the Montrose home he’d walked out of hours earlier. At least, that’s what he told his confused son over the phone. — Houston Chronicle

First Harvey lawsuit filed to beat new Texas law — Late Thursday afternoon, a Dallas law firm filed a lawsuit to circumvent a new law that went into effect on Friday, September 1. — Claims Journal

Some apartment dwellers face post-Harvey eviction — Hundreds of residents have been told they will be evicted from the flooded Marquis Cinco Ranch apartment complex in Katy and on Sunday were given five days to reach the building and retrieve whatever belongings they can. — Houston Chronicle

Displaced by fire, legal aid attorneys shift to Harvey shelters — If you don’t have a home, you can’t get housing assistance. That’s the toughest message Karyna Lopez, a staff attorney for Lone Star Legal Aid, has had to deliver to people who have approached her for help in the days since Tropical Storm Harvey pummeled the Gulf Coast. — Houston Chronicle

Continuing coverage: More firms assist Hurricane Harvey victims & tips on how to help — The efforts remain strong from Texas law firms looking to assist Hurricane Harvey victims. (Subscription required) — The Texas Lawbook

Update on the courthouses affected by Hurricane Harvey — Courthouses in the hardest-hit areas of the Texas Gulf Coast will remain closed indefinitely, but others along Hurricane Harvey’s disastrous path are planning to reopen after Labor Day. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Mayor again urges calm as residents continue to cause gas shortage with panic buying — San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg took to Facebook on Saturday afternoon to urge residents to stop hoarding and panic buying of gasoline. — San Antonio Express-News

Fearing deportation, immigrant flood victims make do on their own — With Hurricane Harvey hurtling into Texas, unease was already spreading among many of the 600,000 immigrants illegally in Houston. Since President Donald Trump took office, federal agents have arrested more than 6,200 here, the most in the country after Dallas and Atlanta, according to federal statistics. In this, one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the United States, who would come to their aid? And if someone did, could they be trusted? — Houston Chronicle

Immigration advocates: If you’re undocumented, you can still get Harvey aid — Immigration attorneys and advocates are concerned that some Houston immigrants won’t seek aid in the aftermath of Harvey. — Houston Public Media

Harvey causes chemical companies to release 1 million pounds of extra air pollutants — Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf Coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck, according to filings. — The Texas Tribune

In Harvey’s wake, a vast ecological and pollution challenge for Texas — The scope of the ecological and pollution challenges wrought by Hurricane Harvey on Texas has begun to emerge, and it is vast. — Austin American-Statesman

Prison units take hit from storm; water, sewer problems reported — Hurricane Harvey dealt a beating to prison and jail facilities in Southeast Texas, triggering evacuations, marooning staff and depriving prisoners of toilets and running water as it cut a bruising path across the state. — Houston Chronicle

Labor shortage could hamper Harvey reconstruction — Rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey will be slowed by not only the scope of the storm’s damage but also an ongoing labor shortage in the construction industry, experts say. — Houston Chronicle

FEMA extends grace period for paying flood insurance premiums — If your flood insurance premium payments were due between July 24 and Sept. 22, and you live in a county that was included in a presidential disaster declaration after Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended a grace period by which you can pay your premium. — Houston Chronicle

Shelters using facial recognition to reunite pets and owners post-Harvey — People who lost their pets during Hurricane Harvey can upload the pet’s picture into an app that will use facial recognition to match the pictures with animals checked into shelters in recent days. — Houston Chronicle

Vetting charities: How to make sure your donations count — Although you may see calls for donations all over social media, it’s best to be proactive and not reactive and vet charities before giving. — KHOU – Houston

Houston Bar expands LegalLine for those impacted by Harvey — The Houston Bar Association has expanded its LegalLine program to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and has a toll-free number for Texas residents outside the Houston area. — Texas Bar Blog

567 million reasons why Houston faces long, tough recovery from Harvey — In September 2008, following the one-two punch of Hurricanes Ike and Dolly, Congress allocated $3.1 billion in disaster recovery funds to assist Texans recover from the storms. Thanks to poor administration and a sluggish bureaucracy, $567 million of the money designated to rebuild from those storms remains to be spent nine years on, according to the Texas General Land Office, the agency administering the money. — Austin American-Statesman

HARVEY: 51 inches: 5 stories of terror, heartbreak and heroism — In the middle of the night on Aug. 13, a mass of swirling air blew off the coast of Africa, more than 5,000 miles from Texas. (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

State Bar of Texas in the News

In Harvey aftermath, lawyers mobilize to help Houston victims — Pro bono attorney Saundra Brown sat at a United Way in Houston for hours on Thursday, fielding questions about insurance claims and disaster-relief scams. She tried keeping her mind off the fact that an explosion caused a fire in her office building, rendering it unusable, and her own home suffered more than 5 feet of flooding. — The Wall Street Journal

As flooded files dry and servers reboot, lawyers share other firms’ space — With her law office flooded by Hurricane Harvey rains, Houston lawyer Karleana Farias asked Facebook friends on Aug. 31 for an office where she could use a fax machine, printer and copier to start the painful ordeal of dealing with insurance companies and FEMA. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Volunteer spirit drives legal community to create #HELP4TX — Just like other emergency responders from Memphis to Mountain City, the Tennessee Supreme Court is announcing a call to action for “emergency legal responders” to lend a hand to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. — The Chattanooga News Chronicle

Out-of-state attorneys welcome to temporarily practice in Texas — Need a lawyer? Many more may be coming to the Lone Star State after Harvey, as local attorneys offer free legal advice to those affected by the storms and flooding. Attorneys who wish to volunteer with disaster relief should fill out a form on the State Bar of Texas website. — Houston Business Journal

