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Updated: 1 hour 56 min ago

Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program provides free legal clinics for area residents

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 05:00

The Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas will hosts 11 free legal clinics in October for eligible Dallas County residents.

The clinics offer free legal advice and consultation in civil matters for those residents who meet certain income requirements under Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas guidelines. Applicants are asked to bring proof of income, identification, and legal papers with them to the clinic.

Schedules and locations are as follows:

South Dallas— Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, 2922 MLK Blvd.

  • 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 3, 10, and 24

East Dallas—Grace United Methodist Church, 4105 Junius St. at Haskell

  • 5 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 5 and 19

Veterans Resource Center (for veterans and their families only), 4900 S. Lancaster Road, Dallas

  • 1:30 p.m. Friday, October 6

West Dallas—2828 Fish Trap Road Dallas, Texas 75212

  • 5 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 12 and 26

St. Phillip’s Community Center—1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Dallas, Texas 75215

  • 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17

Friendship West Baptist Church—2020 W. Wheatland Road, Dallas, Texas 75232

  • 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18

Garland—Salvation Army, 451 W. Avenue D, Garland, Texas 75040

  • 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) is a joint initiative of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. For more information on DVAP, please visit here.

The Dallas Bar Association is a professional organization of more than 11,000 Dallas-area attorneys. For more information, click here.

Hays County Bar Association hosts conference

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 15:00

Registration is open for the seventh annual Hays County Bench Bar Conference on October 13 at Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs.

The Hays County Bar Association hosts the conference in partnership with the Caldwell County and Comal County bar associations. The event will feature county court judges, state appellate judges, and other speakers and will include networking opportunities. Conference attendees will receive 5.4 CLE hours, including one ethics credit.

A silent auction at the conference will benefit the Central Texas Dispute Resolution Center. Attendees may also support the sheriff office’s Brown Santa program or donate to the Greater San Marcos Area Youth Council.

For more information, to register, or sign up for a sponsorship, go to haysbar.com/Bench-Bar.html or contact Jennifer Caldwell at (512) 477-4704 or Jennifer@sarahbrandon.com.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 27, 2017

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:40

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

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.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give 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.

Latest Harvey News

Abbott: Houston has enough funding for Harvey recovery — The governor said if the state needs to tap the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery, it won’t be until the next legislative session in 2019. — The Texas Tribune

Harris County will not rebuild jury building underground — Harris County is unlikely to repair Hurricane Harvey flood damage to the six-year-old, $13 million jury Assembly Building that sits beneath a park in downtown Houston’s courthouse square near Buffalo Bayou, County Judge Ed Emmett said Tuesday. — Houston Chronicle

County approves $20 million home buyout program — Harris County Commissioners approved a $20 million plan for the county engineer to buy out homes affected by Hurricane Harvey. — KHOU – Houston

Many homeowners unaware they lived in reservoir ‘flood pools’ — Hong Soule was among 31,000 property owners in Harris and Fort Bend counties who learned during Harvey’s mass evacuations that their homes lie in what the federal government considers emergency lake beds behind the Barker and Addicks dams. Engineers call them “flood pools.” (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Analysis: Funding your post-Harvey rebuild — With Hurricane Harvey finally gone and the floodwaters slowly beginning to recede, the magnitude of damage left behind becomes more apparent every day. Fortunately, Houston is one of the most resilient cities in the United States, and optimism can be found on every corner. — Texas Bar Blog

Can a web tool help coastal Texans assess their flood risk? A professor thinks so. — A university professor who studies natural hazards launched a flooding risk assessment tool for homes in Harris and Galveston counties. But after Hurricane Harvey, flooding risks are even harder to determine. — The Texas Tribune

SBOT, ABA presidents visit Houston to promote free legal services offered in Harvey recovery

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 10:51

Front: Laura Alter, Jewish Family Service employment services manager; ABA President Hilarie Bass; Alissa Gomez, Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program executive director; and Ray Panneton, ABA YLD representative. Back: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick; Houston Bar Association President Alistair Dawson; and Michael Hofrichter, director of operations for the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program.

 

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass met with State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick and Houston Bar Association President Alistair Dawson, among other local leaders, as they visited a volunteer-run legal clinic and disaster relief training seminar on Monday.

Bass’ trip to Houston promoted free services offered by legal aid agencies, local bars and volunteer lawyer organizations around the state.

The group, which included ABA Young Lawyers Division member Ray Panneton and Michael Hofrichter, director of operations for the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, attended a Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ Clinic at Temple Sinai and a disaster relief training seminar for law students hosted by Lone Star Legal Aid at the University of Houston Law Center.

People affected by Hurricane Harvey can access free legal services by calling the State Bar of Texas legal hotline at (800) 504-7030. The toll-free hotline — answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese — connects callers with local legal aid providers who can help them with federal disaster applications and common legal problems like replacing lost documents, tenant-landlord disputes, and consumer protection matters.

Assistance is also available at TexasLegalAnswers.org, which operates as a free, online legal clinic where people can post questions and receive answers from volunteer attorneys.

