Commissioners

Harriet Miers

Chair

Harriet Miers

Chair

"The Supreme Court of Texas announced Dallas attorney Harriet Miers will assume the role of Chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, effective January 1, 2022." [Read more.]

Harriet Miers is a partner at Locke Lord LLP and has offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington, DC. She served in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001-2007 as Staff Secretary, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Counsel to the President.  Miers was the first female President of the Dallas Bar Association and of the State Bar of Texas. She received the Sandra Day O’Connor award from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism and the Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement from the SMU Dedman School of Law.

Miers holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Methodist University and a law degree from the Southern Methodist University School of Law.

Hon. Brett Busby

Supreme Court of Texas Liaison

Hon. Brett Busby

Supreme Court of Texas Liaison

Jusitce Brett Busby of Houston is a former Justice of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, having served from June 2012 through December 2018, and previously was a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, an adjunct professor at The University of Texas School of Law, and a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. He is board-certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a committee chair for the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the chair of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section, and a member of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee and the Federalist Society.

He is a member and past chair of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Pattern Jury Charges, a former member of the Texas Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and a former gubernatorial appointee to the Commission to Study and Review Certain Penal Laws. Additionally, he is chair of the Houston Symphony Society Artistic Affairs Committee, a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum, and a member of the Houston Civic Symphony First Violin Section. He is a board member of Houston Volunteer Lawyers, a former trustee of the Post Oak School in Houston, and an Eagle Scout. A seventh-generation Texan, Busby received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Judge Busby was sworn into office by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Hon. Lora Livingston

Interim Executive Director

Hon. Lora Livingston

Interim Executive Director

Bio coming soon!

Harry M. Reasoner

CHAIR EMERITUS

Harry M. Reasoner

CHAIR EMERITUS

"Harry M. Reasoner served as Chair [of the Texas Access to Justice Commission] for 12 years. During that time, the Commission made incredible advancements in its mission to increase access to justice for the poor in Texas, including redoubling its legislative and congressional efforts in pursuit of additional civil legal aid funding. His remarkable commitment also has resulted in greater public awareness of and support for providing low-income Texans with vital civil legal services." [Read more.]

Reasoner is a partner at Vinson & Elkins in Houston, Texas. His principal area of practice is complex civil litigation, including antitrust and securities litigation. Reasoner is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Bar Foundation. Reasoner’s professional memberships include The American Law Institute and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Reasoner serves on the Board of Trustees of Baylor College of Medicine and as a Trustee Emeritus of Rice University and The Center for American and International Law.  

Reasoner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Rice University and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. 

James P. Sullivan

Ex-Officio Member

James P. Sullivan

Ex-Officio Member

James Sullivan bio coming soon!

Hon. Gene Wu

Ex-Officio Member

Hon. Gene Wu

Ex-Officio Member

State Representative Gene Wu proudly serves the people of District 137 in the Texas House. Prior to being elected in 2012, he served as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, where he sought justice for thousands of crime victims. Gene is currently an attorney in private practice.

Outside his legislative work, Gene remains active and involved in the Houston community. For the past nine years, he has worked with Neighborhood Centers Inc. in conducting monthly workshops that have helped several thousand Harris County residents become United States citizens. Gene currently serves on community advocacy organization boards such as the OCA-Greater Houston Advisory Board, the Chinese Community Center Advisory Board, and the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Centers Advisory Committee. He is the past President of the Houston 80-20 Political Action Committee. Gene has also served as a mentor and teacher for adults in the Skills for Living program, and tutored at-risk youth at Sharpstown High School.

Gene grew up in the Southwest Houston neighborhood of Sharpstown. He earned his Bachelors of Science Degree from Texas A&M University, a Master’s Degree from the LBJ School for Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, and a Law Degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston.

Gene and his wife, Miya, reside in Southwest Houston. They are the proud parents of two sons.