How Hurricane Harvey evacuees can get help in Dallas — Call the State Bar of Texas hotline at 1-800-504-7030 to find answers to basic legal questions and locate recovery resources. — The Dallas Morning News

Recovery assistance for Harvey victims — The State Bar of Texas Disaster Hotline: (800) 504-7030. The hotline — answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese — connects low-income people affected by a disaster with legal aid providers in their area. — Beaumont Enterprise

Trial lawyers clash with storm bill supporters over Harvey insurance claims — Not long after Hurricane Harvey crashed upon Texas shores, trial lawyers began publicly urging victims to file insurance claims before Sept. 1 – the date a new law aimed at ending weather-related lawsuit abuse goes into effect. — Southeast Texas Record

Mexican-American Bar Association hosts scholarship luncheon to benefit local law students

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 01:00

(Photo courtesy of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation) From left: Benny Agosto Jr. (founder and president), Lisa Hernandez of KHOU-TV (Outstanding Service in the Media), Judge Esmeralda Peña Garcia (Lifetime Award), former Houston Oiler and entrepreneur Dan Pastorini (keynote speaker), Irma Gonzalez Galvan of Irma’s Downtown (Outstanding Service as an Entrepreneur), and Judge Michael Gomez of the 129th Judicial District Court (Outstanding Service in the Judiciary). Not pictured: Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police Department (Outstanding Service as a Public Servant).

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation held its 12th Annual Scholarship Luncheon on Wednesday, August 24 at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Houston.

At the annual luncheon, funds were raised for scholarships that were awarded to Houston-based law students who demonstrate leadership, commitment, justice, and equality throughout the Hispanic community and beyond.

Benny Agosto Jr., a partner in Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, started the foundation in 2006 to encourage justice and leadership within the Hispanic community. The foundation has raised more than $250,000 over the past 40 years.

“It is important that we encourage a new generation of lawyers to not only be great lawyers but to also give back to the legal community,” Agosto said in a press release about the annual luncheon event.

Dan Pastorini, former Houston Oiler and entrepreneur, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon, where local community leaders were honored for exemplifying the foundation’s ideals. The honorees included Irma Gonzalez Galvan of Irma’s Downtown, Lisa Hernandez of KHOU-TV, Judge Michael Gomez of the 129th Judicial District Court, Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police Department, and Judge Esmeralda Peña Garcia of the Houston Municipal Courts.

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation is a forum and a means for lawyers to promote the social, economic, and educational advancement of the people of Texas.

Video: How attorneys can assist those affected by Harvey

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 09:30

The State Bar of Texas has released a video with information on how attorneys can help those adversely affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The State Bar is helping connect attorney volunteers to disaster-related service opportunities. If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer. As soon as we have information from legal aid and pro bono providers about their volunteer needs, we will follow up with you about volunteer opportunities.

The Texas Bar Foundation is accepting monetary donations for hurricane relief efforts. All the donations collected through this effort will go to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey. To donate, go to texasbar.com/harveyfund.

The State Bar is also connecting Texas lawyers adversely affected by Harvey with other attorneys who can help them with needs such as temporary housing, office space, and clean-up services. For more information about disaster relief resources, and to fill out the Hurricane Harvey attorney assistance survey, go to texasbar.com/attorneyrelief.

Go here to view other short videos related to the State Bar’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, courtesy of TheLaw.TV.

Tips for Salvaging Water-Damaged Law Office Records

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 17:42

As floodwaters recede and Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts begin throughout the state, many Texas lawyers will face specific challenges getting their practices back up and running. In some cases, salvaging water-damaged client files and other essential business records will be a key part of that recovery.

To help attorneys whose law offices have been affected by Harvey, the State Bar’s Archives Department has some tips for salvaging water-damaged law office records.

Please be advised that these recommendations are a brief outline specifically targeted to business records. If you need additional guidance, or have any questions or concerns about recovering electronic media, photographs, books, or framed artworks and certificates, please contact the State Bar’s archivists directly at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1311, or archives@texasbar.com, and we’ll point you toward resources specific to your needs.

1.     Safety first.

·       If sewage or chemicals have contaminated records, call in a disaster recovery professional. Don’t attempt to handle contaminated records on your own.

·       When dealing with mold, wear proper protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and masks.

2.     Pick your battles.

Depending on the extent of damage, you may not be able to salvage all of your hard copy records. Instead of trying to save everything, focus your energy on the following types of records:

1.     Unique records that have no existing, accessible digital copy.

2.     The records that are most vital for getting your practice back in operation, serving your current clients, and fulfilling your obligations to previous clients. Some examples:

• Current client files

• Master copies of client documents, such as:

• Wills

• Agreements

• Settlements

• Corporate documents

• Essential business records, such as:

• Partnership agreements

• Leases

• Major equipment records (e.g. warranties, maintenance agreements)

3.     Air-dry small amounts (100 or fewer folders) of damp or slightly wet records.

•       If possible, dry your records in a climate-controlled indoor location, keeping relative humidity at or below 55 percent.

•       Use fans to keep air circulating throughout the room. (Do not point fans directly at drying records.)

•       Cover tables, dry uncarpeted floors, or other flat surfaces with paper towels or clean, unprinted newsprint and lay records out to dry in a single layer on top of the covered surfaces.

•       If you do not have enough room to lay records out to dry in a single layer, you can lay out records in stacks, inserting a layer of paper towel or clean, unprinted newsprint every 15 to 20 sheets. Replace the wet paper towel or newsprint frequently for faster drying.

•       Records may take several days to fully air-dry.

•      If dried records are in physically poor condition, you may want to consider photocopying or scanning them after they’re dry and discarding the damaged original.

