2009 Texas Tech Integrated Scholar
Charles “Tex” Thornton Professor of Law at the Texas Tech University School of Law; Texas Tech University Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and Big 12 Conference
“Another colleague and I are in the middle of a project doing a book on providing practical skills problems for law students relating to property, and we’re excited about that because that’s a lot of our philosophy at the Texas Tech Law School—to have our students ready to practice law. So not just seeing cases from the case book but also seeing real-world kind of problems that they’ll face when they get out.”
What is your research objective/interest(s)?
My research and writing has been varied. However, much of my research and publications have focused on legal issues relating to persons with mental illness—particularly the intersection of criminal law and persons with serious mental illness. I have also published on topics relating generally to disabilities and the law and alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration.
How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
Primarily, my scholarship has been intended to impact on law and policy within Texas and the United States. However, I also have presented on issues relating to the diversion of offenders with mental illness at a past biennial congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, and I am an invited speaker at their upcoming conference in Berlin in July.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I have a close family member who has long been receiving treatment for a serious mental illness. Also, our daughter, who is now a Texas Tech freshman, was born with a rare physical disability. These personal matters, along with my legal training, have led me to focus much of my research and service work on issues pertaining to individuals with physical or mental disabilities.
What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?
I particularly enjoy being involved in projects through which we can impact policies and programs that serve people with physical or mental disabilities. For example, I have had the opportunity to draft and help enact legislation that was directly related to some of the topics about which I have also published articles and books.
What are you currently working on?
Research: A law school colleague, Preston Smith Professor of Law Gerry Beyer, and I are working on a book for one of the law school-related publishing companies (Lexis-Nexis) pertaining to property law. The finished project will be a part of the company’s Skills & Values series and is intended as a companion book of practical skills exercises for first-year law students who take the required course in Property Law. We are both excited to have been solicited for the project, and our manuscript is due to the publisher by the end of the year.
Service & Other: I continue to serve on the Board for the Lubbock Regional Mental Health & Mental Retardation Center, and on the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. My duties as the Faculty Athletics Representative for Texas Tech have kept me quite busy, as well!
What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research and service)?
Know your limitations, but do not be hesitant about saying yes to new opportunities and challenges. It has made my career at Texas Tech very exciting, and there has seldom been a dull day.
I was born in San Antonio, but our family moved to San Angelo when I was in the fourth grade. Accordingly, I have long considered San Angelo as my hometown. However, having now been at Texas Tech since 1988, Lubbock is definitely home.
My educational background is as follows:
- J.D., with high honors, the University of Texas School of Law (May 1982)
- B.S. (mathematics), summa cum laude, Angelo State University (May 1979)
Prior to joining the law faculty in 1988, I practiced at the Office of the General Counsel to the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon (and was on active duty from 1983-86), and at the Hughes & Luce law firm in Austin.