Named an “Impact Player of the Year” by Texas Lawyer for his en banc victory in Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359 (5th Cir. 2011) (the “Candy Cane Case”), Tom Brandt has consistently been recognized as one of Texas’ top lawyers. Tom has earned the distinction of being ranked as AV Preeminent – the highest rating awarded by Martindale Hubbell. Tom has also frequently been listed by Texas Monthly magazine on their Texas Super Lawyers list.

Tom serves as head of the local government and employment law section at Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. Tom’s practice includes representation of cities, counties, school districts, public officials and private sector clients in the areas of civil rights and employment law and has included significant cases at every level of the state and federal courts, including numerous cases before the appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to his active litigation practice, Tom has performed general counsel services for several local government entities and private businesses and has been chosen to conduct high-profile public integrity investigations. On two separate occasions, Tom was hired by a major city in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by that city’s police chief.

His legal career started as a Dallas prosecutor handling hundreds of cases. Quickly promoted to the federal litigation section of the Dallas City Attorney’s office, Tom handled numerous trials and appeals in federal court involving a wide variety of civil rights cases, including excessive force, false arrest, race discrimination, class actions and constitutional challenges to the City’s sexually-oriented business ordinance. He assisted in the preparation of briefs and the presentation of oral argument before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case of FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215 (1990).

Tom has been a leader in the legal profession for many years. He has served in every leadership post in the Dallas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, including that of president from 1997-1998. Under his guidance, the Dallas Chapter received national recognition for its outstanding programs and activities. An active leader in the St. Thomas More Society, Tom has served as a board member since the late 1990s and as president from 1999-2001. A 1985 graduate with a joint degree (J.D./M.P.A.) from the University of Texas Law School and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Tom was awarded a prestigious Rotary Foundation Scholarship in 1988 to study international and comparative law in New Zealand.

  • Representative Cases/Reported Cases:Open or Close

    FW/PBS, Inc., v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215 (1990) (upheld constitutionality of majority of municipal ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses).

    Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359 (5th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (granted qualified immunity to elementary school principals on First Amendment challenge involving claims of viewpoint discrimination against student religious speech).

    Lance v. Lewisville Indep. Sch. Dist., 743 F.3d 982 (5th Cir. 2014) (school district was not deliberately indifferent to the rights of disabled elementary school student who committed suicide at school).

    Furley v. Aledo Indep. Sch. Dist., 218 F.3d 743 (5th Cir. 2000) (upheld decision dismissing student’s First Amendment claims relating to the student’s proposed commencement prayer).

    Doe v. Rains County Indep. Sch. Dist., 66 F.3d 1402 (5th Cir. 1995) (held that teacher did not violate student’s constitutional rights by failing to report alleged sexual abuse despite state law requiring report).

    Fort Worth Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Palazzolo, No. 02-13-00006-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 291 (Tex. App. Fort Worth Jan. 9, 2014) (court of appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and held that the plaintiff failed to properly initiate the administrative grievance procedures jurisdictionally required by the Texas Whistleblower Act).

    Midland Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Watley, 216 S.W.3d 374 (Tex. App. – Eastland 2006, no pet.) (reversed and rendered judgment for school district and public official in retaliation/Whistleblower case).

  • Recent TrialsOpen or Close

    Nadiya Boldware v. Denton County et al; U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Sherman Division; Cause No. 4:09-cv-00591

    Monroe Shops Partners, Ltd. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit; No. DC-08-01935; 44th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas

    Breggett A. Rideau et al v. Keller Independent School District et al, U.S. Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division; CN: 4:10cv00926Y

    Joseph Palazzolo v. Fort Worth ISD; 271st Judicial District; Wise County, Texas; Cause No. CV12-07-438

  • Court AdmittancesOpen or Close

    State Bar of Texas

    Supreme Court of the United States

    United States Courts of Appeals for the Second and Fifth Circuits

    United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas

  • Bar AdmissionsOpen or Close

    State Bar of Texas

  • EducationOpen or Close

    Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand – Rotary Foundation Scholar. (L.L.M. level studies in international and comparative law)

    University of Texas at Austin School of Law (J.D.)

    Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

    University of Texas at Austin (B.A. in Plan II, with honors)

  • Professional AffiliationsOpen or Close

    State Bar of Texas

    President (1999-2001), St. Thomas More Society of Dallas

    President (1997-1998), Federal Bar Association, Dallas Chapter

  • Recent Presentations and PublicationsOpen or Close

    4/9/15
    Co-presenter at the Texas Association of Counties County Management & Risk Conference, “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Don’t Say – The Importance of Having and Publishing Your Policies.”

    3/31/15
    Presented speech at the 2015 TASB Fund Members’ Conference, “Free Speech for Students: How Free Is It? 1st Amendment Issues in Public Schools”

    9/26-28/14
    Co-presenter with Laura O’Leary, FHMBK, and Paula Walker, Ph.D., Executive Director of Special Education, Lewisville Independent School District, at the 2014 TASA/TASB Convention, “Bullying and School Liability: Does Your District Have a Bullying Problem?”

    8/22/14
    Presented speech at the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool 2014 Annual Attorney Workshop, “First Amendment Retaliation.”

    8/1/14
    Presented a speech on Qualified Immunity at the 2014 Suing & Defending Governmental Entities.

    10/10-12/13
    Co-authored a paper with Laura O’Leary, FHMBK and Shawn Olson Brown, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, presented by Lenore Silverman, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP, Oakland, California at the NSBA’s Counsel of School Attorney’s School Law Practice Seminar, “Working with Child Witnesses.”

    9/27-29/13
    Co-presented with Kevin Weldon, former superintendent of Kountze ISD, a paper at the 2013 TASA/TASB Convention, “Hell Hath No Fury: A guided tour through the Kountze Cheerleader case.”

    7/19/13
    Presented speech at the 2013 State Bar’s Annual Suing and Defending Governmental Entities seminar, “Schools as Incubators of Constitution
    Litigation.”

    Presented speech on Student Civil Rights Litigation at the Texas Bar School Law Section Retreat.

    03/2013
    Authored an article for publication in Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest, “Render unto Caesar: Candy Canes, Cheerleaders, and the Ten Lessons I Have Learned in Religious Liberty Litigation.”

    2/7/13
    Presented speech to the American Bar Association, Section of State and Local Government Law 2013 Midyear Meeting, “The Candy Cane Case: A Long and Difficult Journey.”

  • Honors & AwardsOpen or Close

    Texas Super Lawyers, 2005, 2009 – 2011, 2014 – 2015, Thomson Reuters

    Impact Player of the Year, 2011, Texas Lawyer

    AV Preeminent Rating – Martindale Hubbell