Michael Moore, UT Arlington dean of undergraduate studies and a senior vice provost, has been named the first recipient of an award created in his honor by the State Bar of Texas.
The Michael K. Moore Award for Research and Writing in the Area of Indigent Defense is to be awarded July 23, 2012, in San Antonio at the State Bar of Texas' annual Advanced Criminal Law Course.
Moore said the honor is among the highlights of his career. Moore served for 15 years on the Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters, during which he worked without compensation to produce pivotal research and writing that helped provide low-income residents in Texas with proper legal representation.
"The State Bar of Texas is pleased to recognize Dr. Moore's unique and critical contributions to the improvement of indigent defense in Texas," said Jeff Blackburn, committee chairman. "His efforts on behalf of the poor of this state made a major impact, and his work for the State Bar of Texas was extraordinary. It is very fitting that all future recipients of this award will be reminded of the standard of excellence set by Dr. Moore."
Moore's work helped lay the groundwork for the Fair Defense Act of 2001, which overhauled the way low income Texans are legally represented after being charged with a crime. Moore testified before the Legislature to help the bill gain passage, and spoke on indigent defense at events around the country.
"It's very rewarding to know that other people have valued the work that we did because I believe it made a real difference in the lives of the people in Texas," Moore said. "I appreciate the opportunity the State Bar gave us to do this work, and I appreciate UT Arlington for affording me the time and ability to do this work."
Moore was initially involved with the committee because of his expertise in survey research, but he said his strong belief in fairness compelled him to continue the work.
In 2006, Moore spearheaded additional survey research to evaluate the impact of the Fair Defense Act.
"Texas was very much behind the times when we first started our work," Moore said. "While things are not perfect here, there have been vast improvements when it comes to the quality of representation for indigents."
Allan Butcher, UT Arlington professor emeritus and founding member of the committee, called Moore "the voice of the people" in his role as a non-lawyer.
"He jumped in to help when he didn't have a dog in the fight," Butcher said.
Moore missed only two scheduled meetings in 15 years on the committee. He also created and updated the committee's website until he stepped down in 2010.
The Michael K. Moore award will be given only when merited, as deemed by the Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters, State Bar officials said.
At UT Arlington, Moore oversees undergraduate academic support services, including University College and online education efforts. He is also an associate professor of political science.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.