 

 

 

Funding your post-Harvey rebuild

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 10:00

With Hurricane Harvey finally gone and the floodwaters slowly beginning to recede, the magnitude of damage left behind becomes more apparent every day. Fortunately, Houston is one of the most resilient cities in the United States, and optimism can be found on every corner. Neighbors are helping neighbors rip out drywall, deliver supplies, and pull up carpet. The city has already started to rebuild on a massive scale.

Despite the optimism, the cost of rebuilding can be daunting. Some residences need to be completely scrapped. In the business sector, many companies have discovered damaged equipment and machinery, causing disruption. Worse, there may be fears about the possibility of contamination of a business’s work site. With rumors swirling that the Texas Legislature recently made it harder to recover on insurance claims through HB 1774, some may put off making an insurance claim out of fear that doing so is a waste of time.

Fortunately, many businesses have business or property insurance that covers damages outside of flooding. Such policies may cover damage from disruptions to business continuity, pollution releases, damage to other people’s property, contamination, and so on. The first step any business should take is to review policy coverage and determine whether any damage suffered is covered.

Business owners must be extremely careful not to miss any deadlines provided for in their policies. Many policies require claims to be reported within a certain time after the incident in question, be it 30 days, three months, six months, or some other period of time. Missing a deadline might prevent a business from successfully making a claim.

However, it is equally important to remember that insurance companies face their own deadlines. Getting insurance reimbursements is often critical to allow businesses to restore positive cash flow. Yet because many insurance policies fail to specifically mention the deadlines for payout required by Texas law, businesses do not always get the timely funding they need to immediately start the rebuilding process.

The Texas “Prompt Pay Act,” codified in Chapter 542B of the Insurance Code, governs the amount of time that insurance companies have to process and pay claims. Tex. Ins. Code. § 542.051 et seq. The Prompt Pay Act sets strict deadlines, which are extended by only 15 days in the event of a major natural disaster like a hurricane. Id. § 542.059. This article discusses the deadlines in the context of a hurricane, assuming that the “Hurricane Extension” applies because of Harvey.

First, once you submit written notice of the claim, the insurance company has obligations that must generally be completed within 30 days:

• The insurer must acknowledge receipt of the claim;

• The insurer must commence investigation of the claim; and

• The insurer must request all items, statements, and forms that the insurer reasonably believes, at that time, will be required from the claimant.
Id. § 542.055.

After sending the forms to the insurance company and providing them with any information necessary to secure final proof of loss, the insurer must either accept or reject the claim within 30 days. Id. § 542.056. Importantly, after receiving this documentation, the insurer only has 60 days to pay the claim. Id. § 542.058.

If an insurer needs longer to process the claim, it has only 30 days after receiving the necessary documents to send out a notification that more time is required. Even by sending the notification, the insurer only gets an additional 60 days to accept or reject the claim, for a maximum deadline of three months after all items are submitted to secure final proof of loss. Id. § 542.056(d).

That’s a long way of making a straightforward point: even if the insurer ultimately pays a business’s claim, the business may still be entitled to additional cash if the insurance company waited too long to do so. A business that fully cooperates with an insurance company and provides all required documentation as promptly as possible should have its claim paid or rejected within three to five months. This is separate from whether the amount paid is appropriate; it is solely related to the timing of the process.

Texas imposes severe penalties for violating the Prompt Pay Act deadlines. In addition to paying the amount of the claim, the insurer must pay interest on the amount of the claim at the rate of 18 percent per year plus any reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees required to obtain the recovery. Id. § 542.060. In other words, the fact that an insurance company pays the right amount eventually does not obviate it of liability for paying out too slow. See id.; see generally Cox Operating, L.L.C. v. St. Paul Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 795 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. 2015); Weiser-Brown Operating Co. v. St. Paul Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 801 F.3d 512, 515 (5th Cir. 2015).

Many business owners may have seen or heard rumors about HB 1774, which makes it more difficult to recover under other provisions of the Texas Insurance Code, such as the law against unfair settlement practices. HB 1774, however, left the Prompt Pay Act deadlines and penalties largely unaltered. See H.B. 1774 § 2 HB 1774 (leaving the deadlines under Chapter 542B intact except in those actions to which Chapter 542A applies). The new law should not deter businesses from seeking to enforce their rights against insurance companies that sit on their hands rather than paying out a meritorious claim.

In sum, best practices include:

• Review insurance policies to determine what damages are covered. Consider consulting with an attorney so that nothing is overlooked.

• Determine whether you have any damages covered by your policy.

• Make a written claim with your insurer within the deadlines and in the manner prescribed by your policy.

• As soon as you can, provide the insurance company with the necessary documents to analyze your claim. Some statutory deadlines are linked to the day the final documents are received, so giving the insurer everything up front will expedite the process of getting paid.

• Note the deadlines and monitor whether your insurance company is meeting the statutory deadlines.

• If an insurer misses a deadline, understand what rights you have to payment.

Of course, every case is different. Please understand that this article provides information about best practices, but it is far from an exhaustive analysis, and nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice about your particular situation. We encourage businesses to consult an attorney to assist in this process. An attorney may help you determine what documents need to be provided, advise your business about its own deadlines, keep pressure on the insurance company to process your claim quickly, and ultimately pursue a claim in which you may be able to recover interest plus attorneys’ fees if any deadlines are missed.

