Bruce Fox Today
Law School ID - 1976
Bruce S. Fox
I have been practicing Criminal Law since 1980. Fresh out of law school, I moved to Huntsville, Texas to represent inmates at what was then known as the Texas Department of Corrections, or TDC. Primarily, I was reviewing criminal trial records and transcripts to determine if there were grounds to challenge the State’s case and my client’s conviction. I worked at some very difficult prison units, including the Eastham Unit and Death Row at the Ellis Unit.
As I spent more time behind bars, I became increasingly fascinated with the correctional process and the legalities of the treatment of the offender/incarcerated. I enrolled in a Master’s Degree program at Sam Houston State University, starting with a class taught by the late Dr. George Beto, Chair Emeritus. He was the former director of TDC and truly one of the founding fathers of the American correctional system. The following semester I enrolled in two more classes, one of which was taught by Dr. Beto. I continued to take classes, completed my thesis, and eventually obtained a Master’s Degree in Criminology and Corrections.
My Thesis examined an indigent’s constitutional right to counsel in criminal proceedings. I feel strongly that the government should strive to minimize poverty’s adverse effects on the fair administration of justice. There is a moral imperative on the State to provide essential services regardless of cost. I regularly donated my time to deliver legal services to low-income Texans as referenced through the Pro Bono College of Texas. At the end of this text, I list several organizations where I donate time, money, or both.
After 26 months in Huntsville (not to make it sound like I did hard time) I sold everything I owned (saving only music and motorcycle) to finance a move overseas. I had enrolled in a Master’s of Law program at Salzburg University in Austria. Aided by a scholarship from the Charles A. Dana Fellowship, I was able to study international and comparative law in the shadow of The Sound of Music movie location. After my studies in Salzburg, I moved about 300 kilometers down to Autobahn to Vienna, Austria and landed a paid internship with the UN. It was as much fun as it sounds and a great learning experience. I worked on the draft of the Model Penal Code and the Model Code for the Treatment of the Offender in the Office of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, a research arm of the General Assembly. The subjects were a perfect match for my areas of study and practice over the previous two-plus years. Most of the standards urged for the model codes were patterned after U.S. law. What we take for granted as inalienable individual rights are often perceived as threats to the governments of many developing countries, and are routinely denied. The general process at the UN appears to be to impose Western democracy and standards on developing nations. Needless to say, this is not always a seamless fit.
As much as I enjoyed living and working as an international bureaucrat, I realized that I missed the action, challenge, and excitement of the courtroom. I returned to Austin at the end of 1984 and started a job as a prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney’s Office. My first assignment was to develop, establish and run the division obtaining judicial Protective Orders, which offer increased protection for victims of domestic abuse.
In 1986 I was hired by the Criminal Enforcement Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. I researched and wrote briefs in response to Writs of Habeas Corpus petitions which challenged an inmate’s conviction(s) in Federal Court. This was the other side of my job at TDC where I was writing Habeas Corpus petitions for inmates in both State and Federal Court. Like my employment as a prosecutor, this position gave me a healthy appreciation and understanding for my colleagues who work on the other side.
Late in 1987, I was approached by a friend, Larry Dowling, Esquire, who lured me into the world of private practice. The timing seemed perfect, and I did not want to leave the Austin area. Larry and his partner, the late and dear Duncan Wilson, were more than kind and tolerant. They taught me the ins and outs of the courthouse, several tricks of the trade, and also, how to run a business. I am forever in their debt.
PAST & PRESENT
Attorney At Law, Austin, Texas
Texas Solo practitioner, exclusively criminal law.
Instructor, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Criminal law instructor in Legal Assistance Program. Developed course materials, syllabus, lectures, research projects, and exams.
Attorney, Dowling and Wilson, PC, Austin, Texas
Primarily worked on criminal law and procedure, including pre-trial diversion programs, felony and misdemeanor trials, appellate briefing and oral argument, and post-conviction remedies.
Assistant Attorney General, State of Texas, Austin, Texas
Represented the State of Texas in federal habeas corpus proceedings under 28 U.S. Code § 2254. Wrote briefs, examining trials and oral argument in U.S. Federal District Courts of Texas and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Assistant County Attorney, Travis County, Austin, Texas
Represented the State of Texas in criminal misdemeanor prosecutions. Drafted and reviewed Complaints and Information, presented oral arguments before the Court of Appeals for the Third Judicial District of Texas. Developed Travis County program enabling victims of family violence to obtain "Protective Orders" pursuant to Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code.
United Nations Internship, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch, Vienna, Austria
Researched, wrote, and prepared material for the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders.
Office of Staff Counsel for Inmates, Huntsville, Texas
Staff Attorney, Texas Department of Corrections
Primarily researched and wrote state and federal post-conviction writs of habeas corpus, including related examining trials, oral arguments and appeals. Additional litigation experience in family law, federal parole revocations, and INS deportation proceedings.
Sam Houston State University, Hunstville, Texas
Masters of Arts in Criminology and Corrections, School of Criminal Justice, December 1988; GPA 4.0. Thesis: The Constitutional Right to Counsel in State Court Criminal Proceedings.
McGeorge School of Law, Salzburg University, Salzburg, Austria
Diploma in Advanced International Legal Studies, April 1984. Recipient of Fellowship from the Charles A. Dana Fund for International and Comparative Legal Studies.
St. Mary's University School of Law, San Antonio, Texas
Juris Doctor Degree, May 1980. Admitted to State Bar of Texas November 24, 1980.
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Cum Laude, June 1976. Senior Class President, Commencement Speaker, Honors Tutorial College in Political Science. Member: Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honors Society.
American Civil Liberties Union
Austin Civil Liberties Union
Austin Police Activities League – Former Chairperson, Civilian Board
Community Action Development Association – Advisory Board
Earth First! – Of counsel (1986-1990)
Happy Foundation – Original and Former Board Member
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Lawyers Guild
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (N.O.R.M.L.) Legal Committee Committee Pro-Bono College of The State Bar of Texas
Southern Poverty Law Center
State Bar of Texas – Member 1980–present
Texas Abortion Rights Action League
Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
Travis County Reentry Roundtable – Policy and Law Subcommittee
U.S. Court of Appeals – 5th Circuit
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas
U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
U.S. District Court Western District of Texas
"A Race He Could Not Win: The Case of All-American UT Swimmer Ryan Harty,"
Voice for the Defense, vol. 49, no. 2, March 2020
"Continuously Trying," Voice for the Defense, vol. 44, no. 8, October 2015
"Doe, Prey, Me," BMW On (Motorcycle) Owners News, December 2012
"Old Chief - New Law," Voice for the Defense, vol. 26, no.7, Sept. 1997