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Senator Don Adams is the recipient of the 2015 James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
The award goes to those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to upholding the principles of the First Amendment and open government. Adams was presented with the award on September 17 during the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon at the foundation's Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin."Senator Don Adams' steadfast support of and tireless advocacy for open government and First Amendment rights has spanned four decades and three branches of government. I am thrilled to see him being recognized with the James Madison Award for his excellence and dedication in preserving these rights that are so critical to our democracy," said Laura Prather, co-chair of the FOI Foundation's legislative committee.
Adams, currently a municipal judge in Central Texas, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968 and served two terms. He then was elected to the state Senate, serving through 1977. Adams was involved in writing and passing the first Texas Open Records Act and worked to modernize and reform the Legislature's ethics requirements after the Sharpstown scandal broke in 1971. Adams later served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Dolph Briscoe and led campaigns for Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby.
Throughout the years, Adams has maintained a passion for transparency in government and protecting First Amendment rights. He has volunteered his time to newspaper and broadcast industry associations and has provided unpaid legislative expertise to the non-profit Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He was instrumental in passage of the Free Flow of Information Act; the Texas Citizens Participation Act; the Defamation Mitigation Act; the electronic communications provision of the Texas Public Information Act; and, this year, the defense against libel for accurate reports of third-party allegations on matters of public concern.
Since 1987, the James Madison Award has honored journalists, attorneys, elected officials and vigilant citizens. Last year's recipient was veteran newsman and Texas Press Association executive Donnis Baggett.
"I am so very proud to be given this honor, which I must share with Laura Prather and Donnis Baggett," Adams said. "The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is one of the most important advocates of transparency in government, and that makes this honor especially important to me." Paul Watler, chairman of the FOI Foundation's Madison Award committee, said press and speech freedoms are stronger in Texas because of Adams.
"Don Adams is a Founding Father of the people's right to know in Texas," Watler said. "Senator Adams helped give birth to the Open Records Act. Don has championed open government ever since. He is a folksy and noble example of the virtue of a citizen-legislator."
Neal W. Adams of Adams, Lynch & Loftin, P.C. in Grapevine, was the 7th recipient of the Kelly Frels Lifetime Achievement Award for School Law given by the State Bar of Texas' School Law Section.
Elizabeth Pratt has been elected President of the Katy Bar Association (KBA), an active bar association drawing members from Fort Bend, Harris, and Waller Counties. She has played an active part in leadership roles in the KBA since relocating to the Katy/west Houston area ten years ago. She is Board Certified in labor and employment law and handles a broad variety of employment-related legal matters within her own firm, Elizabeth Pratt, PLLC Law Firm. Pratt has been recognized multiple years as a Thomson Reuters Super Lawyer and as a U.S. News "Best Lawyer" in management-side employment law.
Jonathan J. Bates of Kinser & Bates, LLP in Dallas is the 2016-2017 President of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. He serves on the State Bar of Texas Family Law Council and the board of trustees of the Texas Family Law Foundation. Bates also is a fellow with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Gregory S. Cagle of Savrick Schumann Johnson McGarr Kaminski & Shirley, L.L.P. in Austin was granted membership in the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), a national organization whose membership consists of attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the evolution and practice of community association law. Less than 175 attorneys nationwide have been admitted to CCAL, and Cagle is only the second attorney from Texas ever admitted to such organization.
Joel Bailey joined Hedrick Kring, PLLC as a partner in Dallas. Bailey's practice focuses on complex civil litigation.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel of Hunt Tuegel, PLLC in Waco was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Tuegel practices many areas of criminal law including sex offenses, theft, drug crimes, arson, murder, capital murder and white-collar crimes. She has tried eight high-profile capital murder cases, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, federal felony drug cases, and she has represented a number of clients facing the penalty at trial.
She has testified as an expert in capital death penalty habeas litigation in the area of jury selection and mitigation. She has presented at seminars at the local, state, and national level on the topic of mitigation.
Tuegel was named a Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers in 2015 and 2016, and a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association from 2014 to 2016. She is a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Kelley Clark joined Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. as an associate attorney in the firm's Houston office. Clark was also elected to the Houston Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors.