Monthly archive

June 2017

June 2017 SDR – Voice for the Defense Vol. 46, No. 5

Voice for the Defense Volume 46, No. 5 Edition

Editor: Michael Mowla

From editor Michael Mowla

1.  The online SDR, which is regularly emailed to all current TCDLA members, is summarized in a man­ner that allows readers to generally use the SDR instead of reading every opinion. It includes more than just the relevant holding(s).

2. These summaries are not a substitute for reading the whole case.

3. The summaries reflect the facts and relevant holdings of the cases. The summaries do not reflect my opinion of whether the cases correctly: (1) recite the facts presented at trial; or (2) apply the law. My opinions (if any) are preceded by “Editor’s Note.”

4. This SDR is for you. Feel free to send me suggestions on how I may improve it.

Supreme Court of the United States

No significant decisions were handed down by the SCOTUS since April 15, 2017.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

John Doe v. United States, No. 16-20567, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6208 (5th Cir. April 11, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under 5 U.S.C. § 702 (Administrative Procedure Act), the United States may be sued when non­monetary relief is sought and the plaintiff’s claim is that an agency or an officer or employee of the agency acted or failed to act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority. The intent of the statute is to “broaden the avenues for judicial review of agency action by eliminating the defense of sovereign im­munity in cases covered by the amendment.”

        (2) When the government accuses a person of a crime without indicting him, the government fails to provide a public forum in which the person can defend himself, and subjects the government to suit under 5 U.S.C. § 702.

        (3) To survive a motion to dismiss under Fed. Rule Civil Proc. 12(b), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. In making this determination, the court may consider the complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.

        (4) Under 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a), an action against the Government is barred unless the complaint is filed within six years after the right of action first accrues. A cause of action first accrues when the plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief.

        (5) A Fifth Amendment claim seeking expungement of district court records is cognizable even though prosecution of the party seeking expungement might yet occur. The statute of limitations is not deferred until the government is no longer able to indict or affirmatively states that it will not indict.


  • In 2015, Doe filed suit in the district court, contending under the Fifth Amendment that the Government violated his right to due process by publicly accusing him of a crime in a criminal proceeding without providing him a public forum for vindication.
  • Doe sought a declaration that the Government violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process and an order of expungement.
  • The Government moved to dismiss under Fed. Rule Civil Proc. 12(b)(1), arguing that sovereign immunity barred Doe’s suit, and the action was barred by limitations.

The suit was properly filed in the district court, and sovereign immunity does not protect the government

Doe’s suit was barred by limitations

  • Because the 2008 records that Doe seeks to expunge have been public for many years, the harm to Doe commenced in 2008, which is when the right of action first accrued.

United States v. Jones, No. 16-10463, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6952 (5th Cir. April 20, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under 18 U.S.C. § 2119 (carjacking), a person commits a crime if he takes a motor vehicle that has been transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce from the person or presence of another by force and violence or by intimidation. The carjacking statute is a valid exercise of congressional authority under the Commerce Clause because Congress could rationally believe that the activity of auto theft has a substantial effect on interstate commerce. It is not relevant that the vehicle has not left the state for years.

        (2) Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3), a “crime of violence” is a felony that: (A) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (B) that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used during committing the offense.

        (3) The language of 18 U.S.C. § 2119 (carjacking) clearly supports carjacking being a “crime of violence” that supports a conviction under § 924(c).

State of Texas v. Kleinert, No. 15-51077, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6951 (5th Cir. April 20, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under 28 U.S.C. § 1442, the federal-officer-removal statute, an officer may remove a state prosecution to federal court and obtain dismissal of the charges if the officer shows: (1) he is a federal officer or part of a federal task-force; (2) he was acting under the “color” of the federal office; and (3) a colorable federal defense.

        (2) To satisfy the “color of office test,” the defendant must show a causal connection between the charged conduct and asserted official authority. The State’s allegations do not control the causal-connection analysis. Instead, the court looks to the officer’s theory of the case to determine whether he has made an adequate threshold showing that the suit is for an act under color of office (i.e., was the federal officer acting in his official capacity or was “on a frolic of his own”).

        (3) An officer alleges a “colorable” federal defense if he plausibly alleges that he was acting as a federal officer and had a legal right to act as he did.

        (4) Merely because the task-force officer’s actions do not narrowly fit within a “Memorandum of Understanding” signed between the federal agency and officer does not mean the officer was not acting within the scope of the federal task force.

