Norman Ray Giles
Norman Ray Giles is a partner in the Houston, Texas, office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. Norman’s law practice primarily entails representing governmental entities and public officials in civil litigation, but he also represents governmental entities in general employment and municipal civil service matters, and regularly counsels public officials and law enforcement personnel.
Norman's background as a police administrator, supervisor, investigator, and police patrol officer, provides him with valuable experience and a unique perspective in addressing litigation and other public employment issues. He has represented more than 100 different governmental entities, including municipalities, counties, school districts, mental health districts, housing districts, river authorities, and water control districts, as well as hundreds of individual public officials throughout Texas and several other states. While he most often represents enforcement officers, Norman has also represented judges, district attorneys, elected governmental officials, mayors, city managers, sheriffs, police chiefs, governmental administrators, governmental supervisors, and governmental employees of various types.
Norman also has substantial experience in Texas and Federal appellate courts. He has been involved in judicial opinions issued by the United States Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Supreme Court, and Texas First, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Courts of Appeal.
The broad scope of issues such representation entails has led Norman to involvement in many diverse legal issues that are not limited to governmental clients. Norman also regularly represents clients in efforts to avoid litigation, in preparation for litigation, during litigation and trial, and through appeals when necessary.
Primary Area(s) of Practice
- School Districts & Municipalities
- Professional Liability
- General Liability
Supreme Court of the United States of America
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
- Bar Association of The Fifth Federal Circuit
- State Bar of Texas
Awards & Honors
- Appellate Lawyer of the Week September 13, 2017 by Texas Lawyer
- “Rising Star” by Law & Politics Media and the publishers of Texas Monthly Magazine
- Certificate of Commendation from the United States Department of Justice
- Special Commendation from the United States Attorney of the Southern District of Texas
- Special Award from the Women's Resource & Crisis Center of Galveston County
- Police Officer of the year 1994–1995 from the Galveston Rotary Club
- Galveston Police Department Combat Cross
- Galveston Police Department Injured in Combat
- Galveston Police Department Education Award
- Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement Officer Shooting Investigations, November 2018
- Use of Force and Responses to Mental Health Crisis, presented during National Tactical Officers Association Legal Symposium, 2017
- Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement Officer Shooting Investigations, September 2017
- Excessive Force Issues, presented during National Business Institute Police Misconduct Law Seminar, July 2017
- Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management, presented to law enforcement administrators at Sam Houston State University, December 2016
- Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement Officer Shooting Investigations, December 2016
- Rule 68 Offers of Judgment in Law Enforcement Cases, presented during the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool Attorney Workshop, 2016
- Understanding the Police Investigation and Disciplinary Process, presented in 2012
- Civil Rights Liability for Law Enforcement Activities, presented in 2010
- Legislative Privilege for Policymakers, presented during the Suing & Defending Governmental Entities program sponsored by the State Bar of Texas in 2007
- Claim Avoidance Strategies, presented during Texas Police Law Training Seminar in 2007
- Governmental Entity Liability under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 presented during the Suing & Defending Governmental Entities program sponsored by the State Bar of Texas in 2006
South Texas College of Law
Juris Doctor, 2000
University of Houston
Bachelor of Science, 1990
Before entering the practice of law, Norman served the City of Galveston Police Department as a patrol officer, investigator, sergeant, and lieutenant. During his police career, he investigated hundreds of criminal cases including 40 homicides. Norman retired from full-time police duty in 2000.
Certified by the State of Texas through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement as Master Peace Officer, Peace Officer Instructor, and Peace Officer Firearms Instructor.
- Solis v. Serrett, 31 F.4th 975 (5th Cir. 2022)
- Smith v. Heap, 31 F.4th 905 (5th Cir. 2022)
- Converse v. City of Kemah, 961 F.3d 771 (5th Cir. 2020)
- Johnson v. Spencer, 950 F.3d 680 (10th Cir. 2020)
- Garza v. Harrison, 574 S.W.3d 389 (Tex. 2019)
- Vann v. City of Southaven, Mississippi, 884 F.3d 307 (5th Cir. 2018)
- Moore v. Barker, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 8623 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2017)
- Hunter v. Cole, 137 S. Ct. 497 (2016)
- Carabajal v. City of Cheyenne, 847 F.3d 1203 (10th Cir. 2017)
- Paske v. Fitzgerald, 499 S.W.3d 465 (Tex. App. –Houston [1st Dist.] 2016.
