Wednesday, April 9, 2008

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Attorney General Abbott Appoints New Solicitor General

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced that he will appoint James C. Ho as the new Solicitor General of Texas. As the state’s chief appellate lawyer, Ho will lead the Office of Solicitor General. He will oversee both criminal and civil litigation before state and federal appeals courts and will represent Texas before the U.S. Supreme Court. As a senior member of the executive staff, Ho will also serve as a top legal advisor to the Attorney General.

Ho will formally assume his new role when longtime Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz departs later this spring to return to private practice.

“As a former United States Supreme Court clerk and one of the nation’s most promising lawyers, Jim Ho is uniquely qualified to serve as the new Solicitor General,” Attorney General Abbott said. “With Jim Ho at the helm, our Solicitor General’s Office will continue to stand out as the finest in the nation. The State of Texas is fortunate that a lawyer with Jim Ho’s experience and demonstrated legal talent is willing to leave private practice to continue his remarkable record of public service.”

Like his predecessor, the incoming Solicitor General has a wealth of legal experience that spans from the Department of Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served as a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas during the 2005 Term. Prior to working at the nation’s highest court, Ho served as Chief Counsel to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

As the top legal advisor to Sen. Cornyn, a respected lawyer who previously served on the Texas Supreme Court and as Attorney General, Ho was actively involved in key legal issues debated by the U.S. Congress. While serving in Sen. Cornyn’s office from 2003 to 2005, Ho helped craft the OPEN Government Act, the first major federal Freedom of Information Act reform package in over a decade. In 2006, Sens. Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison recognized Ho’s considerable legal ability when they appointed him to their Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, which helps the senators evaluate potential federal judicial and U.S. Attorney nominees from Texas.

Prior to joining Sen. Cornyn’s staff, Ho worked at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and later in the Office of Legal Counsel. During his tenure at the Justice Department, where he served from 2001 to 2003, Ho was a U.S. delegate to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Ho graduated from The University of Chicago Law School with high honors in 1999. He later moved to Texas, where he served as a law clerk to Judge Jerry Smith at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

With his appointment as Solicitor General, Ho departs a successful appellate practice at the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm. In 2008, Ho was named a “Rising Star” in appellate law by Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines. He and his wife, Allyson, who is also a lawyer, were both U.S. Supreme Court clerks.

Ho will succeed Ted Cruz, who served with distinction as Solicitor General of Texas for nearly five and a half years. Cruz graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. When Cruz leaves state service later this spring, he will have argued before the United States Supreme Court eight times – more than any other lawyer in Texas.

“Ted Cruz has distinguished himself as one of the finest lawyers in the nation,” Attorney General Abbott said. “For more than five years, Ted has selflessly lent his tremendous legal ability to the State of Texas, successfully defending the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, the Second Amendment, civil commitment for violent sexual predators, and our great State’s sovereign independence from the World Court’s foreign judges. On behalf of all Texans, I thank Ted Cruz for his service to the State of Texas and wish him well as he continues his extraordinary legal career.”

Named by American Lawyer magazine as one of the 50 Best Litigators under 45 in America, Cruz was recently hailed a “rising star,” by the Wall Street Journal. For four consecutive years, from 2003-2006, Cruz authored the Supreme Court brief that earned the prestigious Best Brief Award from the National Association of Attorneys General. Cruz’s record as the State’s chief appellate lawyer is marked by a string of high-profile victories, including his successful defense of both the Ten Commandments monument and the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as his landmark victory in Medellin v. Texas. Cruz also recently authored a Supreme Court brief on behalf of thirty-one States in defense of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Cruz and his wife, Heidi, are expecting their first child this month. He will return to private practice later this spring. Cruz will continue serving as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches U.S. Supreme Court Litigation.

Thanking Attorney General Abbott, along with his friends and colleagues at the Office of the Attorney General, Cruz said: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve under General Abbott and to represent the State of Texas. The dedicated lawyers in the Solicitor General’s Office, and across the Office of the Attorney General, are among the finest in the nation. It has been a singular privilege to serve alongside these talented men and women.”

Deputy Solicitor General Sean Jordan will continue serving as the top lieutenant in the Office of the Solicitor General. A former U.S. Army paratrooper, Jordan graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with honors in 1994. After becoming a litigation partner at Jackson Walker, LLP, Jordan returned to public service, leaving his partnership to join the Office of the Solicitor General.

“Sean Jordan is an outstanding lawyer whose commitment to public service is rivaled only by his leadership ability,” Attorney General Abbott said. “We are fortunate to have Sean as a senior lawyer and member of our leadership team. As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice, I have worked with many accomplished attorneys, yet Sean Jordan stands out as among the brightest, most impressive lawyers I have encountered.”