Payouts from insurance can help a business get back on its feet after a disaster such as Harvey. After all, this is why you have insurance in the first place. While the rebuilding process will undoubtedly take months, if not years, the Prompt Pay Act may help Texas businesses of all sizes get back to business as quickly as possible.

Jerry Mitchell is a partner in Houston law firm Fulkerson Lotz. He has more than 25 years of experience litigating commercial claims.

Nick Brown is an associate of Fulkerson Lotz, where his practice focuses on commercial and intellectual property litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Brown clerked for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 26, 2017

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 08:43

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

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.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give 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.

Latest Harvey News

City, state officials spar over funding Harvey recovery efforts at Houston meeting — While several Texas officials have thrown support behind some expensive flood control projects, a Houston City Council meeting Monday highlighted the political and financial hurdles that may await such efforts. — The Texas Tribune

Houston mayor: State should tap Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery — Sylvester Turner also told The Texas Tribune that fewer houses would have been damaged if federal officials had funded much-needed flood control projects. But he lauded how residents have risen to the challenge of recovering after Hurricane Harvey. — The Texas Tribune

Assisted living residents sue Houston Housing Authority over post-Harvey evictions (audio) — The plaintiffs claim the agency is evicting them even though most units are fine. — Houston Public Media

Analysis: Compassionate compliance: How to handle employment issues after Harvey — As employers in this water-logged city slowly work their way back to what had been known, pre-Harvey, as “business as usual,” employment laws are probably not the first concerns that come to mind. — Houston Business Journal

Column: Working in disasters: Our experiences in Houston and Mexico City — We were in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when we found out Hurricane Harvey was headed to Houston. We had traveled there for a risk assessment—assisting a client with evaluating the risks of various compliance subject matters in that market. In that moment, we had not fully appreciated the risk that a natural disaster could pose to our firm and way of working. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

Rescuers question Tall Tails Animal Rescue’s actions during Harvey — As Hurricane Harvey made landfall on south Texas August 26, the owners of Tall Tails Animal Rescue in Chambers County left 122 dogs at home and drove to a movie theater in Baytown, 30 miles away. — Houston Press

Houston residents move to new emergency shelter at mall — The American Red Cross moved more than 250 people from a Houston convention center to a new emergency shelter in an empty department store almost a month after Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands. — The Associated Press

State Bar of Texas launches technology resources web page

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 10:00

The State Bar of Texas has launched a new technology page with information and links to resources attorneys need to navigate the intersection of technology and the law.

The page, texasbar.com/tech-resources, offers links to informational videos, online resources from TexasBarCLE, technology articles from the Texas Bar Journal, law practice management resources, a link to a book about electronic discovery from TexasBarBooks, and information on the State Bar of Texas Computer and Technology Section.

Tech Bytes is a series of short videos created by the Computer and Technology Section and TexasBarCLE on topics including apps, encryption and ethics, electronic discovery, and cybersecurity and data planning. The videos are three to 23 minutes in length.

Technology resources from TexasBarCLE include featured online technology CLE packages, all online technology CLE, and technology articles from TexasBarCLE’s free ethics library.

Technology articles from the Texas Bar Journal feature the latest trends, newest apps, and developing areas of interest.

Law Practice Management Resources provides information on everything from encryption basics to cloud computing for lawyers.

The Essentials of E-Discovery, produced by TexasBarBooks and edited by Judge Xavier Rodriguez, examines caselaw regarding electronic discovery. The reference book is also available through digital download.

The web page also features information about the State Bar of Texas Computer and Technology Section, including how to join.

For more information, go to texasbar.com/tech-resources.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 25, 2017

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 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

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.

If you would like to donate money to the hurricane relief effort in Texas, you can give 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.

Latest Harvey News

Flooded Houston-area homeowners might have been spared ruin — but only if they read the fine print — In the finest of fine print, the county warned in 1997: “This subdivision is adjacent to the Barker Reservoir and is subject to extended controlled inundation under the management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” — The Dallas Morning News

Houston police chief: State leaders must help rebuild post-Harvey — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called on state leaders to help the city rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, proposing a sales tax increase and saying infrastructure should be built to prevent the storm’s destruction from recurring. — The Texas Tribune

Unauthorized dump sites relieve some residents, worry others — As piles of debris continue to mount across the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, at least two unauthorized dump sites have built up on private property without required permits from the state environmental commission. — Houston Chronicle

EPA clarifies earlier FEMA statement on Texas toxic sites — The Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday it has recovered 517 containers filled with unidentified, potentially hazardous material found floating in or washed up along Texas waterways after the devastating floods from Hurricane Harvey receded. — The Associated Press

Harris County could see budget cuts due to Hurricane Harvey’s destruction — Harris County government departments could see their budgets reduced by up to 5 percent as property taxes take an expected dip due to Hurricane Harvey’s widespread destruction. — Houston Chronicle

Free counseling to be offered in wake of Harvey — About 100 pro bono counselors will offer free sessions starting Monday to people suffering from lingering mental health issues after Hurricane Harvey, an effort organized by the Texas Psychological Association. — Houston Chronicle

