Sarah Roland

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Sarah Roland grew up always wanting to be a criminal defense lawyer like her late dad, George Roland. Sarah has a criminal trial and appellate practice. She has been a member of TCDLA since 2001 and serves on the board of directors. She has served as chairperson of CDLP and is a course director for Rusty Duncan this year. She’s a past president of the Denton County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and has been selected as a Rising Star in 2012–2014 and a Super Lawyer in 2014.

Stories from Sarah Roland

Starting at the End: The Court’s Charge to the Jury
Saturday, August 24th, 2019

I. Introduction

Handling appeals can be frustrating. It’s frustrating when there is error but it’s harmless. It’s frustrating when the appellate court cites waiver. But good news! Jury charge error is still alive and well.

Editor's Comment Sept19
Saturday, August 24th, 2019

There are a few unrelated things worth mentioning this month:


Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

I struggled this month with my column. Not because I didn’t have any material. I just finished a brief on double jeopardy and collateral estoppel that’s easily transformed into a short article. Nor was it because I didn’t know what I should write. Rather, I struggled because in my soul I knew exactly what I must write—not to gain any sympathy or pity but to hopefully strike a chord or spark some action . . .

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

It’s summertime again! That means it’s time to pass the mantle again, time for another great Rusty Duncan, and time to raise our voices in unison to proclaim the guarantees of our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights throughout the state. Please lend your support to our new president and join your voice along with other TCDLA members throughout the state on or around July 3 when we proudly and publicly celebrate our Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

As criminal defense lawyers, we all talk about the presumption of innocence. We hear judges talk about the presumption of innocence. We explain it to juries. It appears in every jury charge. We all agree with it, and in large part, our jury panels do, too. They nod along in silent agreement when we talk about the presumption of innocence and answer affirmatively when asked whether they can apply it to the case at hand. But, are they really understanding and applying it or are they just going along to get along, so to speak?

Expert Questions
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

1. What’s the difference between a consulting expert and a testifying expert?

Pope v. State, 207 S.W.3d 352 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006) is the leading case on the distinction between consulting and testifying experts. The difference is major, and it matters. Everyone should read Pope.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Among the many significant decisions issued since our last publication, Michael Mowla highlights Rhomer in this SDR. No. PD-0448-17 (Tex. Crim. App. 2019). In Rhomer, a felony murder case—causing the death of another in an accident while committing felony DWI—the Court of Criminal Appeals decided that an accident reconstruction expert can testify about a specific type of accident reconstruction in which he has no formal training, and that the testimony of the accident reconstruction expert here should be governed by the Nenno test.

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

From Thanksgiving through Christmas until the first of the New Year is always a time when things seem to slow down around the courthouse. Generally, everyone—judges, prosecutors, even jurors—seems to be affected by the spirit of the season. It’s hard this time of year not to get a bit sentimental and reflect on the past year—the wins, the losses and everything in between—and how we can make the coming year even better professionally and personally.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Reconstruction is the act of reconstructing. To reconstruct is to establish or assemble again.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

First, thank you to everyone who completed the recent Voice survey. We read and appreciate all the comments and encourage everyone to participate in future surveys. Overwhelming, you told us that you like the overall look of the Voice, that the articles are timely and current, and that you would like to see the Voice continued in print as well as electronically. You asked for more DWI and Fourth Amendment articles and fewer pictures of TCDLA events.

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I’ve often wondered what month is National Exoneree Recognition Month (or some other synonymous title). Make no mistake, child abuse, in any and every form, is wrong and despicable. But what happens when an innocent parent or caregiver is wrongly accused, prosecuted, and convicted? We know it happens. It especially happens in the context of child abuse when everyone’s emotions naturally tend to outweigh reason, facts, and logic.

The Intersection of Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
Saturday, March 31st, 2018



When the criminal justice system and the offender with mental disorder collide, it is often a train wreck.

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Trials are always interesting. You can never predict exactly what’s going to happen. There’s always something that doesn’t go quite as planned—a witness that says or does something unexpected or a piece of evidence that seemingly comes out of nowhere. This truism rings even truer when accomplices and jailhouse informants enter the cast of characters that appear in trial. The wheels go off the track.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

As I write this column as editor of the Voice on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and following the latest racially charged comments from the president, it’s impossible not to think about voices and words. The ones that inspire us. The ones that outrage us. The ones that haunt us. The ones that torment us. The ones that help us. The ones that expose us. The ones that comfort us. The ones that save us. The ones that call us to action.

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

In this season of anticipation, the prominence of the “hurry up and wait” factor is ever-present and undeniable. It always exists in our profession—waiting on clients, waiting to get paid, waiting on judges, waiting on juries—and never seems to end. And the irony of all the waiting is that we are expected to be present, ready, and on time, every time. Consistently showing up ready, unafraid, and on time is half the battle of our profession.

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

It’s that time of year again. The beginning of holiday season. The time when family gatherings—whether dreaded or welcomed—become commonplace. The time of year when we get to see those relatives whom we haven’t seen or talked to since the year before. And let’s just go ahead and acknowledge it: We all have one—at least one—“crazy” relative. And as the joke goes, if you don’t know who that person is in your family, it’s probably you!

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

How many times has it happened? The State needs to prove up a prior judgment for jurisdictional, enhancement, or punishment purposes and just lists any (or every) investigator in the DA’s office or sheriff’s office as an expert to prove up the fingerprints. We assume the judgment is coming in, well, because it always has, so we just stipulate thinking it will somehow earn our client points with the jury for accepting responsibility. We even point out to the jury how this time is different because in the past our client has accepted responsibility.

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

It finally happened. Kind of. In what appeared to be a very impromptu statement on August 10th, our president declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. What that will do is free up necessary disaster funding to help address the crisis.*

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

We recently took a trip to Washington, D.C.—“our nation’s capital,” as my four-year-old daughter reminded me the whole trip. We toured the Capital and the White House. We stood in the security line alongside congressmen at the Capital and saw the South Lawn from the interior of the White House. We saw the legislature in session. We walked the length of the National Mall, stopping in awe at the memorials along the way. We visited the Supreme Court, the Hirshorn, and the National Museum of Natural History. We did it all in a period of a few days—a typical Roland vacation.

Editor's Comment: The Top Ten - By Sarah Roland
Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

A friend and colleague sent me this blog post from Judge Richard G. Kopf on Scott Greenfield’s highly respected blog Simple Justice a few days ago, reprinted here with their kind permission. I couldn’t help but smile and pass it along. It speaks for itself and can’t be said any better.