4.     Professionally freeze dry large amounts of wet records.

If left frozen long enough (several weeks to a few months), paper records will eventually dry. Freezing also has the benefit of stopping active mold growth. Many disaster recovery companies offer freezing services, which are ideal if you need to restore a greater volume of records. See the end of this blog post for a list of some vendors that provide document-freezing services in Texas.

To prepare wet records for professional freeze-drying:

•       Leave records in their original folders, if possible.

•       Pack folders into banker’s boxes.

•       Completely fill each box.

•       Insert a sheet of wax paper or freezer paper between every couple folders.

5.     Freeze moldy records to stop mold growth.

If safety concerns keep you away from your office for an extended period of time, there is a good chance wet law office records will have turned moldy by the time you reach them. Freezing is the best way to stop mold growth until you’re able to dry and clean moldy records.

•       Discard and remove from the building all non-essential records that are exhibiting mold growth to prevent mold from spreading unnecessarily to your essential business records and client files.

If you only have a small amount of affected records, you can freeze them yourself:

•       Use a frost-free kitchen freezer or chest freezer that can maintain a temperature at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

•       Remove damaged records from folders.

•       Wrap short (about 1-inch thick) stacks of damaged records in wax paper or freezer paper.

•       Tape shut and label each wax paper wrapper.

•       Stack wrapped records flat in the freezer.

•       Leave records frozen for at least a few weeks. Only remove them from the freezer when you’re ready to air-dry them or have them professionally vacuum freeze-dried.

Air-drying frozen records:

•       Work with one small batch from the freezer at a time, as air-drying takes up quite a bit of space.

•       Dry your records in a climate-controlled indoor location.

•       Keep relative humidity at or below 55 percent.

•       Use fans to keep air circulating throughout the room. (Do not point fans directly at drying records.)

•       Cover tables, uncarpeted floors, or other flat surfaces with paper towels or clean, unprinted newsprint.

•       Remove stacks of records from their wax paper wrapping and lay out on top of the covered surfaces.

•       Carefully separate the frozen records from each other as they thaw. If one piece of paper resists being separated from another, the records are still frozen. Allow them to thaw longer before attempting to separate.

•       Records may take several days to fully air-dry.

•       If dried records are in physically poor condition, you may want to consider photocopying or scanning them after they’re dry and discarding the damaged original.

Many disaster recovery companies offer freezing services, which are ideal if you need to deactivate mold growth in a large volume of records, or if you do not have access to a functioning residential freezer. See the end of this blog post for a list of some vendors that provide document-freezing services in Texas.

6.     Onsite electronic records are not necessarily destroyed.

After flooding, files on computers or external hard drives may be salvageable if the hard drive is intact. Completely dry the hardware and take it to a computer professional to see if information can be retrieved.

7.     Don’t overlook dry records.

Do not overlook dry records that have survived in a flooded room or building. Dry records will be susceptible to mold growth if not removed to a dry location.

 

DOCUMENT RECOVERY VENDORS

The following vendors are recommended by the Northeast Document Conservation Center and listed for convenience. This should not be considered an endorsement from the State Bar of Texas.

 

Belfor — https://www.belfor.com/en/us/recovery-services/document-restoration

Locations in Houston, Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, Belton, Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth

BMS Cat — https://www.blackmonmooring.com/disaster-recovery/document-media-recovery/

Locations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas

Polygon — http://www.polygongroup.com/en-US/services/document-recovery-solutions/

Locations in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas

 

OTHER TEXAS DOCUMENT RECOVERY VENDORS

The following vendors are listed for convenience. This should not be considered an endorsement from the State Bar of Texas.

 

Electronic Restoration Services — http://houston.ers-us.com/

Locations in Houston, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth

Knight Restoration Services — http://www.knightrestoration.com/document-recovery.html

Locations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler, Longview, Dallas, and Fort Worth

Paul Davis Restoration of North Houston, TX — https://north-houston.pauldavis.com/documents-photos/

Roadrunner Restoration — https://roadrunnerrestoration.com/services/restoration/

Houston

Specialty Restoration of Texas —

http://www.specialtyrestorationoftexas.com/document-media-recovery.htm

Locations in Austin, Killeen/Temple, Waco, Tyler, and Dallas/Fort Worth

Houston Bar expands LegalLine for those impacted by Harvey

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 15:44

Editor’s note: The Houston Bar Association issued the following news release Friday. 

The Houston Bar Association has expanded its LegalLine program to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and has a toll-free number for Texas residents outside the Houston area.

Beginning Tuesday, September 5 through Friday, September 29, volunteer attorneys will answer calls from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended LegalLine hours will be available on Wednesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 20 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

The public can call 713-759-1133 or the toll-free number provided by the State Bar of Texas at 1-866-959-1133. Callers will be able to  speak to volunteer attorneys who will answer their legal questions, provide brief legal advice, and refer them to appropriate resources for help.

The attorneys will be able to answer questions on insurance, landlord/tenant issues, contracts, lost documents, FEMA matters, and other disaster-related topics.

For updated information on disaster relief services, visit www.makejusticehappen.org/Harvey.

MCLE extension available for Texas lawyers affected by Harvey

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:46

State Bar of Texas members affected by Hurricane Harvey may request an extension of time for compliance with MCLE requirements.

MCLE Rules and Regulations allow extensions of up to 90 days in cases of “good cause,” such as extraordinary hardship or extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the member. If you need an extension, you can either:

  • email your request to mcle@texasbar.com;
  • fax it to (512) 427-4423; or
  • mail it to MCLE Dept. P.O. Box 13007, Austin, Texas, 78711-3007.

Your request should include your name and bar number and should briefly outline the extent of your hardship or extenuating circumstances.

To view your current MCLE status online, log in to your My Bar Page and then click on the link to “View/Report MCLE Hours.”

