President's Message: Coming Back to Bite You - By Mark Snodgrass

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

After I graduated from high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to play football at Texas Tech. My first year was also Spike Dykes’ first year as head coach at Texas Tech. If you did not know Coach Dykes or at least know of him, you missed out on a one-of-a-kind personality. As you can imagine from a man called Spike, he was quick to give nicknames to people. With the last name Snodgrass, he always called me Boogerweed. He was a man of many words and was never hesitant to say what he thought. When expressing his thoughts, he never held back what he was really thinking. After one in particular uninspired performance that resulted in a lopsided loss, Coach Dykes told the assembled media, “We played like three tons of buzzard puke this afternoon.” This was a typical “Spikeism.”

There were other sayings and stories that were always repeated. At Friday afternoon walk-throughs before games, at some point you would always hear, “Okay men, the hay is in the barn.” His way of telling us that all the preparation was done, and we were ready to play the game. Another line was, “Who are you going to call to hold the rope?” This one came from a story he would always tell about hanging over the edge of a cliff by a rope and only having one dime to call a teammate to save you. The obvious moral was to be the person your teammates could rely upon in time of crisis. I probably spent too much time trying to figure out where you were going to find a pay phone to call someone while hanging over the edge of a cliff—and as a result ended up a lawyer and not much of a football player.

Coach Dykes also seemed to believe that there was some transitive property to college football. At the first team meeting every August at the start of two-a-days, he would always give a long speech to the whole team. The speech would always finish up with a convoluted tale about how we had beaten Texas A&M by 7 points, and they beat Arkansas by 10 points, and Arkansas beat whoever on down the line. By the end of him telling us who beat who, it would end with, “Good Lord, men, we would have beat Miami by 49 points, and they won the National Championship!”

During my years at Texas Tech, the Depot District was the area of town for college students to go for entertainment. It was also the area of town that was liable to get you in trouble. One last story that Coach Dykes always told at the first of two-a-days and whenever someone got into trouble started off, “Men we are 0-30 at the Depot.”

He would then go on to tell that when he was a kid growing up in Ballinger, there was a short cut to school—or to his girlfriend’s house or somewhere (depending on which day he was telling the story)—that went through Ms. Jones’ backyard. Ms. Jones had a big mean chow dog that would bite you every time you took the short cut. This story then led to every time you did something stupid or got in trouble being told, “Don’t let Ms. Jones’ chow dog bite you.”

If you have made it this far, I am guessing that you are probably asking, “What does any of this have to do with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association?”

One of the best services TCDLA offers its members is the Ethics Hotline. The Ethics Committee is chaired by Robert Pelton and co-chaired by Mike Mowla. The committee is comprised of 20 or so other lawyers throughout the state, many of whom have served on grievance committees or have represented people in grievance proceedings—all of whom regularly practice criminal defense law. The Ethics Hotline can be reached at 1-512-646-2734. Most calls are responded to within hours. Serving as a member of this committee while president of TCDLA has impressed further upon me what a great service these folks do for our membership. In every case I have seen, the responses were quick, well-reasoned, and well received by the member who sought advice. All matters remain confidential unless the member chooses otherwise.

If you find yourself in a situation where your client wants you to do something you do not feel is appropriate, or you are just not sure what the right thing to do is, please know that TCDLA has someone there to hold the rope. All you have to do is make the call. Just remember to not let Ms. Jones’ chow dog bite you.