United States v. Guillen-Cruz, No. 16-40131, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6161 (5th Cir. April 10, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) To determine whether a prior offense is a crime of violence for sentencing enhancement purposes, under the categorical approach, the court lines up the elements of the prior offense with the elements of the generic [enumerated] offense to see if they match. If the elements of the prior offense cover conduct beyond what the generic offense covers, then it is not a qualifying offense. The categorical approach does not consider the conduct of the defendant in committing the offense, but is limited to the conviction and the statutory definition of the offense.

        (2) If a statute is “divisible,” meaning it sets out one or more elements of the offense in the alternative, the court applies the modified categorical approach to narrow an offense that otherwise would not be a categorical match with an enumerated offense. Descamps, 133 S.Ct. 2276, 2281 (2013).

        (3) Under the modified categorical approach, a court looks at “Shepard documents”: indictment or information, terms of a plea agreement, or transcript of the plea hearing in which the factual basis for the plea was confirmed by the defendant. If these documents show that the alternative mental states are means and not elements, then the statute is no divisible.

        (4) To establish plain error, an Appellant must show: (1) an error or defect that has not been intentionally relinquished or abandoned; (2) the legal error was clear or obvious, rather than subject to reasonable dispute; (3) the error affected his substantial rights (reasonable probability of a different outcome absent the error), and (4) if (1)–(3) are satisfied, the USCA5 may remedy the error “if the error seriously affects the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings.”

        (5) Under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(C), a district court must increase a defendant’s offense level by 8 if the defendant has been deported after a conviction for an aggravated felony. “Aggravated felony” is defined under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43).

        (6) Under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(C), “aggravated felony” has the meaning given by 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43), which defines it as “illicit trafficking in firearms or destructive devices (as defined in [18 U.S.C. § 921]) or in explosive materials (as defined in [18 U.S.C. § 841(c)]).

        (7) Under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), a “firearm” is: (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device.

        (8) Under 27 C.F.R. § 479.11, a “frame or receiver” is the part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.

        (9) Under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(4)(A) & (B), “destructive device” means (1) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas bomb, grenade, mine, rocket, missile, or similar device, (2) any type of weapon that will, or which may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, or (3) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

        (10) A magazine is an element of a firearm that houses ammunition, and is plainly not a firearm, the frame or receiver of a firearm, a muffler, firearm silencer, or a destructive device under § 921(a)(4)(A).

Editor’s Note: one must question the basic knowledge of weapons and the ability to comprehend simple measurements on the part of the USPO, the prosecutors, and the district court.

  • The underlying issue is the export of magazines that hold 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition.
  • The United States Munitions List prohibits the export of any weapon (or its parts) the barrel-bore of which is greater than 0.5 inches in diameter.
  • For instance, the AK-47 and its clones is the most common weapon that fires the 7.62 x 39 mm round.
  • The barrel-bore of a firearm is simply the inside cylinder of the firearm’s barrel—i.e., the tube through which the bullet travels.
  • As the USCA5 observes, the barrel-bore of an AK-47 or its clones cannot be greater than 0.5 inches or 12.7 mm because otherwise the weapon could not fire 7.62 mm rounds. In fact, 7.62 millimeters = 0.3 inches.

  • Perhaps the use of both millimeters and inches when describing the same object confused the prosecutors, USPO, and the district court.

United States v. McClure, No. 15-41641, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7276 (5th Cir. April 25, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) If a defendant pleads guilty as part of a plea agreement, the Government must strictly adhere to the terms and conditions of its promises in the agreement. When a guilty plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be fulfilled. To assess a claim of breach, the USCA5 considers whether the government’s conduct is consistent with the defendant’s reasonable understanding of the agreement. See United States v. Valencia, 985 F.2d 758, 761 (5th Cir. 1993), and Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 262 (1971).

        (2) The USCA5 applies general principles of contract law to interpret the terms of the plea agreement. When a plea agreement is unambiguous, the court will not look beyond the four corners of the document.

        (3) A defense counsel’s subjective belief that a defendant’s plea will preclude future prosecution related to an ongoing investigation, even if the defendant relied upon it, does not, without more, immunize him from prosecution.

United States v. Nguyen, 16-10186, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6390 (5th Cir. April 13, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) When reviewing sentencing decisions for reasonableness under Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 46 (2007), the USCA5 uses a bifurcated review process and considers: (1) whether the district court committed any significant procedural error, and if the district court’s decision is procedurally sound, (2) the substantive reasonableness of the sentence.

        (2) When considering the procedural unreasonableness of a sentence, the USCA5 reviews the district court’s interpretation and application of the U.S.S.G. de novo and its findings of fact for clear error. If the district court committed a significant procedural error, the USCA5 remands unless the error was harmless.

