An IJ Tale of Resiliency

August 1, 2013

The key to IJ’s success is simple: our culture. It is the foundation that everything rests upon, and it manifests in all the work we do. Readers of Liberty & Law are familiar with IJ’s famous esprit de corps and the resiliency required for us to persevere in the face of adversity. Indeed, setbacks are inevitable when waging David versus Goliath battles against government officials and powerful special interests all across the country.

Perhaps less known is that our clients embody this culture as well. Consider Ron Hines.

Ron is a 69-year-old Texas veterinarian who has devoted his life to helping animals. He is disabled and retired, but remains productive by giving free vet advice on the Internet to people around the world. The state of Texas, however, shut him down, fined him and suspended his license—not for harming animals, but for helping them. We teamed up to file a federal lawsuit and secured a national TV interview on Fox’s Stossel.

We worked with the producers over several days to get everything set up just right. The lead attorney on the case, Jeff Rowes, took a train up to New York. The producers wanted Ron in New York too, but with his disability it wasn’t possible. We searched for a suitable Texas studio, and the closest we found, a four-hour drive, was too far away.

On his own initiative, Ron reached out to a local ABC affiliate news director, even though it was a different network. He convinced her to let him come to her studio and connect in with Stossel. We were all set.

But then, the morning of the interview, a chemical plant exploded in Waco. I got a call from a Stossel producer first thing in the morning saying that the ABC affiliate backed out because they were covering Waco. We needed a new way to connect Ron to New York, and quick.

Ron was able to get his computer connected through Skype to the Stossel producers. Once again, we were all set.

And then, two hours before the interview, the power went out all through Southeast Texas. Ron had no Internet, no phone and just a few minutes left on his prepaid cell.

I tried finding someplace with power near Ron’s house. It was futile. I had to face the obvious: Ron could not do the show.

Except Ron was not as ready to give up.

He got in his car and drove around to see if any local TV stations still had power. He discovered the NBC affiliate was running on a generator. He walked in and pitched the news director. And, in spite of everything crazy happening in Texas at that moment, Ron somehow convinced the news director to participate in the Stossel interview.

I got a call from the Stossel show, giddy, saying, “You’re not going to believe this, Bob, but I’ve got Ron all ready in a TV studio. Everything worked out. Great job!”

I had to admit that I had nothing to do with it. That was all Ron Hines and yet another example of the incredible resiliency that all those connected with IJ show day in and day out as we fight for vital American rights.

Bob Ewing is the Institute’s director of communications.

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