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ETHICS AND FILM/TV LAW Entertainment and Sports Law Section. Thursday, June 26, :00 p.m. 2:00 p.m.


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Entertainment and Sports Law Section

Bill Chriss

Gravely & Pearson, L.L.P.


Sharon Garrison

Actress, Drop Dead Diva

Sally Helppie

Vincent Lopez Serafino Jenevein, P.C.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


WILLIAM J. CHRISS, P.C. Of counsel

GRAVELY & PEARSON, L.L.P. Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi

(512) 420-2378 wjchriss@gplawfirm.com

Bill Chriss is a Texas trial lawyer who has been board certified in Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for over 25 years, having successfully handled a large number of complex lawsuits, arbitrations, and appeals. He has extensive experience as lead counsel in cases involving fraud, insurance bad faith, construction defects, property damage, wrongful death, serious bodily injury, libel and slander, commercial litigation, employment disputes, breach of contract, and deceptive trade practices. He alsohas many years of experience in the fields of legal ethics and legal malpractice, having recently served a two-year term as Dean of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. He advises a wide range of clients, including small businesses, individuals, lawyers, and judges.

Although an accomplished lawyer, Mr. Chriss is also a popular community personality. He is a frequent television and radio commentator on legal and political issues, has been a regular newspaper columnist, has hosted his own commercial radio program, and has produced, written, and narrated a public television documentary. The Texas Bar Foundation named Mr. Chriss the recipient of the 2005 statewide Dan R. Price Award for service to the legal profession and excellence in teaching and scholarly writing. His book, The Noble Lawyer, was published by Texas Bar Books in 2011 and he has been a keynote speaker at the conventions of several western state bar associations, including those of Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. He is currently also Editor in Chief of the Journal of Texas Insurance Law and a member of the Appellate Law Council of the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Trustees of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

A believer in life-long learning, Mr. Chriss holds graduate degrees in law, theology, and politics. He was one of the youngest members of his graduating class at Harvard Law School, where he received a Howe fellowship in Civil Liberties and Legal History and earned his law degree at the age of 23. While maintaining his busy law practice, Mr. Chriss has taught Judicial Politics, Political Philosophy, History, and Constitutional Law within the Texas A&M University system, and in his spare time he is now earning a Ph.D. in Legal and Political History at The University of Texas where he holds an endowed doctoral fellowship under the acclaimed American historian H.W. Brands.



A proud member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association for over 30 years, Sharon Garrison is an actor/director, coach and independent producer who serves as 3rd Vice President on the Dallas-Fort Worth SAG-AFTRA Board and chairs the Conservatory committee that presents educational and enlightening programs for actors and other professionals in the Texas film industry. She holds two degrees from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth: a BFA in Theatre/Television and a MS in Media Studies and Communication. As a graduate student, Sharon taught on-camera acting and film studies in the RTVF department. Fascinated with the powerful audience reaction to biographical depictions of historical characters on stage or screen, Sharon focused her research on this subject for her master’s thesis project, “Biography to Biodrama.” In this project, she explored the ethics, responsibilities and potential for accuracy in the writing/directing and the actor’s portrayal of real life in a biodrama, even though these works are unavoidably peppered with fictional literary components that serve to highlight the author’s dramatic intent and intensify the dramatic events depicted in the story.

Sharon is a busy actor and producer these days and has enjoyed extensive personal experience with the courtroom drama genre, having played the recurring role of Judge Amelia Sanders in the popular Lifetime TV series, DROP DEAD DIVA, for the past four seasons. Asked several times on set if she was a real judge, Sharon proudly proclaims from the bench that while she doesn’t hold a law degree, she “plays one on TV!” Other recent TV appearances include the new WGN America series, SALEM and the wildly popular AMERICAN HORROR STORY series. In addition to on-camera and voiceover industrials and commercials, Sharon has appeared in five feature films in the past two years, including the

upcoming features, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, directed by Jeff Nichols, and A HIGHER MISSION, a 3-D thriller in which she plays Secretary of State Susan Kardin.


Sally Helppie

Sally is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, where she was a Teaching Assistant, member of the national moot court team, Melvin Belli advocacy scholarship recipient and winner of the Distinguished Advocate award. She practices entertainment law and litigation.

