History of the El Paso County Law Library By: Hon. Charles R. Schulte, and assisted by Hon. Robert J. Galvan May 23, 2000
May 23rd, 2000, marks the golden anniversary of the El Paso County Law Library. From its lofty perch on the twelfth floor of the new El Paso County Courthouse, the Library serves not only the Bench and Bar of El Paso but the general public as well. Since its birth May 23, 1950, the Library has become one of the largest and most progressive in West Texas.
It becomes interesting with this focus, to remember what was going on in 1950 in the much larger world outside. The year 1950 witnessed President Truman developing the hydrogen bomb, observed North Korean forces capturing Seoul and the United Nations taking it back. And Chinese forces were to cross the 38th parallel.
World population had reached two point three billion people worldwide. Our own United States population was just over one hundred and fifty million of which three and two tenths percent were illiterate.
Closer to home, El Paso applauded its big city status and its one hundred thirty thousand souls. The over-all county count was one hundred and ninety five thousand. According to El Paso Historian Leon Metz, Ft. Bliss was our main employer and the El Paso Natural Gas Company the largest natural gas transporter in the world. Bur our city, so far otherwise advanced, did not have a central law library until May 1950. It had four district courts and two county courts at Law. The County Judge was Victor B. Gilbert. As administrative head of El Paso and the presiding officer of the Commissioners Court, Judge Gilbert on May 23, 1950, convened the court and took the following action as reflected from the minutes, in part: Whereas, by Chapter 58 of the Session Laws of 1949, the Texas legislature authorized counties containing a specified number of inhabitants to provide by order of the Commissioners' Court for the establishment, maintenance and operation of a County Law Library, out of the proceeds of the $1 tax levied on each civil suit for such purpose: . . .
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COMMISSIONERS COURT of El Paso County, that a County Law Library be, and the same hereby established; and that until otherwise provided by order of this Court, the following rules and directives shall govern the maintenance and operation of same:
FIRST: The location of said Library shall be maintained in the Law Library room of the El Paso Court of Civil Appeals in the El Paso County Court House.
SECOND: The present members of the Library committee of the El Paso Bar Association, consisting of the Chief Justice of the El Paso Court of Civil Appeals, the County, and the other five members of said Committee, and the successors in office of either, are hereby constituted the agents of the Commissioners Court, and vested with powers (enumerated).
The minutes continue, giving the Library Committee authority to decide what books and periodicals to acquire, the means and methods of disposal and disposition of property and funds. The Clerk of the El Paso Court of Civil Appeals is constituted agent for the Court to receive and receipt for and have custody of all books, and to purchase and receipt for those agreed upon by the Library Committee and for which there are funds available. Provision is made for the methods of accounting, record keeping and reporting. The minutes of May 23rd 1950, are signed by Judge Gilbert and attested by Deputy County Clerk, Margaret.
Since the chief clerks of the Appellate Court, especially in the beginning, played an important role in regard to the Law Library, it is interesting to name those who served during the years 1950 to 2000. They were E. J. Redding, J. W. (Sam) Florence, Anne D. Ray, Martha S. (Fran) Diaz, Barbara D. Dorris and Denise C. Hogan (now Pacheco).
As we have learned, in the early days of the Library and continuing until 1983, the chief clerks found it necessary to make a greater contribution of their own time and effort to the Law Library. As we shall see, the Law Library, at the very heart of County Government, had to await anyone strictly called and titled Librarian.
In May of 1950, the seat of El Paso County government was in downtown El Paso. The old classical Texas-type Courthouse of 1885 with its spires, tower and ginger bread had by then long ago disappeared. But the Courthouse of 1915, in use in 1950, and housing the Court of Civil Appeals and the El Paso County Law Library, retained a certain grandeur with its majestic columns facing San Antonio Street. The Court and Library were on the fifth floor and continued operating there under the joint authorities through the remodeling of 1955 and until the new courthouse was finished in 1992. Although the governing Texas Statutes have been altered over the years, the Library has continued to obtain for the past half century as a comfortable working partnership among the Appellate Court, now known as the Eighth Court of Appeals of Texas, the Commissioners Court of El Paso County and the El Paso County Bar Association. Let us turn to its everyday management.
For an extended period, the librarian in charge occupied a staff position on the Appellate Court's manning table, not as librarian necessarily, and sometimes listed as a clerk or custodian. However, the minutes of the Appeals Court do show early on a librarian classification. W. R. Collins was so called as part of his duties and he remained at the Court between 1953 and 1958. Dan F. Redding, who followed W. R. Collins, served primarily in looking after the library between 1958 and 1971. Then in 1971, Lucy Bernard Berry came on board as "Clerk I and Assistant Librarian". Ms. Berry stayed on until 1972 when she resigned and was replaced by June Haggin.
