It seems I’ve been dangling Off the Back lately . . . regularly advising good clients of bad news. It’s been a headwind, for sure. And not something to share with many. Mostly, it’s a private struggle. And such a dichotomy. Strength on the outside, weakness on the inside. I could not have scripted the human condition any better. Inevitably, the self-doubt follows: Do I really think I’m helping anybody? Gratefully, the answer does not exist in the microcosm of introspection. Rather, it’s found in the macrocosm of the justice system in which we work.
“Life Is Like a Mountain Railway”
Life is like a mountain railway
With an engineer that’s brave
We must make this run successful
From the cradle to the grave.
Heed the curves and watch the tunnels
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hands upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail.
The gold standard—the absolute best, the benchmark, the epitome of perfection. It’s what many of us aspire to be professionally and what few actually achieve. Buck Files is no doubt the gold standard among us. He has been a consistent and quality contributor to The Voice for 30 years. In this regard, his contribution to TCDLA is unparalleled. TCDLA is fortunate to have had Buck on its team for all these years. There is no sign of him slowing down, either!
The TCDLA Board of Directors met on Saturday, February 13, 2016, in New Orleans. The following motions were made and passed:
Have you ever…..
25 | Buck Files Makes It 200! - By Bobby Mims
27 | “Never Quit. Never.” A Tribute to Buck Files - By Frank E. Stevenson
29 | 2016 TCDLA Long Range Plan - By TCDLA Long Range Planning Committee
35 | The Kibitzer Case - By Judge Wayne Patrick Priest
37 | Privilege vs. Confidentiality - By Dean Watts
The Pre-Columbian Artifacts case had already been tried and appealed once before I ever became involved in it. The Defendants had all been convicted, both of transporting the artifacts in international and interstate commerce and of conspiring to do so. The Fifth Circuit had sent the case back to Judge John H.
My court-appointed client, Jermaine Jones (JJ), a career offender, had been indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division, for possessing just shy of 46 grams of crack cocaine and a loaded .45 handgun. Four Deputy U.S.
Under two US Supreme Court rulings,2 where a state provides for appellate review of criminal convictions, an indigent appellant enjoys a constitutional right to appointment of counsel for an initial appeal of right, but
The event has occurred on thousands of occasions. Terry Trooper sees Danny Defendant driving on his highway. Something catches Terry’s attention that causes him to believe Danny has committed or is committing a criminal offense. Terry initiates a traffic stop that leads to a conversation with Danny, a seizure of something, and a warrantless arrest. The issue for the trial court or the appellate court is always the same: Did Terry have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that Danny had committed or was committing a criminal offense?
Our money is rarely a topic of conversation at the courthouse. We are often stoked to talk about the law . . . always primed to share details of our latest victory or penetrating cross-examination. But what about money? When our law practice closes its doors for the last time, what will we have to show for our decades of sacrifice? Hopefully, we’ll have some degree of financial freedom. But the statistics are dismal. Americans do not save enough.
Midnight special is a traditional folk song thought to have originated among prisoners in the American South (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TXfcsFhc7A). The title comes from the passenger train “Midnight Special” and is performed from the viewpoint of the prisoners. Lyrics first appeared in print in 1905.
As I write this column, my husband and I are preparing to bring our second child—a boy—into this world. We have decided to name him Samuel George Smith. (Yes, I am one of those women who didn’t change my last name.) George, after my late dad, George Roland. My dad was a fierce defender of the Constitution—the best. I now know and appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that he invested in his work and its meaning. The soon-to-be birth of my son has me thinking a lot about legacies—the ones we leave behind, the ones we create, the ones we pass on.
Please join me in welcoming Andrea Keilen, our new General Counsel for TCDLA. Andrea will also be our Lobbyist, working with our lobby team in the upcoming Texas Legislative session. Andrea brings a wealth of experience to TCDLA. We are very fortunate to have her on board. She can be reached at the home office, 512-478-2514.
Special thanks to course director Rick Wardroup for our Capital/Mental Health seminar held in Houston in February. Thanks to him and our speakers we had 108 attendees.
The world of defending a criminal case used to be simpler. As I look around my office at lawyers who have practiced in excess of 50 years, I realize how much the landscape has changed in just a generation or two. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the increasing number of civil proceedings that accompany even a misdemeanor criminal case today. What is relatively new as well is the new landscape on college campuses of Title IX requirements in cases where sexual misconduct is alleged.
21 | The 40th Annual Texas Criminal Trial College
25 | Between a Reversal at the Court of Appeals and Discretionary Review: What Are Appointed Counsel’s Duties? - By John Bennett
29 | Successfully Suppressing a Search Warrant in Federal Court - By Mary Beth Harrell
The first felony jury trial I participated in was what was then called a robbery by assault with a firearm. I had been licensed to practice for almost exactly one year, and had gone to Judge Archie Brown, one of two felony judges in the county at that time, and asked to be appointed to some cases that were going to trial to gain experience.
Michael Morton is probably the most well-known example, at least in Texas, of an innocent person spending decades in prison for a crime he did not commit. As we all know, in that case, there was a significant amount of prosecutorial misconduct—i.e., hiding favorable evidence—that led to the wrongful conviction.