What Judges Really Think: A Conversation with Two Texas Northern District Federal Judges

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Chapter Event: Dallas


What Judges Really Think: A Conversation with Two Texas Northern District Federal Judges

Rarely do you get a chance to hear what Federal Judges think about Experts, their reports, their opinions, and frankly if Experts really make any difference! On November 1st you have your chance, but sign up quickly as space is pretty limited. We are planning a prize for the member who brings the most guests! Come early to mingle with your fellow members and maybe get a chance to visit with these, at this time, approachable Judges.

We will be meeting at a new place for this meeting only - The Tower Club, located in Thanksgiving Tower at 1601 Elm Street on the 48th Floor. Please make a note this is a different location, this time only.

This is a great time to bring a guest to let them meet our members and network a bit. As well as visit with the Judges in a fairly comfortable setting - and maybe even win a prize. This will generally be an unscripted panel with the Judges. The program will focus on the Expert Report, but your questions in advance will help to guide the conversation, and possibly keep us on target. Be aware that they can't talk about any case before them now or potentially coming to them. Also, try to focus on the expert report, qualifications, experience, and related topics. As we know, all experts are not equal, but what is it that makes a difference?

You do not want to miss this important discussion and exciting opportunity! Send your questions to Ken Sibley at 


5:00PM- Board of Directors Meeting
6:00PM - Networking and cocktails
7:00PM - Dinner and Program
8:00PM - Adjourn


The Honorable Sidney A. Fitzwater, United States District Judge

Sidney A. Fitzwater was appointed by President Reagan in 1986 as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas. At the time of his appointment at age 32 he was the youngest federal judge in the United States. He served as Chief Judge of the Northern District of Texas from 2007 to 2014.

Judge Fitzwater served by appointment of the Chief Justice of the United States as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 2010 to 2014. He served from 2000 to 2007 by appointment of the Chief Justice on the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Judge Fitzwater has been a member of the District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit since 1986, serving as President (2006-08), President-Elect (2004-06), Vice President (2002-04), and Secretary-Treasurer (2000-02). He is also a member of the State Bar of Texas, Texas Bar Foundation (Life Fellow), Dallas Bar Association, Federal Judges Association, and The American Law Institute. He was a member of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council from 2002 to 2007, and he currently serves on the Rules Committee of the Judicial Council.

He became a Master of the Patrick E. Higginbotham American Inn of Court in 2008, and he was previously a Master of the W. M. "Mac" Taylor, Jr. American Inn of Court from 1990 to 1996. In 2018 he was awarded the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fifth Circuit, given "to a lawyer or judge whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law."

Before his appointment to the federal bench, he served from 1982 to 1986 as judge of the 298th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas. He practiced law with Vinson & Elkins, Houston, Texas from 1976 to 1978, and with Rain Harrell Emery Young & Doke, Dallas, Texas, from 1978 to 1982.

Judge Fitzwater is a 1976 graduate of Baylor Law School, where he was an Associate Editor of the Baylor Law Review and a member of the academic honor society and National Order of Barristers. He was chosen as the outstanding advocate in the 1976 state moot court competition and was a member of the champion team. He was a member of the champion teams in the Baylor Law School moot court and mock trial competitions. He is a 1975 graduate of Baylor University, where he received the Most Valuable Debater Award.

In 2007 the Baylor University Alumni Association presented him the Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1985 it presented him the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. In 1983 Baylor University presented him the Young Graduates Award of Merit. The Fort Worth Independent School District presented him its Outstanding Alumni Award in 1986. In 2016 he was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of Southwest High School, Fort Worth, Texas, from which he graduated in 1971.

Judge Fitzwater has been married since 1976 to Nancy W. Fitzwater. They have three sons, John W. Fitzwater, M.D., Joseph L. Fitzwater, M.D., and James S. Fitzwater, two daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren.

The Honorable Harlin D. "Cooter" Hale, United States Bankruptcy Judge

Born in Natchez, Mississippi, Judge Harlin "Cooter" Hale earned a B.S. in 1979 from Louisiana State University and a J.D. in 1982 from Paul M. Hebert School of Law, LSU, where he was elected to membership in Order of the Coif. In 1982-83, he served as law clerk to the Honorable James L. Dennis, Associate Justice, Louisiana Supreme Court, now a judge on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. From 1983-2002, Judge Hale was in private practice of law in Dallas, Texas. On November 1, 2002, he was appointed a United States Bankruptcy Judge in the Northern District of Texas, and was reappointed in November 2016.

Judge Hale has held numerous memberships and positions over his career: Visiting Professor, SMU Dedman School of Law (Creditors' Rights); American Bankruptcy Institute; American Law Institute; Commercial Law League; Dallas Bar Association; Dallas Bankruptcy Bar Association; Louisiana State Bar Association; Texas Bar Association; American Bar Association; Executive Committee, Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas (2011-12 Chair); National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (2011-12 Fifth Circuit Governor Designate); Master, John C. Ford American Inn of Court (2007-08 Sergeant of the Inn Award); and Federal Bar Association (Bankruptcy Section Chair 2006-07).

This course has been approved for 1 CFLC credit
This course has been approved for 2 MCLE Credits

MCLE Course #: 174030826


Advance Registration
Member price: $80.00
Non-member price: $90.00

On-site Registration
Member price: $90.00
Non-member price: $100.00

Online registration is now closed.

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