Clinton Cross Papers
Original scope and content note
The papers of Clinton Cross document the creation and growth of the national Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as well as of legal services in Texas. The documents reflect the support of and opposition to the Legal Services Corporation Act (LSCA) in the early 1970s. Cross’ collection also demonstrates hostility to legal services between 1970 and 1980 in Texas, containing memos and articles that discuss whether legal services should receive public funding and whether the state or federal government should retain control of legal services. For example, Cross, as director of West Texas Legal Services (WTLS), faced resistance by the Palo Pinto Country Bar Association which filed a complaint, alleging that WTLS had no standing to practice in Palo Pinto County and was violating the LSCA. During most of the 1970s, Cross was regional Vice President of the Texas Consumer Association of El Paso (TCA) and attorney for the El Paso Legal Assistance Society (EPLAS). Another controversial topic with regard to legal services in Texas was whether legal services should help illegal aliens, specifically migrant workers, to improve their working and living conditions. As attorney for the Society, Cross represented a minor illegal alien who had been arrested in the United States. Cross obtained the child's release and the child was allowed to return to his home in Mexico. In 1976, the Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) was established to coordinate the efforts of the then ten existing legal services centers in Texas. In the following year, Cross became director of TLSC. From 1979 to 1981(?), Cross was Vice Chairman of the Texas State Bar Committee on Legal Services to the Indigent in Civil Matters. The collection includes photographs.
The papers of Clinton Cross document the creation and growth of the national Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as well as of legal services in Texas. The documents reflect the support of and opposition to the Legal Services Corporation Act (LSCA) in the early 1970s. Cross’ collection also demonstrates hostility to legal services between 1970 and 1980 in Texas, containing memos and articles that discuss whether legal services should receive public funding and whether the state or federal government should retain control of legal services.
The Clinton F. Cross collection includes photographs.
- 1969 - 1991
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Biographical / Historical
Clinton Cross received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin in 1968. After he graduated and passed the Texas Bar exam, he took a job with the Travis County Legal Aid and Defender Society. One year later, he joined the El Paso Legal Assistance Society (EPLAS) as one of the original staff attorneys, where he represented qualified indigent clients, focusing on family and consumer law. Cross initiated an investigation of odometer tampering in El Paso that led the State of Texas to enjoin 39 car dealers in El Paso from rolling back the odometers on used cars and obtaining “Assurances of Voluntary Compliance” from 1500 car dealers throughout the state.
From 1973-1976, Cross served as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas, where he remained committed to supporting federally funded legal aid. After a stint working as a field coordinator for the Carter/Mondale campaign, Cross served as the first Director of the Texas Legal Services Center from 1977-1985, the LSC funded state support program in Texas. There, he oversaw the development and implementation of program priorities, provided quality support services for legal services communities in Texas, and promoted a cooperative working relationship between the State Bar of Texas and legal services programs. He also served as a member of the State Bar of Texas Ad Hoc Committee on Private Bar Participation in Legal Services to the Poor, leading to the creation of the State Bar of Texas pro bono activation and support program known as Texas Lawyers Care.
In 1985, he went to work for the El Paso County Attorney, then went into private practice, and went back to work for the El Paso County’s Attorney’s Office in 1996. There, he prosecuted criminal Deceptive Business Practice cases and wrote a lead article on these cases for the Texas Prosecutor journal. He also trained Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, among other responsibilities. Cross retired in 2016.
Cross served on many boards and committees, including the Legal Aid and Lawyer Referral Committee of the El Paso Bar Association (1993-1994), the board of the NLADA, the National Organization of State Support Units (1981-1984), the Task Force on “Texas Lawyers Care” of the State Bar of Texas (1982-1985), the Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters of the State bar of Texas (1977-1980), and the Board of Directors of the El Paso Legal Assistance Society (1973-1976).
Cross received numerous awards and honors, including the Albert Armendariz, Sr. Award, the highest award from the El Paso Bar Association for “commitment to Equality of Justice, principles of Humanity, and Spirit of Public Service,” in 2015 and was recognized in Resolution No. 354 by the Texas Senate for his “contributions to the consumers and indigent of our state” in 2015. Among his publications are: “Prosecuting deceptive business practice cases,” The Texas Prosecutor, vol. 38, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 2008), http://www.tdcaa.com/node/1752; Legal Services in Texas: Past, Present and Future, 30 Baylor Law Review 681 (1978). He also served as the editor of the El Paso Bar Journal, where he published regular articles, including: “Some Early History of Legal Aid in El Paso, Texas,” El Paso Bar Journal Oct.-Nov. 2014; “My Story…everyone has one,” parts I-III, El Paso Bar Journal 2016. A full list of publications is on file at the NEJL.
0.4 linear feet
Language of Materials
- Finding Aid for the Clinton Cross Papers (Coll. 42)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
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- Code for undetermined script
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