Law Notes: St. Mary's University School of Law Newsletter Spring 2008

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Law Notes: St. Mary's University School of Law Newsletter Spring 2008


St. Mary's University School of Law


The China Connection: St. Mary's Partners with China's Top Law School, Texas Attorney General Grants Award to Law Clinic, Mock Trial Team at Nationals, New Scholarships for South Texas, Alumni Chapters Spring Up, Homecoming Honorees


St. Mary's University School of Law


St. Mary's University School of Law San Antonio Texas, St. Mary's University School of Law, Sarita Kenedy Law Library




Charles E. Cantu, Beth Barbee, Steve Keating, Robert H. Hu, Melanie Rush Davis


Law Notes: St. Mary's University School of Law Newsletter




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Spring 2008

St. Mary’s University | School of Law


INSIDE: Texas Attorney General Grants Award to Law Clinic Mock Trial Team at Nationals New Scholarships for South Texas Alumni Chapters Spring Up Homecoming Honorees

St. Mary’s Partners with China’s Top Law School
China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations with deep cultural heritage and pride. Today, it is a leading economic force to be reckoned with, yet vast differences between the East and West mean China remains a mystery to many Americans. For some St. Mary’s law students, that will change next summer. In keeping with St. Mary’s University’s strategic plan Vision 2012, which calls for a curriculum that expands our borders and takes into consideration an interdependent global economy, School of Law Interim Dean Charles Cantú has established a new study abroad program in China that will open the doors to a new world of opportunity. » continued p. 1

Dear Fellow Graduates, It has been my pleasure to travel the state – and even as far as China – as your interim dean for most of the past year. Getting reacquainted with so many old friends and colleagues has been a joy. It has been truly invigorating to see that St. Mary’s has produced so many high quality attorneys and judges over the years who are striving to live our mission every day in their life’s work. It is my firm belief that our curriculum and professors, teamed with our outstanding clinical programs, are doing justice to our Marianist heritage and that we are staffing the legal community with lawyers with a heart for service, our ultimate goal. You will find in this issue of Law Notes how busy the students have been and much that has been accomplished since we’ve last visited. The dedication to student success is what energizes our alumni to become involved in their local alumni chapters. Our alumni are crucial in recruiting and mentoring our students. I would like to thank those of you who have hosted admitted student receptions, mentored current students, provided internships and helped in any way in recruiting the next class. I have been traveling across the state and the country to organize new chapters of the law alumni association and keep existing chapters on the pulse of the law school. I encourage you to all become involved in your local chapter – and if there isn’t one established, let’s get one started. Finally, I must touch on something that has taken up a lot of my time, working with you to raise money for our law school. To date, we have raised a little over $4 million in pledges, scholarships, endowments and naming opportunities. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. We want to continue to improve as a law school and provide opportunities for all students that have a passion for what we do. These efforts are part of meeting my main three objectives of reaffirming our academic excellence while realigning our programs with our Catholic and Marianist heritage, re-engaging our alumni, and developing new scholarship opportunities for our outstanding students. Please enjoy this issue of Law Notes, come back to St. Mary’s as often as possible, and keep up the good work in your lives and communities. Sincerely, Charles E. Cantú Interim Dean and South Texas Professor of Law

» continued from cover
Last fall, Cantú and Bob Hu, Ph.D., director of the law library and assistant professor of law, traveled to Shanghai and Beijing to explore the possibilities of exchange and summer programs with schools in China. After carefully considering several possible partners, the St. Mary’s team chose The Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a prominent law school in Beijing, as their new academic partner. The Institute of Law is the official research arm and think-tank for the central government of China. With a number of nationally and internationally known scholars and academic works, it plays a major role in Chinese political and social affairs. For the past 45 years, the Institute of Law has placed emphasis on important theoretical and practical issues concerning the construction of democracy and legal systems in China. These efforts by Cantú to create educational ties with China are a part of a larger effort happening at the University. A delegation of St. Mary’s administrators, including University President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., recently returned from a trip to Taiwan and mainland China. Three memorandums of understanding were signed on that trip with Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade and Yangtze University – Tai Lake College of Creative Technology. These are in addition to two others the University signed in the past year with Wuxi South Ocean College and Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce.

Wangfujing Business District in central Beijing. Photo courtesy of Robert Hu, Ph.D.