SEC sanctions Dallas company on claims of Harvey relief activities — After weeks of warning about disaster-related scams, the federal government’s top securities regulator has issued its first sanction against a company on suspicion of making inaccurate statements about its hurricane relief activities. — Houston Chronicle

Texas waitress’s good deed goes viral after she gives $100 to Hurricane Harvey evacuees — A Texas waitress is getting notice for a big tip — but one that she gave rather than received. — The Dallas Morning News

Note to Hurricane victims: Insurance fights over Sandy rage on — As Sandy’s fifth anniversary approaches Oct. 29, more than 1,000 families in New York and New Jersey are still fighting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over their flood insurance claims, according to government statistics. — Houston Public Media

League City lawyer hired as State Bar of Texas executive director

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:15

Apffel

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors voted on Friday to hire E.A. “Trey” Apffel III of League City as the next State Bar executive director. Apffel was elected with 42 votes. Another applicant received one vote. One voting member abstained.

“Our search committee overwhelmingly believed Trey was the right choice for the position at the right time, and our board overwhelmingly agreed,” State Bar President Tom Vick said. “He has extensive knowledge of the workings of the bar and will work productively with our members and staff to advance our mission of serving Texas attorneys and the people of our state.”

A former State Bar of Texas president, Apffel is the owner and principal of the Apffel Law Firm, where he focuses on personal injury litigation, toxic torts, and medical malpractice. His practice also includes family law and divorce. He has practiced in Galveston County for more than 30 years. Apffel will begin his new position on December 1.

Read the full news release here.

Update on job scam targeting law office applicants

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:00

More victims are coming forward in a scam involving a fraudulent job posting listed on Indeed.com and other job listing sites. At least one person has suffered financial loss from the scam after providing the poster with gift card information.

The job posting, listed on Indeed.com and other job sites, offered an office assistant position with Bertha Gutierrez, P.C.

Applicants to the post received a response email claiming to be from Gutierrez that said, “Thank you very much for your application. We really appreciate you taking the time to consider us as a potential employer. However, the position you applied for has been filled, but you have been offered another position at our client’s company as a Personal Assistant due to your exceptional resume.”

The email asked for personal details such as address, phone number, and email address. Following emails were sent from a person claiming to be “Dominique Walter” from Walter Group INC, who could be reached at a gmail address.

Follow-up emails with “Walter” included other employment questions and instructions to cash or deposit a check to the applicant’s bank account from an Illinois business. “Walter” asked applicants to notify her when the check had been deposited and to make purchases for her using the money.

Applicants were instructed to purchase gift cards and to send pictures of the serial numbers to an Illinois phone number. Applicants used their own money for these expenses while waiting for the check to clear only to be notified by the bank that it had bounced.

When applicants attempted to make contact with “Walter” about the bounced check there was no response.

Gutierrez originally said 20 people had contacted her about the position through phone calls and emails, but that number has increased.

In email responses to the applicants, Gutierrez stated that no such position had been posted to Indeed.com by her office. At least one applicant was told the position was in Dallas. Gutierrez said she only has one location in San Antonio.

Gutierrez also said she did not have any business clients who she would be referring an applicant for hiring.

Gutierrez contacted Indeed.com about removing the job posting. In response, Indeed.com said the posting was no longer listed and had been possibly removed by the poster.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 22, 2017

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 08:54

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 are an attorney who has 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 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

Houston housing officials draw ire for evicting elderly residents — Public housing leaders say a high-rise along Buffalo Bayou is unsafe because of flooding from Hurricane Harvey. But folks who live in 2100 Memorial say officials have mishandled the situation. — The Texas Tribune

Hundreds of Harvey prison evacuees start transfer to cooler Texas facilities — A federal judge’s order that some prison inmates relocated amid Hurricane Harvey’s flooding be moved into air-conditioned units is prompting a big prisoner shakeup. — The Texas Tribune

Army Corps to examine Harris County flood control regulations — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to review Harris County’s flood control regulations to gauge whether they sufficiently neutralize the flood risk posed by the region’s booming development, a question that has drawn increasing scrutiny after a series of storms in recent years, capped by Hurricane Harvey, have devastated the region. (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Former state judge named insurance commissioner after Harvey — Gov. Greg Abbott has named a former state appeals court judge as Texas’ new insurance commissioner — a powerful post that will have a higher-than-usual profile following Harvey’s destruction. — The Associated Press

Voices from the Storm — The story of Hurricane Harvey, as told by 28 Texans who helped their state through its darkest hour. — Texas Monthly

Digging out with fewer hands — Recovery is no sure thing in the small Texas towns wrecked by Hurricane Harvey — Austin American-Statesman

Hensarling to flood victims: ‘At some point, God’s telling you to move’ — House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said Thursday that for victims of repeat flooding, “at some point, God’s telling you to move.” — The Dallas Morning News

Miller, Perdue, Conaway uninjured after car accident on Harvey damage tour — Two staffers for U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway and one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were sent to a hospital near El Campo on Thursday after a major car wreck that interrupted a government tour of hurricane damage to agricultural production. — The Texas Tribune

City of Liberty claims new unofficial Harvey rainfall record: 55 inches — Bruce Johnson knew it all along. While the Houston area shuddered at a record-setting 51 inches of rain recorded during Hurricane Harvey, Johnson knew his rural community was hit with even more. — Houston Chronicle

Robinson Elementary outside of Waco helps Houston ISD school with same name recover from Hurricane Harvey — Two Texas elementary schools with the same name might be about 200 miles apart, but students and staff at Robinson Elementary School in Houston and Robinson Elementary School in Robinson are finding out they have more in common than just a school name. — Waco Tribune-Herald

Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas panel discusses statewide case management system

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:15

Members from the media, courts, and government talked about privacy and transparency during a panel discussion about a statewide case management system at the Freedom of Information of Texas annual conference on September 14 in downtown Austin.

