Warren Harris leans over one of a half-dozen tables at which groups of seventh-graders are sorting sheets of paper. The sheets list the various courts of the Texas justice system, from municipal on up to the Supreme Court of Texas.
The appellate attorney addresses two boys in a sonorous, measured Texas tone: “Let’s see what this says: Cases from this court are appealed to the Court of Appeals.” He points to one sheet, then another above it. “OK, so we know this one goes from here to here. And it looks like this one goes here. Why don’t you check and see if that looks good and then see where you think these other ones go?”
The 2020 lesson, captured on video, is a scene from “Taming Texas,” a project of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society designed to teach schoolchildren how the state’s court system works—and why they should care. It covers Texas law from pre-statehood days to the present, highlighting landmark cases and showing how various proceedings are handled.
It’s a project that Harris, a partner at Houston’s Bracewell LLP, conceived and helped create as a former president of the society. “We teach them about the third branch of government and really try to bring that to life so they can understand the courts and how they affect how we function and how we live,” he says.