With the business of the Library increasing greatly, June Haggin (now June Sanford), although an employee of the Appellate Court, was required to devote most of her time to the Library. In 1983, June changed from being an employee of the Appellate Court to being a librarian employed by El Paso County. June having begun her work in 1972, continued until 1986.
In a 1986 news article appearing in the El Paso Times, the newly installed Librarian, Lynn Sanchez, gave credit to her predecessor, June Sanford for the library's physical and literary modernization realized during the prior 14 years of Sanford's term. Lynn was not alone in her admiration of Sanford's work. The American Association of Law Libraries awarded June a life membership in recognition of her years of outstanding service.
What is more, Jane D. Olm, Law Librarian and a noted Law Library Consultant of the Texas Tech University School of Law, evaluated the El Paso Law Library in June, 1977, during June's tenure, and commended her accomplishments realized in spite of somewhat rudimentary resources then available. Jane Olm kindly returned to the El Paso Law Library in 1980 to offer further guidance in regard to acquisitions, space needs, management, personnel and organization of materials. Jane Olm's recommendations have proved invaluable not only to June Sanford but to her successors and the Law Library Committee as well. So too, the Judiciary. Justice Max Osborn who was on the Committee at the time of the 1980 study, proved indispensable then, and later as Chief Justice, in the implementation of acquisitions and essential funding of the Library as had his predecessor, Chief Justice Preslar as hereafter further commented. We return to our comments regarding the veteran June Sanford.
At the time of Sanford's retirement, in a unanimous resolution of the Library Committee, signed by its Chairman, Judge Robert J. Galvan, and by Justice Charles R. Schulte of the 8th Court of Appeals, as well as by District Judge Sam Paxson, and attorneys, William Lockhart, Mark Berry, Terri Cullen-Garney, David Jeans, Gerald Smith, Bruce Hallmark, Glen Shelton, and Owen Ellington, June's outstanding contribution of fourteen years was remembered in the extract that follows:
Mrs. Sanford was the active motivating force in the modernization of the El Paso County Law Library and served with great competence and professionalism,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the El Paso County Law Library Committee publicly expresses its sincere appreciation for the dedicated and professional guidance that epitomized her years of service, and ... extends to June Sanford ...years of happiness during her retirement..
Before returning to a concluding comment in regard to June Sanford and her successor, it is appropriate here to note that in the same year of 1986, consistent with and indicative of its long standing partnership with the Appellate Court, the Law Library Committee, saluted the Appellate Court's retiring Chief Justice, Stephen F. Preslar, stating in part, "Through your efforts and suggestions, adequate funds were obtained for the Law Library, enabling it to become a financially viable organization. Your assistance in obtaining legislation for this purpose and your approval of the use of the Court of Appeals for the education programs of the Committee are only several of the many services you rendered over the years."
In conclusion, the committee members expressed their sincere thanks and appreciation to Justice Preslar. Further in recognition of its ongoing relationship with the Appellate Court, upon the death of Justice William E. Ward, the Committee lauded his contribution and years of service to the Committee. In a like vein, in a memorial remembrance to District Judge George Rodriguez, he was praised and cited for his years of counsel and advice.
To return to June Sanford, as Librarian, she prepared for her succession. That being so, upon her 1986 retirement, she was able to relinquish the reins to her young Assistant Librarian, Lynn Koivisto Sanchez. Lynn Sanchez had started as an assistant to June Sanford in August 1982 and became Chief Librarian in February 1986. Mrs. Sanchez states she, in turn, has been blessed with able assistants. Gigi Goode was welcomed in 1986, served loyally and well for almost ten years before health problems required her retirement and departure for Maryland. No one will forget Gigi's fine work nor her delicious cookies which she named " Whatumacallits." People wondered whether the attorneys came for the combined meetings/seminars, or to enjoy Gigi's cookies.
Following Gigi, fortunately, Sandra Galceran, an experienced law librarian, became available in May 1994, and reported for duty. Sandra's contribution has indeed been eminent, her professionalism valued and her personal caring lauded.