- Rogge v. City of Richmond, 506 S.W.3d 570 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016)
- Paske v. Fitzgerald, 785 F.3d 977 (5th Cir. 2015)
- Hobart v. Estrada, 582 Fed. Appx. 348 (5th Cir. 2014)
- Martinez v. Maverick County, 507 Fed. Appx. 446 (5th Cir. 2013)
- Backe v. Le Blanc, 691 F.3d 645 (5th Cir. 2012)
- City of Pasadena v. Smith, 292 S.W.3d 14 (Tex. 2009)
- Ontiveros v. City of Rosenberg, 564 F.3d 379 (5th Cir. 2009)
- City of Santa Fe v. Boudreaux, 256 S.W.3d 819 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 2008)
- Meadours v. Ermel, 483 F.3d 417 (5th Cir. 2007)
- Townsend v. City of Alvin, 2006 WL 2345922 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist. 2006)
- Tarver v. City of Edna, 410 F.3d 745 (5th Cir. 2005)
- Schauer v. Morgan, 175 S.W.3d 397 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2005)
- City of Sugar Land v. Ballard, 174 S.W.3d 259 (Tex.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2005)
- Flores v. City of Palacios, 381 F.3d 391 (5th Cir. 2004)
- Morgan v. City of Alvin, 175 S.W.3d 408 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2004)
- City of Kemah v. Vela, 149 S.W.3d 199 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 2004)
- City of Dayton v. Gates, 126 S.W.3d 288 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 2004)
- Texana Community MHMR v. Silvis, 62 S.W.3d 317 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 2001)
- Norman and his partners handled a police civil service case wherein the ruling the Texas Supreme Court made substantially limits the authority of arbitrators to substitute their individual judgment for that of a municipal employer when evaluating disciplinary decisions under police civil service laws. In that case, two police officers were involved in a public dispute stemming from a disagreement. The police chief initiated disciplinary action against both officers under Texas police civil service laws. The officers appealed the police chief’s decision regarding discipline and a third party hearing examiner reversed the discipline the chief proposed. The hearing examiner based his decision on an incorrect interpretation of a police civil service statute that did not apply to the case. The municipal employer filed suit challenging the hearing examiner’s decision and his basis for reaching it. A Texas district court and Texas court of appeals initially upheld the hearing examiner’s decision, but the Texas Supreme Court ultimately reversed those preliminary decisions and, in doing so, further decided broader legal questions applicable to the general authority of hearing examiners. All municipalities in Texas are now entitled to reversal of a hearing examiner’s decision if the hearing examiner exceeds his jurisdiction, when his acts are not authorized by the civil service act or are contrary to it, or when his acts invade the municipality’s executive policy-setting authority. This decision substantially impacts application of Texas municipal civil service law throughout Texas.
- In a somewhat similar police employment case that did not involve civil service law, a Texas court of appeals found a provision in a collective bargaining agreement between a city and a local police association void because the provision was based on an unconstitutional delegation of the city’s exclusive power to set and enforce police disciplinary policy. The collective bargaining agreement contained a provision which provided for a citizen review committee to make the final decision regarding police officer discipline, but the court of appeals struck down that portion of the agreement which unconstitutionally limited the city’s authority to discipline police officers under Texas law.
- In another employment case that implicated application of Texas laws pertaining to peace officer licensing and discipline, a police officer admitted he did not obey a lawful order given directly to him by the chief of police. The police chief charged the officer with insubordination and discharged him from employment by the police department. The police officer alleged the chief’s decision was the result of unlawful racial discrimination and retaliation for the exercise of rights protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The officer first made this argument to an Administrative Law Tribunal where the Administrative Law Judge found the chief’s disciplinary decision was supported due to the officer’s proven insubordination. The officer, nonetheless, filed suit against the chief of police and city that had employed the officer. The presiding federal district Court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, likewise, found the officer’s misconduct warranted the discipline the chief imposed and no evidence of unlawful discrimination existed. The officer, thereafter, urged his same arguments to the United States Supreme Court but the Supreme Court did not grant the officers’ petition for a writ of certiorari.
