Life is good. Blessed with a large, loving family, I grew up happy, healthy, and secure. This childhood was a true gift from my parents who had both grown up during the depression. My mother lost both of her parents when she was just 16 years old. My father attended Texas A&M with the original Reveille and served in the Navy during World War II and was a PT boat Captain.
We enjoyed simple days and simple pleasures. My brothers played little league, I took organ lessons and played tennis and volleyball. We attended Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, and I sang in the choir. Every Sunday was family day. We got together with my grandparents after church, played cards and other games, and had a big family meal. My mother got up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to make breakfast for the family. My father left at 6:30 for work. He was a candy maker. I like to tell people that’s why I’m so sweet.
There were four of us, and my mother got us ready and off to school every day before she went to work herself. Mom was a secretary. Dad was home every day at 4:00 to be with us after school. I can’t remember a time in my childhood when my parents weren’t there for us – watching, encouraging, and being a part of our daily lives. My parents worked hard every day and expected their children to do the same. If we had trouble in school, they stopped what they were doing and helped us figure things out. They taught us how to work and how to play.
Twenty-five years in the legal profession has shown me how truly blessed I am.
Early in My Career
I was hired as a secretary by the City Attorney in Sherman, Texas. As I worked in that office, I was drawn more and more to the legal profession. Working full-time and going to school at night, I graduated from Grayson Community College with an Associate’s degree from its legal assistant’s division. The more I learned, the more the City Attorney allowed me to do. Soon, I was drafting ordinances, resolutions, municipal court complaints, and leases. When City staff or Council members called to ask questions, I was able to research the issues and prepare a memorandum for the City Attorney. Eventually, I decided to go to law school.
I took a year off from school when my son was born in 1983. I graduated from Austin College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1987. I sold my house and we moved to Waco where I attended Baylor University School of Law. I graduated from law school on May 11, 1989, and started work at a local Bryan law firm on May 16, 1989.
My father suffered a stroke just before Christmas in 1992. He passed away in June 1993 after spending seven months in various Houston hospitals. While he was in the hospital, I worked hard during the week so that I could travel to Houston every weekend to visit my father and mother. My parents faced this challenge with faith and love. I️ miss my father every day, and I keep his memory and his love close to my heart.
In May 1993, I decided to open a law firm with my two closest friends and colleagues. I needed more flexibility in my schedule and in financial arrangements for clients. I wanted to create a practice with an emphasis on helping people – providing legal services to hard-working people who couldn’t afford it otherwise. My mother-in-law, Tresa Meece, retired from teaching and moved to Bryan to work as business manager at the firm. We became very close. When she fell ill in 2009, I worked from her Houston hospital room for several months. Just before she slipped into a coma, she told me she loved me. Those were the last words she ever spoke. I miss her dearly.
Strong Moral Values
Many of my former clients have remained good friends over the years. I have learned from them and from personal experience that troubled times fade and joyful memories sustain us. I have learned that true friends are there in both hard and good times, and that one good friend is worth more than any acquaintance. In fact, the hardest lesson to learn in life may be in discovering that people you believed were friends – aren’t.
Like most Texans, I respect fairness, equality and independence. I can’t stand bullies, and I’ve spent my career fighting for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. I have been blessed to find a profession that is exciting and rewarding. Every day poses a new challenge. I have handled complex civil litigation involving multimillion dollar federal cases to simple justice court cases involving the right to possession of a cat. I have handled criminal cases at both felony and misdemeanor levels. The American judicial system is a great equalizer, a place where everyone has the right to be heard, and a place where – when everyone does their job well – justice has the best chance of being served.
Committed to Public Service
And like most Texans, I have endured my share of challenges. I know what it is like to feel as if I had no home, no safe place to be. I know what it is like to be a client in litigation. I have seen the best and the worst of politics. I have participated in judicial campaigns where the opponents helped each other and treated each other with respect. I have suffered from lies and rumors promulgated by less scrupulous opponents—even to the extent of being accused of committing crimes and facing criminal charges. As with other difficult times, the hard times faded away and the happy memories of friends made and challenges faced remained.
Through it all, I️ have made mistakes. I️ have learned to embrace my mistakes and learn from them. I get up every morning with one goal – the goal of being the best I can be that day. I am thankful every day for the blessings I have been given. I don’t fear the challenges, I fear being less than I can be.