Texas Supreme Court to Hear Cases in New Law Building

Texas’ high court will open Texas Tech’s futuristic courtroom.

The Supreme Court of Texas will hear two cases in Lubbock to inaugurate the Donald M. Hunt Courtroom in the new Mark & Becky Lanier Professional Development Center at the Texas Tech School of Law.

The hearings will begin at 10 a.m. April 22, immediately preceding the ribbon cutting for the new law school addition.

Walter Huffman, dean of the law school, said to have the Texas Supreme Court opening the courtroom in the new addition is an honor and a privilege for Texas Tech and for Lubbock.

"It is always an honor when our Supreme Court is willing to leave its Austin chambers and hear actual cases at our law school for the educational benefit of our students," Huffman said. "The timing of this visit to give additional emphasis to the opening of our new courtroom makes this visit even more special. We are very grateful to Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, our Texas Tech Law alumnus Justice Phil Johnson and the staff of the Supreme Court for making this wonderful event possible."

The first case is an appeal in a lawsuit contesting ownership of much of Padre Island, involving heirs of a man who owned the land before the Texas Revolution and was the nephew of the priest for whom Padre Island was named. One of the principal issues in the appeal is whether time limits on filing a lawsuit bar the claim. The heirs argue their interest to the Padre Island land can be traced to 1830, when their ancestor took back the land from a previous sale.

In the other case – Benny P. Phillips, M.D. v. Dale Bramlett, from Lubbock County – the issue is whether an insurance company should pay more than the limits that state medical-malpractice law places on damages because the insurance company refused a supposedly reasonable offer to settle the case.

The hearings are open to Texas Tech law students and faculty, as well as to the public if seating allows. The hearings later will be available by streaming video on the Internet at http://stmarytxlaw.mediasite.com/stmarytx/Catalog/.

Johnson was a member of the Texas Tech Law Review and graduated with honors in 1975. He was appointed to the court in 2005 by Gov. Rick Perry. Johnson was serving as chief justice of the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo at the time of his appointment. He was elected to the Seventh Court of Appeals in 1998 and was elected chief justice in 2002. He practiced law from 1975 until 1998 with the Lubbock law firm of Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam LLP.

The technologically advanced courtroom is named for Donald Hunt, adjunct professor of law, appellate advocacy advisor and moot court competition coach for the school since1974.

CONTACT: Frank Ramos, assistant academic dean, Texas Tech School of Law, (806) 742-3793, or frank.ramos@ttu.edu.