Currently about 200 judges use re:SearchTX, a secure web portal that includes all electronic filings as of January 1, 2016. The portal, which is managed by the Texas Office of Court Administration and hosted by Tyler Technologies, provides judges with a tool that allows them to access cases from all Texas counties that e-file. Access to the portal has been an ongoing project—with counties being phased in—and the OCA plans to eventually make re:SearchTX available to the public. Similar to PACER, a federal portal accessed by subscribers who pay fees, the public portal would be funded by fees attorneys pay to use the system.

For the media, having open records easily accessible is crucial to pursuing stories. Panelist Madison Venza, bureau chief of Courthouse News Service—and a former Vanity Fair reporter—described the strains in public access to court documents. In her experience, because Texas’ 254 counties have different methods of making records accessible, getting information on cases can hit lulls.

“Complaints lose their value the longer they sit around,” she said, adding that a centralized case management system would help reporters do the research to ask difficult questions of elected representatives.

For some in government, there is concern over tabloid-style journalism. Panelist Rep. Travis Clardy said a rush to transparency could degrade the value of the court system and pointed to a need to stymie “judicial voyeurism,” where tabloid reporters with malicious intent dig up information on politicians.

“I’ve got no desire to assist up-and-coming ‘TMZs’ of the media world,” he said.

During the 85th Legislature, Clardy introduced HB 1258, a bill to require a written agreement between the public and a court clerk, along with approval from the county’s commissioners court, for public access to an electronic court record to be granted. The bill died in the Senate.

For county court clerks, already tasked with balancing transparency and protecting sensitive data, there is concern over liability, as well as the costs associated with working in a statewide records system. Panelist Sharena Gilliland, Parker County’s district clerk, said that clerks can be held liable if sensitive data gets into the public sphere. Some files, she said, have data that is mostly deemed sensitive by the Texas Supreme Court. This can include victim and defendant identifiers and private medical information.

For the court system, transparency is important. Panelist Blake Hawthorne, clerk of the Texas Supreme Court, noted early in the discussion that sensitive data would not be accessible. The Rules of Civil Procedure require attorneys to redact such information when filing cases, he said.

While no one in the panel downplayed the importance of public access to the state’s court records, the discussion was a microcosm of diverse views.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 21, 2017

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:53

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 are an attorney who has 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 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

Along the Texas coast, food banks brace for post-Harvey need — Food banks, pantries and other food access advocates are bracing for increased need in communities that struggled with food insecurity even before Hurricane Harvey — and planning how to meet needs in the months of recovery still ahead. — The Texas Tribune

Mayor, council members clash over questions about debris removal — City Council devolved into a series of shouting matches Wednesday over an agenda item to allocate more money to remove the thousands of piles of Hurricane Harvey debris across Houston, ultimately delaying the proposal over Mayor Sylvester Turner’s strenuous objections. — Houston Chronicle

What lurks in the sludge that Harvey left behind? — All over the Houston area, as Harvey’s floodwaters receded, they left behind sludge – a mix of grit and debris picked up from streets and sewers and eroded bayou banks. Though that sediment sometimes appears to be as clean as sand — the large deposits in Buffalo Bayou Park are being described as “beaches” or “dunes” — it’s definitely dirty, say experts. (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Harvey created Texas’ biggest unemployment spike in decades

Last week, we learned that the Texas Workforce Commission had received a huge number of claims for Hurricane Harvey-related unemployment insurance, causing delays in processing that have created some hardship for people left short on cash. (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Trump administration resumes immigrant arrests in Houston after Harvey — President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday that it had resumed the apprehension of immigrants here illegally following a pause in enforcement during Hurricane Harvey rescue and recovery efforts. — Houston Chronicle

Homeowners join lawsuit against Crosby chemical plant that burned after Hurricane Harvey — Eleven additional plaintiffs and a new defendant have been added to a lawsuit against the company whose manufacturing plant experienced a series of chemical fires as a result of floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. — The Texas Tribune

Abbott, Paxton send Trump letter requesting FEMA funding for churches — The letter comes after Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, along with Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, introduced an act to make houses of worship eligible for FEMA Public Assistance program grants. — The Texas Tribune

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 20, 2017

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:26

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 are an attorney who has 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 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

Houston FEMA flood map missed 75 percent of flood damages, says new study — FEMA’s 100-year flood plain map doesn’t have the best reputation in Bayou City – just ask any Houstonian whose home was outside the flood risk zone yet still filled with water during one if the city’s many and recent flooding events. Still, a new study by Rice University and Texas A&M-Galveston suggests FEMA’s hazard mapping may be even less accurate than most people think. — Houston Chronicle

