Baylor Law School Honors Judge Wyatt H. Heard As 2005 Baylor Lawyer Of The Year

March 21, 2005
News Photo 2636Judge Wyatt H. Heard

by Alan Hunt

The Honorable Wyatt H. Heard, former Judge of the 190th State District Court of Texas in Harris County and founder of Houston's highly acclaimed Communities in Schools program, will be honored as the 2005 Baylor Lawyer of the Year at the annual Law Day Banquet of Baylor University School of Law on April 9.

The Lawyer of the Year award is given annually to an outstanding alumnus who has brought honor and distinction to Baylor Law School and the legal profession. Judge Heard, a 1952 Baylor law graduate, will receive the award from David Hill, president of the Baylor Law Alumni Association, and Baylor President Robert B. Sloan, Jr.

Climaxing a full slate of Law Day activities, the 7 p.m. banquet program will be held at Baylor's Ferrell Center. Sloan will deliver the annual John William Minton and Florence Dean Minton Endowed Law School Lecture, with reflections on Baylor Law School and the service of Baylor lawyers within the profession. Entertainment will be provided by The Bar & Grill Singers, a group of practicing attorneys in Austin, who have raised more than $300,000 from their performances and CD sales over the past 14 years to benefit volunteer legal services for the indigent. Reservations for the evening can be made through Ms. Becky Beck at Becky_Beck@baylor.edu or at 254.710.4842. The deadline for reservations is April 5.

Following graduation from Baylor Law School, Heard began his career as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After leaving the FBI, he joined the law firm of Baker Botts, L.L.P. in Houston, where he practiced civil trial law until 1966. He subsequently became a partner in the firm of Urban, Coolidge, Pennington & Heard. In 1969, he was appointed by Governor Preston Smith to the newly created 190th State District Court of Texas in Harris County and he occupied the bench until 1990, running unopposed in six elections. Since retiring from the bench, Judge Heard has been of Counsel with three law firms in Houston and New Mexico.

An accomplished mediator and arbitrator, Judge Heard has served on the faculty of Attorney-Mediators of Texas since 1994, and he holds a professorship in the Honors Program at the University of New Mexico.

Highly respected and successful in so many career endeavors, Judge Heard has had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless at-risk students in Houston through Communities in Schools (CIS) which he founded in that city in 1979. The program has enabled thousands of young people to break the cycle of generational poverty and ignorance that has held their families captive. CIS students - many of them the first in their families to graduate from high school - have gone on to graduate from college and become lawyers, doctors, accountants, and corporate executives. These students have, in turn, created opportunities for other students to achieve success and independence. "None of this would have been possible without Judge Wyatt Heard's vision and dedication," states a Houston CIS program citation, naming Judge Heard among the first honorees recently inducted into the CIS Hall of Fame. "The determination of one man has shaped the world for untold thousands of children."

Judge Heard also began "Project Charlie," an anti-drug, anti-alcohol program in the Houston Independent School District. Beginning in 10 elementary schools, the program grew to 30 schools in three years, and in 1991, Houston ISD took over the administration of the program. More than 8,000 teachers in 186 HISD schools have been trained in "Project Charlie" and today it is the largest anti-drug, anti-alcohol program in an urban school district in the United States.

Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben notes, "Judge Heard, my very valued friend, is a gentleman with a heart for people that is boundless. Seldom do we enjoy the company and friendship of a person with as wide ranging interests and social concerns as the Judge. He is a blessing to all."

Judge Heard and his wife, Heidi, who now live in Albuquerque, N.M., have three sons and two daughters.

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