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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
Page 12
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 12. May 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 6, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4086.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(May 1977). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 12. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4086

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 12, May 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 6, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4086.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1977
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 12
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File Name femin_201109_528l.jpg
Transcript Two women judge nominees known for love of the law If the Senate of Texas approves, two women soon will become judges of district courts here. They will be the first to serve Harris County on that judical level. Ruby Kless Sondock and Nettie Joe Kegans were nominated by Gov. Dolph Briscoe. Chronicle Staff Writer Zarko Franks presents this special report an the nominees with contrasting lifestyles but wi h common love for and knowledge of the law. Ruby Kless Sondock, even with sniffles, no makeup and a red nose, has an appealing little girl look. She's 50, five three, 103 lbs., size 6, a grandmother, and yes, the little girl look is very much there. That's when you see her at home; she's fighting a cold, and she's semi-relaxed. Ruby Kless Sondock. on a district court bench, in a black robe, is another ball game. Young lawyers have been known to stammer and tense up before her. Justifiably so. One lawyer recalled the other day she made him liiili :,:.:•':•,:•:.:•••. > Ruby Soadoelt Rewrite a judgment five times before it met her approval. ; After four years on a domestic relations court bench, she has been appointed to a recently-created 4ivil district judgeship. ■ ;Her appointment by the governor is subject to Senate confirmation. 4 H the impression is left that there are, in reality, too Ruby Sondocks, the impression is accurate. 3 There's Sondock, the judge, the public servant, nine $p five on the bench, logical, coldly competent. There's Sondock, the housewife, the very private person, the doting grandmother, the gracious hostess, Jhe summertime trout fisherman with her husband, iMfelvin, in a boat around the Galveston jetties. * As for Ruby Sondock's Qualifications for the bench, perhaps the best evaluation came from veteran trial lawyer Fred Parks, for whom she worked for seven years after she got her law degree from Bates College of Law, University of Houston, in the early sixties. "I've had a number of lawyers work for me over the years,'7 said Parks, "And she was head and Shoulders above all of them." .Her mind works, said Parks, like the mind of a good lawyer. "She thinks like a man. I took a brilliant woman and gave her an opportunity." • Her long swfc, said Parks, is-her ability to reason logically, "not to let emotions interfere with facts; some men I know can't do that." Parks, as his-colleagues know, isn't one to blow smoke or puff another lawyer. But back to Ruby Sondock. Why, relatively late in life did she turn to law? MI aske<l myself one day what would happen to me if anything happened to Soupy," her nickname for her husband, president of Brook Mays Co. here. "1 really wasn't equipped to make a living," she recalled. "And I never had to work. You see, I was brought up like most girls in my time. Go to college, get married, have children, go to the seashore and live happily ever after." So she enrolled at the University of Houston law school, led her class academically, and passed her state bar exam before she graduaited with the class of '62. She was born here, on 21 Reisner St., in me Washington Avenue area, one of three daughters of Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Kless. Her father was a master machinist and a-tool designer. She attended Dow Elementary, Marshall Junior High, and Jeff Davis before graduating from San Jacinto High. She attended Cottey College, in Nevada, Mo., on a scholarship. After four years on a domestic relations court bench, hearing endless stories of broken hearts and broken homes, she distills the requisite of a good judge in two words: good judgment. A highlight in her role as a lawyer, she said, was when a lawyer called to thank her. "His wife had come to me for a divorce," recalls Sondock, "And I talked her out of filing." She likes to work, she likes to cook, she's knowledgeable on good wines. You get a glimpse of the little girl in her again as she lovingly fondles a bottle of Lafitte Rothschild, vintage 1960. "Isn't it beautiful," she addresses the ruby red wine, "But my favorite is really Montrachet. 