Editor's Comment: The New Sheriff - By Sarah Roland

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Saturday, March 12th, 2016

It is quite a humbling honor and responsibility to serve as your new editor. I am thankful to the leadership for allowing me this opportunity to continue to serve TCDLA in a new way. Many thanks to Michael Gross for his tireless service to TCDLA as editor for the past 2½ years and guidance to me as I step into this new role. His are indeed large shoes to fill. It also cannot be said often enough how fortunate we are to have the staff that we do working for us. It is already apparent that Craig Hattersley is a significant driving force behind every issue of The Voice and deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his behind the scenes work.

With the new responsibilities and time constraints this position brings I have decided to step down as chair of the Prosecutorial Integrity Committee though I will continue to serve on the committee. I do not want the quality of either TCDLA position to suffer by my being spread too thin. As many of you know, the Prosecutorial and Judicial Integrity Committees are two very active committees in TCDLA. Be proud of this; it is a good thing. TCDLA should help uphold accountability and integrity in every aspect of our justice system. It is not a coincidence, then, that there are two recent decisions from the Commission on Judicial Conduct addressed in this issue, and that the Executive Committee will be making recommendations on prosecutorial grievances in the coming weeks.

The Voice is something we all value tremendously. There is always a timely nugget of wisdom, an idea, or much needed words of encouragement every month. To that end, my goal as your editor is to provide the best, most relevant, and timely publication possible to our membership. This means adhering to submission deadlines and only publishing quality articles.

You may have noticed that we have a “Said and Done” column every month. Please don’t be embarrassed to brag on yourselves and/or colleagues for significant victories. Let us know! We want to uplift each other and recognize the noteworthy accomplishments of our members on a regular basis.

We all have something unique to contribute and pass on to help our comrades—an idea, some knowledge, or a particular experience. Please take the time to put your ideas down. Please continue to submit your contributions and please be sure to let me know if you have ideas, constructive criticism, and/or comments that can help make The Voice even better.

Declaration Readings

It’s time to start planning for Declaration of Independence Readings again this year. Last year, thanks to Robb Fickman and many of our members, there were 139 Declaration of Independence readings in Texas.

There are 254 counties in Texas. This year it’s TCDLA’s goal to have a reading in all 254 counties in Texas! As July 4th is on a Monday this year, the readings will be planned for Friday, July 1, 2016. Please plan to either organize the reading in your county or be a part of the reading this year. Contact Robb Fickman if you are interested in organizing a reading— rfickman@gmail.com.

Decisions from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct

TCDLA’s Judicial Integrity Committee, co-chaired by Edward Mallett and Philip Wischkaemper, is ever vigilant. There have been two notable recent decisions by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Please continue to make the committee aware of your concerns so that TCDLA can help maintain the high ethical standards of the Texas judiciary.

TCDLA leadership is disappointed that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct has chosen not to sanction the justice for his improper comments and his failure to set appropriate individualized bail amounts for over 170 accused persons in the Waco Biker cases. However, there is recognition in the decision that the actions taken by the justice were not appropriate (see below).

In response to a complaint filed by HCCLA, the Commission issued a private reprimand against a Harris County judge for displaying in public view behind his bench a MADD plaque despite being encouraged to remove the plaque by other judges and lawyers (on page following). In issuing the private reprimand, the Commission cited the judge’s display of the plaque as against his obligation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. JoAnne Musick, Carmen Roe, Tyler Flood, Mark Bennett, and Robb Fickman are among the many Harris County defense lawyers who contributed to this process.

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