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Abraham Watkins Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off September 15 and runs through October 15. This is a special time to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. As a city with a large Latino population, Houston kicked off the celebration with the annual Fiestas Patrias parade. For more information on events in the Houston area in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit www.hispanichouston.com.

State Standing in United States v. Texas Could be Key Issue

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a suit in which Texas along with twenty-five other states are challenging the Obama administration's initiatives, announced back in November 2014, deferring removal of millions of unauthorized immigrants. The policies in question, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+), raise numerous questions about immigration law. However, one of the most important issues in the case - whether Texas has standing to challenge these initiatives at all - transcends immigration law and could be the deciding factor in this high-stakes dispute. So while the decision in United States v. Texas will be monumental within immigration law, it will also allow the Court to settle major questions about the role of the states in monitoring federal law enforcement policies.

Attacks in Paris

On Friday the 13th, Paris was subjected to multiple terrorist attacks. News agencies have provided non-stop graphic images of the ensuing deaths and panic. In the wake of this horrific event, governments and cities across the world have pledged their support and solidarity with the French. And, French fighter jets have launched retaliatory strikes in Syria.

Abraham Watkins Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off September 15 and runs through October 15. This is a special time to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. As a city with a large Latino population, Houston kicked off the celebration with the annual Fiestas Patrias parade. For more information on events in the Houston area in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit www.hispanichouston.com.

Minorities in the Legal Field

In a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Labor statistics, researchers found that law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation with 88 percent of lawyers being white. Recent diverse appointments on the Supreme Court, the attorney general's office, and in the executive branch seem to suggest that this field is growing more diverse, but the facts suggest otherwise. In a profession which intersects so often with representative government, it is important that it be as inclusive as the nation it serves.

Final Grand Jury

House Bill 2150, containing language that overhauls the Texas grand jury system, is awaiting a signature from Gov. Greg Abbott after reaching final approval from the House on Sunday. The language contained in the bill would effectively scrap the controversial "pick-a-pal" method of grand jury selection in which judge-appointed commissioners selected jurors, leading to conflicts of interest. Texas is one of the last states utilizing this kind of method and this bill marks another step towards creating the preferable random pool selection process.

No End to Texas Grand Jury Reform

Grand jury reform is shaking up the legislature once again this week. The grand jury legislation, inserted into House Bill 2105, passed the House, but it contains an amendment that would still exempt counties with a population of less than 500,000 from having to use random selection systems if officials did not want to. In order to keep Texas as the only remaining state with the key man system of grand jury selection, State Representative Tony Dale proposed stripping the entire reform language from the initial bill but failed by a narrow vote of 64 to 61.
 
The role of the grand jury in legal proceedings has been under much scrutiny from the media in the past few months. In the United States the grand jury is given a very important task - deciding whether or not to indict those persons who are arrested for a felony or suspected of committing a crime. We have supported efforts by State Senator John Whitmire and State Representative Harold V. Dutton, Jr. who are aiming to end grand jury injustices in Texas.
 
Unfortunately, House Bill 2105's exemptions do not allow for the full reform needed by Texas to remedy the problem of minority representation in grand juries. The Houston Bar Association has voiced their concerns on this subject, as well as State Representatives Sylvester Turner and Roland Gutierrez, who feel that the random-selection system should be implemented like many other Texas counties. We strongly encourage legislators to follow this lead and implement a more random, all-encompassing system that would reestablish trust between the minority community and the grand jury establishment. Senator Whitmire has said he intends to remove that exemption from the House Bill once it reaches the Senate. The Senate had earlier approved his own bill for reform in courts statewide with unanimous bipartisan support, but it has not been brought up before the full House for a vote. We strongly prefer the more representative grand jury approach utilized in Senator Whitmire's bill.
 
Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.

Benny Agosto Featured on Telemundo National News

Firm Partner Benny Agosto, Jr. had an interview with Telemundo on Monday February 23, 2015 about President Obama's administration's plans to appeal U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's injunction order regarding immigration. The interview ran nationally on Telemundo's nightly news. As an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform, Mr. Agosto has been a national leader on this issue.

A Texas Federal Judge Has Issued an Injunction that Temporarily Halts President Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration

I am happy and blessed to be an advocate and a voice of legal advice for almost five million DACA young immigrants across the country, who today wake up to more questions than answers about their future. DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, to stay in the country and work legally. It has been officially reported that on Monday, February 16, 2015, a federal judge in Texas, Judge Andrew Hanen, issued an order that has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. The preliminary injunction is related to a program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).The DAPA program allows undocumented parents of lawful United States citizens, or permanent residents to defer deportation and seek job benefits.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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