Formed in 1991 by Bob Vial (Dallas), TEX-ABOTA is the Texas Chapter of The American Board of Trial Advocates (“ABOTA”), serving the more than 1,300 Texas members and 15 Texas chapters of ABOTA.

Founded in 1958, ABOTA is a national association of more than 7,300 experienced trial lawyers (equally balanced between plaintiff and defense) and judges spread among 96 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

ABOTA’s mission is (1) the preservation of the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution, (2) dedication to the independence of the judiciary, and (3) development and support of civics education.

ABOTA is an invitation-only organization. Members must have at least five years of active experience as trial lawyers, have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to conclusion, and possess additional litigation experience. Members must also exhibit the virtues of civility, integrity, and professionalism by following ABOTA’s Code of Professionalism and Principles of Civility.

Executive Board

Tim Newsom

President 2023

Charlie Henke

President Elect 2023

Mitzi Mayfield

Vice President 2023

Javier Espinoza

Secretary 2023

Alison D. Kennamer

Treasurer 2023

Jennifer Haltom Doan

Immediate Past President

2023 National Board Representatives

(Appointed By ABOTA President)

Mr. Quentin Brogdon
Ms. Karen C. Burgess
Mr. Joseph Alan Callier
Ms. Adriana H. Cardenas
Mr. David E. Cherry
Ms. Cynthia Diggs
Mr. Winford L. Dunn, Jr.
Mr. Curtis W. Fenley, III
Mr. Charles L. Henke
Mr. R. Bruce Hurley
Ms. Alison D. Kennamer
Hon. Patricia J. Kerrigan
Mr. Brian P. Lauten
Ms. Eileen O’Neill
Prof. Tracy W. McCormack
Mr. Steven A. Springer
Mr. William M. Toles

Past Presidents

2022 - Jennifer H. Doan

2021 - Eileen O’Neill

2020 - Robby Alden

2019 - Grace Weatherly

2018 - Curt Fenley

2017 - Ann Hennis

2016 - Guy Choate

2015 - David Chamberlain

2014 - Don Jackson

2013 - Mary Schaerdel Dietz

2012 - Hon. James N. Parsons, III

2011 - Richard Bonner

2010 - Steve Laird

2009 - Bill Wade

2008 - Dicky Grigg

2007 - Alice Oliver-Parrott

2006 - Carlyle Chapman

2005 - Craig Lewis

2004 - David Cherry

2003 - Steve Suttle

2002 - Kathryn Snapka

2001 - Winford Dunn

2000 - Richard Hile

1999 - Lewis Sifford

1998 - Lisa Blue

1997 - Steve McConnico

1996 - Wayne Windle

1995 - Richard Griffith

1994 - Robert Vial

1993 - Robert Vial

1992 - Robert Vial

1991 - Robert Vial

TEX-ABOTA Committees

  • Amicus Curiae

    The Amicus Curiae Committee coordinates and provides amicus curiae briefs and responses for matters selected by the Board for consideration, consistent with the mission and principles of TEX-ABOTA and ABOTA.
  • Annual Meeting and Sponsorships

    The Program Subcommittee organizes the speakers for the CLE program for the Annual Meeting.
    The Sponsorships Subcommittee identifies and coordinates sponsorships for the Annual Meeting.
  • Awards

    Champion of Civil Justice
    The Champion of Civil Justice Subcommittee gathers nominations, determines the appropriate documentation required for the nominees, and presents the nominations for Champion of Civil Justice to the Board for voting. The criteria for Champion of Civil Justice is generally a non-lawyer who has promoted a better understanding and greater appreciation and respect for the civil justice system, and shown courage and perseverance in pursuing improvements in the civil justice system beyond the person’s own interests.
    Jurist of the Year
    The Jurist of the Year Subcommittee gathers nominations, determines the appropriate documentation required for the nominees, and presents the nominations for Jurist of the Year to the Board for voting. The criteria for Jurist of the Year shall include commitment to preserving and improving the jury trial system, knowledge of the law, judicial preparation, timely rulings, adherence to even-handed administration of the rule of law, requiring professionalism from all lawyers, and maintenance of an open and accessible working relationship with the trial bar.
    Trial Lawyer of the Year
    The Trial Lawyer of the Year Subcommittee gathers nominations, determines the appropriate documentation required for the nominees, and presents the nominations for Trial Lawyer of the Year to the Board for voting. The criteria for Trial Lawyer of the Year include excellence in advocacy, a distinguished career, a superb reputation for high ethics and fair play, recent outstanding results, and service to ABOTA and exemplification of its ideals.
  • Civics Education Committee