Mrs. Sanchez, Lynn to all of us, has continued to serve as Chief Librarian and does so until this day in 2000. She has experienced its growing pains, its expansion and continual improvement. Under her outstanding leadership, the Library has increased to 30,000 volumes. Its clients now include 1200 lawyers and judges plus the general public. Lynn estimates that the Library and staff receive an average of seventy five visitors daily. Her fourteen years have witnessed one major move, from the 5th floor of the old courthouse to the 12th floor of the present 1992 courthouse. Lynn was able to accomplish the move without missing a client. As nine hundred plus crates of books were being carried off on one day in January 1992, there were still lawyers being served as the books passed by on their way out. The library in the new location was open for business on the first business day following the move. Patrons say this is characteristic of Lynn Sanchez as she enters her fifteenth year as Head Librarian.
Now in her new, bright and spacious location adjacent to the Eighth Court of Appeals on the 12th floor of the new sparkling-glass-appearing courthouse, Lynn adjusts to a library science greatly transformed by technology. Six computers, available to patrons, adorn the walls, four primarily devoted to CD ROM research, two with access to the internet for even more recent authority. Westlaw and Lexis are still on the wish list. This dynamic two tiered library, called by some the inviting penthouse with a view, enters the new century, regarded truly to be, "A community jewel". We leave our comments about Lynn now, knowing that there will be sequels to these words in later years, concerning Lynn's inspired leadership, her apparently inexhaustible supply of energy, not only as the Librarian, but as a loving wife to David, a caring mother to four robust youngsters as well as their PTA President.
From a complete review of the records which are extant, the names of many inspired leaders appear, but the one most persistent and durable, the guiding hand these many years, in the evolution to the existing first class law library, is Judge Robert J. Galvan.
Year after year, the various presidents of the El Paso Bar Association have recognized his most dedicated leadership by repeatedly appointing Judge Galvan to the post of Chairman of the Library Committee. It has been more than a stewardship, the Law Library has been an important part of Judge Galvan's life. He has now served the Committee for more than twenty eight years, 20 years as its Chairman. Although retired as a Judge, except for receiving special assignments, Judge Galvan still serves as a member of the Committee. In connection with his lifelong Law Library work, Judge Galvan has often praised the enlightened cooperation of the Commissioners Court, and the help of the many County Judges over the years. Judge Galvan commends the invaluable contribution of the Appellate Court and all of its Justices, past and present, not only for their bountiful past help in funding but for their generous sharing of facilities and spirit of cooperation.
The El Paso Bar Association also has gained Judge Galvan's gratitude, in loyally manning the Library Committee over all of its years, cooperating in every way and thus constituting a major factor in the Library's development. The Bar Association's President, Mark Osborn, comes in for a most special thank you from not only Judge Galvan but the Library staff as well, for fostering this Golden Anniversary celebration.
Before concluding his words of appreciation, Judge Galvan stated that he wanted to remember the outstanding contribution of Mr. Walter Sobel of Chicago, Illinois, of F.A.I.A. and Associates, the nationally recognized judicial consultants in library construction and arrangement. Mr. Sobel and Associates afforded a specialized knowledge that ultimately produced a unique and beautiful library.
Acknowledging Judge Galvan's inclination to graciously credit others, the Library Committee likewise recognized Judge Galvan's own dedication, when in 1990, the Judge terminated his active duty on the bench of the El Paso County Court at Law Number One. In a certificate presented to Judge Galvan, the Board credited the Judge for the modernization of the Law Library reciting that, "His diligent efforts, for which we are extremely grateful, included his role in the major renovation of the library, furthering its collection and development, insuring the library to be fiscally sound through proper funding, and implementing the Continuing Legal Education video seminar program to the benefit of the entire Bench and Bar of El Paso." And the honor continues, "We have been so fortunate for his tireless dedication to serving the legal community. The time and effort unstintingly given has been an active motivating force in forming the Law Library into the fine establishment that it is today. Beneath the portrait of Judge Galvan which hangs in the Library is a plaque that reads:
THE HONORABLE JUDGE ROBERT J. GALVAN Presented by the El Paso County Law Librarian appreciation for twenty years of distinguished service, counsel and able and devoted leadership as Board Member and Chairman of the El Paso County Law Library Board. DECEMBER NINETEEN HUNDRED NINETY
Fortunately, at the time of Judge Galvan's retirement, there were other inspired leaders ready to take control. Such allegiance and dedication is now reflected in the leadership of William Lockhart and Mark Berry, Co-Chairmen of the Committee since the early 90's . Mr. Lockhart is the Staff Attorney for the Eighth Court of Appeals and is a veteran of seventeen years on the Committee. Mark Berry, the other Co-Chair, is a highly regarded attorney in practice in El Paso, himself a veteran of nineteen years of hard work, dedication and service to the Committee.