Texas lets storm victims apply for food stamps far from home, adds 7 counties to program — State social services officials are dropping their requirement that Hurricane Harvey victims return to their home counties to apply for federally provided disaster food relief. — The Dallas Morning News

Raw sewage spilled in Houston area after wastewater plants damaged by Harvey — Nearly 31.6 million gallons of raw sewage spilled across southeast Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, pouring into neighboring communities and waterways as dozens of wastewater treatment plants were hit by high winds and flooding, according to state records. — Houston Chronicle

Anxiety swirls after 200 residents ordered to leave flood-damaged high-apartment complex — On Monday, the nearly 200 residents of the public housing complex at 2100 Memorial Drive were ordered to vacate the property by Saturday, a move city officials said was necessary to evaluate the safety of the building in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. — Houston Chronicle

Some question decision to keep Texas nuclear plant open during Harvey — Nuclear safety watchdogs, who had called for the reactors to be shut down before Harvey arrived, maintained afterward that the plant, which is partly owned by Austin Energy, should have prioritized safety over production.  — Austin American-Statesman

Downtown Dallas megashelter for Harvey evacuees to close Wednesday — The downtown Dallas megashelter still housing about 200 Hurricane Harvey evacuees will close Wednesday, city officials say. — The Dallas Morning News

Jones Walker completes Houston office move after delay caused by Hurricane Harvey — Jones Walker has completed its move and officially opened its new downtown Houston space on Sept. 18, the same day partner Lara Pringle assumed the responsibilities of office head for the firm’s Texas offices. (Subscription required) — Texas Lawyer

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 19, 2017

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:40

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 are an attorney who has 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 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

In car-centric Houston, low-income residents struggle after Harvey ruined their vehicles — In addition to replacing clothes and finding new places to live, many in southeast Texas must repair vehicles or buy new cars. But not being able to get to work for more than three weeks makes that a challenge. — The Texas Tribune

Last 900 Harvey evacuees leave convention center in Houston — Officials say the last 900 Hurricane Harvey evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston have been relocated as the site returns to regular business. — The Associated Press

Hey, Texplainer: How is FEMA distributing money to areas hit by Harvey? — Following Harvey, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested money from the federal government, which has sent nearly $1 billion since the federal disaster declaration issued by President Donald Trump on Aug. 25. — The Texas Tribune

Fierce storms haven’t slowed growth along US coastlines — Rising sea levels and fierce storms have failed to stop relentless population growth along U.S. coasts in recent years, a new Associated Press analysis shows. The latest punishing hurricanes scored bull’s-eyes on two of the country’s fastest growing regions: coastal Texas around Houston and resort areas of southwest Florida. — The Associated Press

As some fundraisers focus on Houston, Coastal Bend still gathering donations after Harvey — Kelly Miller Trevino watched “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” and felt saddened to not hear mentions of Rockport or other towns in the Coastal Bend affected by Hurricane Harvey. — Corpus Christi Caller-Times

AP Exclusive: Evidence of spills at toxic site during floods — The U.S. government received reports of three spills at one of Houston’s dirtiest Superfund toxic waste sites in the days after the drenching rains from Hurricane Harvey finally stopped. Aerial photos reviewed by The Associated Press show dark-colored water surrounding the site as the floods receded, flowing through Vince Bayou and into the city’s ship channel. — The Associated Press

Houston’s convention business survives first post-Harvey test — A group of exploration geophysicists will begin moving exhibits into the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday, just days after the last Hurricane Harvey evacuee left the building. Meanwhile, a gathering of meeting planners will wrap up a successful event at the Marriott Marquis across the street, a feat one official called “incredible.” (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Shale producers pumping more oil despite Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Eagle Ford — A group of exploration geophysicists will begin moving exhibits into the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday, just days after the last Hurricane Harvey evacuee left the building. Meanwhile, a gathering of meeting planners will wrap up a successful event at the Marriott Marquis across the street, a feat one official called “incredible.” — Houston Chronicle

Free legal clinic for veterans in Katy — A free legal advice clinic is available for veterans in Katy on Saturday, September 23, at the Katy VA Outpatient Clinic. — Texas Bar Blog

Free legal clinic for veterans in Katy

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:30

A free legal advice is available for veterans in Katy on Saturday, September 23, at the Katy VA Outpatient Clinic.

Any veteran or spouse of a deceased veteran can receive counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, and real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Attorneys will also answer legal-issue questions regarding Hurricane Harvey.

Veterans who qualify for legal aid and need ongoing representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The clinic runs from 9 a.m. to noon and is located 750 Westgreen Blvd., Katy 77450. No appointment is necessary.

The clinic is sponsored by the Houston Bar Foundation. For more information, go to hba.org.

