HCDLA Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association [HCDLA], an incorporated general purpose political action committee, was formed in 2003 by local lawyers who are affiliated with the Democratic Party.

This group is committed to furthering the administration of fair justice and intends to advance that goal by making Harris County, once again, a Democratic county. Most founding members are veteran candidates from previous Harris County judicial, legislative, and administrative elections. However, membership is open to all committed Democrats, including non-lawyers. Dues are nominal. HCDLA believes that the most effective way to win local elections is to recruit the best qualified candidates possible and to educate our base Democratic voters of the importance of voting “down ballot” in local elections. To that end, HCDLA works every election cycle with various groups and candidates to organize an effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort.

Operating as usual

Crunching the Numbers: What Went Right & Wrong in Harris County 2020 Election (April 8, 2021)

Justice Meagan Hassan provides an overview of SB11 at beginning of the program. (The bill was pulled not long after.) Jamie Mercado presents on the data analysis of GOTV efforts by Sisters United Alliance. HCDP Chair Lillie Schechter and HCDP Executive Director Delilah Agho-Otoghile then present HCDP's data analysis about the Harris County 2020 election.
CLE Course # 174118163 (April 8, 2021)


Please share Justice Hassan's PowerPoint presentation on Republican attempts to completely overhaul the TX appellate system to pack two districts with Democrats and leave seven districts (the majority of the state) controlled by Republicans from certain large cities.
* Call your TX Senators and Representatives to voice opposition
* Testify at the House Redistricting Committee Meeting (TBD).
* Spread the word that this is a bad plan for most Texans.
* Post about it on your social media pages with “#SB11”


Failure by Design: Some Made $40 Billion Profit While Texans Froze

Ed Hirs, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, State Representative Jon Rosenthal, and James Cargas engage in lively and informative discussion about the February 2021 winter storm Uri pushed Texas into crisis, and what should be done to prevent future failures.

Jana Lynne Sanchez joins briefly before the CLE program to discuss her campaign for Congress in the upcoming special election in the 6th Congressional District. sanchez4texas.com twitter: @thejanasanchez

Hirs explains how deregulation of the Texas grid was led by the innovative energy trading firm Enron. Menefee talks about the various investigations that are going on (PUC, State Leg, AG, HCAO), the ERCOT sovereign immunity lawsuit, and the Uri lawsuits that have been filed thus far. Rosenthal discusses prospects for state legislation to address the problems with ERCOT. James Cargas join for q&a.

TX Bar Course # 174115151 (program was live on line March 4, 2021)

Ed Hirs teaches energy economics courses to undergraduate and graduate students within the department of economics at the University of Houston. He is also appointed as an inaugural UH Energy Fellow. He has authored and co-authored published opinion pieces on energy markets and corporate governance. He founded and co-chairs an annual energy conference at Yale University. He is frequently consulted by national and international media. Hirs’ articles and quotes have circled the globe with the impact of bringing apolitical, energy economic analysis—without the hyperbole of political agendas—to the forefront of discussion. Hirs earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors and distinction, a Master of Arts, and a MBA in economics from Yale University where he also holds the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst. With his co-authors in the Yale Graduates Energy Study Group, Hirs has published several referenced papers in energy economics available on ssrn.com & edhirs.com. twitter: @edhirs

Christian D. Menefee serves as the Harris County Attorney, which is the County’s chief civil lawyer. At 32, he is the youngest Harris County Attorney in the County's history. He manages an office of 250 attorneys and staff who represent Harris County and its departments, officials, and employees in lawsuits, and provides them legal advice in other matters. The office also serves the people of Harris County through impactful litigation and enforcement of the laws designed to protect Harris County residents. Before being elected as Harris County Attorney, Christian interned at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office and practiced in the Houston offices of two law firms, focusing on commercial litigation, corporate restructurings, and corporate investigations. He also focused heavily on pro bono work, including advising the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and advising immigrants and their families at Bush Intercontinental Airport during the “Muslim ban." harriscountycao.org facebook.com/HarrisCountyAttorney
twitter: @HarrisCountyAO and @CDMenefee