California at Berkley in research cooperation and academic exchange endeavors. The Institute of Law houses 11 research departments and 12 research centers. It has played major roles drafting and reviewing more than 100 laws and regulations at the state level, including criminal law, criminal procedure law, marriage law, corporate law and general principles of civil law. In the 1990s, the Institute of Law took initiative to develop and research human rights theory. Beijing, a city with more than 12 million inhabitants, is home to many top law schools in the country. Hu estimates those schools bring around 500 American students in for summer study abroad programs. Interacting with other top American law students will add to the student experience, even on the other side of the world. St. Mary’s program will include five courses over four weeks of study in Beijing taught by St. Mary’s professors. “We are tentatively calling the program ῾St. Mary’s Institute on Chinese Law and Business’ and our professors will teach the majority courses,” Hu said. “There are some Academy professors who are experts of Chinese law and fluent in English. We’d like to get them involved in teaching our students.” Another possibility down the road is a faculty exchange. “We would love for our faculty to go there to visit and research and for them to come here. That is definitely in the back of our minds after the program takes off,” Hu continued. When the program kicks off next summer, St. Mary’s is aiming for a class of 24 students to travel to Beijing for the month-long program. Students will primarily study Chinese law and commercial transactions with classes on international commercial arbitration, doing business in China, and professional re-

Built from 1406 to 1420, the Forbidden City is a Chinese cultural icon and only minutes from the campus.

“Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have so many outstanding advantages for our students. Not only location, but also facilities, history and connections to both the Chinese government and the world’s biggest and best law firms,” Cantú said. Location, however, is a big draw. Located in downtown Beijing, the school is a couple minutes from two top hotels where the students and faculty will be housed and is convenient to government agencies, courts and many cultural sites. “The location couldn’t be better. The school’s neighborhood is full of history,” Hu said. “The Forbidden City, a major cultural and tourist attraction, is a 15-minute walk, with two beautiful Imperial parks and gardens nearby.” This is the first study abroad partnership the Institute of Law will have with an American university, though they have partnered with Yale, Harvard, Columbia and the University of


sponsibility. Cantú and Hu hope this introduction to doing business in China will lead to a greater global interest and internships for some of the best students. Cantú and Hu visited with China’s two largest law firms, King and Wood and Jun He Law Offices in Beijing. The firms are involved in extensive Chinese and international legal practice and represent American and multinational companies as clients. Both firms have agreed to place St. Mary’s students with internship positions. “It is our hope that our students will explore China and return with a greater understanding of how business is done in China and an increased understanding of how the world works and where they fit into it,” Cantú said.

Photo No. 1: The Wangfujing District has been a commercial hub since the Ming Dynasty. Photo No. 2: Hu and Cantú met with Feng Jun (middle), associate dean of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Law on their campus. Photo No. 3: Hu visited the best preserved sections of the Great Wall of China near Beijing. Photo No. 4: The St. Mary’s duo were led on a tour of King and Wood, China’s largest law firm, by Yang Xiaolei, senior partner of the firm and former law school classmate of Hu. Photos courtesy of Robert Hu, Ph.D.



Security in a Post 9/11 World Subject for Conferences
The Center for Terrorism Law has held two conferences in San Antonio this March, Cyberterrorism: Policy, Legal and Operational Responses Symposium, and Preparing Law Enforcement for Emerging Terrorist Threats, which was held in conjunction with the Texas Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, the FBI – San Antonio Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, the San Antonio Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Police Association. Last fall, the center held a State Open Government Law and Practice in a Post-9/11 World: Legal and Policy Symposium at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The public discussion was a forum for the research collected in the 2006 Congressionally-Directed Homeland Defense and Civil Support Threat Information Collection grant administered by the Air Force Research Laboratory. Several subject matter experts from around the globe gathered to discuss a variety of security and technology matters relating to state open government law.

People´s Law School Returns to St. Mary´s
St. Mary’s partnered this semester with the San Antonio Bar Foundation to offer free legal information to the public when the 15th Annual People’s Law School was held on campus. Local attorneys shared their expertise in a series of classes covering many legal topics including social security, family law, immigration, disability, guardianship, employment, wills, real estate and bankruptcy. Classes were offered in Spanish on several immigration issues. All events were open to the public and also included a community resource fair.

winner of the Alma L. Lopez Woman in Law Student Leadership Award. Chief Justice Lopez presented the award to second-year law student Paula DeWitte.

