President's Message: Our TCDLA Minutemen and Minutewomen - By J. Gary Trichter

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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

It was on April 19, 1775, at places called Lexington and Concord, a shot was heard around the world that changed it forever. It was then and there that ordinary citizens, but not so ordinary men, chose to openly defy an unjust government by standing in defense of others. Having been forewarned by Paul Revere and Billy Dawes of the British Army’s plan to seize their arms and munitions, select members of the colonial partisan militia immediately responded as a strike force to stop the Red Coat advance. These patriots, who were both highly mobile and quick to deploy, were the “minutemen.”

TCDLA has its minutemen and minutewomen, too. They are our volunteer Strike Force, and just like the colonial minutemen, they have and will unselfishly interrupt their personal lives and promptly come to the aid of a TCDLA member in just need. Your TCDLA Force members have pre-committed to respond to an unjust threat to any of our membership.

Recently, our minutemen and minutewomen responded to requests for help against government threats to members in Beaumont and San Antonio. Our Strike Force leader, Mike Heiskell, authorized Houston committee members Joanne Musick and Robb Fickman to make Amicus appearances in Beaumont Municipal Court, where prosecutors were wrongly demanding contempt sanctions against one of our own. Joanne and Robb rearranged their schedules so they could be present at the scheduled contempt hearing. Being great lawyers, they spent many hours doing legal and factual research and in writing a brief in opposition to the government’s position. In the end, our Beaumont member’s request to have TCDLA stand with him was not only answered “yes”; but also the Strike Force carried the day as the court denied the government’s request for sanctions.

The San Antonio Strike Force matter was a more serious abuse of governmental power. There, the district attorney’s office offended both justice and our member. The short story is that the State executed a search warrant for records in a white-collar prosecution and seized boxes and boxes of documents. It also left and/or abandoned boxes and boxes of records deemed of no value to the prosecution. Our member retained the discarded records and very effectively utilized them in cross-examination of the government’s witnesses during the jury trial. Indeed, so effective was the impeachment that the prosecutors there asked the trial judge to order defense counsel to give them the records—that court denied the request. Not dismayed, the State then presented a disingenuous search warrant affidavit to another judge and received authorization to seize our lawyer’s trial file. The affiant alleged our member was a co-conspirator in the very case being tried, and was not forthcoming about the trial court judge’s previous denial of their records request. Shockingly, the State executed the warrant during the jury trial and took our member’s file.

Again, a request for Strike Force assistance was made and granted. This time your minutewomen was Cynthia Orr, another great lawyer and past president of both TCDLA and NACDL. She immediately began her factual and legal investigation and put together an outstanding Amicus brief. Along with legendary Gerry Goldstein, also past president of TCDLA and NACDL and who was Amicus for NACDL, Cynthia assembled a dream team of defense experts (past president of the National District Attorney’s Association, law professor, nationally noted lawyers). Another of our members, Michael Gross, was there as Amicus for the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (SACDLA). Interestingly, the motion for mistrial/new trial hearing was not a short one but went on for days. Indeed, it was continued and not yet scheduled when this article needed to be sent in to our editor for publication. That said, having watched part of the hearing and knowing the sand that these minutemen and minutewoman have, I predict that the great wrong done by the government will be corrected.

And so, our Strike Force members, like the original colonial minutemen, are real life HEROES! They are our HEROES! They have already volunteered to be ready in a minute to stop their work to help you! Do you know who they all are? Take a minute to look them up in the Voice or on line so you can thank them for their generosity and dedication to you—and to justice. Let them know you appreciate them! Remember, our STRIKE FORCE means you will never have to stand alone!

J. Gary Trichter
Your President