Ray L. ’65 and Nancy Ann Hunter Hunt ’65 have committed $5 million for a new legal center at SMU’s Dedman School of Law that will provide services for the victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking and other crimes against women. The Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women is named in honor of Mrs. Hunt’s father. The late Judge Hunter was a distinguished Missouri state and federal judge.
“Ray and Nancy Ann have recognized the great need for free legal assistance to some of our community’s most vulnerable members,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As is typical of the Hunts, they have acted with generosity and insight to fill a need and also expand educational opportunities for law students to make a difference in this important area.”
Under the supervision of faculty, Dedman Law students working in the Hunter Legal Center will provide legal services such as protective orders; divorce, custody and child support agreements; as well as assistance with credit and housing issues.
“We are honored to name this Legal Center after my father, whose main interest as a judge was the well-being of individuals through fair treatment and protection under the law,” said Nancy Ann Hunt. “Law students participating in the program will gain a deeper understanding of the victims of exploitation, trafficking and abuse and what they need for their lives to be restored. Through the availability of free legal services, we hope these victims will feel empowered to obtain help.”
Estimates are that each year in the United States more than 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence and more than 300,000 individuals, including children, are trafficked in the sex industry.
The Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women will expand the Law School’s programs providing free or low-cost legal assistance. Existing programs include the W.W. Caruth Child Advocacy Clinic and clinics in civil law, criminal justice clinic, federal taxpayer representation, small business issues and consumer advocacy. Dedman Law was one of the first in the country to provide such community services, beginning in 1947, and among the first law schools to implement a public service requirement for graduation.
“The Center underscores our commitment to equip law students not only to practice law, but also to become community leaders well-informed about societal issues,” said Julie Forrester, interim dean of the Dedman School of Law.
The Hunts’ gift is the most recent example of their generous support of SMU. Among their many contributions is the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, which supports students who were leaders in their high schools and communities and have an ongoing commitment to service. Other gifts have supported academic programs, athletics and campus enhancements.
About Judge Elmo B. Hunter
Judge Hunter was a distinguished judicial leader and public servant, who served as a judge in Missouri for 38 years. Receiving all of his degrees at the top of his class, he graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia at 16 and then earned an LL.B from the University of Missouri Law School and an LL.M. from the University of Michigan Law School.
After serving in U.S. Army Intelligence through World War II, he returned to Kansas City and worked for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He later became a founding partner of what is today Shook, Hardy and Bacon, then served 14 years as a state district judge and later as presiding judge for the Missouri Court of Appeals. He was appointed to the federal bench by President Lyndon B. Johnson, becoming the youngest federal judge in the U.S. He subsequently sat by special appointment on numerous District Courts and Court of Appeals panels in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. He was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger to the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
Judge Hunter was the only member of the American Judicature Society to serve both as its chair and president. In 1991 the Elmo B. Hunter Citizens’ Center for Judicial Selection was formed to further the Society’s historic interest in judicial selection issues. His service was recognized with honors from both educational institutions and law organizations.
About Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt
Nancy Ann Hunt ’65 taught in elementary school before focusing more fully on community service. She has received numerous awards, including the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award, Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award of the Methodist Health System Foundation, Women’s Center of Dallas Maura Award and Genesis Women’s Shelter Jane Doe Award. She is chair-elect of the board of New Friends New Life, which helps victims escape the sex industry and build new lives for themselves and their children. She serves on the executive board of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
Ray L. Hunt ’65 is chairman, president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. His service to SMU has been multifaceted. He chaired the Board of Trustees after its restructuring in the late 1980s and now serves on the Board’s Trusteeship Committee and Executive Committee. Working with other trustees and President Turner, he helped attract the George W. Bush Presidential Center to SMU and serves on the Bush Foundation board. Elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame, he received the first J. Erik Jonsson Award of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the Linz Award honoring humanitarian service. He also received the Order of Marib Award from the Republic of Yemen, the only non-Yemeni to be so designated.
In 2013 Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt became the first couple to receive the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, and both have received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award.