In the News

Tom Williams in the Texas Lawbook: Haynes and Boone Score a Win for Media Courtroom Rights

Fort Worth’s 2nd Court of Appeals has ruled that local reporters are allowed access to two barred January hearing transcripts associated with a juvenile capital murder case and that State District Judge Jean Boyd abused her discretion in closing the hearings to the media in the first place.

In a 26-page opinion, Justice Sue Walker determined Judge Boyd closed her courtroom “without showing a good cause,” as required in the Texas Family Code, and ordered Judge Boyd to immediately vacate the courtroom closure orders. >>

Federal Court Applies Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute for the First Time, Confirming it Creates a Substantive First Amendment Right

In a major boost to the Texas anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) statute, a federal court judge granted a South Texas television’s anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss, applying the state statute in federal court for the first time since its adoption in 2011.

U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Southern District of Texas dismissed the challenge to the anti-SLAPP statute and the argument that it was a procedural rule that conflicted with federal rules. Instead, Judge Ramos held the anti-SLAPP statute creates a significant substantive First Amendment right and should be applied in federal court. It is designed to prevent malicious or frivolous lawsuits that chill free speech. >>



Recent Publications

Tom Williams Moderates Panel at Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Conference

Haynes and Boone Partner Tom Williams moderated the opening panel a the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Conference. >>



Thomas J. Williams

Partner

Fort Worth


201 Main Street
Suite 2200
Fort Worth, 76102
T +1 817.347.6625
F +1 817.347.6650

Áreas de Practica

Additional Areas of Focus

  • Appellate

Educación

  • J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1975, with honors
  • B.A., University of Texas at Austin, 1973

Bar Admissions

  • Texas

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
Thomas J. Williams

Tom Williams has extensive experience in business and commercial litigation, libel litigation, intellectual property litigation, and media law matters and is active in a wide range of professional and civic organizations.

Tom has handled matters which include the following:

  • Representation of numerous publishing and broadcasting companies in a variety of matters including defense of libel and invasion of privacy claims, access to public information matters, and free press/fair trial issues.
  • Representation of numerous commercial clients in copyright and trademark litigation and a wide range of general commercial litigation, including employment, securities, and real estate litigation matters.
  • Representation of a major market Texas television station in the successful defense of a libel suit in a five week jury trial.
  • Representation of an international entertainment company in a two-week jury trial in federal court in a breach of contract action arising out of a video distribution agreement. 
  • Representation of one of the first defendants to obtain attorney’s fees in a motion to dismiss under the Texas anti-SLAPP statute.
  • Representation of a national financial services company in opposing in both the trial court and the Court of Appeals a motion for class certification by a statewide group of borrowers.
  • Representation of a national accounting firm in litigation concerning accountants' liability issues in both audit and tax services.
  • Representation of a national retailer in litigation concerning enforcement of product exclusivity clauses in shopping center leases.
  • Representation of a major Texas newspaper in two appeals to the Texas Supreme Court in a significant invasion of privacy case.
  • Representation of a Texas daily newspaper in an interlocutory appeal from a trial court's denial of summary judgment in a libel action brought by a former state court judge.
  • Representation of a national book publishing company in successful defense of libel and privacy claims.
  • Representation of a national direct response marketing company in trademark and copyright infringement litigation.
  • Successful defense of a multi-national chemicals manufacturing corporation in a federal court case where plaintiff was seeking more than $15 million in damages for fraud in the sale of an alleged defective product.

Selected Publications and Speeches

  • "Rights, Roadblocks and the Public's Access to the Courts," Panel Moderator, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Conference, September 15, 2014.
  • "Recent Developments in Media, Privacy and Defamation Law," ABA’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1, Fall 2012 (co-author)
  • Annual Texas Survey of Media Privacy and Related Laws, Media Law Resource Center (co-author)

Professional Recognition

  • Included in 2013-2015 editions of Best Lawyers in America in three categories: Commercial Litigation, First Amendment Litigation, and Intellectual Property Litigation; listed in "The Best Lawyers in America" in every edition of the publication since 1991
  • Chosen by his peers as one of Fort Worth's Top Attorneys in Civil Litigation, Fort Worth, Texas, The City's Magazine, 2011-2013
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers, 2003-2014
  • Received Tarrant County Bar Association Professionalism Award, 2006
  • Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™

Selected Representative Experience


Theaola Robinson v. KTRK Television, Inc., et. al., No. 2011-54895 (234th District Court, Harris County, Tex., October 8, 2014)
Represented a television station in a libel per se action brought in response to the station's true reports on the closing of a local charter school due to (among other things) a lack of adequate funds and allegations of financial mismanagement and failure to properly account for state funds. After the court of appeals reversed and remanded the trial court's denial of the station's Anti-SLAPP Motion and dismissed the case against the station, on remand, the Harris County District Court granted Haynes and Boone the highest award of attorneys' fees and costs ever ordered under the anti-SLAPP statute in Texas from an individual plaintiff.

