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Austin, Texas – November 20, 2017 – The national law firm of Baron & Budd is pleased to announce that its President and Managing shareholder, Russell Budd, along with his wife, Dorothy, have established a $3 million endowment to fund the Budd Innocence Center at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
The donation was presented on November 8, at the School of Law, during a special event celebrating the launch of the Budd Innocence Center. More than 100 students and faculty attended the event including special guests Barry Scheck, co-founder of the New York City-based Innocence Project, and the Honorable Rodney Ellis, Harris County Commissioner and a former Texas State Senator known for his contributions to improve the Texas criminal justice system. Anthony Graves, who was exonerated from Texas’ death row in 2010 and founded the Anthony Graves Foundation attended to promote criminal justice reform.
The Budds’ gift will establish an endowment that will support the activities of the law school’s Actual Innocence Clinic, which allows law students to work under the supervision of experienced faculty to investigate claims by inmates that they are innocent of the offenses for which they are incarcerated, prepare briefs and file motions. To date, more than 350 law students have worked with the Actual Innocence Clinic.
“For more than 40 years, the mission of Baron & Budd has been Protecting What’s Right. For us, fighting to free innocent people who have been wrongly convicted is simply the right thing to do,” said Russell Budd. “We know that wrongful convictions continue to plague the justice system throughout the country. However, our hope is that the work done through the new Budd Innocence Center will not only provide assistance to those who have been wrongly imprisoned, but also advocate to reform the justice system by reducing the number of wrongful convictions.”
The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal organization, founded by Scheck and Peter Neufeld to help exonerate wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing and to reform the criminal justice system in an effort to prevent future injustice.
Advocating and fighting to free innocent people is a cause that is close to the Budds’ hearts. In 2010, Dorothy, a former Dallas County prosecutor, along with the Budds’ daughter, Peyton, authored the book, “Tested: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope.”
Russell Budd, a shareholder of Baron & Budd since 1985 and president and managing shareholder since 2002, has spent more than 30 years championing the rights of people and communities who have been injured by corporate malfeasance. He is a 1979 graduate of The University of Texas School of Law.
Dorothy Budd served as a DA for the Juvenile Division of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, where she tried juvenile, domestic violence, and child welfare cases until becoming a felony prosecutor in the Crimes Against Children Division. Dorothy Budd also holds a Masters in Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. She now serves as an Episcopal deacon at The Church of the Incarnation in Dallas. Dorothy is a 1983 graduate of The University of Texas School of Law.
In addition to their work with the new Budd Innocence Center, the Budds are also involved with a number of other charitable causes throughout Texas. In 2014, the Budds, donated $2.5 million to Southern Methodist University in Dallas to endow The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education. The Center is a radical concept that works closely with numerous non-profit organizations to help children exit poverty through education. Though the program was initially focused on West Dallas, the program has expanded to North Dallas High School and public schools in Taos, New Mexico. The Center hopes to create a template for the nation in promoting truly substantial change. Additionally, the Budds are active contributors to Habitat for Humanity. Russell Budd also previously served on the Foundation Board of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).
The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles and San Diego, is a nationally recognized law firm with a nearly 40-year history of “Protecting What’s Right” for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, government and business entities in areas as diverse as dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices, environmental contamination, the Gulf oil spill, financial fraud, overtime violations, deceptive advertising, automotive defects, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse, and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.