Please contact the State Bar MCLE Department at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1806 if you have questions about extension requests or MCLE compliance requirements.

For information on disaster relief resources available to the public and Texas attorneys, please visit texasbar.com/disasters and texasbar.com/attorneyresources.

Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for September

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 09:30

Looking for a head start on September’s issue of the Texas Bar Journal? Check out our editorial staff’s must-reads for stories about the 85th Legislature, concealed carry on campus, civil rights attorney L. Clifford Davis, and the legacy of In re Lee. Don’t forget to read Movers and Shakers, Disciplinary Actions, and Memorials.

The 85th Session
A recap of the regular session—and the important changes in the law you need to know.

Protecting Our Children
The legacy of In re Lee.
By Justice Debra H. Lehrmann

Guns on Campus
A look at the first year of concealed carry at Texas universities.
By Aric Short

A Lasting Legacy
Civil rights attorney L. Clifford Davis is leaving an impact on the law and community.
By Bobbie Edmonds

Free legal advice clinics for Harvey evacuees 9/1 in San Antonio

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 09:15

Editor’s note: The San Antonio Bar Association issued the following news release Thursday.

SAN ANTONIO, TX — The Community Justice Program and the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association are offering pro bono legal advice clinics for evacuees and those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. There is no RSVP or pre-registration required, and walk-ins are welcome.
AREAS OF ASSISTANCE INCLUDE:

  • FEMA Assistance
  • Property Damage
  • Landlord/Tenant Issues
  • Employment Issues
  • Government Benefits/Social Security
  • Consumer Rights, Fraud and Credit Reporting
  • Flood and Wind Insurance
  • Health Care Issues
  • Personal Bankruptcy
  • Lost Documents
  • Family Law and Child Custody
  • and more…

WHEN & WHERE

  • Friday, September 1: San Antonio, TX, 4 PM to 8 PM at the Neighborhood Place (3014 Rivas St.)
  • Thursday, September 7: Victoria, TX, Time & Location TBA – Please check CJP Facebook
  • Monday, September 11: Portland, TX, Time & Location TBA – Please check CJP Facebook

Many legal issues arise quickly after natural disasters, and for those who cannot hire an attorney, the law can be confusing. The CJP and SAYLA are offering emergency legal advice for evacuees and displaced persons at no cost to alleviate the pressure felt by those who have already lost too much.

Find more disaster relief resources at:
https://www.sanantoniobar.org/disaster-relief-resources-public/

For attorneys in need of assistance or those able to give assistance, there are more resources for attorney disaster relief services and volunteer/donation information at:
https://www.sanantoniobar.org/disaster-relief-resources-attorneys/

The Community Justice Program (CJP), the pro bono project of the San Antonio Bar Association, was established in 2001 to bring legal professionals together to serve the indigent, vulnerable and at-risk by enhancing access to justice and bringing the courthouse to the community. Through community clinics – primarily focused on veterans’ legal issues, family law and wills – the CJP provides meaningful access to legal advice, assistance and education. To date, the CJP has matched nearly 10,000 pro bono cases to volunteer attorneys. The CJP is financially supported by grant funding and donations. To donate or find more information, visit www.sabar.org.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 1, 2017

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 08:59

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing a daily collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

If you have been adversely affected or wish to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete the State Bar of Texas’ Hurricane Harvey assistance survey.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give through the Texas Bar Foundation by clicking here.

If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

State Bar Disaster Resources for Attorneys — Information on this page includes recovery plans, court closures, court orders, and other items.

State Bar Disaster Resources the Public — The State Bar of Texas legal hotline — (800) 504-7030 — helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters.

Latest Harvey News

Lawyers set up cots, pick up trash at Harvey shelters — With the sun shining and Hurricane Harvey moved out of Houston, some firms have reopened Houston offices for lawyers and staff who can drive there safely. But with flooded-out Texans continuing to pour into shelters, some Houston lawyers are fitting their legal work into days filled with volunteer tasks such as setting up cots at large shelters in Houston or helping neighbors salvage belongings from flooded houses. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Plant explosions, spills test industry’s response to Harvey — Explosions that rocked a Texas chemical plant after it was inundated by Harvey’s floodwaters are raising questions about the adequacy of industry preparations for the monster storm and stoking fears of more accidents in the days ahead. — Houston Chronicle

Austin, other Texas areas see some Harvey-related gas shortages — Motorists in Austin and statewide have been encountering increasing numbers of “No Gas” signs when they try to fill up, evidence of the battering Hurricane Harvey delivered to the Gulf Coast’s huge energy complex. — Austin American-Statesman

How panicked drivers are making North Texas gas shortages worse — In the short-term, gas shortages are often created by the panic of people keeping their tanks topped off. This sudden demand throws off the supply. — The Dallas Morning News

More than 500 complaints filed with Texas A.G. over Dallas gas prices — Attorney General Ken Paxton warned gas stations against overcharging customers in the wake of Harvey. Some gas stations in Dallas have posted gas prices between $6 to $8 a gallon, according to complaints made to the attorney general’s consumer protection division. — San Antonio Express-News

For low-income Texans, a tougher road to recovery after Hurricane Harvey — There’s no doubt the lives of tens of thousands of Texans have been upended by Hurricane Harvey, but it’s low-income Texans who will face a tougher road to recovery. — The Texas Tribune

Harvey’s destruction will test employers’ pay, leave policies — The destruction wreaked by Hurricane Harvey on Houston and greater southeast Texas will close businesses for an undetermined amount of time and potentially leave out of work tens of thousands of people stuck in shelters or grappling with flooded homes. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Authorities brace for wave of hurricane-related fraud — As high water spreads from Houston through Texas and Louisiana, authorities are bracing for an inevitable wave of fraud and other criminal activity set into motion by Harvey’s punishing rains. — The Washington Post

