Texas Tech Law School Hosting Texas Supreme Court Cases

The state's highest court will hear two cases at the Hunt Courtroom.

For the third time in school history and the first time in six years, the Texas Supreme Court will visit the Texas Tech University School of Law to hear a pair of cases on its docket.

“We are honored to welcome the Texas Supreme Court back to Texas Tech University School of Law,” said Darby Dickerson, dean of the School of Law. “This opportunity will allow our law students and other members of the community to observe oral arguments and to interact with the justices. It's part of our philosophy to expose students to the actual work of courts. It's also important that our legal system be transparent, and I applaud the court for making its proceedings accessible to us here in West Texas.”

Oral arguments will be heard at 9 a.m. Thursday (Oct. 9) at the Hunt Courtroom in the Lanier wing of the School of Law, located at the northeast corner of 19th Street and Indiana Avenue. The Supreme Court also heard cases at Texas Tech in 2008 and 1999 after a constitutional amendment, supported by then-state senator and current Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan, was passed in 1997 which allowed the court to circulate to various law schools throughout the state.

“It is an exciting opportunity for our students to gain first-hand experience with the state's highest court,” Duncan said. “This is something I was passionate about during my time in the Texas Legislature, so it is personally rewarding to see the program benefit our students at Texas Tech.”

The first case the court will hear is Nabors Well Services Ltd. and Lauro Bernal Garcia v. Asuncion Romero, et al. from Pecos County and the El Paso Court of Appeals. This case deals with the issue in a motor vehicle accident of whether evidence that a seat belt was not used should be admissible to mitigate damages.

The second case is University of Texas at Arlington v. Sandra Williams and Steve Williams from Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. In this case, the issue is whether a recreational-use statute limits the university's liability for a fall at a university stadium following an outdoor soccer game.

“Our law students have wonderful opportunities to witness and listen to many guest lecturers and professionals in the field of law that give them an insight in real-world applications of law,” Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis said. “Dean Darby Dickerson and the faculty and staff at the School of Law have set a standard for education in law and we are proud of the leadership they provide our students.”

One member of the court who will be hearing arguments is Justice Phil Johnson, a 1975 graduate of the Texas Tech School of Law. Johnson was appointed to the court in 2005 by Gov. Rick Perry to fill the vacancy left when Justice Michael H. Schneider, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Tyler. After filling the final two years of Schneider's term, he was elected in 2008 to a full term, which ends Dec. 31.

Johnson was elected to the Seventh Court of Appeals in 1998 and chief justice in 2002. Before that, he practiced in Lubbock with the firm of Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, L.L.P.

“At Texas Tech, we prepare some of the nation's best law students, which is proven by the countless national advocacy championships and high bar passage rates,” Duncan said. “My hope is that by being in a courtroom with the justices, as well as seeing the success of one of our own, Justice Phil Johnson, our students will enter their careers with a wealth of valuable experience.”

For more information on the Texas Supreme Court and oral argument information, go to http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/oralarguments/oa.asp.

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CONTACT: Kari Abitbol, director, School of Law, Texas Tech University, (806) 834-8591 or kari.abitbol@ttu.edu. or Julie Doss, associate dean for external relations, School of Law, Texas Tech University, (806) 834-0753 or julie.doss@ttu.edu.