Emily Ramshaw Editor

Emily Ramshaw is the editor of The Texas Tribune. Under her leadership, the Tribune has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards, IRE's Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism and a general excellence award from the Online News Association. Before coming aboard as one of the Tribune’s original reporters, Ramshaw spent six years at The Dallas Morning News, where she broke national stories about sexual abuse inside Texas’ youth lock-ups, reported from inside a West Texas polygamist compound, uncovered “fight clubs” inside state institutions for the disabled and investigated a series of deadly transplants where patients received rabies-tainted organs. The Texas APME named Ramshaw its 2008 Star Reporter of the Year.

Recent Contributions

Do Scandals Necessarily Get Incumbents Defeated?

Double-billing taxpayers for travel expenses, driving a luxury car owned by a state transportation contractor and repeatedly failing to pay taxes won’t put a lawmaker in good standing with the ethics police, as state Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco; Joe Driver, R-Garland; and Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, are finding. The three hope the headlines dogging their re-election bids won’t follow them to the polls, while their Democratic opponents are reveling in their misery at every campaign stop. Yet whether a scandal forces an incumbent from office depends on the scenario.

High Court: Broken Bed Falls Under Malpractice Cap

Is a hospital bed an integral part of medical care? As a federal judge considers the constitutionality of Texas’ 2003 medical malpractice reform — and Gov. Rick Perry campaigns for more lawsuit restrictions — the state Supreme Court has ruled that hospital injuries seemingly unrelated to doctor error can fall under Texas’ stringent medical malpractice caps. Some legal observers say the decision is a perversion of legislative intent, but tort reform advocates contend the high court simply closed a huge loophole in liability reforms.

Families Lose Estates In Guardianship Battles

Scherry Levi with her mentally disabled nephew Deartis Preston in Preston's home in Bay City.
Scherry Levi with her mentally disabled nephew Deartis Preston in Preston's home in Bay City.

In the last year, Texas probate courts approved more than $6 million in payments from private estates to court-appointed attorneys, guardians and physicians, in many cases depleting funds left to care for incapacitated people. Critics say the practice amounts to destroying the village in order to save it. Probate judges say they're simply making sure people who can't defend themselves have proper representation.

Families Lose Guardianship in Secret Hearings

Frank and Chila Covington could hardly be mistaken for cruel. For four decades, they showered their daughter, Ceci, who has Down syndrome, with love, affection and opportunity. But when they argued with a group home provider who insisted that Ceci needed psychotropic medication, their world turned upside down. In the time it took for the provider to accuse the Covingtons of “cruelty,” a Tarrant County judge called a secret hearing and removed their guardianship, telling them they could no longer communicate with their own child. And he had every legal right to do so.

Mentally Challenged Teen Faces 100 Years in Prison

Aaron Hart, in a graduation photo (left) and a jail mugshot (right).
Aaron Hart, in a graduation photo (left) and a jail mugshot (right).

He can't read or write, struggles to speak, and at age 19 has an IQ of 47. Yet a judge in the northeast Texas town of Paris still sentenced Aaron Hart to 100 years in prison for performing sexual acts on a 6-year-old neighbor. An appeals court overturned Aaron's conviction this spring. Now he sits in jail facing the same charges a second time, and his family is praying for a different outcome.