I just saw that my favorite UT Law Prof, Bob Dawson, passed away yesterday. Of all the classes I took, his was the one that made the most impression on me and the one that causes the strongest memories of my three years at UT Law in the late '80's.
I would enjoy reading other's comments on his classes, his contributions, and his passing.
Eight or ten years ago, I had an obscure juvenile law question. I can't even remember what it was today. I called Prof. Dawson and he spent 30-40 minutes with me hashing out the problem and brainstorming solutions. All this for a Baylor grad, too. I'll always remember his kind patience with a lawyer who knew oh so little.
Ditto Versel. It's always a shock when someone you looked up to passes. I didn't always agree with his positions in recent years, but he's had a tremendous effect on Texas criminal law. When I started law school, I wanted to do "civil litigation" like everyone else. Then he taught me criminal law and I found out how boring civil law was. I took his criminal defense clinic as well. It was instrumental in showing me how criminal law should be practiced. He will be missed.
I also took the criminal defense clinic from Bob Dawson as a law student. While I had already decided that was the way I wanted to go, his was one of the few classes I took at UT that really helped prepare your for actual lawyering. It's hard to imagine how someone could have had a greater effect on our profession than by mentoring the vast number of young lawyers that Dawson did over the years.
Dawson's was the only class I took in law school where I actually volunteered to answer a question and knew that some self-important egotistical law professor would not take joy in showing everyone in the class that he knows more about the law than a first year law student. I never saw him intentionally embarras a student like so many of the other professors took delight in doing.
Professor Dawson was a great man. The criminal defense clinic helped me get more interested in Criminal Law. I had the privilege of serving as his research assistant, which got me more interested in juvenile law. During my practice, I have called or emailed him several times to get his insight. He always had time, even as he was getting weaker, and was always very helpful. He was kind and humble, and did great service for the juvenile justice system and many individual people.
I know I started this but Tim's post reminded me that Prof Dawson was the only professor (undergrad, grad, or law school) who ever apologized to me. We were studying a first year crim law class case where the charge was kidnaping with the defendant being the victim's husband. When he asked if it was legal for a man to kidnap his wife, I said, "Hell, no." He responded that, for once, my viewpoint agreed with the law. The next day he apologized, in front of the class, for what he considered an off-the-cuff comment and said he had no intention of embarrassing me. I told him that he didn't embarrass me, I thought it was funny, but accepted and thanked him for his apology.
Definitely one of a kind and we are all lessened by his passing.
Small counties don't often have the opportunity or need to file briefs in the Texas Supreme Court, but when I found myself pounding out the pages, I discovered his number there in the Juvenile book. Kelton Conner, the County Attorney in Granbury where I used to work, suggested that I call him.
I remember being completely stunned at how helpful he was. He took the better part of an hour to chat with me about our circumstances and helped me draft proper argument. The little county of Hood won our day in court in part by the helpful assistance and patience of Professor Dawson.
I was also one of the fortunate ones who took a class from Prof. Dawson. He was a great teacher. Moreover, unlike a lot of esoteric law profs, he actually dealt with the real world. Imagine my suprise when I called him later to deal with a juvenile question, and he answered his own phone! He always had time to discuss an issue of juvenile law with attorneys from both sides of the bar. We have lost a great treasure in Texas juvenile law. He will be missed.
As someone who basically went to law school to avoid getting a real job out of college, I was far from enamored with my chosen path during my first year of classes at UT law school (and I had the low grades to prove it). The only class I even came close to enjoying was Bob Dawson's Crim. Law class. "Mad Dogging" my way through a fact pattern was always a fun diversion, one in which we all still engage from time to time on this very forum.
Although prosecutors didn't always agree with his approach to Juvenile Law (this ex-prosecutor included sometimes), I always respected his insight and his efforts. And I believe that we will sorely miss his guidance as UT cranks up its new Actual Innocence Project -- a tool that can all too easily be turned against a criminal justice system in which he always professed a strong belief. We will be poorer for the loss.
I had the privilege of being on the task force for revision of Chapter 55 of the Family Code, where Prof. Dawson was a highly instrumental figure and powerful contributor. Though having read about him for years, I had not theretofore met him, or been with him in a work like setting. He had a powerful presence, and his legacy appears to me to be far reaching both in terms of his legal knowledge, his professorial skills and those whose lives he touched individually -- and he could thrash you a bit!
Here at DPS, I lack a juvenile prosecutor to go to when I get questions involving juvenile law issues, so besides asking the gurus on the TDCAA user forum, I would occasionally e-mail Prof. Dawson with my questions. He always promptly answered me, providing much needed guidance. I agree with my fellow posters--Texas law has lost a great man.
Professor Dawson was a wonderful gentleman who helped me on many occasions. I would really like to get the most recent update of his book as mine are getting ragged. Are they out and does TDCAA sell them for him?
Dawson's sixth edition came out in September, 2004. It does a lot of updating, and has a lot of additional appendices. You can order it at:
Not to compete with Dawson's book, but TDCAA will soon be publishing its own book on juvenile law. It will be shorter and perhaps more user friendly. Look for it to come out soon.
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.