Penrose: Success in the Courtroom, Classroom & Community

May 9, 2014

Professor Meg PenroseProfessor Mary Margaret “Meg” Penrose is not only a tenured law professor, but also actively practices law. Penrose continues to practice in federal court with an emphasis on federal habeas corpus representation of Texas Death Row inmates and Title VII and Title IX litigation challenging gender bias and discrimination in the workplace. Penrose, a member of the law school faculty since 2009 and a member of the American Law Institute, teaches Criminal Procedure, International Human Rights, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law, putting her expertise to work in the classroom, courtroom and community.

Courtroom Success

Penrose serves as lead counsel for the petitioner in a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Escamilla v. Stephens, challenging ineffective assistance of counsel. In a soon-to-be published opinion, the Fifth Circuit recently granted a certificate of appealability (COA) in the case, a rarely granted predicate to appealing a federal court’s opinion in a habeas petition. Penrose was successful in getting the Court to grant a COA as to the petitioner’s claim that trial counsel’s failure to investigate and present adequate mitigating evidence violated his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.

Community Service

Penrose receives USDA Certificate of AppreciationPhoto by Terri Romine-Ortega, USDA Public Affairs
Karen Twitty, USDA FNCS Deputy Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, presents the USDA Certificate of Appreciation to Professor Penrose

Penrose gave the keynote address for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences national staff training celebrating Women's History Month.  Penrose’s presentation entitled “Women's History: Character, Courage and Commitment” profiled Judges Sarah T. Hughes and Jane J. Boyle as well as Kathy Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. (Read more below.)

The event, sponsored by the Southwest Region of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, was held their downtown Dallas office and broadcast to the USDA national headquarters, six other regional offices, and Agency-wide remote locations throughout the country. Professor Penrose’s presentation was part of a greater federal government educational program initiative to promote diversity awareness throughout federal agencies and institutions.

Penrose’s exceptional presentation received an overwhelmingly positive response from the participants who praised the program as extremely significant, educational and inspirational. The program reinforced the importance of diversity to both attendees and organizers.

Classroom Leadership

Penrose was elected by the student body as “Outstanding Upper Division Professor” last year. The award was presented at the annual student-run “Barristers’ Ball” event, now known as the “Gig ‘Em Gala.” Penrose tied Professor Lynne Rambo for the honor. Additionally,  Penrose was recognized by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) as a “Teacher of the Year.” At the AALS Annual Meeting, the largest gathering of law faculty in the world, each member school’s selected teachers of the year were honored at a special reception.

In the Media

Earlier this spring, Penrose gave an interview to Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of NPR stations in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. The discussion was about the types of questions that a Texas Department of Public Safety officer may ask someone when making a traffic stop. This follows a similar story on what U.S. Border Patrol agents can or cannot ask. For example, can they ask the marital status or occupation of a civilian?