In re Fort Worth Star-Telegram, et al, No. 02-14-00144-CV, 2014 WL 3906547 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth, August 12, 2014, no pet. h.)
Represented daily newspaper and three television stations in successful mandamus challenging juvenile court order excluding press and public from hearings in high-profile murder case. In case of first impression, the court of appeals held that Texas statute imposes a duty on juvenile court to open hearings to the public, in cases in which the accused juvenile is at least 14 years old, unless evidence in the record establishes good cause to close a proceeding. The court also held that the press and public have standing to challenge a closure order and that conclusion of the juvenile case in which the closed proceedings occurred did not render the media challenge moot.

Christopher Williams v. Cordillera Communications, Inc., KVOA Communications, Inc. d/b/a KRIS Communications; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, 2014
Haynes and Boone obtained the first ruling in the state in which a federal court declared the Texas anti-SLAPP statute a substantive right to be applied in federal court. The case, pending in the Southern District of Texas - Corpus Christi Division - involved a local television station's investigative series about a high school teacher and coach who had been accused of improper behavior with students and other improper acts for more than a decade and was permitted to move from school district to school district without having his teacher certification revoked. The court granted the station’s anti-SLAPP motion and requested a hearing on fees and costs.

Brandon Darby, Appellant v. The New York Times Company and James C. McKinley, Jr.
Successfully defended the appeal of a defamation summary judgment ruling in our clients' favor after plaintiff, a former activist and FBI informant, sued our clients, The New York Times and one of its reporters, for $187 million dollars for an article written about an arson at the Texas Governor’s Mansion that mentioned the plaintiff’s relationship, as an FBI undercover informant, to two activists who were convicted for their actions at the 2008 Republican National Convention. We filed a motion for summary judgment asserting the statements made were not capable of a defamatory meaning, were true or substantially true, and privileged and that plaintiff was a public figure and could not establish actual malice. After a hearing on our motion for summary judgment, and before any depositions had been taken, the court granted defendants’ motion and dismissed the case in its entirety. The plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo affirmed on the grounds of actual malice.

Oil and Gas Leases Dispute
Represented a mineral lease interest holder in suit brought by landowner alleging oil and gas leases had expired due to alleged violation of continuous development clauses.

In re: L.A.C., in the 323rd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas
On behalf of daily newspaper, filed a plea in intervention opposing a defense motion to close the trial of a juvenile case to the press and public. The defense attorney withdrew the motion and agreed that the trial would be held in open court.

Murphy v. Reynolds, 2011 WL 4502523 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth Sept. 29, 2011)
Represented the author of a financial newsletter who was found not liable under Texas Securities Act to a subscriber who claimed to have lost money in the market based on the author's advice.

NFL Properties LLC, Green Bay Packers, Inc. and Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc. v. Does 1 through 100; Cause No. 352-250686-11, in the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas
Represented the NFL in obtaining "John Doe" injunctive relief to enable the League and its member teams to obtain civil enforcement orders allowing seizure of counterfeit merchandise that infringed upon NFL trademarks sold in and around the area where Super Bowl XLV was held.

Force Majeure Lease Termination
The issue in this case was whether the force majeure clause in an oil and gas lease operated to extend the primary term. Representing the owner of the minerals, we obtained summary judgment holding that the lessee’s efforts to obtain requisite governmental permits were, as a matter of law, insufficient to trigger the force majeure clause and extend the primary term. We obtained a declaratory judgment that the lease terminated, allowing the owner to sign a new, more favorable, lease with another operator.

DDB Technologies v. Schlumberger and MLB Advanced Media LLC
Represented Major League Baseball in series of state and federal court suits pertaining to certain game simulation patents owned by a Texas company and assigned to MLBAM by Schlumberger.

DDB Technologies, Inc. v. MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Case No. A 04 CA 352 Western District of Texas, Austin Division
Defense of Major League Baseball in a patent dispute over interactive features of its website. Summary judgment was granted for MLBAM. Plaintiff appealed to Federal Circuit, which reversed and remanded. The case ultimately settled on confidential terms involving transfer of patents.

Thermacor Process, LP v. BASF Corp., 567 F.3d 736 (5th Cir. 2009)
Won summary judgment in a case involving fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and DTPA claims and alleged damages in excess of $10 million, and successfully defended the summary judgment on appeal.

Harvest House Publishers v. The Local Church, 190 S.W.3d 204 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied)
In an interlocutory appeal following the trial court’s denial of summary judgment, obtained rendition of a take-nothing judgment for a media defendant in a defamation case.