Representative Jon Rosenthal (HD 135) was first elected in 2018. He serves on the County Affairs and Energy Resources Committees. In 2019, he received the Freshman of the Year award from the non-partisan Legislative Study Group, the second largest caucus in the Texas State House dedicated to developing mainstream solutions and advancing sound public policy benefitting all Texans. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin in 1991, Jon earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He has since worked for over 25 years as a Project Manager, Engineering Manager, and Subsea Systems Engineer in and around the oil & gas industry. In 2016, Jon earned a Graduate Certificate in Subsea Engineering from the University of Houston. Representative Rosenthal has been a strong fighter, advocate and champion for better public schools, healthcare and ensuring we have comprehensive criminal justice reform across the State of Texas. He is one of two practicing engineers in the Texas State House of Representatives and the only mechanical engineer serving in the body. facebook.com/JonRosenthalTX
twitter: @Jon_RosenthalTX

James P. Cargas is an energy and sustainability lawyer, and energy broker. He is President of New Energy LLC. He serves as the Senior Assistant City Attorney for Energy at the City of Houston, a position he has held since 2008 Today, he works for Mayor Sylvester Turner, and is proud to be part of the team earning Houston the #8 spot on EPA’s top 100 list of green power users and implementing a wide variety of energy efficiency projects. In 1992, he graduated from The American University’s Washington College of Law, where he served as President of the Environmental Law Society. During law school, he worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the Solicitor’s Office. In summer of 1992, he participated in the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Cargas has held positions in a large DC law firm and as environmental counsel to a major interstate pipeline company. Cargas left the private sector in 1998 and joined the Clinton-Gore White House at the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. He finished out the Administration working for Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson at the U.S. Department of Energy. When Bill Richardson returned to New Mexico to become Governor, Cargas permanently moved to the nation’s Energy Capital to become Deputy Director of the North American Energy Standards Board. jamescargas.com
twitter: @Cargas7

What's the Matter with Zapata County?

Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Cecilia Ballí discusses the complexities and nuance of South Texas demographics. In the Rio Grande Valley, Republicans experienced significant electoral success with Zapata County swinging 38 points to support Trump, while Cameron, Starr, Willacy, Webb, and Hidalgo Counties all went Republican over 40 percent, some approaching 50 percent. Indeed, Trump actually won little Zapata County - 2,032 votes, or 52.5%, to 1,820 votes, or 47.1%, for Biden.
Over the past year, Ballí, along with two colleagues — anthropologist Michael Powell and sociologist Betsabeth Monica Lugo — had one-on-one conversations with 100 Latinos in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley. Their research, commissioned and funded by the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, sought to better understand Latino voters and nonvoters in Texas.

Dr. Cecilia Ballí is a magazine journalist and a cultural anthropologist who has written about the U.S.-Mexico border and Latinos in Texas for more than twenty years. She is the founder and principal of Culture Concepts, a strategic and creative consultancy that provides ethnographic research, cultural analysis, storytelling, and strategic messaging. Ballí is also a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and has written for various other publications, including Harper’s Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, and The New York Times. As an anthropologist, she was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and has conducted research on Tejano culture and identity, the sexual killing of women in Ciudad Juárez, the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and Latino voter participation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Rice University. A native of Brownsville, she lives in Houston. Twitter: @ceciliaballi

1 hour of free MCLE TX Bar Course # 174111593
This program was presented February 5, 2021 live online.

Conspiracy Theories, Political Divides, & Misinformation (1-7-2021)

University of Miami Political Science Professor Joseph Uscinski discuss his opinions on conspiracy Theories and misinformation. Terry O'Rourke, the Head of the Harris County Election Security Committee, discusses the October 2020 HVAC repairman assault in Houston, the alarming details of the story behind it, and the conspiracy theory that motivated it. At the start of the program, Sri Kulkarni discusses his field work in Georgia that helped elect Senators Warnock and Osoff.
Course Number: 174108815
Approved for 1 hour MLCE including .25 ethics.

American Democracy with Bob Stein

Professor Robert M. Stein of the Baker Institute at Rice University discusses the current state of our democracy. His presentation covers the January 6th attack on the U.S Congress, Trump's two impeachments, election and voting procedures in the U.S., the first week of the Biden presidency, and his recent poliing data.

Coordinated by Braes Oaks Democrats. With introductory remarks by their President, Andrew Gass.