Business beware: Harvey cyber scams targeting the generosity of employees — Unfortunately, even as the disaster brings out the best in so many, it brings out the worst in others. In this case in particular, it’s cyber thieves: online attackers and cyber scammers who are using email and social media to try and capitalize on and profit from the generosity of would-be charitable donors. (Subscription required) — The Texas Lawbook

Harvey flood victims face uphill battle suing governments — A 2016 Texas Supreme Court ruling and lessons from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina point to a difficult road ahead for Houston-area residents seeking to hold county and other governmental bodies liable for flood damage from Hurricane Harvey. — Bloomberg Law

Harvey victims and lawyers take note: 5 years after Hurricane Sandy, lawyers still working cases — As legal aid and volunteer lawyers in Texas begin providing legal advice to thousands of Texans with Hurricane Harvey property damage, similar work continues in New York—nearly five years after Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

First curfew arrests made, plus 41 arrests for lootings — The Harris County Precinct 6 Constable’s Office has made the first arrests for curfew violations — with two of the men caught violating curfew outside their own home, the most recent court filings show. — Houston Press

Animals affected by Harvey get much needed help from around the country — Cities from around the country have pitched in to help our four legged friends in Texas. — Sinclair Broadcast news wire

Corporate lawyers: TX AG Paxton’s defense of pro-insurance industry law is misleading, wrong — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and lawyers representing large and midsized businesses in the state are providing contradictory information about a new law governing people’s rights to legally challenge insurance companies decision in paying property owners in storm-related losses. (Subscription required) — The Texas Lawbook

Houston’s legal community offers free services to Harvey victims — The Houston Bar Association has expanded its LegalLine to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and has set up a toll free number for Texas residents outside the Houston area. — Houston Public Media

Houston Bar to offer legal assistance to those impacted by Harvey — The Houston Bar Association (HBA) is responding to the questions and legal needs of those affected by Hurricane Harvey in a number of ways. For updated information on legal aid and other services, visit www.makejusticehappen.org/Harvey, or call 713-228-0732 or 713-759-1133. — Texas Bar Blog

State Bar of Texas in the News

Hundreds of lawyers, law students, and paralegals step up to help Harvey survivors — As of Thursday morning a total of 1,150 individuals had filled out the State Bar of Texas volunteer form to offer a variety of assistance to Harvey survivors. Of those, 556 are licensed Texas attorneys, 469 are lawyers licensed in other states, 78 are law students, and 47 are paralegals. — Texas Bar Blog

State Bar of Texas joins with ABA, FEMA to assist Harvey survivors — The State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association (ABA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other organizations have partnered to help provide legal and recovery assistance to people affected by Hurricane Harvey. — Texas Bar Blog

Bachelorette promotes State Bar of Texas hotline — This may be the State Bar’s first People magazine mention: “Fellow State of TX bar members, let’s help some folks out who really need it,” Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay wrote, providing fans with the State Bar of Texas Disaster Legal Hotline and a website with more information.
— People.com

Hurricane Harvey: Court order allows Wisconsin lawyers to help in Texas — The State Bar of Texas is connecting volunteers with disaster-related service opportunities. State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent a message to members calling on them to assist their colleagues and to volunteer to assist members of the public as they begin to put their lives back together. — Wisconsin Bar blog

Savings for the fall season

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 08:00

Fall into great savings with your Beneplace discount program! Whether you’re enjoying the great outdoors or hitting the gym, save on products and services to help you get moving and get in shape. You’ll find great deals on bikes, golf and fitness equipment, yoga studio memberships and more.

  • Diamondback – Cycling is a great way to get some fresh air and get in shape. Diamondback designs and builds performance bicycles—save 40% on yours.
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  • Striiv – Enjoy exclusive discounts of 15% or more on Striiv Fitness Trackers, including the Fusion Lite, the Fusion, and the Fusion Bio.
  • 24 Hour Fitness – Join 24 Hour Fitness for $0 down and enjoy discounted monthly dues. With these savings, you’re out of excuses—it’s time to get moving.
  • Body & Brain Yoga – Are you ready to feel rejuvenated, balanced and energized? Check out an intro session at Body & Brain Yoga to find out how. Save 25%.
  • GolfEtail.com – Save $10 on orders over $100 at GolfEtail.com. You’ll find outstanding pricing on high quality golf apparel, equipment and more.
  • Weight Watchers – Get started on your weight loss journey today. Enjoy 45% savings on unlimited meetings plus enjoy free online tools.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

Hundreds of lawyers, law students, and paralegals step up to help Harvey survivors

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 15:53

Hundreds of lawyers, law students, and paralegals have volunteered to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

As of Thursday morning a total of 1,150 individuals had filled out the State Bar of Texas volunteer form to offer a variety of assistance to Harvey survivors. Of those, 556 are licensed Texas attorneys, 469 are lawyers licensed in other states, 78 are law students, and 47 are paralegals.

The State Bar’s Legal Access Division is working with legal aid and pro bono programs around the state to determine how best to match volunteers with emerging needs in various communities. To volunteer, sign up at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

At the same time, 141 Texas lawyers or law firms have stepped forward to offer everything from office space to temporary housing for attorneys who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey. So far more than two dozen attorneys have reached out to the State Bar for assistance. State Bar staff is assessing the various needs and working hard to pair them with those who have generously volunteered assistance.

State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick said the response from lawyers willing to help their colleagues and the public was “not surprising, but nonetheless impressive.”

He also noted that the bonds between colleagues are so strong that the State Bar may not know about many of the lawyers seeking or receiving assistance from their peers. “Our effort has been to seek help for those who don’t know anyone” who can assist, Vick said.

