Most of the time if your cat disappears, you look in the closet, under the tables, etc. Chavez is more of a challenge.
My first cat was a black one named Maxwell. Fat and long-haired, he napped flat on his back, sunning his wide tummy. After that I remember a huge litter of orange tabbies, an army of kittens. In college there was a gray and white tabby who would wake me up in the morning with a…
'Broke' chronicles epic legal battle by Lubbock's Maxey
August 2, 2014
By Patrick Beach, Austin American-Statesman
The great challenge of writing a book about litigation — particularly sustained litigation, as if there’s any other kind — is to craft a propulsive narrative out of a grinding process that exhausts every one of its participants. Scribblers banking on built-in courtroom theatrics may be disappointed to discover that many cases are won or lost in discovery, in pretrial motions and jury selection — and that the great majority of cases settle before trial.
With “Broke Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War” (Texas Tech University Press, $29.95, illustrated) Austin lawyer Broadus Spivey — who for a time practiced in Lubbock — and local writer and musician Jesse Sublett have pulled off the feat, chronicling a 15-year tooth-and-nail battle between Lubbock builder, developer and pillar of the community Maxey and Citizens National Bank of Lubbock, whom he sued along with his own former lawyers in 1966 for fraud, conspiracy and other abnormalities after the bank seized his millions of dollars’ worth of assets, including properties in four states, and liquidated them for peanuts. He wanted $20 million. He also wanted an apology.
In less dexterous hands this tale could have been as arid and uninviting as the South Plains dirt, but Spivey and Sublett have to their favor a colorful, tenacious and cantankerous protagonist who would not quit. As a quote that lends itself to one chapter puts it, “A Maxey never starts anything he doesn’t finish.” They also have the advantage of getting their hands on records that hadn’t yet made it to the shredder, and the cooperation of a great many participants, family members and observers. It also doesn’t hurt that the story has elements of sabotage, skullduggery, conflict of interest and judicial misconduct. The subject and OK, the locale, may make this book a hard sell, but it’s worth the time, trust me.
Born to some privilege, Maxey nonetheless was self-made and started working early. He had a business while attending Texas Tech University — which he had helped build — and sold a lumber business to take a commission to serve in the Pacific during World War II. After the war he started a wholesale plumbing and electrical supply business, and by the mid-1950s he was a millionaire, one of the forces making Lubbock into an actual city.
Reduced to its essence, Maxey’s downfall is a familiar story: Moderately gullible businessman accustomed to handshake deals gets overextended, bank changes the rules and takes everything in the blink of an eye, and the mover and shaker is reduced to a nobody. And this happened in Lubbock, of all places. As the authors write early on:
"Sitting high and dry on the Southern Plains, with its straight-line horizon and a street grid aligned with the compass, Lubbock, Texas looks quiet and peaceful, a place where radicals and other troublemakers would have no room to hide. One of the most culturally and politically conservative areas in the nation, it does not seem like the kind of place where a pillar of the community would carry on a 15-year legal battle against one of the town’s leading banks and, by proxy, dozens of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and families in the region. But that is just what Homer Glen Maxey did. It happened over four decades ago, and despite all those years more than a few of the surviving partisans are still upset about it."
The specifics of Maxey’s saga are that he was given a line of unsecured credit of up to $1 million and that the bankers later changed the terms and made him sign numerous mortgages and collateral notes over months, meaning that if he defaulted on one debt the bank could take everything. Which it did. It’s easy to hate banks, now as much as any other time in American history, but it’s also easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys here. As one observer put it, “People didn’t naturally fall in love with Homer because he was a grouchy old bastard, but they took his side because the bank just overhauled him.”
The first trial ended with a judgment of some $2.7 million for Maxey, or about $16 million in 2012 dollars, the authors note. The bank’s side won four straight years of appeals before the second trial, which resulted in a judgment of $3.7 million. )Maybe the bank should have cut its losses.) In all there were nine appeals, including two decisions by the Texas Supreme Court. The bank had lost customers in droves because folks sided with Maxey. And Maxey himself was exhausted and beginning to wear out. In September 1980, both sides agreed to settle for $2.2 million, meaning Maxey and his wife would be able to live comfortably.
Maxey died at 79 at the beginning of 1980. He never got his apology.
Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett read from and discuss “Broke Not Broken” at 7 p.m. Monday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Broke Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War
Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett
Texas Tech University Press, $29.95, illustrated
(c)2014 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
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Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War, by Broadus A. Spivey & Jesse Sublett, “a tale of Giant-like proportions.”
- BookPeople, Monday, August 4th, 7 PM, our Austin debut.
- Barnes & Noble Lubbock, Friday August 15th, 7 PM (I don’t see the event posted on their page yet but it should be updated soon), one of many Lubbock-area events that weekend.
- Like us on FaceBook and keep up with upcoming events and news.
- Texas Tech Press catalog, for more info, or ordering straight from the press.
When a rich man strips a poor man of his money and leaves him in ruin, isn’t that a terrible injustice? If a rich, powerful man is stripped of his fortune and reputation by a nest of greedy corporations and a cadre of richer, more powerful men, isn’t that also a terrible injustice? This is one of the questions posed in the new book, BROKE, NOT BROKEN: HOMER MAXEY’S TEXAS BANK WAR, written by Broadus A. Spivey and myself, Jesse Sublett.
Join us at BookPeople in Austin Monday August 4th 7 PM to hear more about the book that W.K. “Kip” Stratton (author of Chasing the Rodeo and Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion) says:
Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett have delivered us a tale of Giant-like proportions. The greed and the virtue and the gray areas in between seem larger than life. But they aren’t. This is the real West Texas of the not-so-distant past populated by formidable oil men, avaricious connivers, and tough-as-bullets lawyers. And by one less than perfect hero, Homer Maxey, who refused to stand down once he’d been done wrong. Broke, Not Broken is a hell of a page-turner of a real-life legal thriller.
Come to our party and meet the remarkable Broadus A. Spivey, an Austin attorney and son of West Texas, former president of the State Bar of Texas, to name just one of dozens of positions of prestige in the trial law field; he’s an advocate for justice and equality under the law without parallel, and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. I met Broadus in 2009 after hiring an attorney for a copyright infringement case.
A musical play I had written was being performed as “an original work” by artists who were not me. I hired a lawyer who said, after our second conference, “The lawyer upstairs, the one who owns this building, wants to meet you.” That was Broadus, who told me about the book he’d been attempting to complete during his very busy schedule, the story of Homer Maxey v. Citizens National Bank, a bank that had seized Homer’s huge ranches, hotels and other properties totaling tens of millions of dollars and sold them to friends and shell corporations owned by the bank at a secret sale for pennies on the dollar.
The story of a rich man’s rise and fall is not that unusual, but when set in ultra conservative, pro-business Lubbock, and the man is Homer Maxey, you’ve got an exceptional chronicle of the American Dream gone bad. Maxey’s relentless fight against the bank and the elite powers of West Texas who destroyed his wealth is a gripping read about power, greed, business culture, institutions, values, corruption and ultimately, vindication. ―Joe Nick Patoski, author of Willie Nelson: An Epic Life
In a single day in 1966, Homer Maxey, a rich, powerful, prestigious Lubbock native who had literally helped build Texas Tech University from an open field, was penniless and ruined. At the time, 1966, Homer’s younger daughter, Glenna Goodacre, was a rising visual artist in Lubbock and busy mother of two, just then transitioning to the field of three dimensional sculpture. During the 15 long years of courtroom fireworks that Homer, assisted by young, firebrand attorneys who believed in his cause, Glenna rose to become a world-renowned sculptor.
Glenna’s works include the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC; the gigantic Irish Memorial in Philadelphia; Philosophers Rock at Zilker Park in Austin; the Sacagawea dollar coin… and countless others. She’s a national treasure, and as she assisted us in the writing of this book, Glenna said numerous times: “I’m an exact replica of Homer… He was always there, urging me, ‘Keep going forward…’” When Glenna was just 16, Homer arranged the family trip to Europe on the QE2 so that Glenna could examine the works of the great masters in France, Italy and elsewhere.
