Judge Buchmeyer 
Jerry Buchmeyer (1933-2009) — lawyer, judge, humorist, family man.

Jerry Buchmeyer, 76, passed away on September 21.  Blawgletter — along with a great many others — will miss him.

Judge Buchmeyer aimed for an ideal in which lawyers got along with and, yes, even liked each other.  He coaxed attorneys to squint to see their opponents' humanity and to act decently.  He didn't always use humor but often did, and to good effect.

A memorial service for Judge Buchmeyer will commence at 4:00 p.m. today at the Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Avenue, in downtown Dallas.  An article from The Dallas Morning News follows:

When friends and family of retired U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer gather for his memorial service Friday, spirited memories and laughter promise to be at the top of the docket.

In a 1991 order – which he wrote on the back of a blank check and gave to a law clerk – Buchmeyer left these instructions: "I want an 'Irish Wake' celebration. At Belo of course."

The service is at 4 p.m., and, as the judge directed, it will be at the Belo Mansion. Buchmeyer died Sept. 21 of natural causes.

Buchmeyer penned his wishes after attending a fellow judge's services, which he felt were too somber.

"He was telling all the family that he wanted us to gather people around and tell the funny, memorable stories about him, not necessarily wax on in a boring, labored way," said his son, Jon Paul Buchmeyer of New York.

"I didn't feel like we needed to go over his four big iconic cases and have speakers from those areas. It was more important to remember the man as a funny, humorous, engaging person."

In addition to his children and grandchildren, the memorial service will include members of Buchmeyer's informal family – his former law clerks, who still gather from across the country to hold Dallas reunions.

"There's going to be plenty of laughter, and that's how he would have wanted it," said former clerk Toni Nguyen, now assistant general counsel for Belo Corp., the parent company of WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and former owner of The Dallas Morning News.

"I don't think he was into the somber mood."

State Sen. Wendy Davis, who clerked for the judge with Nguyen in 1993-94, remembers him for his humor – and incredible humanity.

She recalled his agony in having to apply mandatory sentencing guidelines to a 19-year-old facing 40 years in prison for his third robbery conviction

"The judge stayed up all night trying to find a way outside the guidelines, because he didn't feel that was an appropriate sentence," Davis said. The teenager "was a good kid who had been caught up with the wrong people at the wrong place at the wrong time."

"When he sentenced him, he sat on the bench and just cried."

Davis later drew on her clerkship lessons when she was a Fort Worth City Council member. She remembers being confronted by irate homeowners who were opposed to public-housing residents being relocated to their neighborhood.

"I always had him in my mind and in my heart when I was facing the criticism I faced and the personal difficulties I faced as a result of that decision," Davis said.

Buchmeyer isn't an easy man to capture in words, said former clerk Meg Penrose, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

"It's really hard to describe him with any one word, story or adjective," said Penrose. "This is a man who had led such a rich, rich life."

President Bill Clinton had considered elevating Buchmeyer to the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals, but the judge was happy in Dallas, Penrose said.

"He didn't want to do that because one of the things he liked about being a trial judge was being able to reach the right decision based on the law and affect individuals in such a rich way," she said.

Despite the claims of those who didn't always agree with his rulings, Buchmeyer did not legislate from the bench, said longtime friend and fellow attorney Louis Weber of Dallas.

"He was always following the law. He just was a liberal in most of his thinking, and, therefore, some people considered that legislating even though he wasn't doing it," Weber said.

Few people have known Buchmeyer longer than Frank Finn of Dallas, who remembers the judge arriving at the law firm of Thompson & Knight in 1958.

"I was somewhat jealous of this newly arrived little guy, who was just smart as hell," Finn recalled.

"He did beautiful work. He was careful, very thoughtful, but he was also very quiet. He didn't make waves."

President Jimmy Carter appointed Buchmeyer to the federal bench in 1979.

"He wanted to be a federal judge and he was a damn good one," Finn said. "I didn't agree with him politically. I admired him, however for his legal acumen."

But most of all, Nguyen said, Buchmeyer will be remembered for how he treated people.

"He showed all of us not just how to be a great legal scholar and a good lawyer," she said, "but how to be a good person."

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Photo of Barry Barnett Barry Barnett

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck…

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Lawdragon has named him one of the top 500 lawyers in the United States three years in a row. Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020) in Houston. Based in Texas and New York, Barnett has tried complex business disputes across the United States.

Barnett’s background, training, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his effectiveness and judgment. His peers chose him, for example, to the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Law Institute. His decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Named among Texas’s top ten antitrust lawyers of 2023, Business Today calls Barnett a “trailblazer” among the “distinguished legal minds” who “dedicate their skill and expertise to the maintenance of healthy competition in various sectors” of the Lone Star State’s booming economy. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a courtroom with calm and credibility and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. His performance before the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend prompted the Court to withdraw the question on which it had granted review. The judge in a trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News. He’s even appeared in a Frontline program about underfunding of state pensions, authored chapters on “Fee Arrangements” and “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” (the latter with Steve Susman) in the ABA’s definitive treatise on Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 5th, and commented on How Antitrust Enforcers Might Think Like Plaintiffs’ Lawyers.

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

A client in a $100 million oil and gas case, which Barnett’s team won at trial and held on appeal, said Barnett and his team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.”

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. CAIL’s former President David Beck said “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a member of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Governing Board, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his college class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. Barnett’s pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail—work for which he received the NGAN Legal Advocacy Fund RBG Award.

At Susman Godfrey, Barnett has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement. He also twice chaired the Practice Development Committee.

Barnett understands that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best to help them achieve their goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Doré, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and calm, down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas. He co-captained his high school varsity football team as an All-East Texas middle linebacker while also serving as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Corp. put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, and their son is a Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer in Dallas.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in his junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, Barnett has no trouble choosing sides for “The Game” in November. And he knows how important fighting all the way to the end is. On his last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.