    7th Amendment Symposium
    The 7th Amendment Symposium Subcommittee serves as a liaison to local chapters in presenting a 7th Amendment Symposium. The Committee develops literature and resources for local chapters and assists with planning ideas and development of procedures for these programs.
    James Otis Lecture Series
    The James Otis Lecture Series Subcommittee coordinates and presents the annual James Otis Lecture program. Usually held on Constitution Day, the program invites students across Texas to Austin for a personal tour of the Capitol and a presentation of a civics program related to the U.S. Constitution.
    Teachers Law School
    The Teachers Law School Subcommittee serves as the liaison between local chapters and National ABOTA in presenting the Teachers Law School. Teachers, principally those that teach social studies, government, and history, are invited by the local chapters to a presentation focusing on the civil justice system and how it relates to the study of social studies, government, and history.
  • Constitution and Bylaws

    The Constitution and Bylaws Committee is responsible for ensuring that TEX-ABOTA’s Bylaws are compliant with current law and any changes in TEX-ABOTA’s operations, and consistent with TEX-ABOTA’s mission, including diversity, inclusion, and public education. The Committee also works as appropriate with National ABOTA to ensure that ABOTA’s Constitution facilitates success in ABOTA’s mission, and accurately reflets ABOTA’s dedication to Constitutional principles.
  • Defense of the Judiciary

    The Defense of the Judiciary Committee informs the Board when issues, legislation, or cultural/political attacks challenge the independence of a fair and impartial judiciary. Where applicable, the Committee will coordinate with the TEX-ABOTA and ABOTA boards to determine the appropriate response when necessary.
  • Foundation

    The Foundation Committee advises and reports to the Board on National ABOTA Foundation activities and the objectives, activities, and funding of the National ABOTA Foundation.
  • Legislative/Roundtable

    The Legislative/Roundtable Committee monitors, reports, and assists in coordinating testimony and presentation of TEX-ABOTA’s position on proposed and existing legislation that impacts the mission of TEX-ABOTA and ABOTA. The Committee also serves as a liaison between TEX-ABOTA and the Legislative and Educational Fund (LEF), or its successors, and other organizations concerned with issues important to TEX-ABOTA. The Committee may from time to time advise the Executive Committee or Board of matters or developments affecting the judiciary that may merit TEX-ABOTA’s attention.
  • Membership

    The Membership Committee is responsible for evaluating candidates nominated for membership in ABOTA. The Committee’s charge also includes encouraging a diverse membership by evaluating and recommending activities and initiatives to the Board and TEX-ABOTA to increase the diversity of the membership of TEX-ABOTA, to promote inclusion in membership, and to support diversity in other programs when TEX-ABOTA is a participant.
  • National ABOTA

    The National ABOTA Committee acts as a liaison between the TEX-ABOTA Board and National ABOTA and is responsible for keeping the TEX-ABOTA Board and membership apprised of developments, news, and action by National ABOTA Board of Directors.
  • Nominating

    The Nominating Committee evaluates and recruits nominees for TEX-ABOTA leadership.
  • Professional Education

    Civility Matters
    The Civility Matters Subcommittee assists local chapters in developing programs for presentation of the ABOTA Civility Matters initiative. Civility Matters is utilized to promote one of the specific purposes of ABOTA’s constitution – “to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.” The Committee coordinates with the ABOTA office and with the individual chapters in developing opportunities and in presentation of the program in law schools and to the bar during local bar events.
    Masters in Trial
    The Masters in Trial Subcommittee prepares and coordinates the presentation of Masters in Trial at specified events, including the Annual State Bar of Texas Meeting.
    Trial Academy
    The Trial Academy Subcommittee works with local chapters to encourage them to conduct a Trial Academy and provides them with the necessary materials to facilitate the Academy. The Trial Academy is joint program of National ABOTA and Inns of Court where more experienced ABOTA lawyers give trial training instruction to younger lawyers. The Trial Academy typically covers Opening Statement, Direct and Cross Examination and Closing Arguments, although chapters are free to modify the program as they deem appropriate.
  • Technology (Website/Social Media)

    The Technology (Website/Social Media)Committee is responsible with the TEX-ABOTA Executive Director for ensuring TEX-ABOTA’s website and social media presence is current and relevant.
  • TEX-ABOTA Talk Tuesdays

    The TEX-ABOTA Talk Tuesdays Committee overseas the monthly “Talk Tuesday” continuing legal education presentation given online on a rotating basis by the TEX-ABOTA chapters.
  • Texas Supreme Court Reception

    The Texas Supreme Court Reception Committee coordinates and schedules the TEX-ABOTA dinner reception with the Texas Supreme Court.
  • The Best in Texas Voir Dire Competition

    The Best in Texas Voir Dire Competition Committee organizes and conducts an annual competition amongst Texas law school students focused on the under-taught skills of jury selection.
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