This essay is intended to pay a modest, but most sincere, memorial tribute to my late colleague, friend, and mentor, Joseph Webb McKnight. After a brief personal tribute to Joe, I will proffer a few selective reflections on how Joe’s approach to law and legal history might be relevant to the current negotiations among the U.S. and Mexico respecting the Treaty Establishing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA Treaty) and its ancillary (but separate) agreements on the environment and labor. Though Joe did not have a particular interest in NAFTA, he was most interested in the inter-relations between Mexican culture, law, and practice and their U.S./Texas counterparts. While one might think of Joe as the consummate Anglophile (à la his ermine-trimmed Oxford graduation gown and mace leading our annual graduation procession, his multiple degrees from Oxford, and his summer parties in Oxford for our Oxford summer school students), it needs to be borne in mind that Joe and his family’s heritage is Texas through and through, and his primary scholarship has been on the influences of Spanish-Mexican law on Texas law (particularly as to family law and property law). While Joe embodied “an open mind and an appreciation of different perspectives and cultures[,] . . . he is a Texan in the most fundamental sense.” In a real sense, notwithstanding initial outward impressions, Joe was a “traditional Texan,” born and raised in San Angelo (Southwest Texas) and a fourth generation Texan.
Joseph J. Norton, Memorial Essay in Honor of Professor Emeritus Joseph Webb McKnight: Yet Another Historical Joinder Between Texas and Mexico: The Ongoing NAFTA Saga, 71 SMU L. Rev. 177 (2018)