Hon. Judith Zaffirini

Ex-Officio Member

Hon. Judith Zaffirini

Ex-Officio Member

The second highest-ranking state senator, Judith Zaffirini has passed 1,024 bills (more than any legislator in the state’s history); cast 60,000 consecutive votes since 1987; and received more than 950 honors for her legislative, professional, and civic accomplishments. Also a member of the Texas Judicial Council, she champions preventing cronyism and corruption in the legal system, protecting persons under guardianship and/or with intellectual and emotional disabilities, and increasing access to justice. Her legislation includes creating legal self-help centers; multi-county law libraries; standardized forms for landlord-tenant disputes, wills, and other basic legal matters for low-income Texans; and eliminating "debtors' prisons." Her son, Carlos Jr., a member of the Access to Justice Foundation, established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative, which pays bar review and exam costs for low-income UT law graduates who will represent low-income clients.

Senator Zaffirini holds B.S., M.A., and PhD degrees from UT-Austin.

Pablo Javier Almaguer

Commissioner

Pablo Javier Almaguer

Commissioner

Bio coming soon!

Hon. Nicholas Chu

Commissioner

Hon. Nicholas Chu

Commissioner

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Judge Nicholas Chu was sworn in as the Presiding Judge of Travis County Probate Court No. 2 on October 1, 2023. Previously, Judge Chu served as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 in Travis County, Texas since 2017. He was an Assistant District Attorney with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and as a chief misdemeanor prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney’s Office. Judge Chu served as chair of the Texas Supreme Court’s Justice Court COVID-19 Response Working Group and was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court’s Remote Proceedings Task Force. He is also a volunteer faculty member for the Texas Justice Court Training Center and serves on the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee.

 

Judge Chu presided over the nation’s first fully virtual/remote criminal jury trial in August of 2020 and was recognized as 2021’s Judge of the Year by the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association, Texas’ largest association of elected officials. His court docket includes having primary responsibility for all of Travis County’s civil mental health cases.

 

Nick is the proud son of immigrants and the grandson of the owner of the first Chinese restaurant in Grapevine, Texas, where he was raised. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his B.A. in Government, and he earned his law degree from Baylor Law School. His wife, Kathryn Whitley Chu, is a school board trustee for Austin ISD, and together they live happily in Austin with their daughter and son.

Alistair Dawson

Commissioner

Alistair Dawson

Commissioner

Alistair Dawson is an acclaimed trial lawyer. Alistair has handled and tried a variety of challenging commercial lawsuits. As a result of his skills and hard work, Alistair has earned widespread praise from clients and colleagues as a “go to” trial lawyer. He is recognized by Best Lawyers in America (2012-2018) for commercial litigation, Benchmark Litigation as a Local Litigation Star - Texas (2014-2017) for antitrust and commercial litigation, and by Chambers USA (2005-2017) as a leading trial lawyer in Texas. Alistair is also a member of the nationally acclaimed American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). 

Alistair matches his trial skills with active civic involvement and leadership positions with the State Bar of Texas and Houston Bar Association.  He is currently on the State Bar Board of Directors and is Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Fellows.  Alistair previously served as President of the Houston Bar Association.  He is often sought after as a presenter and speaker at various legal events and symposiums, and devotes significant time to pro bono matters, having served on the Board of Directors for the Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Lone Star Legal Aid.

Alistair graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts and obtained his law degree from the University of Texas.

 

Joe Escobedo Jr.

Commissioner

Joe Escobedo Jr.

Commissioner

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Jose “Joe” Escobedo Jr. is Board Certified, AV-rated and has over 30 years of experience in complex commercial and tort litigation.  He is a partner with Escobedo & Cardenas, LLP, in Edinburg, Texas. Mr. Escobedo is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and has previously served as President of the RGV-ABOTA Chapter. He served on the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) Board of Directors and as Chair of the SBOT Board. Mr. Escobedo is a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow and presently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Bar Foundation. Mr. Escobedo received his law degree from the University of Texas. 

Hon. Roy Ferguson

Commissioner

Hon. Roy Ferguson

Commissioner

Bio coming soon!

