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March 29, 2004

Press contact: Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, (512) 471.7330
Event contact: Frances Valdez, Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy, Symposium Chair, 512-573-3696, fran@mail.utexas.edu.

Symposium Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Hernández v. State of Texas, April 1

WHAT: Hernández v. State of Texas: 50th Anniversary Celebration, a symposium presented by The Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy
WHEN: Thursday, April 1, at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: The Eidman Courtroom (2.306), Connally Center. Lunch honoring Judge James DeAnda in the Sheffield Room at 12:15 p.m.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy at The University of Texas School of Law will present a symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hernández v. State of Texas on Thursday, April 1, in the Eidman Courtroom at 10:30 a.m. Hernández is the first Supreme Court case to extend the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to Latinos and is considered to be among the great early triumphs in the Latino struggle for civil rights.

The symposium is free and consists of three panels that will address the history of Hernández (10:30 a.m. to noon), critical race theory and Hernández (2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.), and Hernández’s implications for Latino/a civil rights (3:45 to 5:15 p.m.). UT Law professors Norma Cantú and Gerald Torres are among the panelists scheduled to speak at the symposium.

In Hernández, a migrant cotton picker named Pete Hernández was accused and found guilty of murder in a small Texas town in Jackson County where no person of Mexican origin had served on a jury for at least 25 years. The Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor of Hernández and ordered a reversal of conviction. The court accepted the concept of distinction by class—between “white” and Hispanic—and found that when laws produce unreasonable and different treatment on such a basis, the constitutional guarantee of equal protection is violated. The court held that Hernández had “the right to be indicted and tried by juries from which all members of his class are not systematically excluded.”

There will also be a free luncheon in the Sheffield Room honoring Judge James DeAnda, UT Law Class of 1950, who helped litigate the Hernández case. Judge DeAnda is a former U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Texas who retired from the bench in 1992 after 14 years of judicial service to return to private practice with the law firm of Solar & Associates, L.L.P., in Houston. At the time of the Hernández case, Judge DeAnda was an attorney with the American G.I. Forum and worked with Hernández’s civil rights lawyer, Gustavo García.

The event is co-sponsored by The University of Texas Co-operative Society, The Student Bar Association, The University of Texas Senate, Jesus Sifuentes, The University of Texas School of Law, The Center for Mexican American Studies, The Law Offices of Frank Herrera, and Student Events Center Events Co-sponsorship Committee. For more information contact law student Frances Valdez, symposium chair, at (512) 573-3696 or fran@mail.utexas.edu.