The Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans raised $401,600 to provide civil legal services for low-income veterans in Texas.
This annual event co-sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Commission and underwritten by the State Bar of Texas, is now in its sixth year, and has raised more than $2 million since its inception in 2010.
The event is focused on veterans because as keynote speaker and University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven said: For those Americans who risk everything in service to their country, there should be no barriers to justice once they return home.
Two awards are also given at each gala: the James B. Sales Boots on the Ground Award, which recognizes an exceptional legal services attorney or pro bono attorney, and the Emily C. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an outstanding individual who has demonstrated their deep commitment to legal services.
James B. Sales Boots on the Ground Award
Peter Hofer, who has worked as the senior litigation attorney with Disability Rights Texas for nearly 15 years, has helped nearly 200 children across the state by tirelessly representing them in federal court and administrative hearings to protect their right to health care. These children have disabilities and chronic health conditions, and their lives are better because of Mr. Hofer. As the parent of one of these children said: “I feel like Peter is there for us and fights for us.”
Emily C. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award
Wallace Jefferson, who spent nine years as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, has dedicated his legal career working tirelessly for greater transparency, accessibility and equality in the state’s courts. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 2001, Mr. Jefferson successfully worked with state lawmakers to garner funding for access to justice programs, reform antiquated juvenile-justice practices, and implement a statewide electronic filing system.
James B. Sales
A former Marine, State Bar president and University of Texas School of Law graduate, James B. Sales founded the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, which has helped low-income Harris County residents for 34 years. He has served as chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, where he produced a five-year plan to increase funding. He has also spearheaded legislative reforms, increasing funding for civil legal aid, and organized pro bono programs across the state.