Record columnist wins second national legal writing award

The SE Texas Record Apr. 22, 2010, 4:42am


Dallas attorney and Southeast Texas Record legal columnist John G. Browning was recently named the winner of the 2010 Burton Award for Distinguished Achievement in Legal Writing.

The Burton Awards, patterned after the Pulitzer Prize, was established by the non-profit Burton Foundation in 1999 to recognize the best in legal writing.

Articles, primarily from law reviews and academic publications, authored by partners at the top 1,000 law firms in the country were judged by an academic board that included distinguished scholars from Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and the University of California Law School at Irvine, as well as judges from various state and federal appellate courts.

Browning was recognized for his three-part series "When All That Twitters Is Not Told: The Dangers of the Online Juror," which appeared in May, June and July 2009 as part of his weekly syndicated newspaper column "Legally Speaking."

The series examines the alarming numbers of mistrials and overturned verdicts around the country caused by jurors venturing onto the Internet to research a case or communicating about a case through social networking sites like Twitter.

As the series points out, "In an age in which digital intimacy is rapidly becoming the social norm and where the sanctity of the jury room can be violated at the speed of a search engine, jurors need to know not only that courts remain the last bastion of controlling access to information – they also need to know why."

Browning, a partner at the Dallas-based law firm Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, is the only Texas lawyer to win the Burton Award this year. He also received the Burton Award in 2009, and becomes one of only several attorneys nationwide who have earned this accolade more than once.

Browning will be presented with the award at its 11th anniversary event on June 14, a black tie gala held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Among the presenters and guest speakers will be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, noted legal author Bryan Garner and senior CNN analyst and bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin.

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