Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Sam Houston says he's practiced law far longer than Greg Abbott did before becoming attorney general

Sam Houston, shown here in a Facebook photo with his wife, Jantha, and the family dog, says he has ample experience practicing law.
Sam Houston, shown here in a Facebook photo with his wife, Jantha, and the family dog, says he has ample experience practicing law.

We never expected to weigh how one defines "practicing law."

But a claim by Houston lawyer Sam Houston, the Democrat running for attorney general of Texas, drew us in.

Houston, unrelated to the historical figure of the same name, includes this on his campaign website: "As a practicing Texas attorney with 26 years of experience, Sam Houston would enter the Attorney General’s office with almost twice the actual experience practicing law than did Greg Abbott."

It’s an all-lawyer field bidding to replace gubernatorial hopeful Abbott, though state law doesn’t require that the attorney general be a practicing lawyer.

The Republicans running in the March 2014 primary are state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, who got his law license in 1983, according to the State Bar of Texas’ website; freshman state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and former House member licensed to practice law in 1991; and Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman of Austin, licensed in 1984.

And did Houston have a point about his experience against what Abbott had accumulated before taking the office?

Houston is nearing 27 years of private practice, which more than doubles the nine years of private practice Abbott built up. But Abbott also spent eight previous years as a judge; count those years in his favor and Houston would have to have 34 years of experience for his claim to be accurate.

Half True.