Harper Estes 2014-11-27 09:59:32
Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War Anyone who has spent any time at all with Broadus Spivey is aware that he can tell a story and tell it well. I suspect that he would be the first to acknowledge that executing a written work of nonfiction is a daunting task, even with the help of an able cohort, Jesse Sublett. In Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War (Texas Tech University Press, 2014), the writers have produced a work whose hero, in the end, is the jury trial. Homer Maxey was a Lubbock businessman and civic leader who sued Citizens National Bank of Lubbock after it foreclosed on him and he subsequently lost his fortune. The book chronicles that dispute, which lasted from 1966 to 1980, and resulted in two trials, numerous appeals, and ultimately a settlement prior to a third trial. The book describes a Lubbock that I was vaguely aware of while growing up there. It also gives a lot of history and background of the city that did much to shape those who came to be involved in the case. These people were the parents and grandparents of people I was in school with or came to know later, before and after leaving Lubbock in 1977. These same people were the friends and acquaintances of Spivey, who was practicing law in Lubbock. They were also friends and acquaintances of one another, and the dispute created lasting divisions in a small city that was beginning to grow into a larger one. It would have been fascinating to observe the trials that are the focus of this book. The subject matter— foreclosures and appraisals—was not scintillating, but 956 Texas Bar Journal • December 2014 texasbar.com the trial lawyers who participated were among the best. Many, some now deceased, remain legendary to this day. Spectacle aside, the jurors in the trials were asked to give a great deal of time and painstaking attention to complex and hotly contested evidence. As you read this book you may believe you would have decided the case differently; however, it is hard to argue with those who faithfully executed the task asked of them. Although no verdict survived appeal, there is little doubt that without the service of two juries, the case would not have been resolved by settlement. It is difficult in hindsight and without all the facts to decide who was right and who was wrong, or even who was more right or more wrong. It is equally difficult to recount the events in a balanced fashion, giving deference to the fact that few of us were there and the truth remains elusive. That said, in this country we have long agreed that those disputes we cannot resolve ourselves will be resolved according to the rule of law, which provides a right to trial by jury. Broke, Not Broken is a messy story about a messy process that, in the end, worked. Whether it played out as intended is debatable, but no better alternative has been discovered. The book succeeds as well, by pointing to lessons that can be learned by all of us about the nature of disputes and how we resolve them. HARPER ESTES is a shareholder in Lynch, Chappell & Alsup in Midland. He is a past president of the State Bar of Texas and the Midland County Bar Association. Estes is certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice focuses on commercial litigation. He also frequently serves as a mediator and arbitrator.
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