Gabriela Garcia

Commissioner

Gabriela Garcia

Commissioner

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Gabriela Garcia is the Project Coordinator at BASTA (Building and Strengthening Tenant Action) where she organizes and supports Austin renters in developing tenant associations so that neighbors can work collectively to improve the conditions of their homes and ensure that all Austinites have access to safe and affordable housing.  

Over the past 20 years she has worked in the nonprofit sector as an organizer, paralegal and advocate for employment, immigration, and housing justice.  She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas where she helped open the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project.  

Gabby graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A  in Psychology.  

 

 

Lisa Hobbs

Commissioner

Lisa Hobbs

Commissioner

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Lisa Bowlin Hobbs is a board-certified Civil Appellate lawyer and Founding Member of the premier appellate boutique, Kuhn Hobbs PLLC. Lisa became known across Texas when, at the age of 30, she was picked by the Texas Supreme Court as its first ever General Counsel. Prior to serving as General Counsel, she served as the Court’s Rules Attorney.

Lisa is a member of the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee, a commissioner of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, and a Trustee of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society. She serves on the editorial board of The Advocate, a publication of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas. Lisa also serves as an officer on the SBOT Civil Appellate Section and the Austin Bar Association’s Civil Litigation Section, and served as Chair of the Austin Bar Association’s Civil Appellate Section. Lisa has taught Texas Civil Procedure at the University of Texas School of Law and Media Law at Houston Baptist University.  Before founding Kuhn Hobbs PLLC, Lisa practiced in the appellate section at Vinson & Elkins LLP.

She is an honors graduate of The University of Texas School of Law and graduated summa cum laude from Houston Baptist University. Lisa began her legal career as a law clerk for the late Texas Supreme Court Justice James A. Baker.

Roland K. Johnson

Commissioner

Roland K. Johnson

Commissioner

Roland Johnson is a proven leader in the Texas legal community  and an attorney for Harris, Finley & Bogle, PC. A former president of the State Bar of Texas, he has been repeatedly honored for his professionalism and legal knowledge, and is often asked to speak on ethics, professionalism, arbitration, and leadership issues. Roland’s experience benefits his clients and the community in their quest for justice in commercial litigation, arbitrations, and legal malpractice arenas. 

In 2018, Roland was in the Top 100 Texas Super Lawyers list for Texas, a Thompson Reuters service published in Texas Monthly magazine. Roland is a Fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a member of American Board of Trial Advocates, a member of the American Law Institute, board member of Texas Access to Justice Foundation and commissioner to Texas Access to Justice Commission. But perhaps most importantly, he has served as Swine Barn Superintendent for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show since 1998. He received his bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctorate from Baylor University.

 

Krisi Kastl

Commissioner

Krisi Kastl

Commissioner

Bio coming soon!

Tom Leatherbury

Commissioner

Tom Leatherbury

Commissioner

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Tom  Leatherbury  is  co-head  of  the  Appellate  Section  of  Vinson  &  Elkins  L.L.P.  and  the  Director of  the  First  Amendment  Clinic  at  the  SMU  Dedman  School  of  Law.    Tom  currently  serves  as  the President  of  the  Texas  Supreme  Court  Historical  Society  and  as  a  member  of  the  Council  of  the State  Bar  of  Texas  Appellate  Section  and  of  the  Editorial  Board  of  the  ABA’s  Communications Lawyer.  He  has  served  as  a  member  of  the  ABA  Forum  Committee  on  Communications  Law Governing  Committee  and  as  President  of  the  Defense  Counsel  Section  of  the  Media  Law Resource  Center  and  of  the  Freedom  of  Information  Foundation  of  Texas.  He  has  also  served  as Chair  of  the  Dallas  Bar  Association's  Media  Relations  Committee  and  is  a  fellow  of  the  American Bar  Foundation,  the  Texas  Bar  Foundation,  and  the  Dallas  Bar  Foundation  (which  honored  him with  its  Justinian  Award  in  2018). 