Minority Pre-Law Symposium Celebrates White v. Regester
The Seventh Annual Minority Pre-Law Student Symposium was held for minority high school and college students interested in a legal career. The event is coordinated and sponsored by the Center for Latina/o Legal Studies and funded by a grant from the Law School Admissions Council. The daylong workshop included various speakers, information on the law school admission process and financial aid, a college fair and culminated with a Chicano Rights Banquet. The banquet honored the 35th anniversary of the landmark case White v. Regester and the struggle for Latino voting rights, in which the United States Supreme Court held that Latinos and other minorities cannot be denied the opportunity for meaningful voting participation. The keynote address at the banquet was delivered by Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., President of St. Mary’s University, who was the

Fourth Court on Campus
As part of Women’s History Month activities in March, the Fourth Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the School of Law’s moot courtroom. The two panels heard one criminal and one civil case. Chief Justice Alma L. Lopez (J.D. ’68), Justice Phylis Speedlin (J.D. ’83), Justice Catherine Stone (J.D. ’82), Justice Sandee Bryan Marion (J.D. ’80), Justice Rebecca Simmons and Justice Steven C. Hilbig presided. Afterward, a reception was held honoring the justices and the


plaintiff ’s expert witness in White v. Regester. The banquet is also a time for students to interact with the legal community.

Nutritionals bankruptcy to supplement their consumer law programs. In January, Abbott held a press conference on St. Mary’s campus to officially hand over the award. Cantú, Clinic Director Ana Novoa, Professor Amy Kastely and clinical student Amanda Rivas spoke to the media about clinic’s consumer advocacy program. St. Mary’s Center for Legal and Social Justice addresses the legal needs of low-income people in San Antonio and South Texas. The legal clinic provides advice and representation in the areas of criminal defense, immigration law, family law and civil matters.

Law School Announces Casseb Scholars Program
The late distinguished alumnus Paul E. Casseb (J.D. ’41) gave a gift to the Law School Foundation a number of years ago creating a visiting professorship. The visiting professorship has brought many talented instructors to the School of Law. Recently, those funds have been matched with another gift from his estate and are transforming into a $1 million endowed scholarship program for law students. The scholarship recipients will be called Casseb Scholars with the first scholars on campus this fall. Casseb was honored with the Distinguished Law Graduate Award in 1976 for his work in the legal community, and was repeatedly named to the St. Mary’s Honor Roll for his donations to the University. In 2006, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the School of Law. Although Casseb died this past summer, his legacy lives on in the law school.

Professor Amy Kastely, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Interim Dean Charles Cantú hold a press conference to announce the award given to the Center for Legal and Social Justice.

action against the San Antonio-based company for its widespread deceptive marketing and sale of unproven weight-loss products known as “Body Solutions.” “We would like to thank the Attorney General and his staff for the support,” said Interim Dean Charles Cantú. “St. Mary’s University School of Law strives to graduate students who will one day become legal professionals with a dedication to excellence, a passion for service and a commitment to ethical practice of law. A significant part of that educational process is the work done at the Center for Legal and Social Justice. Through the clinical work there, we nurture our students’ desire to seek justice while meeting our University’s mission of reaching out to our community.” The Attorney General ultimately persuaded the bankruptcy court that the funds remaining in the case could best be used to advance consumer law education in Texas. In 2005, law schools at Southern Methodist University and the University of Houston received similar awards from the Mark

St. Mary’s Mock Trial Team Wins Regional, Looks to Nationals
For the third time in five years, a team of St. Mary’s School of Law students won their region of the National Trial Competition, advancing to the national championship in Austin. The National Trial Competition, one of the oldest and most prestigious mock trial competitions in the United States, invites all ABA-accredited law schools to compete in the annual competition. The top two teams from each of the 13 regions advance to the championship rounds next month. Eleven schools from Texas and Louisiana sent a total of 22 teams to compete in the regional tournament hosted by Texas Tech School of Law in Lubbock. A team from Baylor Law School is the other winner from the Texas and Louisiana region to advance.

