Trials and Appeals in State and Federal Court, Arbitration


  1. Degrees

B.S., Colo. College (’70)

J.D., S.M.U. (’73)


  1. Board Certification

Board Certified, Civil Trials, Texas Board of Legal Specialization (1994)


  • Other

“Top 100” Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyer– The National Trial Lawyers

Texas “Super Lawyer” (2014)

“AV – Preeminent” – 30+ years – Martindale Hubbell® peer review

Master, Judge Paul Brown Inn of Court (2003)


  1. Admitted to Practice

U.S. Supreme Court (1979)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (1983)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (1994)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (2011)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (2013)

Northern District of Texas (1979)

Eastern District of Texas (1988)

Southern District of Texas (2005)

All State courts in Texas (1973)



  1. Professional Associations

State Bar of Texas (“SBOT”)

American Bar Association

Federal Bar Association

Public Investors Arbitration Bar Ass’n (“PIABA”)

PIABA Amicus Curiae Committee (2009-present)

Dallas Bar Association (DBA)

DBA – Judiciary Committee (1996-’98 [Co-Chair ‘98]); Chair – Sub-Committee on A/V and Electronics (1997)

DBA – Co-Chair – Courthouse Committee (1996)


  1. Authorships, Institutes, Seminars, Lectures

Principal author, Cause No. 11-0235-cv, Brief of Amicus Curiae on behalf of The Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (“PIABA”), filed in Support of Defendants-Appellees on Appeal from the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (10 Civ. 4298). Appeal decided in Appellees’ and PIABA’s favor on all issues.  USB Financial Services, Inc., v. West Virginia Universal Hospitals, Inc., 2001 WL 4389991 (Sept. 22, 2011);

Co-Author, with Seth E. Lipner,Ex-Employees of Respondents Should Not Serve as Arbitrators,” Vol. 17, No. 4, PIABA BAR JOURNAL (2010)

Author, Speaker: “Parallel Proceedings in Broker-Theft Cases,” 19th Annual Meeting, PIABA, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (2010)

Author: Federal Perjury Laws, Dallas Bar Assn. Headnotes (1999)

Author: State Perjury Laws, Dallas Bar Assn. Headnotes (1999)

Speaker, Common Ethics Problems In Mediation, Dallas Bar Assn. (1997)

Speaker, “An evening on the Internet: The Wired Courthouse,” Dallas Bar Assn. (1997

Speaker: Basic Mediator Training, American Academy of Attorney-Mediators (1996)

Speaker: Basic Mediator Training, American Academy of Attorney-Mediators (1992)

Lecturer: Court-Annexed Mediation under the Texas ADR Statute, Wichita County, TX Bar Ass’n. (1992)

Co-author: with Hon. Nathan Hecht, Tex. Sup. Ct., “Pre-Trial Motion Practice, Pre-Trial Orders and Scheduling Principles” [sub-section on mediation], State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Trial Short Course (1990)


  • Reported Cases: Civil

Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc., v. Purdue Avenue Investors LP, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2016 WL 2941266 (May 18, 2016) (affirming as modified); reconsideration en banc denied (Jun. 15, 2016); Petition for Review filed August 13, 2016.

USB Financial Services, Inc., v. West Virginia Universal Hospitals, Inc., 2011 WL 4389991 (2nd Cir. 2011)

Wanken v. Wanken, 2011 WL 477386 (D.C.N.D. TX. 2011)

Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. vs. Bacon, 562 F.3d 349 (5th Cir. 2009)

Viazis v. American Ass’n of Orthodontists, 314 F.3d 758 (5th Cir. 2002), petition denied, 123 S.Ct. 2078 (2003)

Viazis v. American Ass’n of Orthodontists, 182 F.Supp.2d 552 (DCED TX 2001)

Edison v. Beta Financial Corp., 994 S.W.2d 827 (Tex. App. 1999)

Boggan v. Data Systems Network Corp., 969 F.2d 149 (5th Cir. 1992)

Pinter v. Dahl, 486 U.S. 622, 108 S.Ct. 2063 (1988)

Pinter v. Dahl, 787 F.2d 985 (5th Cir. 1986)

Pinter v. Dahl, 794 F.2d 1016 (5th Cir. 1986)

Harris Data Communications, Inc. v. Dellana, 680 S.W.2d 641 (Tex. App. 1984)


  • Reported Cases: Criminal

Garrett v. U.S., 533 U.S. 917, 121 S. Ct. 2523 (2001)

U.S. v. Garrett, 250 F.3d 745 (5th Cir. (2001)

U.S. v. Garrett, 238 F.3d 293 (5th Cir. 2000)

Turner v. U.S., 1 F.3d 901 (10th Cir. [Kan.] 1995)