If you are an attorney who has been adversely affected or who wishes to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete our Hurricane Harvey assistance survey.

State Bar of Texas joins with ABA, FEMA to assist Harvey survivors

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 14:29

The State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association (ABA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other organizations have partnered to help provide legal and recovery assistance to people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

A toll-free legal hotline (800-504-7030) is available to connect low-income individuals affected by the disaster with local legal aid providers who can help with:

  • Assistance securing government benefits as they are made available to disaster victims;
  • Assistance with life, medical, and property insurance claims;
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents lost or destroyed in the disaster;
  • Consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process;
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
  • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems

You can read the full press release here.

More information can be found at texasbar.com/disasters.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Aug. 31, 2017

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 09:07

Editor’s Note: The State Bar of Texas is providing a daily collection of important links, blog posts, and media stories to keep its members and the public informed of the latest news and resources related to Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

If you have been adversely affected or wish to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete the State Bar of Texas’ Hurricane Harvey assistance survey.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give through the Texas Bar Foundation by clicking here.

If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

State Bar Disaster Resources the Public — The State Bar of Texas legal hotline — (800) 504-7030 — helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters.

State Bar Disaster Resources for Attorneys — Information on this page includes recovery plans, court closures, court orders, and other items.

Harvey Legal Response

Texas Supreme Court adds, amends Harvey-related orders — The Texas Supreme Court has amended orders relating to problems created by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, amending one to allow out-of-state lawyers to practice temporarily in Texas and adding others (1) to permit the Aransas County court at law to sit in San Patricio County and (2) extending the August 31 deadline to pay State Bar membership fees for attorneys whose principal offices are in areas subject to disaster declarations. — Texas Bar Blog

Lawyers licensed outside Texas can provide help to Harvey victims, Texas high court order says — The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an emergency order allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in the state temporarily to provide pro bono assistance to Hurricane Harvey victims. — ABA Journal

The legal crises to follow in Hurricane Harvey’s wake — With much of the Houston area still underwater, levees in surrounding counties breached, and stormwater reservoirs overflowing, it might seem an odd time for victims of Hurricane Harvey to think about legal services. But as first responders try to save lives in the middle of an increasingly deadly storm, legal-aid organizations along the Gulf Coast of Texas are already working to assist victims with a process that can be almost as stressful as a natural disaster itself: rebuilding. — The Atlantic

Legal aid begins offering legal advice to Harvey Victims at Houston shelters — Legal aid staffers and volunteer lawyers from some large firms in Texas were at booths handing out legal aid brochures on Wednesday to Hurricane Harvey victims staying at a shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston and at other large American Red Cross shelters. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Lawyers, others commandeer boats to help Houston residents amid Harvey devastation (audio) — Lawyer Robert Fickman talks about his and others’ volunteer efforts. — BBC

State Bar compiling Harvey-related free legal clinics — The State Bar of Texas is compiling a list of free legal clinics for the public in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The clinic list is updated regularly on the Bar’s Disaster Relief Resources web page texasbar.com/disasters. — Texas Bar Blog

Houston Bar to offer legal assistance to those impacted by Harvey — The Houston Bar Association (HBA) is responding to the questions and legal needs of those affected by Hurricane Harvey in a number of ways. — Texas Bar Blog

Two Houston firms to reopen Thursday; SMU Dedman gets involved — Officials at Andrews Kurth Kenyon and Baker Botts announced Wednesday that they will re-open their Houston offices Thursday in light of Hurricane Harvey. Both firms are headquartered in Houston. (Subscription required) — The Texas Lawbook

How Houston’s GCs are coping with record rain and floods — As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continued causing record rains and unprecedented flooding in Houston Monday, many general counsel based in the city were working from home or elsewhere to make sure their employees were safe and their businesses were moving forward. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

How to get (and offer) help after Hurricane Harvey — Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas Coast, and has left Houston — the nation’s fourth-largest city — grappling with unprecedented flooding. Do you need help? Or do you want to help those in need? Check out these resources. — The Texas Tribune

How to get help during Harvey — Below is a list of services available if you or someone you know is in need of shelter or other assistance during what FEMA has called a “landmark event.” — KUT – Austin

The Latest Harvey News 

Explosions reported at flooded Crosby chemical plant — The Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby early Thursday, the company said in a statement. — Houston Chronicle

More than 30 people reported dead from Harvey, and officials expect toll to rise — Mona Saldivar watched from Green River Drive on a muggy Wednesday morning as authorities tugged a white work van from the murky Greens Bayou. She’d held out hope that perhaps the van didn’t contain the bodies of her loved ones, that maybe they were safe somewhere. — Houston Chronicle

Public health threat from Hurricane Harvey just beginning — More than 30 people are dead in the wake of Harvey, but the longest lasting impact of the hurricane turned tropical storm is just beginning: the public health threat. — Houston Chronicle

Hurricane Harvey damage costs could reach $75 billion, research firm says — Hurricane Harvey is “almost certain” to be at least the third worst storm in U.S. history when it comes to damage costs, according to Enki Research. — CNBC

Bexar County delays execution because of Hurricane Harvey — Hurricane Harvey has delayed the execution of a San Antonio man. Bexar County officials withdrew the execution date because part of the man’s defense team works in the Houston area. — The Texas Tribune

Harvey’s winds and rain disrupt Texas agriculture — Hurricane Harvey did more than transform cityscape by turning highways into rivers; it also upended life for farmers and ranchers across dozens of counties that Gov. Greg Abbott declared disaster zones. — The Texas Tribune

Here’s how translators are helping Harvey evacuees (audio) — Translators are in high demand at Austin’s Delco Center shelter because almost half of all Houstonians speak a language other than English. — Texas Standard

40 arrested in Harris County for looting — Burglars armed with a brick broke into a Walgreens near Brays Bayou, joining dozens of looters, thieves and scammers working across the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. — Houston Chronicle

Problem Rising: 684 complaints for price gounging after Harvey — Hundreds of gas station owners, retailers, and hotel managers are under investigation. — KVUE – Austin

Houston Bar to offer legal assistance to those impacted by Harvey

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 19:07

Editor’s note: The Houston Bar Association issued the following news release on Wednesday. 