Tom  has  been  ranked  in  First  Amendment  Litigation  and Appellate  Litigation  by  Chambers  USA,  has  been  named  in  Best  Lawyers  in  America  in  First Amendment  Law,  Commercial  Litigation,  Appellate  Law,  and  Bet-the-Company  Litigation,  and is  a  member  of  the  American  Law  Institute  (and  an  Advisor  on  the  current  project  concerning  the defamation provisions  of  the  Restatement  of  Torts).  Tom is  licensed  to practice  in Texas  and is  admitted to practice  before  all  federal  courts  in  Texas, the  United  States  Courts  of  Appeals  for  the  Second,  Third,  Fourth,  Fifth,  Ninth,  and  Federal Circuits,  and  the  United  States  Supreme  Court.  He  graduated  summa  cum  laude  from  Yale  College, with  a  B.A.  in  history,  and  was  a  member  of  Phi  Beta  Kappa.  He  earned  his  J.D.  from  Yale  Law School,  where  he  worked  in  the  Mental  Hospital  Legal  Services  Clinic  and  served  as  chair  of  the Jerome  N.  Frank Legal  Services  Organization.  Immediately after  law  school, Tom  clerked  for  the Hon. Robert  M.  Hill, a  U.S. District  Judge  for  the  Northern District  of  Texas  in Dallas. 

Tom has  served  as  amicus  counsel  for  the  Texas  Access  to  Justice  Commission and for  the  Texas Access  to  Justice  Foundation  in  several  appeals.  He  has  also  served  as  pro  bono  counsel  for  Texas Appleseed,  the  Texas  Civil  Rights  Projects,  the  League  of  Women  Voters  of  Texas,  and a  number of  publishers,  broadcasters,  and journalists. 

Hon. Latosha Lewis Payne

Commissioner

Hon. Latosha Lewis Payne

Commissioner

Bio and photo coming soon!

Hon. Michael C. Massengale

Commissioner

Hon. Michael C. Massengale

Commissioner

Michael Massengale is a Houston-based arbitrator and mediator, practicing with JAMS. Formerly a partner in an international law firm, he began his career as a trial lawyer working primarily on complex commercial disputes, predominantly in energy-related industries. He left private law practice to accept an appointment by Gov. Rick Perry to the First Court of Appeals. He is board-certified in civil appellate law, he has over a decade of judicial experience, and he continues to serve by appointment as a visiting appellate justice.

Michael served for six years as a commissioner on the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families, where he chaired the Training Committee and oversaw the creation of a trial skills training program for attorneys handling parental-termination cases. He is a fellow of the Texas and Houston bar foundations and a principal benefactor of the JAMS Foundation, which shares its dispute resolution experience and expertise for the benefit of the public interest. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Michael graduated from Dartmouth College and earned his law degree at The University of Texas.

David R. McAtee II

Commissioner

David R. McAtee II

Commissioner

David McAtee, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, is responsible for all legal matters at AT&T as well as for AT&T's public policy organization. He was appointed General Counsel in October 2015 and Chair of the AT&T Foundation in May 2018. David joined AT&T in January 2012 , prior to that, he was a partner of Haynes and Boone, LLP, an Am Law 100 firm based in Dallas, where he specialized in complex litigation matters, antitrust and government investigations. He also served as the administrative partner of the firm’s Dallas office. Prior to joining Haynes and Boone, David was senior law clerk to U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, then Chief Judge of the Northern District of Texas. David is a former executive committee member of the State Bar of Texas, chair of the Board of Editors of the Texas Bar Journal, and chair of the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has twice received a Presidential Citation by the State Bar of Texas for leadership in the bar and received a Leadership Award from TexasBarCLE for his contributions in support of continuing legal education.

David is a former president of The Dallas Assembly and the Trinity Commons Foundation, the coordinating organization for local, state and federal government initiatives in the $1.5 billion Trinity River Corridor Project in Dallas. He currently serves on the board of directors of St. Mark’s School of Texas, Methodist Health System and the Alcuin School. Born in Dallas, Texas, David graduated from Duke University with honors and from The University of Texas School of Law, where he was an associate editor of The Review of Litigation.