        (3) Significant procedural errors include failing to calculate (or improperly calculating) the U.S.S.G. range, failing to consider the § 3553(a) factors, selecting a sentence based on clearly erroneous facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen sen­tence, including an explanation for any deviation from the U.S.S.G. range. Great deference is given to a sentence if the judge “carefully articulates the fact-specific reasons he concludes that a non-Guidelines sentence is appropriate, commits no legal error in the procedure followed in arriving at the sentence, and gives appropriate reasons for the sentence.

        (4) A non-Guidelines sentence unreasonably fails to reflect the statutory sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) where it: (1) does not account for a factor that should have received significant weight, (2) gives significant weight to an irrelevant or improper factor, or (3) represents a clear error of judgment in balancing the sentencing factors.

        (5) Structuring requires proof of three elements: (1) the defendant knew of the financial institution’s legal obligation to report transactions greater than $10,000; (2) the defendant knowingly structured (or attempted to structure, or assisted in structuring) a currency transaction; and (3) the purpose of the structured transaction was to evade that reporting obligation. Although the Government must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to establish the defendant’s guilt at trial, for sentencing purposes, the district court needed only to find that the elements were satisfied by a preponderance of the evidence.

Editor’s Note: this case is an example of why some opine that the federal criminal justice system needs a major “reboot” from top to bottom. In the district court proceedings, under Cause No. 4-15-CR-00185-A (N.D. Tex.), ECF 1 reflects that under 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2), appellant was charged under a one-count information of Aiding and Assisting in the Preparation and Presentation of a False and Fraudulent Return. The information alleged that “on or about the September 7, 2012, in the Fort Worth Division of the Northern District of Texas, defendant did willfully aid and assist in, and procure, counsel, and advise the preparation and presentation to the IRS a 2011 Form 1120 that was false and fraudulent as to a material matter (because it) omitted approximately $4,910,697 in income.” Nguyen pleads guilty, then is denied a reduction for acceptance of responsibility, making the U.S.S.G. range of 21–27 months, and ultimately is sentenced to 36 months in an upward-departure for relevant conduct that even the government stipulated there was insufficient evidence to support. This district court went out of its way to make sure it thoroughly punished Nguyen for perceived transgressions even though Nguyen accepted responsibility for his misfeasance and paid his fines and restitution in full.

United States v. Ortega, No. 16-50301, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7275 (5th Cir. April 25, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) The Government has an “informer’s privilege” to withhold from disclosure the identity of a CI. This privilege is not absolute and there is “no fixed rule” for when a CI’s identity should be disclosed. A court must balance the public interest in protecting the flow of information against the individual’s right to prepare his defense.

        (2) The USCA5 applies a three-factor test to determine whether the identity of a CI should be disclosed: (1) the level of the CI’s activity; (2) the helpfulness of the disclosure to the asserted defense; and (3) the Government’s interest in nondisclosure.

        (3) Under Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), a search warrant must be voided if the defendant shows by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) the affidavit contains a false statement; (2) the false statement was made intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth; and (3) if the false statement is excised, the remaining content in the affidavit fails to establish probable cause.

        (4) If the USCA5 finds that a statement in a search-warrant affidavit is false but the district court does not make a finding regarding the intent of the affiant, the case must be remanded to the district court for further findings of fact.

Prystash v. Davis, No. 16-70014, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7365 (5th Cir. April 26, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A), a COA must issue before a habeas petitioner can appeal the district court’s refusal to grant a writ of habeas corpus.

        (2) The USCA5 will issue a COA upon a “substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” This standard is met if the petitioner shows that “reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 338 (2003), and Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759, 773 (2017).

        (3) If the district court found that there was a procedural obstacle to habeas relief, the USCA5 will grant a COA if “jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.” Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 140–141 (2012).

        (4) If a petitioner faces the death penalty, any doubts as to whether a COA should issue must be resolved in the petitioner’s favor. Allen v. Stephens, 805 F.3d 617, 625 (5th Cir. 2015).

        (5) Under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), and Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 406–411 (1991), although a defendant is not black, he may challenge the exclusion of black jurors.

        (6) Under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), and Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013), a claim of IATC that was procedurally barred could be excused this default by showing that the initial state habeas counsel had been ineffective.

        (7) To succeed on a Brady claim, one must show that the prosecution suppressed evidence that was favorable to the defense, material to either guilt or punishment, and was not discoverable using due diligence.

