Texas Supreme Court To Convene at Baylor Law School

News Photo 4342
Texas Supreme Court
Dec. 4, 2007

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275


The Texas Supreme Court will convene in the Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Courtroom at Baylor University's Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, the home of Baylor Law School, at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. During the visit, the court will hear arguments in two cases. Prior to the arguments, memorial reflections on a former Supreme Court justice and Baylor law dean will be offered.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. with Memorial Reflections by Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben in honor of the late Hon. Charles Wallace Barrow, former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court (1977-84) and former dean of Baylor Law School (1984-91).

"Judge Barrow was my valued friend, and I had the pleasure of working closely with him for several years during his time as dean," Toben said. "The Judge had a passionate love for Baylor Law School, and he took enormous pride in the quality of the program at Baylor and the impact of the Law School upon the profession and society through its graduates."

Justice Barrow graduated from Baylor Law School in 1943, and immediately entered service in the United States Navy. He participated in the Normandy invasion, and earned seven battle stars after service in the European and Pacific theaters. He also was a veteran of the Korean War, retiring as a full Navy captain and serving in the Navy reserves.

After practicing law in San Antonio for 15 years, Justice Barrow began his service to the State of Texas in 1959 as Judge of the 45th District Court. He subsequently served as Associate and later, Chief Justice of the Fourth Court of Appeals from 1962-77. In 1977, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas and served on the state's highest court until 1984, when he became dean of the Baylor Law School.

Justice Barrow, who was 62 at the time, assumed the position as dean on Oct. 1, 1984, from Angus S. McSwain Jr., who resigned after 19 years as dean to devote full-time attention to his "first love" - classroom teaching. Justice Barrow, after leading the law school to further growth and success during those seven years as dean, returned to San Antonio in 1991, serving as a Senior District Judge in Bexar and surrounding counties until his retirement. He passed away June 25, 2006, at the age of 84.

An obituary published in the Austin American-Statesman stated, "He earned a reputation as one the hardest-working judges in Texas, all the while remaining true to his core values of integrity, honesty and humility. Whether speaking to a Texas governor or an old friend at the feed store, his remarkable gifts of country wisdom and common-sense thinking were well known and appreciated by all who were around Justice Barrow."

At the conclusion of the memorial, the court will hear arguments in the two cases listed below with a summary and links to the briefs and court of appeal opinions. The first case will begin at approximately 9:50 a.m. Each side has 20 minutes for their argument. At the conclusion of the first case, at approximately 10:30 a.m., the court will take a 10 minute break and the second case will begin at approximately 10:40 a.m.

"It is our tradition to invite a federal or state appellate court to sit at Baylor each year to provide our students with the opportunity to learn by observing actual proceedings," said Leah W. Jackson, associate dean for the law school. "In addition to the Texas Supreme Court, in past years we hosted three-judge panels from the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tenth Court of Appeals of Texas."

This will be the Texas Supreme Court's third visit to the Law School. The first visit took place in 1998, which was the first time the court sat outside of Austin in modern history. The court also convened at Baylor Law School in 2002.

"We are anticipating that our students will find the arguments before the Court to be a learning experience," Toben said. "The entire Law School community also looks forward to visiting and exchanging thoughts with the justices and the Court personnel. Over the years, prior visits by the Texas Supreme Court, as well as other courts, have added richness to our learning environment, just as this visit promises to do."

NOTE TO MEDIA: In view of the Supreme Court's traditional restrictions on cameras and recording devices, Baylor's Media Communications office will provide the services of pool still and video coverage during the hearing. Digital stills will be provided by Baylor Photography and available for media access at https://www.baylor.edu/pr/news.php. A video/audio feed of the Court's proceedings will be provided by KWBU-TV for access through a video/audio multbox.

There will be limited seating for media during the hearing. Reporters who choose to attend the hearing will not be allowed to enter or leave the courtroom except before the 9 a.m. start time, in between the memorial and the first case, or in between the first and second cases. All visitors will have to go through a security check before entering the courtroom. Please anticipate a line so arrive early.


NOTE: This advisory is for planning purposes only. Summaries are prepared by the Court's staff attorney for public information and reflect his judgment alone on facts and legal issues and in no way represent the Court's opinion about case merits.

The Court will hear two arguments beginning at 9 a.m. at Baylor University's Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center in Waco. Each side will have 20 minutes for argument.

United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co. v. Louis Goudeau

from Harris County and the First District Court of Appeals, Houston

For petitioner: David W. Holman, Houston
For respondent: Otto D. Hewitt III, Alvin

The issue is whether the claimant was "occupying" an insured vehicle when he was caught between his truck and another vehicle that was struck by a third vehicle as he was walking to check on a previous roadside accident. In this case Goudeau sued to collect from uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on his truck. Goudeau was walking between his pickup truck and the car in the first accident he stopped to check when his truck and the car were hit by a hydroplaning SUV. He was crushed when he was caught between the vehicles and a freeway retaining wall. The policy language defined an insured as a person occupying the insured vehicle and defined occupying as someone "in, upon, getting in, on, out or off" the insured vehicle. The trial court granted summary judgment for the insurance company because it determined Goudeau was not occupying the truck when he was injured. The court of appeals reversed, in part reasoning that the police report described Goudeau as being crushed between the vehicles and the retaining wall, suggesting he was touching the covered truck when he was injured.

Del Lago Partners Inc., et al. v. Bradley Smith

from Montgomery County and the 10th District Court of Appeals, Waco

For petitioner: Audrey Mullert Vicknair, Corpus Christi
For respondent: Steve Parkhurst and David Dies, Orange

The issues are (1) whether past crimes were similar enough to make a crime foreseeable, triggering a premises owner's duty to protect an invitee from crime and (2) whether legally sufficient evidence supported the conclusion that breach of the duty proximately caused the invitee's injuries. In this case Smith suffered a brain and other injuries in a brawl between fraternity members and people attending a wedding party in the bar at a Conroe golf resort. Security officers were called to the bar from a patrol elsewhere at the resort. Smith sued the resort, arguing that the resort lacked adequate security. He presented evidence of escalating tensions between members of the two groups preceding the fight and as many as 11 documented and 25 reported-but-undocumented fights at the resort in the previous three years. Jurors found Del Lago negligent and awarded Smith almost $1.5 million in damages. The court of appeals affirmed.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?