Texas Attorney General Grants Award to Law Clinic
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott awarded $100,535 to St. Mary’s University School of Law, which will use the funding to expand legal services its consumer law clinic provides to South Texas residents. The money was awarded in a cy pres ruling from the bankruptcy of Mark Nutritionals, Inc. In December 2002, the Office of the Attorney General took legal


St. Mary’s Regional Champion team of Jeff Starnes, Allison Skipper and Megan David beat teams from Texas Tech University School of Law, Tulane University Law School, South Texas College of Law and Loyola University College of Law on their way to the finals where they defeated Baylor Law School’s nationally recognized team. St. Mary’s third-year law student Jeff Starnes was named Best Advocate of the competition. The second team from St. Mary’s, Blake Stribling, Thom Nisbet and Alexis Lorick, missed breaking in to the semifinals by one ballot. St. Mary’s external advocacy program teams are coached by local attorneys and alumni Bill Squires and Cliff Herberg, with assistant coaches Nicole Thornbro, Paul Huckabay and Morgan Matson. Another St. Mary’s mock trial team, comprised of Allison Skipper, Jeff Starnes, Thom Nesbit, Matt Hill and Austin Sanford, finished second in the Eighth Annual National Trial Advocacy Competition held last semester at Michigan State University College of Law. The competition drew 26 teams from the country’s most recognized schools in trial advocacy. St. Mary’s was edged out by Southern Methodist University in a hard-fought trial that marked the final round.

special Lamar Bruni Vergara Scholarship that will provide highly qualified Webb County students with tuition and fees at St. Mary’s School of Law. A $1 million endowed gift was given to the School of Law last summer from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust to fund the scholarships. The first two scholarships will be distributed this fall. The Lamar Bruni Vergara trust was established to ensure the philanthropic efforts of lifelong Laredo resident Lamar Bruni Vergara continued long after her death. The trust has supported a variety of religious, health and educational efforts in South Texas. While this is the first endowment, the Vergara Trust has previously given money to the law school for scholarships.

event slated for May 8. To find out more about upcoming events or chapters in your area, contact Al Hartman at or (210) 431-3660.

Student Andria Brannon honored by Marianists

Andria Brannon, Marianist Heritage Leadership Award Winner, shown here with Chief Justice Alma Lopez of the Fourth Court of Appeals with whom she has worked as an intern.

Law Alumni Chapters Popping Up
Dean Cantú and Assistant Dean Al Hartman have been logging a lot miles visiting with established alumni chapters and starting new law alumni chapters around the state and country. Houston and Dallas have vibrant, dynamic chapters that have been the example for other chapters to aspire to. McAllen, St. Louis and Austin chapters are right on their heels becoming active chapters, recruiting new students for St. Mary’s and becoming mentors for current students. Many of these chapters have been involved in this recruiting cycle by hosting admitted student receptions in their areas to woo the admitted students into committing to St. Mary’s. The Fort Worth Chapter organized in December and is actively gearing up for their major kickoff

Third-year law student Andria Brannon was named the recipient of the Marianist Heritage Student Leadership Award. The Marianist Heritage Student Leadership Award is given to graduating students who express their faith through action and whose qualities of leadership positively enhance the community. It is an award for demonstrated concern for social justice and participation in service to St. Mary’s and the community. Brannon was given the award by Sister Grace Walle, F.M.I., in a University ceremony earlier this year. She is one of only three law students who have ever received the University-wide honor. Brannon is a Vernon, Texas, native who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University

St. Mary’s Law School Heralds Scholarships for Webb County Law Students
University President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., Interim Law Dean Charles Cantú and distinguished law alumni from Laredo visited Texas A&M International University this spring to announce the details of a


of North Texas. Prior to attending St. Mary’s, she worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas, New Beginning Center, a battered women’s shelter, and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. During her legal studies at St. Mary’s, she has served on the Women’s Law Association Board of Directors, worked with Sister Grace as a member of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative and serves as a mentor for first-year students. She interned with the Fourth Court of Appeals, the Travis County Juvenile Public Defender and the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center. She is currently participating in the Criminal Justice Clinic at the Center for Legal and Social Justice where she is defending the indigent and lowincome residents of Bexar County.

the House Committee on Agriculture. He has also received the Republic of Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest award given to a non-resident, and was the 1979 Distinguished Law Graduate.

Supreme Court Webcasts
St. Mary’s University School of Law and the Supreme Court of Texas collaborate to provide the public with access to live webcasts of the Court’s oral arguments from Austin. The arguments may also be viewed at a later time through the law school’s archives. To view Supreme Court proceedings, go to

Kika de la Garza speaks to the Homecoming Reunion and CLE lunch as his wife, Cecile, looks on.

Hegar and de la Garza honored at Homecoming

Alumnus. Hegar was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2003 and to the Texas Senate in 2007. He has been recognized for his congressional leadership with many awards, but David Courreges, the Law Alumni Association board member who presented the award, said that Hegar did not receive this award because he’s a senator. “We are honoring Glenn not because he’s in a position of power, but because he has done great things with his opportunities. He embodies the spirit of the University through his good works; one example is his work to memorialize St. Mary’s student Sarah K. Thompson through sponsoring the Sarah K. Thompson Act,” Courreges said. De la Garza’s lifetime of achievement and service as a state and U.S. congressman was rewarded as his portrait was unveiled to be hung on permanent display in the Law Alumni Room of the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library. De la Garza served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 32 years, spending 14 of them as Chair of


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Distinguished Young Alumnus Senator Glenn Hegar Jr. with Law Alumni Association President Judge Barbara Hervey.

As part of the Homecoming Reunion and CLE activities, the Law Alumni Association, Interim Dean Charles Cantú and St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph. D., honored retired U.S. Congressman Kika de la Garza (J.D. ’52) and Texas State Sen. Glenn A. Hegar Jr. (J.D. ’97). The Law Alumni Association named Hegar the 2008 Distinguished Young


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia visited the campus on April 3. He had lunch with the faculty and fielded student questions from behind the bench of the courtroom for over an hour. More on St. Mary’s relationship with the High Court will be in the upcoming issue.

Ernest A. Raba Sr. Dean Emeritus, Law School Champion
Ernest A. Raba Sr., longtime professor and dean emeritus of St. Mary’s University School of Law, died Dec. 3 at the age of 95. Raba, the third dean of St. Mary’s School of Law, served from 1946 to 1978, making him one of the longest-serving deans in American legal education. As dean, he ushered in the modern era of legal education at St. Mary’s, overseeing the law school’s initial accreditation by both the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, the building of the law library’s holdings and the school’s move from St. Mary’s original downtown campus to its current location in 1967. In addition, he was responsible for securing funding for many of the law school’s current facilities. “St. Mary’s School of Law exists today because of the groundwork laid by Ernest A. Raba,” said St. Mary’s Interim Dean Charles Cantú. “He devoted his life to fulfilling this physical plan. There are many successful lawyers practicing today only because Dean Raba saw their potential and took a chance by admitting them to law school. His death creates a big gap in the fabric of legal education.”

Dean Ernest A. Raba at the downtown law school.

1940s Paul E. Casseb, J.D. ’41, San Antonio, died Aug. 17, 2007. Jackson B. Love, J.D. ’45, Llano, died Aug. 6, 2007. Manuel M. Peña, J.D. ’49, San Antonio, died April 7, 2007. 1950s Sylvan R. Alter, J.D. ’50, San Antonio, died Sept. 15, 2007. Carroll Henry Sierk, J.D. ’53, Lakewood, Ohio, died May 10, 2007.

1970s E. Dickinson “Dick” Ryman, J.D. ’70, San Antonio, died April 26, 2007. John Baker Britt, J.D. ’73, San Antonio, died Aug. 29, 2007. Edward J. Mihalko, J.D. ’73, San Antonio, died Aug. 25, 2007. Patricia Swanson McQuarrie, J.D. ’78, Peachtree City, Ga., died Jan. 23, 2008. Patricia A. Mansell, J.D. ’79, San Antonio, died Aug. 6, 2007. 1990s Richard F. Sciaraffa, J.D. ’96, San Antonio, died May 10, 2007. Marvin D. Shaw, Sr., J.D. ’96, Lufkin, died Sept. 24, 2007.

Walter P. Gray, J.D. ’54, San Antonio, died Jan. 1, 2007. 1960s Herman Fletcher Brown, Jr. J.D. ’63, Arcadia, Fla., died April 24, 2007.

Craig A. Gargotta (J.D. ’89) Austin, has been appointed as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in Austin for the Western District of Texas. Delia E. Martinez Carian (J.D. ’90) San Antonio, is an associate judge for Bexar County.

» St. Mary’s alumni Pamela Craig (J.D. ’00),

Nico La Hood (J.D. ’02), Roland Ramos (J.D. ’98) and Edward Shaughnessy (J.D. ’81) have been appointed as Bexar County Magistrates.