Rockwell v. Davis, No. 16-70022, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6142 (5th Cir. April 10, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal courts cannot grant habeas relief if a claim was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state-court decision was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as determined by the SCOTUS or was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts considering the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Ex parte Brossard, No. WR-83,014-01, 2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 377 (Tex. Crim. App. April 12, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) A guilty plea must be entered knowingly and voluntarily: (1) the defendant must understand the law in relation to the facts surrounding his plea; and (2) the defendant must have sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances surrounding the plea. A guilty plea is valid only if it is “a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant.”

        (2) Sufficient awareness of the factual circumstances surrounding a plea, as opposed to complete knowledge, is required when a plea is entered. A court is permitted to accept a plea where a defendant does not have complete knowledge of the State’s case, so long as he has a sufficient factual awareness.

        (3) Under Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970), a defendant may have a sufficient factual awareness despite laboring under misapprehensions. A defendant’s plea is not rendered involuntary because it was induced by his attorney’s miscalculation of the penalties available if he pleaded guilty or went to trial. A defendant is not entitled to withdraw his plea merely because he discovers long after the plea has been accepted that his calculus misapprehended the quality of the State’s case or the likely penalties attached to alternative courses of action.” However, a guilty plea induced by the State’s misrepresentation or improper promises by the State is involuntary and may be withdrawn.

Editor’s Note: Yet another guilty-plea case.

Hankston v. State, No. PD-0887-15, 2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 379 (Tex. Crim. App. April 12, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Cell tower and cellphone company records are business records memorializing a person’s voluntary subscriber transaction for the service from the cellphone provider. A person neither owns nor possesses these records, so a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in these records since the records constitute information voluntarily conveyed to a third party.

        (2) There is no substantive difference between the Fourth Amendment and Tex. Const. Art. I, § 9.

Miller v. State, PD-0891-15, 2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 429 (Tex. Crim. App. April 26, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) The ordinary Strickland standard applies to a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel that is based on trial counsel’s erroneous advice regarding a defendant’s eligibility to receive probation from a sentencer, so the proper prejudice standard is whether appellant has demonstrated a reasonable probability that the results of the proceeding would have been different had trial counsel correctly informed him of the law.

Ex parte Pete, Nos. PD-0771-16, PD-0772-16, & PD-0773-16, 2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 432 (Tex. Crim. App. April 26, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) If a trial court grants a mistrial during the punishment hearing and the defendant requests a new trial only for punishment, the defendant will receive a new trial only for punishment and not the entire trial

Reed v. State, No. AP-77,054, 2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 376 (Tex. Crim. App. April 12, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) To obtain DNA testing under Chapter 64, (1) under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 64.01(a-1), a convicted person may seek forensic DNA testing of evidence that has a reasonable likelihood of containing biological material; and (2) under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 64.03, the judge must find that there is a reasonable likelihood that the evidence contains biological material suitable for DNA testing; and (3) the convicted person must show by a preponderance of the evidence that he would not have been convicted if the proposed testing’s exculpatory results were available at the time of his trial.

Texas Courts of Appeals

Ex parte Arango, Nos. 01-16-00607-CR & 01-16-00630-CR, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3372 (Tex. App. Houston [1st Dist.] April 18, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under Tex. Fam. Code § 54.02(a), a juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer the child to a district court for criminal proceedings if it finds: (1) the child was 14 years old or older at the time of the alleged offense; (2) there is probable cause to believe the child committed the offense; and (3) because of the seriousness of the alleged offense or the background of the child (or both), the welfare of the community requires criminal proceedings.

        (2) In deciding whether the welfare of the community requires criminal proceedings, the juvenile court must consider four nonexclusive factors: (1) whether the alleged offense was against person or property, with greater weight in favor of transfer given to offenses against people; (2) the sophistication and maturity of the child; (3) the record and previous history of the child; and (4) the prospects of adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of the rehabilitation of the child by use of procedures, services, and facilities currently available to the juvenile court. FFCL on these four factors are not required, but the order should expressly recite that the juvenile court took the factors into account in making this waiver determination.

        (3) FFCL supporting the juvenile court’s ultimate reasons for waiving its jurisdiction and ordering a transfer to district court are required and must be set forth in the transfer order: Under Tex. Fam. Code § 54.02(h), if the juvenile court waives jurisdiction, it shall state specifically in the order its reasons for waiver and certify its action, including the written order and findings of the court.

        (4) A waiver of juvenile jurisdiction based solely on the seriousness of the offense and not the background of the child, and supported only by a finding that the offense was against a person, is invalid and an abuse of discretion.