- Norman represented a municipal police officer who made an arrest while working at a sports bar outside the city limits of the officer’s governmental employer. The arrestee argued the officer acted outside the scope of his governmental employment while working a part-time job at the bar. A Texas Court of Appeals held that the officer was immune to suit because his police action was performed within the general scope of the officer’s governmental employment or office.
- In addition to handling public employment matters, Norman also frequently represents governmental entities and law enforcement personnel in civil litigation stemming from police arrests and use of force. In one such case, a police officer shot and fatally wounded an individual after he physically attacked the officer when the officer responded to investigate a reported mental health crisis that involved a risk of danger. The decedent’s family sued the chief of police who supervised the officer alleging the chief failed to properly train the officer concerning use of deadly force. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found no evidence the chief was deliberately indifferent to the decedent’s constitutionally protected rights.
- During a different investigation of a reported mental health crisis, several police officers encountered an individual who was delusional and armed with a very large screw driver. The officers attempted to persuade the individual to put the screwdriver down but the irrational individual perceived the officers as satanical figures. After the individual refused to comply with many verbal commands to drop the screwdriver, officers utilized a device that deployed bean bags in an effort to temporarily incapacitate the individual long enough to safely take him into custody for the purpose of providing him with emergency mental health treatment and protecting the public from harm. However, the bean bags were ineffective and the individual raised his knife and charged toward an officer at the scene. When the individual neared the officer, three officers shot the individual to preserve the threatened officer’s life. The decedent’s family, thereafter, effectively lobbied the Texas Legislature to create laws requiring all police officers to obtain additional training regarding crisis intervention techniques, and the family also filed suit against the officers alleging they used excessive force. After trial, a jury found the officers’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances and the jury rendered a verdict in the officers’ favor.
- When a deputy sheriff attempted to stop an individual who was transporting several bales of marijuana through a border town in south Texas, the suspect led deputies on a high speed car chase during which the fleeing suspect nearly struck one deputy with the fleeing vehicle. When the suspect’s vehicle did strike a different deputy later in the chase, a fellow-deputy shot the suspect causing serious but not fatal injuries. The suspect filed suit against the deputies alleging they used excessive force. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the deputies’ actions were reasonable and entered judgment in their favor prior to trial.
- An individual used a firearm to beat an innocent person so police investigators obtained a warrant authorizing the arrest of the assailant and a search of the mobile home in which he lived. When a SWAT officer encountered the suspect in a dark room inside the mobile home, the suspect refused to submit to police commands to surrender and, instead, the suspect reached into a boot. The officer interpreted the suspect’s actions as reaching for a weapon which posed a risk of serious harm to the officer so he shot the suspect to stop the imminent threat the officer perceived. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the officer’s use of force in self-defense reasonable under the circumstances.
- When officers in Mississippi attempted to arrest two individuals suspected of transporting illegal drugs, the suspects attempted to avoid arrest by recklessly driving into police vehicles. Two officers shot the driver when the flight of the fleeing vehicle posed an imminent threat of death to an officer in the vehicle’s path. A court of appeals initially declined to dismiss the suit, opining an officer may have placed himself in harms way. Norman filed an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of governmental risk pools from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, along with the National Association of Police Organizations, and thereafter the appellate court reversed its prior opinion and affirmed dismissal of all the claims brought in the lawsuit.
- Lawsuits stemming from law enforcement operations often involve claims against a governmental entity, police supervisors, and the police officers who arrest a suspect. In such circumstances, not only is it essential to resolve the litigation but it is also important to do so before subjecting public servants to unnecessary burdens of litigation. A case in point that Norman handled stemmed from a melee in a bar during which several officers arrested several suspects. The arrestees not only sued the police officers who responded to the bar, they also sued the city’s chief of police and city manager. The chief and city manager moved the presiding district court to immediately dismiss the claims asserted against these administrative city officials who had no personal involvement in the alleged unconstitutional conduct of the officers who made the arrests. The district judge issued a preliminary order stating he planned to defer making a ruling on the motions to dismiss the chief and city manager filed until after litigation discovery was completed. The chief and city manager sought interlocutory relief and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the district court’s order authorizing premature discovery in error. The Circuit Court affirmed the legal standard that requires a district court to rule on a public official’s request for dismissal based on individual immunity at the earliest possible stage in the litigation.