The students, faculty and staff of St. Mary’s School of Law would like to extend their deepest gratitude to those who have so graciously given back financially to support our students through scholarships, professorships and other generous endeavors. Since last summer, more than $4 million has been pledged or paid to law school funds. Here are a few examples of the generosity of alumni and friends: • Harry Levine has pledged money for a minority student scholarship. • Henry and Marie Ellert have started a scholarship in memory of their daughter, Karen Ellert Peña. • Carol and Ted Thompson have begun a scholarship in memory of their daughter, Sarah K. Thompson. • Ted Craver pledged to add each year to his established scholarship. • The estate of Norma Fink Huffaker has established a scholarship for women in advocacy. • A scholarship in the name of Hal Walker has been boosted by donations. • The Chief Justice Alma Lopez Scholarship has also grown from anonymous donations. • The Roger L. and Laura D. Zeller Charitable Foundation made a gift to the law school. • A gift was made to the Charlotte Walston Endowed Scholarship Fund.


Allan B. Polunsky Appointed Chairman of Texas Public Safety Commission
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has appointed San Antonio attorney Allan B. Polunsky (J.D. ’75) as Chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission. The TPSC is responsible for formulating and overseeing policies for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the state’s chief law enforcement agency. Polunsky has served on the TPSC since 2007, and becomes the first person to serve as chairman of both the TPSC and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the state’s top two law enforcement agencies. He previously served five years as chairman of the TBCJ. He is managing partner and founder of Polunsky & Beitel LLP, a law firm that specializes in real estate and mortgage lending with offices in San Antonio and Dallas. He was recently honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association for his outstanding work and commitment to the mortgage banking industry. Polunsky is a current member of Gov. Perry’s Border Security Council, and previously served on the Finance Commission of Texas. He has also has served the City of San Antonio as chairman of the City Zoning Commission, president of the Industrial Development Authority, member of the Planning Commission and served on the San Antonio River Authority Board of Directors for 12 years. ’51 Roy R. Barrera Sr., J.D., San Antonio, is celebrating 50 years in partnership with Anthony Nicholas. Two of his sons, Roy R. Barrera Jr., J.D. ’75, and Robert J. Barrera, J.D. ’83, are attorneys with the firm and his daughter, Carmen Barrera Ramirez, B.A. ’79, is a secretary for the firm. ’54 Robert L. Vale, J.D., San Antonio, who died in 1992, will have the Northside Independent School District’s 16th middle school, scheduled to open in the fall, named in his honor. ’70 Harvey P. Levine, J.D., La Jolla, Calif., was recently named to the California State Bar’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. John Stempfle, J.D., Grosse Pointe, Mich., was re-elected to a four-year term as a councilman for the City of Grosse Pointe. ’73 Robert C. Cowan Jr., J.D., San Antonio, was invited by the American Association for Justice to be a delegate to their People to People Exchange Program in China in October 2007. His daughter, Anna Lisa McDonough, J.D. ’91, also attended. The purposes of the meetings were to exchange ideas, thoughts, and information on each of our judicial systems from the Chinese point of view and the American system of law. ’74 Stanley Schneider, J.D., Houston, was presented the “Orden de Mayo al Merito,” Order of Merit, one of the country’s highest recognitions, by the Consul General of Argentina in Houston on Dec. 20, for work on a high-profile death penalty case involving Victor Saldano, an Argentine national on Texas’ death row. This award is presented to outstanding foreigners whose “services and personal works have been distinguished by and deserve the gratitude of the Nation.” Stanley is one of two Texans to ever receive the award. The honor was for the successful effort to seek resentencing of Saldano, who received the death penalty several years ago after a state-sponsored psychologist testified that he deserved the death penalty based in part on the fact that he was Hispanic. Ultimately, the courts agreed that Saldano, and at least five others who were sentenced to death based on testimony from the same expert, should be given a new sentencing hearing. After the Saldano case was widely publicized, the Texas Legislature banned the use of similar testimony in the future. Schneider is a partner at the Houston law firm of Schneider & McKinney PC. He is board certified in Criminal Law by the State Bar of Texas and is currently First Vice President of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. ’75 Larry W. Harrison, J.D., Sugar Land, an adjunct professor at the Sugar Land Campus of the University of Houston-Victoria teaches a junior-level course in business law. He served as president of Fort Bend Lawyers Care in 2006-2007, a pro bono legal organization for the indigent of Fort Bend County. James N. Higdon, J.D., San Antonio, of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht LLP, was elected to Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas as the representative from the Small Sections. He also