State Bar of Texas Harvey Media Reports – Sept. 18, 2017

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:51

 

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 are an attorney who has 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

FEMA auctioned disaster trailers before Harvey made landfall — The federal government auctioned off disaster-response trailers at fire-sale prices just before Harvey devastated southeast Texas, reducing an already diminished supply of mobile homes ahead of what could become the nation’s largest-ever housing mission. — Houston Chronicle

Coastal Bend communities begin long rebuild after Harvey — Hurricane Harvey decimated communities along the Coastal Bend and left large swaths of the Lone Star State underwater when it roared ashore about three weeks ago. — Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Houston lawyer Mostyn talks Harvey, Irma and how new laws could affect storm-related lawsuits — Mostyn, a top Democratic donor who has made a fortune suing insurance companies on behalf of homeowners after hurricanes, assesses the legal landscape after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. — The Texas Tribune

Harvey raises issues of price gouging, unwelcome boats in the pool — The information in this column is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not as legal advice. (Subscription required) — Houston Chronicle

Professional clothing drive seeks to outfit women affected by Hurricane Harvey — As women return to work after Hurricane Harvey, some who were affected find themselves without professional attire. The Association of Women Attorneys is sponsoring a professional clothing drive accepting donations of professional women’s attire—clothing, shoes, and handbags. — Texas Bar Blog

His home flooded, the Port Arthur mayor puts his city first — On a winding street of older brick homes in the center of town, only one house is without a mountain of debris on the front yard. The house, a two-story at the end of the cul-de-sac, had not been spared by the recent storm, which submerged three-quarters of this coastal industrial city. The homeowner, Derrick Ford Freeman, has just not had time to worry about his own affairs. He is the mayor of Port Arthur. — The New York Times

Union: Thousands of firefighters didn’t work during Harvey — Thousands of Houston firefighters were told to stay home at the height of Harvey’s flooding even as calls for help overwhelmed 911 dispatchers, the president of the city’s firefighters union said Friday. — Houston Chronicle

A first look at the new Red Cross shelter for Harvey evacuees — The city is moving people out of the George R. Brown Convention Center and into other shelters. — KHOU – Houston

As a result of Hurricane Harvey, 600 more Texas prisoners getting AC — As Hurricane Harvey approached Texas, state prison officials moved thousands of inmates to higher ground. But now that the storm has passed, about 600 of the evacuees gained protection from hot conditions in their cells thanks to an ongoing federal lawsuit. — The Texas Tribune

Stranger helps victims navigate FEMA maze — Already exhausted from trying to put the pieces of their lives back together, some of those affected by Hurricane Harvey are connecting with strangers to take on the Federal Emergency Management Agency. — Victoria Advocate

Houston Bar volunteers respond to need for legal help after Harvey — Nearly 900 members of the Houston Bar Association have volunteered or registered to volunteer in the future to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Attorneys are answering calls for a daily LegalLine program; staffing legal assistance booths at shelters, Disaster Recovery Centers, and legal clinics; and volunteering to represent low-income residents with legal problems related to the storm through the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers. — Texas Bar Blog

Professional clothing drive seeks to outfit women affected by Hurricane Harvey

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 12:00

As women return to work after Hurricane Harvey, some who were affected find themselves without professional attire.

The Association of Women Attorneys is sponsoring a professional clothing drive accepting donations of professional women’s attire—clothing, shoes, and handbags.

The drive, which runs through October 13, is accepting donations at four different locations:

  • Primary site and outfitting location: Fullenweider Wilhite (Galleria area), 4265 San Felipe St., Ste. 1400, Houston 77027. Contact: Lauren Waddell at (713) 624-4117 or info@helpprofessionalwomen.com;
  • Shell Oil Company (Energy Corridor), Room F0640C, 150 N. Dairy Ashford, Houston 77079. Contact: Maribel Garcia at (832) 337-2817 or maribel.garcia@shell.com;
  • Gardere (Downtown), 1000 Louisiana St., Ste. 2000, Houston 77002. Contact: Rhonda Weiner at rweiner@gardere.com; and
  • Barita & Keough Law Firm (Clear Lake), 1120 Nasa Pkwy., Ste. 316, Houston 77058. Contact: Trisha Barita at (713) 239-5617 or trisha@baritakeoughlawfirm.com.

Donations are being accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attorney Lauren Wadell of Fullenweider Wilhite said accommodations are being made for after-hours donations at the Fullenweider Wilhite location. For after-hours needs, make a request by email at info@helpprofessionalwomen.com.

Women in need of professional attire can make a request by filling out a form on the website or by making an appointment on the schedule .

The drive has already outfitted five women and has three appointments scheduled for Saturday, Waddell said.

Monetary donations aren’t available at this time, but plans are in place to accept tax-deductible donations through the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation. Waddell said they are still awaiting approval on whether donations can be accepted this way.

Any items donated to the clothing drive after October 13 will be given to the Houston Bar Association’s clothing drive beginning in mid-October.

The Houston Association of Women Attorneys, Fullenweider Wilhite, Twin Oaks, Woodbranch Management, Inc., Carlisle, 3GiG, and Gardere are sponsors of the drive.

Houston Bar volunteers respond to need for legal help after Harvey

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 11:51

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

Nearly 900 members of the Houston Bar Association have volunteered or registered to volunteer in the future to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Attorneys are answering calls for a daily LegalLine program; staffing legal assistance booths at shelters, Disaster Recovery Centers, and legal clinics; and volunteering to represent low-income residents with legal problems related to the storm through the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

Volunteer attorneys take calls Monday-Friday, 3-5 p.m., to answer legal questions, give brief legal advice, and provide resources for those who have questions on insurance claims, landlord/tenant issues, property, FEMA, lost documents, and many other problems resulting from the storm. The public can call 713-759-1133 or toll free at 1-866-959-1133 to speak to an attorney.

