TM GET THE STATE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS ON-LINE Tough, investigative reporting; the wit and good sense of Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower; Political Intelligence; insightful cultural analysis; and much more. Check out Molly Ivins’ special subscription offer, too! www.texasobserver.org Subscribe on-line or call The Texas Observer at 800-939-6620 and maintained it successfully for many years, making enormous contributions in the field of human rights. Their efforts led others to do so: Ed Cloutman and Ed Polk in Dallas, and a similar law collective in Houston that included Ed Mallet, Frances Freeman Jalet, Larry Sauer, and Rick Prinz, among others. So there did emerge movement law firms in the state that identified with the New Left firms that were more willing than the old guard liberal lawyers to accommodate the Left in its confrontation with the system. We all managed to collaborate with each other, for there was never any shortage of worthy causes that continued to call on all our energies throughout most of the seventies. There were other consequences, direct or indirect. Within fairly short order Frances Jalet began what emerged as the Ruiz prison reform litigation before Judge William Wayne Justice. My old partner, Fred Weldon, who had been at Wimberly, left Dallas and took over the El Paso Legal Service program. With Steve Bercu leading the way, they shortly began Morales v. Turman, the lawsuit that forced reform of the Texas youthful offender program. In Austin, Bobby Taylor initiated a suit that forced reforms in the jails of Travis County, and in Dallas Ed Cloutman became immersed in the endless Dallas school desegregation lawsuit. These and many more attacks upon systemic injustices were surely a byproduct of Wimberly and the notion of using the courts as a means of social change. The Wimberly gathering even had some influence on the legal profession. In 1970 the State Bar of Texas had President Nixon’s Attorney General, the criminal John Mitchell, as its keynote speaker. Remnants of the Wimberly gathering emerged as the Radical Lawyers Caucus, and organized a counter-convention in San Antonio with William Kunstler as their keynoter. The establishment bar did all it could to squelch the upstarts, including refusing to let them buy an ad in the Texas Bar Journal. Jim Simons sued the Bar, and Federal Judge Jack Roberts in Austin found the refusal to run the ad in violation of the First Amendment. The counter-convention proceeded, with many of us in attendance \(frankly, anything was better than the stanI got the idea following the San Antonio skirmish to try legitimize the radical caucus 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER within the State Bar framework. I reasoned we could offer resolutions and generally gum up the Bar, provide a haven for dissident lawyers, and make our periodic gatherings tax-deductible business outings. With the help of Roy Mersky of the U.T. Law School, I managed to persuade the State Bar to approve the creation of a new section of the official Bar, and thus came into being the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section. The name was patterned after a section of the American Bar Association, and the only way I could get approval in Texas was by adopting the A.B.A. language. At our organizational meeting at the State Bar Convention in 1971, the young radicals’ first motion was to eliminate “Responsibilities” from the section name. I managed to head off the revolt and the section has survived these many years probably only in order to sponsor the reunion we held last fall in Wimberly. Cam Cunningham, one of the Wimberly originals, moderated a panel that mixed reminiscences with calls to action. The panel included Don Gladden of Fort Worth, who had to remind us that he had not been at the initial Wimberly meeting. Don has raised so much hell with the Establishment for so long that organizers assumed he had to have been in attendance in 1968. For me the most cogent remarks came from Terry Weeks of Austin. Terry had pungent memories of our first go-round, but he also laid on us a well-reasoned attack upon the damages being done to our society, and to our neighbors, by our obsessive and doomed war on drugs. The corruption brought about by narco-dollars, the diversion of our resources, and the dooming of thousands of young people to felon status is truly a national calamity and tragedy. There seemed to be enough energy about to bestir us to another battle or two. Perhaps we’ll be heard from again. David Richards has practiced civil rights and labor law since the Fifties in Texas and is now a Texpatriate living in the San Francisco Bay Area. MARCH 31, 2000
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.