The Houston Bar Association (HBA) is responding to the questions and legal needs of those affected by Hurricane Harvey in a number of ways. For updated information on legal aid and other services, visit www.makejusticehappen.org/Harvey, or call 713-228-0732 or 713-759-1133.

“It is imperative that we join together to help those in need in our community,” said Alistair B. Dawson, president of the Houston Bar Association. “The HBA and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers will join the legal community in assisting with disaster relief efforts for the public, as well as our members. Houstonians displaced by this horrific storm need our help and they need it now. We need volunteers to step up and help those in need.”

Starting on Friday, September 1, the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers (HVL) will work with Lone Star Legal Aid to staff booths at some of the shelters housing those who have been displaced as a result of the storm. There will be booths at the George R. Brown Convention Center initially, and then at the Toyota Center and NRG Stadium. Booths will be expanded to additional shelters next week. Lawyers at these locations will address legal questions for those who are housed at the shelter temporarily.

From Tuesday, September 5 to Friday, September 29, the HBA’s LegalLine will have volunteer attorneys answering calls from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extended LegalLine hours will be available from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 20. The public can call 713-759-1133 and speak to volunteer attorneys who will answer their questions, provide brief legal advice, and refer them to appropriate resources for help. The attorneys will be able to answer questions on insurance, landlord/issues, contracts, lost documents, FEMA matters, and other disaster-related topics.

​HVL is working with other local and state legal services providers to coordinate legal aid for low-income individuals affected by the storm. HVL will set up legal advice clinics to meet the needs of the community in various locations across the city and also will visit area shelters to provide information about how to access legal services and to answer questions.

For more information on resources for people affected by this storm, contact the Houston Bar Association office at 713-759-1133 or visit www.hba.org.

Texas Supreme Court adds, amends Harvey-related orders

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 18:30

Editor’s Note: The Texas Supreme Court issued the following advisory Wednesday regarding its emergency orders related to Hurricane Harvey.

The Texas Supreme Court has amended orders relating to problems created by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, amending one to allow out-of-state lawyers to practice temporarily in Texas and adding others (1) to permit the Aransas County court at law to sit in San Patricio County and (2) extending the August 31 deadline to pay State Bar membership fees for attorneys whose principal offices are in areas subject to disaster declarations.

The following orders have been issued and posted to the Court’s webpage:

Joint Order with Court of Criminal Appeals to Modify and Suspend Court Proceedings

  • All courts in Texas should consider disaster-caused delays as good cause for modifying or suspending all deadlines and procedures—whether prescribed by statute, rule, or order—in any case, civil or criminal.

Emergency Order Resetting Limitations in Civil Cases

  • Because statutes of limitations are not subject to a good-cause exception, the Supreme Court orders, pursuant to Government Code Section 22.0035(b), that any applicable limitations statute is suspended for any civil claim if the claimant shows that the disastrous conditions resulting from Hurricane Harvey prevented the timely filing of the claim despite the party’s and counsel’s diligent efforts. Any such suspension extends only to the date on which it becomes reasonably possible to file the claim despite the disastrous conditions, taking into account the circumstances.
  • Expires September 28, 2017, unless the Court extends it.

Order Permitting Out-of-State Lawyers to Practice Temporarily in Texas

  • Affects attorneys in good standing where they are licensed to practice law outside Texas and either (1) are displaced because of Hurricane Harvey and are practicing in Texas remotely as if the practicing in their home jurisdictions or (2) are retained by a legal-aid or pro bono program or a bar association providing services to Hurricane Harvey victims. Attorneys must register for temporary practice (form attached to order) with the State Bar of Texas and agree to abide by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and to submit to Texas disciplinary jurisdiction.

Amended Order Permitting Out-of-State Lawyers to Practice Temporarily in Texas

  • References to practicing law in Texas have been changed to practicing Texas law and language requiring an attorney to register with the State Bar of Texas changed to as soon as possible after beginning to provide services under this order.
  • Language referring to an attorney retained by a legal-aid or similar organization has been changed to providing services under this order to assure the order applies to attorneys who provide pro bono services for no compensation.

Joint Order with Court of Criminal Appeals Authorizing the Aransas County County Court at Law to Conduct Proceedings Temporarily in San Patricio County

Order Extending Deadline for Payment of State Bar Membership Fees by Certain Attorneys Affected by Hurricane Harvey

  • For Texas attorneys whose principal offices are counties declared disaster areas, the deadline for paying State Bar membership fees is extended to October 31, 2017. Failure to meet that deadline will result in automatic suspension November 1, 2017.

State Bar compiling Harvey-related free legal clinics

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 09:14

The State Bar of Texas is compiling a list of free legal clinics for the public in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The clinic list is updated regularly on the Bar’s Disaster Relief Resources web page texasbar.com/disasters.

The clinics can help with insurance questions, landlord tenant matters, consumer and real estate problems, and offer guidance on replacing lost documents, among other issues.

If you are a legal aid provider or local bar and have Harvey-related clinics to report, please email the details to Amy Starnes at astarnes@texasbar.com.

Disaster Hotline

The State Bar of Texas legal hotline — (800) 504-7030 — is always available to help people find answers to basic legal questions and connect them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters.

