A Barrister Banquet: The TX Supreme Court comes to SHSU

By Alejandra Galvan

On March 1st and March 2nd, the LEAP Center joined the President’s Office and the TX Supreme Court to make history. For the first time ithe Supreme Court of Texas provided students with the opportunity to witness two Court proceedings in the comfort of their own campus!

Leaving behind the bustling Texas Capitol, the Austin Interns/LEAP Ambassadors made their journey back to Huntsville, TX. We looked forward to returning to the quaint town of Huntsville, while also knowing we would be greeting and eating with the Texas Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, prior to the Wednesday night dinner with the justices, we had some preparing to do for the actual court cases.  This involved us moving things around and otherwise preparing the Gaertner Performing Arts Center to look like a courtroom.

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That evening, the justices were welcomed to SHSU with a reception and dinner in Austin Hall.  Two of the ambassadors coordinated with the Court’s DPS officers to transport (in golf carts) the justices and other guests to dinner.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Justice Eva Guzman

Although formally charged with greeting the justices and guests–including elected officials, local attorneys, and University administrators…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, President Dana Hoyt

we were able to spend time with some familiar faces…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Chuck Vernon

…old friends…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Mac and Leanne Woodward

…and the justices.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Chief Justice Nate Hecht

It was appropriate that the event took place in Austin Hall, which was housed by Austin College which, in turn, housed the state’s first law school.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall

In fact, General Sam Houston was on the board of directors for Austin College.  Thus, this historic event traced directly back to the life and career of Texas’s most famous lawyer, and the ambiance seemed to make everyone happier.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall

The real fun, though, was just having the opportunity to mingle and see people having a good time.

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The night’s program included remarks from Professor Mike Yawn…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Mike Yawn

…President Dana Hoyt…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, President Dana Hoyt

…and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, Justice Nathan Hecht

At least one TXSC Justice was seated at each table, often with at least one attorney, and this arrangement benefited the Ambassadors well in terms of advice in our future law careers.

...and President Dana Hoyt

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Perhaps no one had a better seat than Christina Perez, who sat alongside President Hoyt, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, 10th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Tom Gray, and County Judge Danny Pierce.  Gray and Pierce, long-time friends of the LEAP Ambassadors, calmed Perez’s nerves, and allowed her to enjoy her time with the TXSC Chief Justice and University President.  And they, in turn, seemed to enjoy the night as well.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall, President Hoyt

As the echoing laughter and chatter in Austin Hall died down, the attending guests bid their farewells to the Justices. The LEAP Ambassadors reflected on the night while standing in the now empty Austin Hall before leaving to get a good night’s rest for what the following day had in store.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Supreme Court, Austin Hall

 

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to news stories, having contributed more than 50 pieces in the past year. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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