Abbott names George Mason professor as Texas solicitor general

Marilyn Tennissen Dec. 13, 2010, 6:14am


AUSTIN – A faculty member from George Mason University in Virginia has been appointed as the chief appellate lawyer for the state of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Friday.

According to a Dec. 10 press release, Jonathan Mitchell will serve as Texas Solicitor General and Abbott's top legal advisor. He will oversee criminal and civil appeals in both state and federal courts and will represent the state before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"A true legal scholar, Jonathan Mitchell is an outstanding lawyer with a tremendous legal mind," Abbott said in a press release.

Mitchell succeeds James C. Ho, who departed the agency to return to private practice.

A 2001 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Mitchell clerked for a federal appeals court and then spent a year clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Since then, as Jonathan dedicated himself to public service and the study of law, he has quickly earned a reputation as a brilliant lawyer who very ably represents Texas before the highest courts in the land," Abbott said.

Mitchell spent three years in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S Department of Justice and two years as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Laws School.

Most recently, Mitchell has been an assistant professor of law at George Mason University. He is experienced in federal habeas corpus jurisprudence and has authored articles in the fields of criminal law and procedure, national security law and constitutional law.

However, according to a Texas Lawyer blog, Mitchell is not licensed to practice law in Texas.

Mitchell succeeds James Ho, who served as Solicitor General of Texas for nearly three years, during which he defended Texas tort reform and open government laws.

Ho argued Sossamon v. Texas, a case concerning state sovereignty and Congressional power. He is also the first state solicitor general in the nation that the U.S. Supreme Court invited to submit briefing expressing the State's legal view on a case. He plans to return to private practice in Dallas.

The office of Texas Solicitor General was created in 1999 by then-Texas Attorney General and current U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

As the Southeast Texas Record recently reported, Gregory Coleman, the state's first solicitor general, was killed in a plane crash in November.

Abbott also appointed David Mattax as director of Defense Litigation. Mattax has been with the Attorney General's Office since 1992 and served as the Financial Litigation Division Chief. Mattax will oversee financial litigation, general litigation, law enforcement defense, taxation, tort litigation and transportation litigation.

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