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received the Franklin S. Jones Best CLE Article Award for 2006 from the college of the State Bar of Texas for “War and Peace – Military Benefit Issues in Wartime.” ’77 James Pigg, J.D., San Antonio, is an Army civil service employee attorney and was just reassigned from White Sands Missile Range, N.M., to the Installation Management Command West, legal office at Fort Sam Houston. ’78 David E. Chamberlain, J.D., Austin, has been named “The Outstanding Defense Bar Leader” in the nation by DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar, a national organization of more than 22,000 defense trial lawyers and corporate counsel. John M. Vaught, J.D., Denver, Colo., has been selected for inclusion in the 2007 Edition of Best Lawyers in America. ’79 David R. Weiner, J.D., Dallas, has been a member of Glast, Phillips and Murray PC since 2002. ’80 J. Thomas Rhodes III, J.D., San Antonio, is an attorney with the law firm of Rhodes & Vela LLP. ’82 James F. Shrewsbury, J.D., St. Louis, Mo., is on the Board of Directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Center. ’83 David W. George Riter, J.D., Plymouth Meeting, Pa., a partner in the Fort Washington law firm of Timoney Knox LLP, assumed the duties of managing partner. ’85 Michael McCrum, J.D., Austin, has joined the law office of Thomson &

Knight LLP and his practice will focus on the complex matters of criminal defense, including representation of persons and companies who have been charged in federal and state court and those under investigation by federal grand juries and federal authorities. ’86 Martin Van Brauman, J.D., Plano, has been appointed interim chief financial officer of Zion Oil & Gas Inc. ’87 Mark D. Albertson, J.D., Kent, Wash., is CEO of the Albertson Law Group PS. Jonathan Cluck, J.D., Boerne, a partner with Nunley Davis Jolley Cluck Aelvoet LLP, is president of the Kendall County Bar Association and a board member for the Hill Country Alternative Dispute Resolution Center. ’89 James Hada, J.D., Corpus Christi, is partner with the CGT Law Group International LLP. ’92 Shelly A. Sanford, J.D., Houston, founder of Sanford Stevens Riff LLP in Houston, was appointed to The Plaintiff ’s Steering Committee in federal MDL’s including VIOXX, Fosamax, Bextra, and Viagra. She is outside council to the State of Texas in Texas’ VIOXX litigation. ’93 David Glenn Rogers, J.D., Midland, is an attorney with the firm of Fivecoat & Rogers. ’94 Sharon Nicole Humble, J.D., Berwyn, Pa., is managing partner of the Philadelphia office of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP and was a speaker on the topic of Sourcing Strategies at the North

Eastern Tax Officials Association Conference in Washington, D.C. ’95 Christopher Burke, J.D., San Antonio, began the Burke Law Firm and continues to practice in insurance coverage, commercial litigation and appeals. Jon Todd Koenig, J.D., Bainbridge Island, Wash., is vice president and chief trust officer for the new Regional Trust Center for Merrill Lynch Trust Co. in Seattle and manages six trust professionals covering the company’s northwest region. Shawn T. Pabst, J.D., Missoula, Mont., is vice president of development and co-owner of TacitLogic Inc. ’96 Burton D. Brillahart, J.D., Dallas, general counsel for Drive Financial Services, received the Best Corporate Counsel award from the Dallas Business Journal. Michelle Majchrzak Jacko, J.D., San Diego, who started Core Compliance and Legal Services Inc. in April 2006, was published in the Journal of Taxation and Financial Planning, has a compliance column in Bank Advisors magazine and was named a Top 20 Rising Star for “Who’s Who” in upcoming compliance professionals in Compliance Reporter’s magazine. Marina Garcia Marmolejo, J.D., Austin, has joined the law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP and will focus her practice on trial and dispute resolution, primarily in the area of white collar criminal defense. ’97 Dan Cierpiot, J.D., St. Louis, Mo., was named the executive director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – St. Louis Chapter.
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Scot Graydon, J.D., Austin, received an LL.M. degree in intellectual property law from the George Washington University Law School and works for the Office of the Attorney General in the General Litigation Division. ’98 Devin “Buck” Benson, J.D., San Antonio, is a partner in the law firm of Pulman, Bresnahan, Pullen and Capuccio. Christopher Burnett, J.D., Austin, is assistant general counsel for the Office of the Governor. Brandon Hudson, J.D., San Antonio, board certified for criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is first assistant prosecutor with the 81st Judicial District Attorney in Floresville. Jason Kipness, J.D., Dallas, and Robbie Partida-Kipness, Dallas, opened the Kipness Law Firm PC. Amy L. Nelson, J.D., Houston, was named gift planning officer at Rice University. Gregory Lawrence Ryan, J.D., Honolulu, Hawaii, opened a solo family law practice after serving in the Navy JAG Corps for five years. Lt. Col. Mike Simpson, J.D., San Antonio, whose three sons are on active duty in the Army, has been recalled into the Special Forces and is serving with the Multi-National Forces – Iraq in Baghdad. ’99 Joshua Nelson-Archer, J.D., Sugar Land, a shareholder in Rymer, Moore, Jackson & Echols, focuses his practice in civil litigation. Pamela Pelser-Linnins, J.D., Paradise Valley, Ariz., is assistant attorney general with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Child and Family Protection Section.