Attorneys staffed legal assistance booths at NRG Stadium, the Toyota Center, Lakewood Church and the George R. Brown Convention Center. They are volunteering at Disaster Recovery Centers and legal assistance clinics that are being set up to assist those who need legal help.

Attorneys have provided items and cleanup help needed by other nonprofit organizations as they serve their clients affected by the storm, including the HAY Center, Habitat for Humanity, and The Center, three organizations the HBA supports through fundraising and projects.

The Houston Bar Association is helping its members affected by the storm as well, taking donations for members in need and connecting lawyers who may need temporary office space or housing with those who have space to offer.

“The outpouring of concern and offers of help don’t surprise me, because our members have always rolled up their sleeves and helped after natural disasters,” said Alistair Dawson, president of the Houston Bar Association, “but we are grateful that so many are offering to help in this time of extreme need.”

 

Updates on Hurricane Harvey and executive director search

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 16:06

Editor’s note: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent the following message to members on Friday.

Dear Fellow Attorneys,

I’m writing to update you on the State Bar’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and our search for a new executive director.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

I know that Hurricane Harvey and its related flooding have damaged many of your homes and law offices. Please know that my thoughts are with you during this difficult time, and the State Bar of Texas is here to serve you in any way possible.

The State Bar is providing the following resources to lawyers and members of the public affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Disaster Hotline—The State Bar’s toll-free disaster hotline (800) 504-7030—answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese—connects low-income disaster survivors to legal assistance through local legal aid or pro bono programs. Based on where the caller lives, the hotline routes the caller to a legal aid agency in his or her area where attorneys can help with a variety of legal concerns from lost documents to insurance questions, renters’ concerns, applying for federal disaster assistance, and other matters.

Disaster Resources—The State Bar has collected a number of valuable explanatory documents, assistance links, and how-to videos for the public at texasbar.com/disasters. A page of disaster relief resources designed specifically for attorneys is available at texasbar.com/attorneyresources featuring free CLE opportunities, volunteer guides, and other materials.

Attorneys Affected—Hurricane Harvey and its related flooding affected a number of attorneys and law firms. To that effort the State Bar created an assessment survey at texasbar.com/attorneyrelief where attorneys with needs can report how their colleagues can assist them with things like temporary office space or supplies. State Bar staff is working to match those in need with other lawyers who are eager to help. If you need help with stress, anxiety, or other emotional effects of the disaster, call the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-343-8527 or go to tlaphelps.org for more information.

Volunteer Attorneys—The State Bar also is coordinating the attorney volunteer effort. Nearly 2,400 attorneys, paralegals, and law students have volunteered to assist the public with this disaster. The State
Bar’s Legal Access Division has collected the volunteers’ information through an online form at
texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer and is connecting those volunteers with needs reported by the various legal aid agencies.

MCLE Extension—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.

Court Orders—Several emergency court orders have been issued related to Hurricane Harvey, including an order authorizing modification and suspension of court procedures in affected proceedings and an order extending the deadline for payment of State Bar dues for Texas attorneys whose principal offices are in counties declared disaster areas. Orders related to Hurricane Harvey can be found at texasbar.com/attorneyresources.

Court Closures—For a list of court closures and delays, go to texasbar.com/attorneyresources.

Monetary Donations—The State Bar is encouraging donations to the Harvey relief effort at texasbar.com/harveyfund.

I hope you find these resources useful. If there is anything else the State Bar can do to help, please let me know.

Executive Director Search Update
In a prior update, I reported that our Executive Director Search Committee had selected seven candidates to interview for the open position of executive director of the State Bar of Texas. The committee—composed of private citizens, people with significant experience in hiring executive leadership, members of the State Bar board, and other members of the bar—met all day on September 11 at the Texas Law Center in Austin for interviews and deliberations.

After much debate and three ballots, the committee voted 15-1 to nominate E.A. “Trey” Apffel III as its recommendation for executive director. The Board of Directors will consider the recommendation during its meeting on September 22 in Lubbock.

Explaining the decision, search committee chair Bob Black said, “All seven finalists were impressive and highly qualified. Everyone brought wonderful gifts to the table, but ultimately the overwhelming consensus choice was Trey Apffel.”

Many of you no doubt know Trey Apffel as a lawyer and a bar leader. He is the owner and principal of the Apffel Law Firm in League City, where he focuses on personal injury litigation, toxic torts, and medical malpractice. His practice also includes family law and divorce. He has practiced in Galveston County for more than 30 years.

Trey has served as State Bar of Texas president (2014-2015), on the State Bar Board of Directors, as a member of the board’s Executive Committee, and as chair of the Legislative Policy Committee. He is a former member of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline. He is a member of the Texas Bar College, a Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow, and served on the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees.

The State Bar will update you on the board’s decision after the vote on September 22.

Tom Vick 
President, State Bar of Texas

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