Karen Nicholson

Commissioner

Karen Nicholson

Commissioner

Karen Nicholson had long had education as a primary focus. Before recently retiring to Austin, Nicholson was vice-president of the Midland ISD Board of Trustees. She taught in the Austin and Richardson ISD’s and was adjunct professor of mathematics at Midland College. She followed education for the LWV in the legislature for numerous sessions.

In the League of Women Voters for many years, Nicholson has served as president of LWV Texas and LWV Midland and served 4 terms on the LWVUS Board, 2 of those as Vice President. At LWVUS, she chaired the Advocacy and Litigation Committee and the Education Committee, among others.

Nicholson has served as a public member of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline and the State Bar of Texas Grievance Oversight Committe and currently is a member of Texas Legal Services Board and the State Bar’s Disciplinary Rules and Referenda Committee.

Marshall Sales

Commissioner

Marshall Sales

Commissioner

Bio and photo coming soon!

Dean Brad J. Toben

Commissioner

Dean Brad J. Toben

Commissioner

Bio and photo coming soon!

Terry O. Tottenham

Commissioner

Terry O. Tottenham

Commissioner

Since 1978, partner at Fulbright & Jaworski specializing in complex litigation in federal and state courts throughout U.S.  Currently, Of Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright in Austin Office. Proud father to 3 daughters and Dad Tot to six grandsons. MOST IMPORTANTLY, anxiously awaiting Bruce Springsteen’s U.S. stadium tour beginning in January!!

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Alfred A. Valenzuela

Commissioner

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Alfred A. Valenzuela

Commissioner

Gen. Valenzuela served 33 years in the US Army spanning 3 Combat Corps, 6 Divisions & numerous interagency assignments in postings that traversed the globe: Turkey, Syria, Korea, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Germany, Grenada, Panama, El Salvador, Kuwait, Iraq & Somalia. Decorated for Heroism & Valor, he was awarded the two highest peacetime honors the military has to offer--the Defense & Army Distinguished Service Medals.

 

A disabled vet, Gen. Valenzuela's dedication to the troops with whom he served has carried over into civilian life. He is co-founder of the Center of Terrorism Law & the Warrior Defense Project at St. Mary’s School of Law, both of which help provide pro bono criminal defense to veterans. He has published several books and donated part of the proceeds to the children and families of casualties of the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq.

 

Named by Hispanic Business Magazine as one the 100 Influential Hispanics in America, Gen. Valenzuela was designated by the Mayor of San Antonio to be the President/CEO of both the San Antonio & Bexar County Housing Authorities; sits on the Boards of the National Recreation Foundation, St. Mary’s University, and Haven of Hope; is a proud distinguished alumnus of St. Mary’s University and Jefferson High School; and is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of America's Alumni Hall of Fame.

 

He is married to Esther Trevino and father of two children: Lori Valenzuela, Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals and former Criminal District Court and Veterans Felony Treatment Court judge, and Freddie Valenzuela, Jr., Program Manager for several educational foundations. They have 4 grandchildren.

Kennon L. Wooten

Commissioner

Kennon L. Wooten

Commissioner

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Kennon is a partner at Scott Douglass & McConnico, where she focuses primarily on civil litigation but also handles appeals and advises clients on rule-related matters. Previously, she served as the Texas Supreme Court’s Rules Attorney, worked at Baker Botts, and clerked for former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court. 

Kennon has a track record of service and a commitment to increasing access to justice. For example, she served on the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services and is a member of the State Bar’s Pro Bono College. In addition, she speaks frequently at CLE events and has helped with planning CLE events. She also serves as a member of the State Bar’s Board of Directors, the American Law Institute, the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee, the Texas Supreme Court Remote Proceedings Task Force, and the Editorial Board for The Advocate—a publication of the State Bar’s Litigation Section. Previously, she served as the President of the Austin Bar Association and of the Austin Young Lawyers Association, the Chair of the State Bar’s Court Rules Committee, the Editor-in-Chief for Austin Lawyer, and as a member of and secretary for the Texas Legal Services Center 

In her free time, Kennon enjoys volunteering, spending time with her family and friends, and writingShe is a published co-author of law-review articles and a book on discovery practices in Texas.