        (5) A claim that a juvenile transfer order is invalid is cognizable on pretrial habeas because the TCCA has recognized that one of the proper uses of pretrial habeas relief is where the conservation of judicial resources would be better served by interlocutory review.

Ex parte Madison, No. 10-16-00081-CR, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3708 (Tex. App. Waco April 26, 2017)

        (1) A court may declare only that part of a statute unconstitutional under which a defendant is charged

        (2) The First Amendment limits the government’s power to regulate speech based on its substantive content. Content-based regulations distinguish favored from disfavored speech based on the idea or message expressed and operate to restrict viewpoints or public discussion of an entire topic or subject matter. The usual presumption of constitutionality is reversed, the content-based statute is presumed invalid, and the State bears the burden to rebut this presumption.

        (3) A statute that suppresses, disadvantages, or imposes differential burdens upon speech because of its content is subject to strict scrutiny. It may be upheld only if it is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and employs the least speech-restrictive means to achieve its goal.

        (4) Content-neutral regulation of the time, place, and manner of speech, as well as regulation of speech that can be justified without reference to its content, receives intermediate scrutiny, and is permissible if it promotes a significant governmental in­terest and does not burden substantially more speech than necessary to further that interest.

        (5) To be unconstitutionally overbroad, the statute must pro­hibit a substantial amount of protected expression, and the danger that the statute will be unconstitutionally applied must be realistic and not based on “fanciful hypotheticals.” Laws that inhibit the exercise of First Amendment rights will be held facially overbroad only if the impermissible applications of the law are real and substantial when judged in relation to the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep. A statute must be upheld if the court determines a reasonable construction rendering it constitutional.

        (6) Impersonation is a nature-of-conduct offense, and a statute implicates the First Amendment only if it qualifies as “expressive conduct” akin to speech. Tex. Penal Code § 33.07(a)(1) regulates only the conduct of assuming another’s person’s identity, without that person’s consent, with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person by creating a web page. Otherwise proscribable conduct does not become protected by the First Amendment simply because the conduct hap­pens to involve the written or spoken word.

        (7) Almost all conceivable applications of Tex. Penal Code § 33.07(a) to speech associated with the proscribed conduct fall within the categories of criminal, fraudulent, and tortious activity that are unprotected by the First Amendment.

        (8) Because Tex. Penal Code § 33.07(a)(1) promotes a substantial governmental interest, the State’s interest would be achieved less effectively without the law, and the means chosen are not substantially broader than necessary to satisfy the State’s interest, Tex. Penal Code § 33.07(a)(1) survives intermediate scrutiny. Thus, Tex. Penal Code § 33.07(a)(1) is facially constitutional under the First Amendment.

Ex parte Perez, No. 14-16-00332-CR, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3246 (Tex. App. Houston [14th Dist.] April 13, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) A defendant is placed in jeopardy when the jury is empaneled and sworn. Because jeopardy attaches at this point, the Constitution confers upon a criminal defendant a “valued right” to have his trial completed by a particular tribunal. Thus, when a trial court declares a mistrial against the defendant’s wishes, usually further prosecution for the same offense is barred.

        (2) The exception to further prosecution after a mistrial is if there was a “manifest necessity” to grant the mistrial, which means a “high degree” of necessity. A trial court’s discretion to declare a mistrial based on manifest necessity is limited to, and must be justified by, extraordinary circumstances. Manifest necessity exists for declaring a mistrial when it is simply impossible to continue with trial.

        (3) Once the defendant shows he is being tried for the same offense after declaration of a mistrial to which he objected, a heavy burden shifts to the State to justify the trial court’s declaration of a mistrial. It is the State’s burden to demonstrate the manifest necessity for a mistrial.

        (4) A trial court abuses its discretion whenever the trial court declares a mistrial without first considering the availability of less drastic alternatives and reasonably ruling them out. The trial court must entertain “every reasonable alternative” to a mistrial.

        (5) When the trial court discovers a juror has moved outside the county, there are at least three options: (1) grant a mistrial if the defendant consents, (2) continue with 11 jurors if the defendant consents, or (3) continue the trial with all 12 jurors, including the unqualified one. Because proceeding to verdict with the out-of-county juror was a less dras­tic alternative to a mistrial, double jeopardy barred the de­fen­dant’s retrial.

        (6) When the court is faced with absent jurors, a trial court must entertain every reasonable alternative to a mistrial, including waiting and proceeding with 11 or 5 jurors provided the defendant is willing to do so.

Vanhalst v. State, No. 06-16-00080-CR, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3181 (Tex. App. Texarkana April 12, 2017) (designated for publication)

        (1) