Yesterday, we were in Houston for oral arguments in an appeal from a trial we won some time back. The trip was special because we were working side by side with a good friend and former Texas Supreme Court Justice, Dale Wainwright, and because we were eager to tell the story of a client who overcame extraordinary odds to win a verdict very few thought it could win.
The trip was special for another reason, too. I tried my first case in the old Harris County Courthouse and I have fond memories of my early years practicing there. Built in 1910, the building was a little worn back in the early 1990s, crammed full of lawyers, paper, and the hustle and bustle of an over-crowded building built to suit a different era. The grand building has since been replaced by a fancy, modern, multi-story high-rise a few blocks away, but the old courthouse building has got great bones and it was re-modeled with great success. The two Houston intermediate appellate courts are now housed in the building, which has been totally renovated and restored to a beautiful splendor.
My trip to the 1st Court of Appeals was a blessing because of the opportunity I had to work with talented and close friends for a great client, but also because the citizens of Texas and Harris County in particular, have provided us an amazing courtroom which epitomizes reverence, respect and dignity – words too seldom used when lawyers and the legal system work their way into conversations at water coolers and cocktail parties. The stately room evoked memories of Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Our firm was honored to be a part of the proceedings.
Only America provides a right to trial by a jury of one’s peers in civil cases. The jury is the truest form of democracy and the bedrock of our country’s freedoms. All of us are fortunate to live in a land that values the right to trial by jury.