Other members of the Judiciary who have devoted countless hours to the work of the Committee, in addition to Chief Justice Stephen F. Preslar, Chief Justice Max N. Osborn, Justice William E. Ward, District Judge George Rodriguez, and Judge Robert J. Galvan, already mentioned, include retired Chief Justice Max Ramsey; present Justice David Chew and present Justice Ann C. McClure; former District Judge Edward S. Marquez; District Judge Robert Dinsmoor; District Judge Sam Paxson; Federal Bankruptcy Judge John Akard; former County Judges Udell Moore and Luther Jones; County Court at Law Judge Herb Cooper; County Court at Law Judge John Fashing (who also served as Chairman for one year); and retired Justices Ward Koehler, Larry Fuller and Charles R. Schulte. Present Chief Justice Richard Barajas has been gracious in affording the use of the Court facilities for the Committee's Continuing Legal Education Program. Present County Judge, Dolores Briones, has demonstrated a very welcome enthusiasm in the furtherance of the interests of the Library.
Other members of the Bar who have, as practicing attorneys, shown exceptional dedication to the Library Committee, from records that are extant, include not only William Lockhart and Mark Berry, the present Co-Chairmen, but also the following named Attorneys: Vernon Decker, Charles Anderson, William Fowler, Thor Gade, William B. Duncan, Richard E. Buck, Ray Marshall, Sam Sipes, Tati Santiesteban, Christopher A. Haynes, Charlie McNabb, Doris Sipes, David Jeans, Patricia Palafox, Charles Deason, Anthony Safi, Robert Schwarzbach, Gerald Smith, Terri Cullen-Garney, Bruce Hallmark, Glen Shelton, Owen Ellington, Mario Lewis, Richard Lovelace, Warren Pulner, Richard Yetter, Kathleen Walker, Michael Spurlock, Jack Brewster, Ronald Calhoun, John Cowan, Sanford Cox, Edward Dunbar, William Elias, Carlos Hermosillo, Terry Pasqualone, Matthew DeKoatz, Bernard Felsen, Michael Hartley, Mark Howell, Michael Hutson, Brenda Karickhoff, Daniel Robledo, Jaime Sanchez, E. P. (Bud) Kirk, Roger Moore, James Brennand, Walter Boyaki, Francis Broaddus, Roger Davie, Duane Juvrud, Martie Georges, James Brewer, J. Kirby Read, Sheral Peterson, George Havlovic, Robert Tinnell, Terry Hammond, Sylvia Firth, Jeff Allder, Rodney Baxter, Rosemary Marin, Charles McDonald, Catherine Fowler, Robert Anchondo, Mario Martinez, Amy Stewart-Sanders, William Hardie Jr., Sanford Cox, Steve Raney, Iona Parks Rosenthal, Frank B. Walker, Christopher Cox, Mark D. Dore, Christopher Johnston, Joe Edd Boaz, Alex Melendez-Gonzalez, Meg McDonald, Jeffrey Lucky, Carmen Rodriguez, Herbert Ehrlich, Marilyn Mungerson, Robert A. Skipworth, Paula Thomas, Barbara Wiederstein, Albert Armendariz Jr., Kenneth Carr, Enrique Lopez, Lucille Zavala, Henry Hosford, Michael Stell, David Hassler and James Iserman.
The Law Library Committee has from its inception, been one of the most active committees of the El Paso Bar Association. Its expanded scope involving continuing legal education has benefitted the El Paso legal profession and consequently the people of the City which it serves. The outstanding attendance at the seminars held at noon-time over many years is fully believed to have resulted from the quality of the educational presentations and not from the delicious luncheons which followed. Regardless of the motive, progress has been the overriding theme.
Thus from most humble beginnings to a recognized prominence, the story of the success of the El Paso County Law Library has had many authors, all of whom we must assume, are proud of and grateful for their contributions, large and small, as the Library celebrates its Fiftieth Birthday.
Bernard Grun, The Timetables of History, Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y. 1972.
Judge Herb Marsh Jr. and Judge Robert Dinsmoor, El Paso Courthouses Past and Present," Password, The El Paso County Historical Society, Vol 40, No. 2, El Paso, Texas, Summer 1995.
Leon C. Metz, El Paso Chronicles, Mangan Books, El Paso, Texas, 1993.
El Paso Times, November 10, 1986.