TX Bar Course Number: 174111001
Accredited for 1 hour MCLE

Robert M. Stein, Ph.D., is the fellow in urban politics at the Baker Institute and the Lena Grohlman Fox Professor of Political Science at Rice University. He also is the faculty director of Rice’s Center for Civic Engagement. Stein’s current research focuses on alternative modes of elections and voting procedures in the United States; emergency preparedness, behavioral response to severe weather events, and risk assessment; and home weatherization programs in low- and moderate-income households. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the City of Houston’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Charitable Trusts, among others.

Stein is co-author of “Perpetuating the Pork Barrel: Policy Subsystems and American Democracy” (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and author of “Urban Alternatives: Public and Private Markets in the Provision of Local Services” (Pittsburgh Press, 1990). He has received the Outstanding Reviewer Award from Political Research Quarterly and the Best Paper Award on Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations (with Kenneth Bickers) from the American Political Science Association. He teaches courses on public policy, urban politics and political behavior at Rice, where twice he has been awarded the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. Stein received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University. He earned his master’s and doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

What We Hope and Fear Might Happen in the Texas 2021 Legislative Session

State Senator Carol Alvarado and State Representatives Barbara Gervin-Hawkins and Gene Wu provide a preview of the 2021 legislative session. Thousands of bills are expected to be filed during the legislative session, when lawmakers will tackle issues including the next state budget and redrawing the state's political maps. This program will provide an overview of significant legislation being considered. State Represntative Ann Johnson also joins the conversation.
Accredited for 1 hour of MCLE, Texas Bar Course #174105801.

Congratulations Amparo Guerra, Veronica Rivas-Molloy, and all of our newly elected Democratic Justices in Texas!

Congratulations Amparo Guerra, Veronica Rivas-Molloy, and all of our newly elected Democratic Justices in Texas!

How Harris County Got It Right

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, Constable Alan Rosen, & HCDP Voter Protection Supervisor Nicole Pedersen tell the inside story of how Harris County shattered voter turnout records. Hollins rolled out an ambitious expansion of voter access, tripling early voting locations from that of the 2016 election; leading the country as one of the first counties to pilot a 24-hour voting period and drive-thru voting system; and instituting safety policies to protect voters and election workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Working with the District Attorney's Office, County Attorney's Office, and Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen's Office, Hollins created Harris County's first-ever Election Security Task Force. Their command center embedded plainclothes officers at polling locations around the county throughout early voting and on election day. Nicole Pedersen, describes HCDP's most robust Voter Protection Program ever. Nicole volununteered, leading a multi-pronged project that included the recruitment and coordination of hundreds of election workers, poll watchers, and a team of lawyers, who worked throughout early voting and on election day to resolve issues reported by voters through hotlines hosted by the Texas Democratic Party and HCDP. The ambitious project involved 200 volunteer lawyers and law students,

Meet the Judicial Candidates with Gary Bledsoe

2020 Clarence Darrow Award Recipient and NAACP of Texas President Gary Bledsoe talks to four Harris County Judicial Candidates. 6 days after this program, all four of these candidates were elected on November 4,2020:
Jeralynn Manor - manorforjudge.com
Brittanye Morris - brittanyemorrisforjudge.com
Dawn Rogers - dawnrogersforjudge.com
Cheryl Thorton - cherylelliottthorntonfor164th.com

The Legacy of RBG

Barbara Ann Radnofsky moderates panel discussion with former RBG Clerk Katie Barber and UT Law Professor Elizabeth Sepper.

1 hour of free MCLE. Course #: 174101806

KATIE BARBER clerked for Justice Ginsburg during October Term 2018. She previously clerked for Judge John B. Owens of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Barber earned her law degree from the University of Virginia, where she served as a notes editor on the managing board of the Virginia Law Review and was honored as a member of the Raven Society and Order of the Coif. She currently practices in Richmond, where she focuses on high-stakes litigation, dispositive motions, and appellate advocacy.