Sally’s entertainment law practice runs the gamut from representing very high-budget Hollywood productions to small independent producers, as well as individual writers, actors and financiers. She negotiates acquisitions and distribution, drafts a wide variety of financing documents, advises on insurance and bonds, addresses Guild and Union matters, handles copyright and trademark issues, performs script clearances, prepares production contracts, and litigates disputes. She has performed the legal work on such films as “The Tourist,” starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp; “The Young Victoria,” starring Emily Blunt; and Martin Scorsese’s 3D feature, “Hugo,” as well as on multiple other narrative and documentary films. Similarly, she has negotiated and drafted contracts for numerous television pilots and series, including Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management,“The Glee Project,” The Bachelor,”

Children’s Medical Center,” “Texas 28,” “Donna Decorates Dallas,” “Texas Troubadours,”

and others.

Sally also is a seasoned trial attorney whose litigation work emphasizes contracts and business torts, trademark and copyright issues, employment litigation, real estate matters, mediation and arbitration. Her practice encompasses all aspects of commercial trials and appeals before the state and federal courts, as well as various arbitration panels. Sally has been lead counsel in literally hundreds of cases on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses and individuals. She has tried cases before juries in state and Federal courts, and has represented parties all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her litigation background also has proved to be invaluable in negotiating and understanding complicated entertainment deals.

In addition to her legal work, Sally is an award-winning producer and CEO of Advocate Pictures, LLC, a full-service production company that produces its own projects, runs productions for others, outsources business affairs services, and provides speakers on entertainment topics. Sally produced the 2008 action thriller, “Exit Speed,” and the 2009 supernatural thriller, “Haunting at the Beacon,” both of which enjoyed wide global distribution, as well as the 2012 faith-based “Beyond the Farthest Star.” Her latest feature film, “Infiltrators,” currently is in post production.

Sally is an Adjunct Professor in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she teaches the Film Production seminar. She was selected for the Producers’ Network at the 2009 and 2013 Cannes Film Market and is a member of the Texas Motion Picture Association, Women in Film-Dallas, Dallas Producers Association, and the Councils of both the Texas and Dallas Entertainment and Sports Law Sections. She serves on the board of directors for Tall Castle, Inc., a non-profit educational film corporation.

Sally was the 2011 Chair of the DBA’s Sports & Entertainment Law Section, past Chair of the DBA’s Business Litigation Section (which won the Section of the Year award under her leadership), and a past-chair of the Dallas Bar’s Judicial Evaluation subcommittee. She has


written numerous articles on the intersection of law and entertainment, and is a sought-after speaker who has presented at multiple legal and entertainment events, including the Austin Film Festival, Entertainment Law Institute, Dallas International Film Festival, Christian Media Association, Dallas Screenwriters Association, El Paso Classic Film Festival, Women in Film, DBA Entertainment Boot Camp, and local colleges and universities.

Sally is admitted to practice before all Texas courts, as well as the United States Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas.


JUDGE JIM JORDAN 160th Judicial District Court

600 Commerce Street Dallas, Texas 75202

Judge Jordan serves as Judge for 160th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas. First elected in 2006, he was unopposed in 2010 for a second term and is unopposed in 2014 for a third term. He has also previously served as the Local Administrative District Judge for Dallas County - elected by the 39 Civil, Family, Criminal and Juvenile District Judges – and as the Presiding Judge of the eleven Civil District Judges. Judge Jordan also served as Judge of the 44th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas, in 1986, appointed by then Governor Mark White. In 2013, he was awarded the Certificate of Professionalism in General Jurisdiction Trial Skills by the National Judicial College.

Judge Jordan has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization continuously since 1984. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and received the ABOTA Dallas Chapter Trial Judge of the Year Award in 2013. Judge Jordan has previously served on the District 6A Grievance Committee of the State Bar of Texas and currently serves on the State Bar of Texas Judicial Ethics Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the ABA National Conference of State Trial Judges and serves as Vice-Chair of the Jury Management Committee. He is also a Master of the William Mac Taylor American Inn of Court.

Judge Jordan has taught trial skills for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) in both its Trial and Deposition programs. He has been an adjunct faculty for both the SMU and then LSU Trial Advocacy class, has been an adjunct professor for Paul Quinn College’s Legal Studies department and last year served as adjunct classroom professor for Texas Tech Law School Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Externship Program.

Judge Jordan is licensed to practice in Texas and admitted to the Untied States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth District and to the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern Districts of Texas. He graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1977, where he served on the Moot Court Board, and from Austin College in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English Literature. He is currently enrolled in the University of Nevada’s Master’s program in Judicial Studies.


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