U.S. v. Turner, 44 F.3d 900 (10th Cir. [Kan.] (1995)

U.S. v. Turner, 1994 WL 409632, D.C. Kan. (1994)

Smith v. State, 772 S.W.2d 946 (Tex. Cr. App. 1989)

Taylor v. State, 599 S.W.2d 831 (Tex.Cr.App. 1980)

Todd v. State, 598 S.W.2d 286  (Tex.Civ. App. 1980)

Wrenn v. State, 597 S.W.2d 369 (Tex.Cr.App. 1980)

Ronk v. State, 578 S.W.2d 120 (Tex. Cr .App. 1979)

Rogers v. State, 550 S.W.2d 78 (Tex. Cr. App. 1977)

Williams v. State, 547 S.W.2d 18 (Tex.Cr.App. 1977)

Powell v. State, 541 S.W.2d 432 (Tex.Cr.App. 1976)


Won, as a solo practitioner, in the U.S. Supreme Court, first civil trial, first federal trial, first appeal to the 5th Circuit, and then, first appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court, reversing the District Court and 5th Circuit, in Pinter v. Dahl, 486 U.S. 622 (1988), widely considered a “landmark” civil securities case, holding that the in pari delicto (equal-fault seller) defense is available in a §12(1) action.

The recorded argument of Mr. Sparks and opposing counsel before the United States Supreme Court may be accessed at:

Fifth Circuit – reversed U.S. District Court’s reversal of investor’s award, in Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. vs. Bacon, 562 F.3d 349 (5th Cir. 2009), featured in cover story in The Texas Lawyer (March 16, 2009)  (attached).

Represented former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, W. Paul Thayer in post-conviction sentence reduction action before the U.S. Board of Pardons & Paroles, substantially reducing his incarceration (1985)

Chief Felony Prosecutor, Dallas County Dist. Attorney (1977-79)

Intern, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (Ft. Worth) (1972)

300 civil and criminal jury trials to a verdict in state and federal court

500 mediation appointments, 94% settlement rate



Securities – Won $2.3 million securities fraud Judgment for Plaintiffs, affirmed on appeal before the Dallas Court of Appeals, Petition for Review pending before Texas Supreme Court (2016)

Securities — Principal author of PIABA Amicus Curiae Brief in auction-rate securities case seeking 2nd Circuit’s reversal of lower court’s refusal to allow arbitration (2011)

Securities – Obtained U.S. 5th Circuit and District Court affirmance of FINRA arbitration award (2011)

Securities — Obtained U.S. 5th Circuit reversal of the District Court’s vacatur of a FINRA arbitration award (featured in Texas Lawyer) (2009)

Securities — Obtained South Carolina FINRA arbitration Panel’s reversal defending twelve South Carolina registered broker dealers in action brought in Texas state court by registered broker dealer (2008)

Construction and engineering – defended claims of $35 million in damages asserted by international consortium against engineering firm involving blowout of $390 million water pipeline in San Juan, Puerto Rico (2004)

Securities — Defense of co-founder of $70 million hedge fund in multi-state federal criminal investigation, and related federal and state court litigation, with favorable results (2003-’05)

Contract dispute — Settlement of contract claim brought by private businessman against Fortune 125 Company for $3.5 million (2007)

Securities — Summary judgment dismissal of $27 million civil damage claim affirmed on appeal (2006)

Marital property — settlement of $100 million marital estate (2005)

White Collar Crime — 25 witnesses expelled in federal criminal conspiracy case (2003) (reversed on appeal)

Professional liability – resolution of ten highly publicized ethics and state court actions brought by two state judges and related parties (2001-02)

Breach of fiduciary duty — Favorable verdict in case involving depletion of trust assets and illegal activities on 50 square mile $26 million elk hunting ranch in New Mexico (1991)

White Collar Crime — Reduced sentence of former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense in federal obstruction case before U.S. Board of Pardons & Paroles (1985)

Felony prosecutor – 260 jury trials (1974-1979), 5 losses.  Murder, rape, armed robbery, capital murder, arson, burglary, possession of controlled substances, murder-for-hire, etc.

Misdemeanor prosecutor — Won 23 DWI jury trials in a row as a fledgling prosecutor, promoted to felony prosecutor in 1 yr (1974)

  1. Personal

Date of Birth:           October 14, 1947

Place of Birth:          Dallas, Texas

Married:                    Christie

Children:                   Abbie, Wheeler, Cameron, Hannah

Member:                   Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Other interests: reading, writing, endurance sports, 6 marathons, incl. Boston; PR 3:18:30; swimming, triathlons, golf, fly-fishing, spending time with my wife, children and their families; church and charity involvement