Local criminal defense lawyer Paul Looney has been selected by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as one of the recipients of the Charles Butts Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award for 2019.
He will receive the honor June 13 at the awards banquet at the 31st annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course in San Antonio. Looney is receiving the award for the two free legal clinics he conducts weekly (Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at his Hempstead office, 918 Austin Street, and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. at Newman’s Bakery in Bellville) as well as for his work on the cases stemming from the Twin Peaks shootout in Waco May 17, 2015. Nine people died, 20 were injured and 177 people arrested and served with identical probable cause search warrants and placed on $1 million bonds.
Looney took six Twin Peaks cases pro bono and helped over a dozen more people receive outstanding legal representation from attorneys across Texas who also agreed to take the cases pro bono. Between March 2016 and May 2018, most of the cases were either dropped or dismissed by the McLennan County District Attorney’s office. On April 2, after nearly four years, the remaining 24 cases in the troubled prosecution that quickly became one of the most egregious examples of justice-gone-awry in decades, were dismissed. Upon hearing the news, Looney said, “I don’t think we’ll ever have a chance again to help so many people in such great need even if I practice law until I’m 150.”
The Charles Butts Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award honors an individual attorney who has provided outstanding pro bono work. The award is named after Charles D. (Charlie) Butts, President of TCDLA (1987-88) and member of TCDLA’s Hall of Fame, in recognition of his over 64 years of service as an attorney.
Looney resides in Bellville and has offices in Hempstead and Houston.