Wendy Vick-Willis, J.D., San Antonio, has for the past year become a spokesperson for organ donation, working with the MultiOrgan Transplant Center at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She is assisting with fundraising campaigns for Nora’s House, a residence for out-of-town transplant patients and their families. ’00 Jason Zehner, J.D., San Antonio, is a partner with the law firm of Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza Inc. ’01 Rosie Gonzalez, J.D., San Antonio, participated in Women’s Campaign School at Yale University this past summer. ’02 William M. Gerhardt III, J.D., San Antonio, is an associate attorney with Cox Smith Matthews Inc. ’03 Colin L. Murchison, J.D., Fort Worth, associate in the tax and estates section of Jackson Walker firm was selected as Fort Worth, Texas magazine’s “Top Attorneys.” He is director on the American Red Cross Chisholm Trail Chapter, a director on the Tarrant County Adult Protective Services Community Board and also on the Trinity Valley School Alumni Board. ’04 Jay A. Bender, J.D., McKinney, opened his own law office in McKinney, after serving as an assistant district attorney for both Dallas and Collin Counties. ’05 Riann Bensel Moore, M.A., J.D., Dallas, is an attorney with Walters, Balido & Crain LLP. ’06 Oscar Branche Jackson III, J.D., Austin, is an environmental attorney with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

David W. Jewett, J.D., San Antonio, is associate attorney with Lang Law Firm PC. Amy E. Owen, J.D., San Antonio, is a prosecutor for Bexar County District Attorney’s Office. ’07 Shan Marie Egliskis, J.D., San Antonio, is staff attorney for The Rosenblatt Law Firm. Alejandro Aguirre Montelongo, J.D., San Marcos, is an attorney with the Law Office of Alex Aguirre M. PLLC. Lorilei Cronin, J.D., Dallas, is an associate in the litigation section of the Dallas office of Jackson Walker. Jessica J. Lerma, J.D., San Antonio, is concentrating her practice in the areas of business formation, real estate and family law in the Law Offices of Demetrio Duarte Jr. and Associates PC. Sandra Hagee Parker, J.D., San Antonio, is an associate with Tuggey Rosenthal Pauerstein Sandoloski Agather LLP. Anthony D’Ascenzo Seach, J.D., is an attorney at law in Austin.

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Spring 2008

April 12 The St. Mary’s Law Journal Recognitions and Awards Ceremony -----------------------------------------------April 18 Barrister’s Ball -----------------------------------------------April 18- 19 Fiesta Oyster Bake -----------------------------------------------May 8 Fort Worth Alumni Chapter Kickoff Event -----------------------------------------------May 17 Law School Commencement: Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s 25th Attorney General scheduled to be the graduation speaker -----------------------------------------------June 6-8 Class of 1978 30-year class reunion -----------------------------------------------For more information on these or other events, please check our Web Site at For alumni event information, please contact Al Hartman at





St. Mary’s University School of Law Newsletter
President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. (B.A. ’62, M.A. ’64) School of Law Interim Dean Charles E. Cantú (J.D. ’64) Editor Beth Barbee Designer Steven Keating Photography Robert H. Hu, Ph.D. Melanie Rush Davis


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St. Mary's University School of Law, “Law Notes: St. Mary's University School of Law Newsletter Spring 2008,” St. Mary's Law Digital Repository, accessed January 25, 2020,

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