“When I announced I was not running again, I had no plans,” Morris says. “This came about literally in the 11th hour.”
Morris says that he talked with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson, founder of Hankinson LLP, shortly before his retirement in December and quickly decided to join the firm. He and Hankinson had served together several years on the 5th Court, had offices next to each other and got to know each other well, Morris says. The chance to work with Hankinson and the other appellate lawyers at the firm was attractive, he says.
“I do think they appreciate the gray hair I bring to the firm,” Morris says.
Being in private practice will be a change for Morris, who served on Dallas’ 101st District Court from 1987 to 1992, when he went on the 5th Court. But he’s not worried about being on the other side of the bench.
“I had an active law practice when I took the bench,” Morris says.
Morris, a 1973 graduate of Southern Methodist University School of Law, says that during the last few years before becoming a judge he handled a lot of partnership litigation. In his new position, he will be working with the appellate lawyers at the Hankinson firm at all stages of the litigation and appeals process.
“I will also be available for arbitration of select cases,” he says.
Morris says he also had an opportunity to see the Texas judiciary at its worst and at its best. In 2002, the Texas Supreme Court appointed him to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. He says he served six years on the commission, which reviews and investigates allegations against judges, and was twice its chairman.
— Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.