Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Sunflower The 2015 Sunflower Ceremony (the Law School graduation ceremony) will be held at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday, May 23, at 3:30pm. Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, will give the keynote address.

The wearing of sunflowers is one of the Law School’s oldest customs. As the story goes, fifteen or so years after the Law School (then the Law Department) was established in 1883, a representative of a cap and gown company came to campus and convinced a committee to rent the regalia for commencement. Resentful at having been left out of the decision, the law students refused to wear the caps and gowns, claiming that they were an inappropriate symbol of professional achievement. The law students instead selected the humble sunflower, pinned to the lapels of white suits.

To learn more about the interesting origins of this law school tradition, check out the library’s online exhibit.

Posted in for Students

Remembering Jim Wright, 1922-2015


Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright died last week. Raised in Weatherford, Texas, and serving in the U.S. House from a district centered around Dallas-Fort Worth from 1955 to 1989, his career was remarkable both for being the last in a line of Texas politicians from the Democratic party with out-sized influence in Washington, DC, and for a downfall over ethics now regarded as the opening salvo in a new era of partisan politics.

Given Jim Wright’s forceful personality and legislative achievements, both domestic and foreign, his death prompted a range of condolences from contemporary politicians, along with corresponding media coverage. Lengthy obituaries have run in publications with national reach, such as the Washington Post, as well as more local media, such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. An obituary provides a chance for local media to shine–having covered Wright’s political career from his start in the Texas House in 1946, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram obituary provides unmatched depth and perspective. Indeed, it is after reading the Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece that one learns how the paper itself was nearly Jim Wright’s undoing when he first ran for the U.S. House in 1954. In the days since Wright’s death, more reflective pieces on his significance in American history have also appeared, from his unusual success in securing peace in Nicaragua via his platform as Speaker to his controversial role in unleashing a more politicized style of politics. He resigned from the Speakership in 1989, after a relatively brief tenure that started in 1987.

Tempted to dig deeper? For its part, the Tarlton Law Library contains various works authored by Jim Wright over the course of his career, including the 117 page piece, Reflections of a Public Man, that ultimately led to his resignation over corruption charges brought by then little known Newt Gingrich. Another notable work in Tarlton’s collection is The Ambition and The Power by John M. Barry. Wright had agreed that “writer John Barry could have inside access to chronicle his run” as Speaker, and the result “ran over 760 pages and became an intimate look at not just Wright’s triumphs but also his dramatic fall in June 1989.” Last week, author John M. Barry took to the website Politico to share his own postscript on Wright’s career.

Because Wright served in the Texas House before heading to Washington, DC, the Texas Legislative Reference Library also offers resources for tracing his political origins, including an impressive bibliography of news articles dating back to 1938. Not surprisingly, Wright had close connections to TCU, based in Fort Worth, and that library’s holdings include a digital archives. Quite the paper trail.




Posted in Collection Highlights

Professor Bill Allison’s Oral History Now Available

The Tarlton Law Library is pleased to announce the publication of the oral history of Professor Bill Allison.

Professor Bill Allison Photo by Wyatt McSpadden

Professor Allison first joined the faculty of the University of Texas School of Law as a lawyer with the Community Legal Services Program. In 1975, he became a full-time lecturer, supervising students in the newly-created Criminal Defense Clinic while continuing his legal practice in Austin. After retiring from the University in 2002, he served as co-creator of the Texas Center for Actual Innocence. He returned to the University in 2004 to serve as Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic. A specialist in criminal law, he has won exonerations for multiple falsely convicted people. In this oral history, Professor Allison discusses his recollections of the Law School as a student in the early 1970s, his involvement with the Criminal Defense and Actual Innocence Clinics, and the evolution of the clinics at the University of Texas over the last forty years.

This interview continues Tarlton’s mission to document the history of the School of Law and the legal history of Texas and the United States. The project began in 1986 when a grant from the Texas Sesquicentennial Commission funded five oral history interviews. Since that time, more than fifteen interviews have been published with School of Law faculty, alumni, and friends.

The publication is available for checkout from the Tarlton Law Library at KF373.A44 A45 2015. It is also available for purchase in Tarlton’s online bookstore at

Posted in Archives

Tarlton artifact on display at Bullock Museum

The Bullock Museum, the official state history museum of Texas, presents the “continually unfolding Story of Texas through meaningful educational experiences.” On the museum’s third floor is a section called “Texans and the Civil Rights Movement: 1945-1970.”  That section features individuals and events that shaped the civil rights movement in Texas and across the nation, with an ever-changing collection of materials.

Currently, the featured artifact in the “Texans and the Civil Rights Movement” section is a document on loan from the Tarlton Law Library: Earl Warren’s draft opinion in Hernandez v. Texas, part of the Tom C. Clark Papers. Hernandez established that U.S. citizens could not be excluded from jury duty based on national origin. The lead attorneys on the case, Gustavo Garcia and Carlos Cadena, were UT Law School graduates.

The Bullock Museum has an “artifact spotlight” on the draft opinion here: . The draft opinion will be on display through the summer before being returned to Tarlton.  We are pleased to have been able to contribute to the Bullock Museum’s display, and hope that you have an opportunity to visit the museum and see one of Tarlton’s treasures on public display.

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Posted in Uncategorized

New title at Tarlton about James Madison

David O. Stewart. Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. Read more ›

Posted in Collection Highlights, for Faculty, for Students, New Titles

New title at Tarlton about American healthcare

Steven Brill. America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System. New York: Random House, 2015. Read more ›

Posted in for Faculty, for Students, New Titles

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