4'You know when we get a gift bottle of wine, we always like to have the person who gave us the wine over for dinner to enjoy it." Therein lies a glimpse into the two lives of Ruby Sondock. In her private life, the suspicion lingers, her three grandchildren, her two daughters' tots, enjoy high pnority. They are Josh, 3, son of Michael and Marcia Cohen of Boston; and Jason, 3, and David, 1, sons of Howard and Sandy Marcus, of Houston. She was on a diet, she said, not to preserve her beauty and charm, but out of respect for her pocketbook. Tailoring or a new wardrobe, she said, can cost a ton. And the Lord knows, there are too many calories in Cutty Sark. Earlier that day, the governor's office had called to confirm a release that he had appointed her to one of the new criminal court benches here. So now, Nettie Joe Kegans, red hair aflame, a jumbo emerald ring on one finger, a matching uncut emerald pendant around her neck, was a judge, subject to Senate confirmation. As her colleagues came by to wish their best, you could see she was turned on. This was her day. "She beamed, yes radiated, not unlike a queen reviewing her subjects. "So we can't call you a redheaded broad, any- more." said Anthony Friloux in mock awe, but still choosing his words with care. This was heady stuff for any mortal. And Joe (named for her late father, a Waco printer), suddenly said she reckoned she'd had her fill of orange juice. She switched to Scotch and nibbled it slowly, savoring it and the conversation around her. She was with people she was comfortable with. Friloux and Jack Stovall and Vince Rehmet, and a young girl named Caroline Garcia, an intern in Kegans' law office, 305 Houston Bar Center Building. The intern, a hot-eyed sorceress' apprentice, made no effort to hide her delight that Kegans had got a judgeship. "Wow, what a dynamite lady," said the intern. Caroline Garcia should have seen Nettie Joe Kegans 20 years ago around the courthouse. Lordy, lordy, what a baby dumpling. Fresh out of the South Texas College of Law, class of '57. Even then, before she got street wise through representing purse snatchers, rapists, killers and thieves, her voice was sort of raspy and gravelly. That's before other lawyers began referring to her, out of respect for her toughness in the courtroom, as Ma Barker or Black Maria. A number of her colleagues in the criminal field, the bread and butter regulars like Jimmy James, Ralph Chambers, Charles Melder, Bob Hunt, agree on one point: she's one helluva lawyer. Which, strangely enough, fits Joe Kegans* opinion of Joe Kegans: 'Tm a good lawyer and I make the best corn bread in town." She's 49; her husband, Conda Perry Kegans, an engineer, died of cancer about two years ago. Their two children, son Perry Kegans III, 26. Houston, and daughter, Mrs. (Betty) George W. Ricks of Neder- land, have been gone from home several vears now. She lives alone except for an unfriendly Dobermann named J. Frank Dobie in a two-story home in the southwest. As most lawyers, she can easily recall the details of her first case. Her client, Willie Lee Anderson, was charged with the ice pick killing of Anderson's paramour, Judge Michael, Sr., during a lovers quarrel. Kegans and another lawyer named Al Taylor were appointed by Judge Ed Duggan to represent Anderson. The defense was self-defense. The prosecution was headed up by Frank Briscoe, then the chief capital prosecutor, and a young man named John Hughes. They were then, as they are today, courtroom heavyweights. Kegans, the freshman lawyer, listened in awe as Hughes described to the jury the meaning of malice as it was deemed applicable in the state's case: "Malice, a heart regardless of social duty and fatefully bent on mischief, the existence of which is shown by acts done and words spoken." Unbeknownst to Kegans, Hughes was reading straight from the court's charge to the jury. "What a command of the language Hughes has," Kegans marveled. "You goose," a friend told her, "Hughes was simply reading the charge." As Kegans tells it today, "That's how dumb I was in those days." Anyway, Willie Lee Anderson, wasn't convicted of murder with malice. She was convicted of murder without malice and given five years in a state prison. It's safe to predict there will be little pomposity in her courtroom. Propriety yes, and informality at propitious times, but never stuffiness. Because that's the redheaded lady's style. And whether you like it or not, that's the way she'll run her courtroom. Appeared in the Houston Chronicle Sunday, March, 6, 1977. Submitted separately by Jessica Plowman, Elizabeth Randall, Salli Jeffrey, John Marshall PAGE 11 • MAY 1977 • HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH Send your ideas for Pats, Pans and Dead Pans to Gabrielle Cosgriff, Houston Breakthrough, P.O. Box 88072, Houston 77004.