Upcoming Clinics

Sept. 1
Houston — The Houston Veteran’s Legal Advice Clinic will take anyone seeking help with legal matters as a result of Hurricane Harvey at 1 p.m., Sept. 1, at the Debakey VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Blvd, Houston. 

Sept. 5
Call-in Hotline — The Lawyer Referral of Central Texas will host a call-in legal hotline from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 5 for disaster-related legal Issues, including insurance questions, landlord tenant matters, consumer and real estate problems. Call 512-472-8303. 

Bastrop — Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid will host a legal clinic at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 5 at the Bastrop Public Library, 1100 Church Street, Bastrop. 

Sept. 12
San Marcos — Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid will host a legal clinic at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at Centro Cultural Hispano, 211 Lee Street, San Marcos.

Court order lets out-of-state lawyers serve Harvey victims

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 19:08

The Texas Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday allowing out-of-state lawyers to practice in Texas temporarily if they are displaced by Hurricane Harvey or volunteering to serve hurricane victims.

The order allows an attorney licensed and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction to practice in Texas for six months from the date of the order if:

(a) the attorney is displaced from his or her home jurisdiction as a result of Hurricane Harvey and practices in Texas remotely as if located in his or her home jurisdiction, or (b) the attorney provides services to victims of Hurricane Harvey through a legal aid program, pro bono program, or bar association.

Under the order, the attorney must register for temporary practice in Texas as soon as possible after arriving and agree to abide by Texas disciplinary rules. Read the full order here.

Lawyers wishing to volunteer to serve Hurricane Harvey victims can do so by filling out the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

The Supreme Court issued another order Tuesday regarding the statutes of limitations in civil cases related to delays caused by Hurricane Harvey. The order expires September 28 unless extended by the court. Read it here.

The court previously issued an emergency order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in proceedings affected by the hurricane.

Vick calls Texas lawyers to action in wake of Harvey

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 16:36

Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent the following message to members today. 

As I write these words, many Texans are suffering the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and many are still in harm’s way. This is a trying time for our state and our country. This is a time when mere words fail and action is demanded. So this is a call to action.

First, the State Bar is connecting Texas lawyers who have been adversely affected by the storm with other lawyers who are able to assist them with needs including temporary housing, office space, and cleanup services. If you have been adversely affected or wish to assist a colleague, please take a moment to complete our Hurricane Harvey assistance survey. 

Second, if you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give through the Texas Bar Foundation by clicking here. All donations collected through this effort will go to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Third, we are matching attorney volunteers to disaster-related service opportunities. If you are an attorney who wants to help by giving brief advice, limited-scope service, or full representation to Harvey survivors, please complete the form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer. Texas law students and paralegals are also encouraged to volunteer.

Other items of interest:

Disaster relief resources
When disasters strike Texas, the State Bar serves as a clearinghouse for disaster response resources for the public and attorneys. The State Bar of Texas legal hotline—(800) 504-7030—helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters. Please help us by sharing the hotline number and the public resources available at texasbar.com/disasters. Disaster resources designed specifically for attorneys can be found here.

HB 1774 regarding insurance claims
We have received questions about a bill passed during the latest Texas legislative session that changes the law as it applies to lawsuits relating to certain property insurance claims, including property damage and loss caused by natural disasters. The new law, House Bill 1774, applies to insurance claims and lawsuits filed on or after September 1, 2017. It requires certain pre-lawsuit notices by property owners, changes the amount of interest payable on claims that are determined to be underpaid or paid late, and may affect the amount of attorneys’ fees recoverable in a lawsuit. This change was covered in the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.

Emergency suspension of court proceedings
In case you missed the email the State Bar sent yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals have issued an emergency order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in proceedings affected by Hurricane Harvey. The order, which is effective through September 27 unless the courts extend it, is available here.

Court closures
Multiple Texas courts and clerks’ offices are closed due to Hurricane Harvey. Visit the Court Closures & Delays page on the Office of Court Administration website for details.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. We are here to serve you in any way possible.

 

Sincerely,

Tom Vick 
President, State Bar of Texas

Jury duty scams targeting Travis County

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 09:30

Jury duty scams are again hitting Texas. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office has received reports of calls to residents in which scammers are aggressively accusing them of failing to show up for jury duty and claiming that a fine must be paid to avoid arrest.

The scammers claim to be a sergeant or a lieutenant—using real names and ranks of TCSO officers—and demand payment through a wire transfer or gift cards. In some instances, scammers will give an address for the county’s tax office to arrange a payment drop off.

The scammers are not affiliated with a court or law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office says it does not make phone calls to residents regarding jury duty and never asks for payment via wire transfer of gift cards. All communication regarding jury duty will come directly from the Travis County District Clerk’s Office and will be sent in writing by mail.

In September, a rash of calls spread across the state. In one instance, a Houston attorney sent $1,000 to scammers after they claimed there was a warrant out for his arrest for missing jury duty. This month, calls are targeting the West Lake Hills area from scammers originating out of state and even out of country. National law enforcement agencies are pursuing leads.

If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone demanding payment, contact the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 854-9770.

Order allows modification, suspension of court procedures in Harvey-affected proceedings

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 12:08

The Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals issued an emergency order Monday authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in proceedings affected by Hurricane Harvey. The order expires September 27 unless the courts extend it.

“Court proceedings … throughout Texas may be affected by the disaster because of closures of courts and clerks’ offices and difficulties with access, travel, and communication by lawyers, parties, and others,” the order states. “Pursuant to Section 22.0035(b) of the Texas Government Code, all courts in Texas should consider disaster-caused delays as good cause for modifying or suspending all deadlines and procedures—whether prescribed by statute, rule, or order—in any case, civil or criminal.”

Read the full order here.

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