In the final stages of production of the book, just as we were going to press, I received an email from Glenna’s studio manager, Dan Anthony (also a fine artist), with great news: her photographer, Matt Suhre (also a fine artist) had accidentally found the sketch pad Glenna took to court during the first two weeks of the trial in 1969, making courtroom sketches of the good, the bad and the very ugly — her father, the plaintiff; the jurors; the lawyers on both sides; the cigar-chewing banker’s lawyer; Charlie Jones, the lawyer who had once represented Homer and the bank at the same time, urging Homer to sign papers that “tied his finances up into one big knot so that if one enterprise fell, his whole fortune fell…” in a classic case of conflict of interest, one of many. Charlie was known as “the most confident man in West Texas,” a talented corporate defense lawyer and supposed genius who stumbled into acts of hubris that would shock a crackhead neocon.
Despite Broadus’ sympathies for Homer Maxey (he’s also a longtime friend of Glenna Goodacre and her husband, Dallas attorney Mike Schmidt), he was torn by the contradictions and ambiguities in the saga, because he also liked and admired many of the individuals on the other side of the case, including Charlie Jones.
Working together on this story, Broadus and I invested hundreds of hours in getting at the truth of the case; also trying to articulate the background of social and cultural factors that were involved, going back to the very origins of Lubbock and Lubbock County, the complex community relationships there in that town of many churches, the legendary “Empire Builders” or “King Makers” who ran things behind the scenes, the wheeling and dealing, the heroism of men like Homer, who commanded amphibious ships during the most brutal combat scenarios in the Pacific theater of World War II, then returned home and put their suit and hat on and went out to make deals and build up modern West Texas.
If you know me, you might be surprised that an old punk rocker, blues singer and crime novelist would be attracted to a story out in the South Plains, in the second most conservative town in the USA, but I’m also a history buff and I’ve got a thing for stories about injustice, and this one really hooked me. Lubbock may not be the hippest or most beautiful town I’ve ever been to, but almost everyone I met there was kind and helpful to an incredible degree and they brought pleasure to the often difficult and labor-intensive tasks of research. Above all, I think, the attorneys and the historians were the ones who impressed me the most with their intelligence, their passion for the law, justice, the everyday chores involved in their profession, and on top of all that, their passion for stories. They’ve heard them all. They love to tell them.
Even when they’re not the hero of the story. :)
Please join us at a book event near you.BROKE, NOT BROKEN: NEW BOOK: NONFICTION TEXAS COURTROOM DRAMA Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War, by Broadus A. Spivey & Jesse Sublett, “a tale of
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Come out Friday night for a great cause: As most of you probably know, Davy Jones is that cool cat who’s played guitar in like 100 bands since the founding of Raul’s. The Hickoids and Big Foot Chester are just two of them. Right now, Davy is having an adventure with lung cancer and his friends have been getting together to help him out since he has helped so many of us over the years. Coincident with the anniversary of Hole in the Wall (40 years) and Big Foot Chester (10 years) there’s a big benefit show at the Hole this Friday. Big show, small price: $10. Come out, drop by and pay the cover if you’re on your way to some lame show that you can’t get out of or a hot date or whatever, pull some more dough out and drop it in the hat and help a brother out. Talking about My Terrible Self singing a Howlin Wolf song, plus my bros Walter Daniels, Bill Anderson, Big Joe Doerr, Ted Roddy, Texacala Jones, and quite a number of sensational individuals.
See my art gallery by clicking this link. A couple of new images below, just for fun.
And then, finally, I guess you heard, they are remodeling the city council chambers here in Austin and, because some of our more conservative Texas cities have sometimes derisively referred to the Liberal Oasis of this Red State as The People’s Republic of Austin, I just wondered if those folks might be wondering about what the brand new city council dais might look like?[contact-form] BIG FEET, BIG HEART, RED STAR? Like this blog? OK, why not subscribe anyway? Contact form below. Come out Friday night for a great cause: As most of you probably know, …
THEY KNOW THINGS THAT WE DON’T, 36 x 24, acrylic on canvas, by Jesse Sublett, $595, from Jesse Sublett’s Little Black Book
A new piece added to the ART page, above: “THEY KNOW THINGS THAT WE DON’T.” Yes, another one with grackles. AND another chapter in the Grackle Chronicles. But first, this message from the New York Times, one of the best bits in the Sunday’s edition, about the fabulously…
It’s a grackle world, we’re just living in it. “They Know Things That We Don’t” 24 x 36 acrylic on canvas $595; “King of the City” 20x16 acrylic on canvas $475 (SOLD); “Grackle World” 20x16 acrylic on canvas $475. jessesublett.com