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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2009
Texas Access to Justice Commission

Contact: Kimberly Schmitt 512-320-0099 x 104 or kschmitt@texasbar.com

Texas Supreme Court Appoints Harry M. Reasoner to Lead the Texas Access to Justice Commission

(Austin, Texas) – The Supreme Court of Texas has chosen prominent Houston trial attorney Harry M. Reasoner to lead the Texas Access to Justice Commission. The 15-member Commission was created in 2001 by the state's highest court to expand and improve legal assistance to low-income Texans throughout the state.

Reasoner is a partner in the Houston-based firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP, practicing primarily in complex civil litigation. He was first appointed to the Texas Access to Justice Commission in 2006. Reasoner succeeds James B. Sales of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. who served as chair of the Commission since 2004.

"Harry Reasoner has the determination and creativity to advance innovations begun under Jim Sales' brilliant leadership," said Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson. "He has formed relationships among the bench, bar, and the Legislature that will bring additional resources to our access to justice initiatives during these tough economic times. The Court commends Harry for his willingness to give his time and effort to the most important cause of our profession—preserving the rights of those who desperately need, but cannot afford, legal representation."

Reasoner points to recent studies showing that more than five million Texans qualify for legal aid assistance because of their low income levels. Although real progress has been made; only one-in-five of those in need receive help from legal aid services in the state because of lack of adequate funding.

"Texas suffers because hundreds of thousands of low-income Texans cannot obtain necessary legal assistance," says Reasoner. "Tragic domestic abuse and child custody cases are not resolved. Hurricane victims are stymied because they do not get FEMA assistance to which they are entitled. Social Security recipients are denied benefits which they have earned. Many are abused by unscrupulous sellers, lenders, and landlords. This causes both great personal injustices and the loss of tens of millions of dollars to our economy."

"Ironically, the recession has both increased the needs and lessened the resources available to provide equal access to justice," Reasoner continued. "We must strive to find the resources to give equal access to justice to all our citizens."

Reasoner has served on a number of Supreme Court of Texas Committees and Commissions and received the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fifth Circuit.

Also appointed as new members of the Texas Access to Justice Commission are: Michelle Cheng of Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees, Cheng & Imhoff, P.C. in Austin; Beverly B. Godbey of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Dallas; Clint Harbour with the Office of the Attorney General in Austin; Randall Sorrels of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston; Errol Summerlin of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas in Fort Worth; and Marc Vockell of Dell, Inc. in Round Rock.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

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