Gardere Litigation Chair Rick Faulk Presents Mock Supreme Court Argument at University of Houston Law Center

Top Quote Richard Faulk, chair of the Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP Litigation Department, participated in mock U.S. Supreme Court arguments on climate change tort liability hosted by the University of Houston's Law Center's Environment, Energy & Natural Resource Center. End Quote
  • Houston, TX (1888PressRelease) February 02, 2012 - Serving as Respondents' counsel, Richard O. Faulk, Chair of the Litigation Department of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, presented an impassioned case against judicial review during the University of Houston Law Center's Environment, Energy & Natural Resource Center's mock U.S. Supreme Court argument on climate change tort liability held Jan. 19.

    At issue was whether a tiny, coastal village in Alaska has standing to sue corporations for their contribution to climate change, as well as the broader question of whether the dispute is a matter for the courts or legislative branch of government to decide.

    During the mock arguments, Mr. Faulk went toe-to-toe with David Axelrad of Horvitz & Levy LLP, as the attorneys presented arguments before a highly credentialed panel of judges which included former federal appellate judge and current President of Baylor University Ken Starr, retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, and Environmental Law Institute President John Cruden. Video of the complete event is available at

    The event was staged not only to highlight issues of tort liability, but also as a learning opportunity for attorneys. Although the event was a "staged" hearing, it was not scripted and was designed to resemble real arguments as closely as possible.

    "There is no script to follow. You can't go in with a canned argument," says Mr. Faulk, who has previously presented oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. "One of the biggest mistakes is thinking you are so prepared that you know exactly what you're going to say. But once you're there, it is not your argument anymore. It's theirs. You're engaged in a conversation with people who are even more prepared than you are - because it's their court and they are going to make the decision. You can't be inflexible. You must engage them in an active dialogue."

    Mr. Faulk also recently participated in George Mason University School of Law's 6th Annual Judicial Symposium on Civil Justice Issues to discuss what role, if any, the judiciary might play in redressing global climate change with a focus on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in AEP v. Connecticut. In collaboration with fellow Gardere partner John S. Gray, Mr. Faulk filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of several clients regarding the merits of this controversial case. A copy of the brief may be accessed at

    Mr. Faulk is Chair of the Gardere Litigation Department and Environmental Practice and Co-Chair of the Firm's Appellate Practice and Climate Change Task Force. He was the only environmental attorney included in the 2011 Texas Super Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers in Houston listing and has been recognized as a "Leading Lawyer in Environmental Law" by Chambers USA for his "expertise in all types of environmental litigation, and in particular for his experience in toxic tort litigation."

    Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, an AmLaw 200 firm founded in 1909 and one of the Southwest's largest full-service law firms, has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Mexico City. Gardere provides legal services to private and public companies and individuals in areas of corporate, litigation, energy, tax, real estate, financial services, government affairs, hospitality, intellectual property, labor and employment and environmental. For more information, contact Kristin Butler at 214.999.4843 or kbutler ( @ ) gardere dot com.

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