Fastcase 50 Honorees

Earlier this month, the legal research platform, Fastcase, announced its annual class of innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders. Known as the Fastcase 50, the honorees are a distinguished group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, and bar association executives. They are people from all walks of life whose accomplishments in the field of law inspire others to advance the profession.

In recent years, Texas has been well represented among those selected, and 2017 is no exception. Cameron Vann, Senior Staff Attorney of the State Bar of Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program is a recent inductee as is Cisselon Nichols Hurd, Senior Counsel at Shell Oil and Co-Founder of the UT Center for Women in Law

Also included among the honorees since 2011 are several librarians. Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress, is on this year's roster. Previous librarian inductees are listed here.

2016: Tim Baran, Cathryn Bowie, Robert (Bob) Oaks

2015: David Mao, Kate Martin

2014: Tina Gheen, Courtney Kennaday, Richard Leiter

2013: Bob Berring, Jr., Cindy Chick, Anne Ellis, Bess Reynolds

2012: Tom Boone, Jason Eiseman, Jane Kinney , Roger Skalbeck

2011: Robert Brink, Tom Bruce, Sarah Glassmeyer, Joe Hodnicki, John Joergensen, John Palfrey, Rob Richards, Roberta Shaffer, David Whelan, Judith Wright

Featured Podcast: Constitutional from the Washington Post

Occasionally, the Harris County Law Library will recommend a podcast that may be of interest to readers of this blog. Previous suggestions include More PerfectReveal, and the podcasts of the Legal Talk Network. On Monday, July 24, the Washington Post will launch a new podcast called Constitutional. The press release describes it as follows:  

The Washington Post is launching “Constitutional,” a new podcast about the history of the U.S. Constitution and the great debates that have shaped it over time. “Constitutional” will explore the document’s origin story, the passage of its amendments, and the people who fought to frame and reframe it— revolutionaries, abolitionists, suffragists, teetotalers, protesters, justices, and presidents.

Each week the podcast will delve into the big fights over citizenship, race, justice, love, liberty, taxes, and freedom of expression. Sign up for news on the podcast release here.

If you decide to tune in and you find that you like the Constitutional podcast, check out its predecessor, also from the Washington Post, the Presidential podcast. Both are hosted by Lillian Cunningham. Happy listening!




Latest & Greatest – The Noble Lawyer

By William J. Chriss Published by State Bar of Texas, 2011 KF 298 .C48 2011

By William J. Chriss

Published by State Bar of Texas, 2011

KF 298 .C48 2011

Recognizing the apparent dislike and derision that much of the public feels toward the bench and bar, the author of The Noble Lawyer takes up the task of defending lawyers and explains how, despite these attacks, the profession as a whole can regain its status as a noble one. William Chriss begins his examination of the public’s perception of the legal profession by analyzing the causes of the enmity that the public has for the lawyer and why it feels the need to engage and takes great pleasure in lawyer-bashing and lawyer-hating. Positing that the jury trial and the law of torts are at the core of this anti-lawyer movement, Chriss traces the history and developments of tort law, especially with respect to negligence, and identifies some of the factors that have exacerbated this aversion to lawyers, such as the rise and prevalence of lawyer advertising and the larger jury verdicts like those found (and readily publicized) in personal injury cases. He notes, too, that circumstances in the 1970s turned the public against the law in general and eventually against the lawyers and that lawyer jokes were no longer limited to poking fun at the work lawyers did but morphed into criticisms of the attorneys themselves as individuals.

The author does present a bright side, though. He provides examples of lawyers throughout history who embodied the notion of nobility that he believes the attorneys of today could attain once again. He cites such legal icons as Cicero, Bartolomé de las Casas, and Abraham Lincoln, not to mention the most beloved fictional noble lawyer, Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In the end, the author exhorts his fellow lawyers to become more proactive in changing the public’s perception of the lawyer as a greedy, amoral character, for, as he concludes, “the key to educating a conflicted public…is for lawyers to be nobler.”

Monthly Feature: Summertime and the Law

During the month of July, Harris County Law Library is celebrating summer! Our exhibit, Summertime and the Law, will be on display all month long. On your next visit, pause for a moment in the Law Library lobby to view the exhibit and take a whimsical look at law and some of the hallmarks of summer -- sunshine, swimming, theme parks, barbecue, swimming, and more.

Featured items in the exhibit, along with a few additional sources, are listed here:


Gabriel Gomez v. The State of Texas, Unpublished

Gabriel Gomez appealed his conviction for aggravated assault asserting that he was denied a fair trial. In his complaint, Gomez described the State’s closing remarks as childish, improper, and prejudicial, and “an embarrassment to the legal dignity of the Court.” A portion of the prosecutor’s closing statement, which referenced various Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, Snow White, and the Seven Dwarves, is quoted in the opinion. See pages 6 and 7.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 789 F. 3d 1206 (2015)

Living in captivity at a Florida theme park called Seaquarium, an orca named Lolita was exposed to persistent ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Seaquarium tried to combat the harmful UV rays by applying a black-colored zinc oxide to Lolita’s skin, the physiological effects of which were untested and unknown. Plaintiffs argued that the park should be denied renewal of its operating license for violating the Animal Welfare Act. 

Kingsford Products Company v. Kingsfords, Inc., 715 F. Supp. 1013 (1989)

The plaintiff, a manufacturer of charcoal briquettes, brought action against the similarly named Kingsfords, Inc. seeking to enjoin the defendant’s further use of the Kingsford mark on their barbecue sauce product. The District Court held that, despite the plaintiff’s aspirations to one day produce and sell a barbecue sauce under the Kingsford name, they were not entitled to trademark protection. The defendant had already established its product, developed from a family recipe, and the associated brand, so the plaintiff’s arguments went up in proverbial smoke.

Federal Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 - Food and Drugs, Part 135 - Frozen Desserts, Subpart B, Section 135.110

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7 - Agriculture, Part 58 - Grading and Inspection, Subpart B, Section 58.649

State Statutes

Amusement Ride Safety and Inspection and Insurance Act, Vernon's Texas Code Annotated, Occupations Code, Chapter 2151. Regulation of Amusement Rides


Water Wings (1918), Patent No. 1,262,296

Water Wings (1928), Patent No. 1,677,083