James C. Ho is a partner in the Dallas office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and co-chair of the firm’s Appellate and Constitutional Law practice group. He has over a decade of government experience, most recently as Solicitor General of Texas and as Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
Mr. Ho is routinely ranked among leading appellate litigators. Benchmark called him “one of the most skilled appellate advocates in the country,” and recognized him with a “National Impact” award for “secur[ing] a series of multi-million dollar, headline-grabbing wins for major clients in state and federal courts across the country.” Chambers praised him as a “highly respected figure at the appellate Bar in Texas and nationwide.” Law360 applauded his work in its “Texas Powerhouse” series for “shielding clients from a combined total of nearly $15 billion in liability,” and in its “Class Action Group of the Year” series for his “rescue squad” effort to overturn a $150 million class certification order, and named him a “Legal Lion” and “Rising Star” in appellate litigation. The National Law Journal named him among the “upper echelons of Supreme Court practice,” as well as one of the top minority lawyers in the nation. Texas Lawyer called him one of “the biggest guns in Texas appellate law,” and also named him one of 25 “Extraordinary Minorities in Texas Law,” noting his success challenging government regulations. Texas Tribune has likewise called him one of the “big guns” of the Texas bar. He has also been named as a leading appellate lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America®, The Legal 500, Texas Super Lawyers, and D Magazine.
Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice
Over the past decade, Mr. Ho has presented 50 oral arguments in federal and state courts nationwide, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and over 25 arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Texas Supreme Court.
As lead appellate counsel, Mr. Ho has successfully litigated a wide range of business and constitutional disputes. To date, he has defeated two multi-billion dollar class actions, secured reversals in five nine-figure appeals, and won numerous multi-million dollar disputes and challenges to government actions, in federal and state appellate courts nationwide. He has also prevailed in numerous constitutional disputes, including before both the U.S. Supreme Court and the entire Fifth Circuit sitting en banc. In Sossamon v. Texas, he overturned two circuit precedents in a 6-2 “victory for state sovereignty against federal power” (National Law Journal), defeating the United States government in its attempt to impose monetary liability on the states. In Thaler v. Haynes, he obtained a unanimous reversal of a Fifth Circuit decision invalidating Texas procedures for adjudicating peremptory strikes, in an “unusual ruling” (Dallas Morning News) and “rare” victory in which “the high court reinstated a death sentence that the [Fifth] Circuit had set aside” (National Law Journal). In Rangra v. Brown, he secured a 16-1 en banc Fifth Circuit victory over a First Amendment challenge to the Texas Open Meetings Act, in a long-running battle between state and local officials that has been described as “one of the most prominent disputes impacting the interests of media companies in Texas” (Law360).
As amicus counsel, his briefs have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and trial and appellate courts in Austin, Texas.
In trial courts, Mr. Ho has successfully litigated critical motions, including preliminary injunction, class certification, motion to dismiss, summary judgment, and post-trial motions to overturn multi-million dollar jury verdicts.
Mr. Ho also counsels clients on legal issues arising out of pending legislation, regulatory proceedings, and government investigations. He has testified on business and constitutional issues before Congress, the Texas Legislature, and various government agencies.
A list of representative matters is available here [PDF].
Government and Public Service Experience
As Solicitor General of Texas, the state’s chief appellate and Supreme Court litigator, Mr. Ho represented Texas in its most difficult appeals and constitutional disputes. He received three Supreme Court Best Brief Awards from the National Association of Attorneys General. He is the only state solicitor general in U.S. Supreme Court history to be invited to express the views of a state.
Mr. Ho has also served with distinction in all three branches of the federal government, including stints at the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as chief counsel to Senator John Cornyn and the Subcommittees on the Constitution and Immigration, and was named one of the best 35 Congressional aides under 35 by The Hill. He helped lead the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department during the first year of the George W. Bush Administration. At the Office of Legal Counsel, he advised White House and other Administration officials on constitutional and other complex legal issues, earning the Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also served as a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
His record of public service also includes appointments to various boards and commissions. Mr. Ho is vice chair of the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, established by U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to evaluate appointments to the federal bench and U.S. Attorney in Texas. He has also served on the U.S. Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel for the Northern District of Texas, the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Board of Trustees, the Continuity of Government Commission, and the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Before law school, he was a legislative aide to California State Senator Quentin Kopp.
Other Background Information
Taiwanese by birth and Texan by marriage, Mr. Ho is an active member of the Asian American community. For the past decade, he has served as co-chair of the Judiciary Committee of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He has been recognized for his community leadership by numerous Asian Pacific American organizations, including the Presidential Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Asian Pacific American Leadership from the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, the Justice David Wellington Chew Award from the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas, the Community Leader Award from the Dallas Asian American Bar Association, the Award for Outstanding Contributions in Law from the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the SMU Asian Pacific American Law Students Association.
In addition, Mr. Ho has taught U.S. Supreme Court Litigation as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law, and served as co-editor of Pub. L. Misc., and as senior editor of the Green Bag.
Mr. Ho graduated from Stanford University with honors and a B.A. in Public Policy, and the University of Chicago Law School with high honors. He and his wife Allyson, a fellow appellate litigator, have a twin daughter and son.