BARBARA ANN RADNOFSKY is the author of A CITIZEN'S GUIDE TO IMPEACHMENT. Barbara was a partner at Vinson & Elkins, from which she retired after twenty-seven years as a trial lawyer and head of the firm's ADR section. She was the first woman in Texas history to run as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006 (she lost to incumbent Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison) and the first, also, to run as the Democratic candidate for Texas Attorney General in 2010 (she lost to incumbent Greg Abbott). She currently has a legal practice as a mediator. She volunteers with numerous causes and as a teacher for special needs children. She graduated magna cm laude from the University of Houston, where she enrolled at age sixteen, and the University of Texas School of Law.

ELIZABETH SEPPER is a Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin and a nationally recognized scholar of health law, equality, and religious liberty. She has written extensively on conscientious refusals to provide reproductive and end-of-life healthcare and on conflicts over religion and antidiscrimination law. Sepper received her B.A. in History from Boston University and her LL.M. and J.D. from New York University School of Law. Following law school, she clerked for the Hon. Marjorie Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and practiced human rights law with a focus on women’s rights.

Eviction Crisis CLE

Moderated by Judge Jim Kovach, and featuring panelist:
State Rep./Harris County Recovery Czar Armando Walle
Justice of Peace Jeremy Brown
Eric Kwartler, landlord/tenant law program clinic director at STCL
U.A. Lewis, trial lawyer and tenant advocate
Zoe Middleton, regional director at Texas Housers

1 hour of free MCLE; Course Number: 174099779

Voter Protection Boot Camp CLE

This CLE program is designed for lawyers, law students, and others serving as election judges, alternate judges, and election clerks in Harris County. Course Number: 174097437 (2 hours MCLE including .25 ethics).

NOTE: Since the recording of this CLE, the policy of the County Clerk’s Office has been modified: Anyone who wishes to cancel a mail-in-ballot and vote in person must either surrender their mail-in-ballot or vote on a provisional ballot. The guidance given in this CLE on the topic of cancelling mail-in-ballots was about the former policy and does not reflect the current policy of the County Clerk’s Office.

This course is a supplement to -- not a replacement for -- the official training provided by the Harris County Clerk. For information on required training for Harris County election workers, go to: http://harrisvotes.com/ElectionWorkers?lang=en-US...
Also note that this is not a replacement for the required online and on demand training poll watchers must complete.

This course covers portions of the Election Code most relevant to election clerks, judges, and alternate judges. This CLE program will consist of presentations by a series of Texas lawyers versed in election and voter protection laws. Topics include voter ID requirements, what the Election Code provides for voters needing assistance, the rules prohibiting electioneering and intimidation, the limits of a poll watcher's abilities, when to use provisional ballots, the rules governing who can bring firearms into a polling location, and topics specific to this year including an overview of Harris County's new drive-through voting sites and issues specific to COVID and mask-wearing.

Help us protect the integrity of the democratic process by applying to become an election worker. Most of the election worker positions are paid. You can apply to become an election worker at harrisdemocrats.org/election-worker


General information

HCDLA holds a monthly luncheon on the first Thursday of every month, from September through May, with a variety of speakers of interest to the legal community. Currently, meetings are held at Churrasco's River Oaks, 2055 Westheimer. The meetings are always lively, informative, and fun events. The presentations are approved for Continuing Legal Education purposes for Texas lawyers. The cost is low, if reserved and paid in advance, $30 for the meal for members, CLE free, or $40 if paid at the door.




Continuing Legal Education


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Harris County Democratic Lawyers

The mission of Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association is to recruit, promote, and support qualified Democrats for election to public office, to educate the Bar in ways in which it can promote Democratic ideas and candidates, and to assist the Harris County Democratic Party. We are committed to furthering the administration of fair justice and the advancement of the Democratic Party in Harris County. Membership is open to all Democrats, including non-lawyers. Annual membership dues are only $75. The dues are waived for law students and anyone who wants to join but cannot afford to pay dues. Join online at HCDLA.com.

HCDLA hosts CLE Luncheons the first Thursdays of September through May. All our CLEs are free for members, the cost of lunch is $30 if paid online in advance. In addition to the monthly luncheons, we host election law CLEs, evening author CLEs at the Brazos Bookstore, our Annual Summer CLE & Reception, and our Annual Clarence Darrow Award Presentation. We also coordinate candidate support and voter protection efforts. HCDLA was founded by Lee Arellano, Diane Mosier, and Marc Whitehead in 2002. More information can be found on our page “HCDLA”, and


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