Title: Lawyer (Retired)
Location: El Paso, Texas, United States
Clinton Ferguson Cross, Retired Lawyer, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Lawyers for dedication, achievements, and leadership in business law.
Mr. Cross graduated from Pomona College in 1962. He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1968, obtaining his license to practice law in the same year. He was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps Reserve as a Sergeant in 1968.
For most of his career as an attorney, Mr. Cross focused on family and consumer law, retiring in 1985.
He began his practice as a staff attorney with an El Paso legal aid program. In 1973, he assisted in the establishment of the Texas Attorney General’s regional office in El Paso, Texas, where he was responsible for public enforcement of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Thereafter he accepted a position as coordinator of Texas Legal Services Center, located in Austin, Texas, that provided training, support, and advocacy for local legal aid programs in the state and for their clients. In 1985, he returned to El Paso where he engaged in private practice, both as a solo practitioner and as an associate with the firm of Gage, Gage and Kern. During the 1970’s and the 1980’s he worked as an instructor at El Paso Community College, in both the business and paralegal departments.
In 1996, Mr. Cross accepted an appointment as an Assistant El Paso County Attorney. For several years, he represented Child Protective Services, prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases. Thereafter he assumed responsibility for prosecuting criminal deceptive business practice cases.
A criminal deceptive practice is a crime of moral turpitude. Many cases involve claims that consumers have advanced monies for services that have not been delivered. Claimants want return of the monies advanced but the amount of money allegedly due is not a sum certain; it is unliquidated. In the criminal justice system resolution of the amount due requires first a trial regarding guilt or innocence. A conviction can have significant lifetime consequences.
Prosecutors represent the State, seeking justice for victims and the accused. Stakeholders included complaining witnesses, defendants, and taxpayers.
Attempting to balance competing interests while pursuing justice, Mr. Cross initiated a first offender program for prosecuting deceptive business practice cases. The objective was to seek “restorative justice,” determining the amount of restitution due as quickly as possible without first proceeding to a trial requiring a conviction and then the resolving the case by requiring the defendant to return to the complaining witness the amount of monies due, if any, in exchange for a dismissal of pending charges. The plan was implemented by training lawyers to arbitrate the restitution claims, working under the umbrella of the local Better Business Bureau, then requiring compliance with the award or face continued criminal prosecution. In addition to providing defendants a fair hearing on the issue of restitution without having to endure the risk of a conviction, the program reduced the cost of the defendant’s defense and thereby increased funds available from the defendant for restitution. Arbitration outside the courtroom saved the court’s time and the taxpayers’ money. When offered by the State, defendants could choose to participate in the program but were never required to do so.
In his career, Mr. Cross has been recognized with numerous awards. In 2010, the El Paso Young Lawyers Association recognized him with its Outstanding Senior Lawyer Award. In 2011, 2013, and 2014, the El Paso Bar Association recognized him with its Presidents Award. In 2015, the Bar Association also recognized him with its Albert Armendariz Award, not given every year. In his career, Mr. Cross served on the board of directors of the El Paso Legal Assistance Society, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and Texas Appleseed.
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