President's Message: A Swan Song - By Emmett Harris

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Thursday, May 21st, 2015

There is an ancient belief that swans, though silent or not so musical during life, sing a beautiful song just before death. Thus the metaphorical phrase describing a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. This will be mine. While I certainly have no plan to die, I do plan to step aside at Rusty Duncan and welcome Mr. Sam Bassett as our next President of TCDLA. He has been and will continue to be a fine leader of our association. Now as I toddle off the stage let me leave these few thoughts with you.

First of all I thank Joseph Martinez and his staff for their encouragement and support during this last year. They are remarkable people who understand what TCDLA is all about and who are absolutely dedicated to our purposes. There is not enough ink in the word processor to list all of their contributions. They treated me with kindness and professionalism on every step of the way.

Then to my executive committee a standing ovation is due. They are: Sam Bassett, John Convery, David Moore, Mark Snodgrass, Kerri Donica, Michael Gross, Susan Kelly, Edward Mallett, and Bill Harris. Not only did they serve at our quarterly board meetings, but they also spent countless hours on a zillion telephone conferences working with me on the pesky kind of problems that came along. Their patience and wisdom were amazing.

This was a legislative year, and we were well served by Mark Daniel, Chair of our Legislative Committee, Allen Place, Patricia Cummings, David Gonzalez, and Kristin Etter. We had strong and effective voices speaking for us in Austin.

Thank you to all of the course directors who organized our seminars; to our CDLP committee, led by the wonderful Jani Maselli Wood; to Kameron Johnson, our TCDLEI chair; and to Robb Fickman for continuing our Independence Day readings.

Our CLE work is simply unrivaled. Grant Scheiner and Danny Easterling continue to carry Top Gun in Houston. Larry Boyd did great work recently in Arlington. Mark Thiessen and Deandra Grant continue to show the way to take science into the courtroom. In short, there is no other DWI training that can approach the excellence of ours. Again, thanks to Bobby Mims we are enjoying a good team effort at MSE in New Orleans. Tony Vitz stepped into the gap and led our psychodrama program to its best event yet at Round Top.

Nicole DeBorde, Casie Gotro, and Stan Schneider have valiantly come to the aid of our fellow criminal defense lawyer, David Dow. I believe that you will hear from them at Rusty.

In short, TCDLA is living up to the motto—United We Stand.

And now, a few more words about Joseph. I spoke with him almost daily this past year. Perhaps only a past president can fully understand what Joseph does and who he is. He is more than an extraordinary executive director. He is a good human being with a huge heart. I had occasions to watch him reach out to members who were in crisis and see his heart breaking for people who were hurting. He loves us and is committed, heart and soul, to this association.

So, from one retiring, but definitely not dying, swan to the rest of the marvelous swans of TCDLA, I bid a fond farewell. TCDLA is united and stronger than ever. See you, my heroes, at Rusty Duncan in San Antonio. Vaya Con Dios.

Emmett Harris