Ten years and eight months after delivering the opening statement in what became the largest child custody case in U.S. history, Carmen Symes Dusek stood before a packed Tom Green County courtroom and took her oath of office from longtime Judge Barbara Walther to become judge of the very court that heard the case.
San Angelo lawyer Carmen Symes Dusek officially sworn in as 51st District Court judge
Carmen’s investiture took place 32 days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed her to the 51st Judicial District Court in Coke, Irion, Schleicher, Sterling, and Tom Green Counties. She is set to remain in this position until December 31, 2020, or until a successor shall be duly elected and qualified.
Upon the announcement of her appointment on November 12, 2018, Carmen stated: “I am honored to have been chosen by Governor Abbott from a pool of well-respected applicants who are all outstanding trial attorneys, and I am humbled to succeed Judge Barbara Walther, one of the most respected and experienced trial judges in Texas. I look forward to serving the people within the 51st Judicial District. I promise to work hard, treat parties and attorneys before the Court with dignity and respect, and to ensure that the laws of the great State of Texas are applied with fairness and impartiality.”
Her career with Jackson Walker began in Austin before she left to practice with her father, Clint Symes, for 17 years. In January 2017, she rejoined the Firm in San Angelo, where she represented clients in a range of litigation matters related to personal injury defense, agriculture litigation, business litigation, probate litigation, and family law. In addition to her regular practice, Carmen had been a leading advocate for protecting the rights and interests of abused and neglected children in Texas.
In a case that made national headlines, Carmen was appointed lead attorney for the more than 450 children who resided at Warren Jeffs’ Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch. Beyond working to advise the children of their rights and advocate for their interests and needs, Carmen organized a team of 263 attorneys from across Texas in just nine days to represent the children. The case ultimately had over 500 parties involved in the litigation.
In 2014, former Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Carmen to the Protect Our Kids Commission, which recommended strategies to the Legislature on reducing child abuse and neglect fatalities. She is former vice president of the Tom Green County Bar Association and a former nominations committee member of the Texas Association of Defense Council.
“The Firm and our litigation group will miss having a terrific attorney like Judge Dusek among us, but Texas will have a fantastic district court judge,” said W. Ross Forbes, Jr., who leads the Trial & Appellate Litigation practice at Jackson Walker.
Lawyer From Historic Child Custody Dispute Returns to Court—as Judge »
Texas Lawyer | Ten years ago, San Angelo lawyer Carmen Symes Dusek made a name for herself when she served as the lead attorney for the 330 children taken from Warren Jeffs’ Yearning For Zion polygamist compound. Now she’s been appointed as judge of the same court that heard that case.
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