Memberships

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals, Member appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas (2007-2013)
  • American Bar Association (Member, Litigation Section; Forum Committee on Communications Law)
  • Tarrant County Bar Association
  • Tarrant County Bar Foundation (Chair, Board of Directors, 2009, 2010)
  • Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow
  • Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section
  • Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, Board of Directors and Secretary
  • Society of Professional Journalists Fort Worth Chapter, Board of Directors
  • American Bar Association Litigation Section, First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee
  • American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Media Privacy and Defamation Law Committee

Online Publications

10/16/2014 - Texas Press Association Guest Article: Recent Decisions Affect Access to Juvenile Courts
Recent news events have shown that, sadly, juvenile courts do not hear only cases involving minor offenses committed by "good kids." While those types of cases are certainly part of a juvenile court judges must hear cases involving offenses such as assault, battery, sexual assault, intoxication manslaughter, and even murder.

09/15/2014 - Tom Williams Moderates Panel at Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Conference
Haynes and Boone Partner Tom Williams moderated the opening panel a the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Conference.

07/28/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, July 2014
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

05/16/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, May 2014
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

04/23/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, April 2014
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

04/18/2014 - Media Law Letter Guest Article: Ninth Circuit Orders Take-Down of “Innocence of Muslims” Video in Novel and Controversial Application of Copyright Law
Reminding one of the expression that bad facts can make, at least in the eyes of many, bad law, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Google to remove from YouTube all or part of a film entitled “Innocence of Muslims” based on an actress’ claim that she retained a copyright interest in her independently copyrightable contribution to a joint work. Garcia v. Google, Inc., No. 12-57302, slip op. at 4, 14 (9th Cir. Feb. 26, 2014).

03/24/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, March 2014
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

02/06/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, February 2014
The Media and Entertainment Newsletter highlights current issues in Media and Entertainment Law.  Articles featured in the February 2014 issue include:

02/06/2014 - The "Third-Party Allegation" Rule May Not be Dead Yet
To paraphrase Mark Twain's famous quote, it appears that reports of the death of the third-party allegation rule in Texas defamation litigation may have been exaggerated.

01/14/2014 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, January 2014
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

12/12/2013 - Media and Entertainment Law Newsletter, December 2013
The newsletter of the Media and Entertainment Law Practice Group of Haynes and Boone, LLP.

11/05/2013 - Why No Employers Should ‘Like’ the Constitutional Protection of the Facebook ‘Like’
In yet another example of a court applying traditional First Amendment principles to modern technology, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently held that Facebook “likes” are a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

08/26/2013 - Media and Entertainment Practice Group

06/17/2011 - Recent Developments in Media, Privacy, and Defamation Law
The U.S. Supreme Court dominated this survey period, with decisions affecting media interests in privacy and access to information. Meanwhile, state and lower federal courts engaged in the serious jurisprudence involving celebrity, soccer balls, Serbian financiers, subpoenas and shield laws, canine software, and solicitations by fax blasts.

03/03/2011 - Nothing Personal: Supreme Court Denies Corporate Privacy Exception Under FOIA
Corporate documents provided to the government as part of an investigation of the company are not excepted from disclosure for “personal privacy” purposes under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In Federal Communications Comm. v. AT&T Inc., the Supreme Court held AT&T did not have a personal privacy interest in documents the company provided to the FCC during an investigation.

01/10/2011 - Employer Has Standing Under PIA to Seek Mandamus Relief When Information Requested by Employee is Not Released
Under the Texas Public Information Act, a “requestor” may file suit for a writ of mandamus compelling the release of public information. In The City of Dallas v. The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that an employer has standing to file such a suit when its employee made the initial request.

02/23/2010 - Texas Supreme Court Resets Public Information Act’s Ten-Day Deadline
When a governmental entity believes that information requested from it under the Texas Public Information Act (“PIA”) is exempt from disclosure, the PIA requires the entity to request an attorney general’s opinion within 10 business days after receiving the request. However, the PIA also allows the governmental entity to ask the requestor to clarify a request it finds to be unclear.

05/12/2009 - Fifth Circuit Enforces Disclaimer Provision in Form Agreement to Bar Misrepresentation Claims Against Manufacturer
On May 7, 2009, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a take-nothing summary judgment for Haynes and Boone, LLP client BASF Corporation, rejecting Plaintiff Thermacor Process, L.P.’s negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) claims based on a standard disclaimer-of-warranty provision and the absence of any actionable misrepresentation. Thermacor Process, L.P. v. BASF Corp., No. 08-10227 (5th Cir. May 7, 2009). This decision reinforces Texas law that manufacturers can rely on standard disclaimers in their form agreements to defeat claims based on the absence of any misrepresentation, particularly when the parties are sophisticated and the disclaimer is conspicuous.

04/01/2006 - Recent Developments in Media, Privacy and Defamation Law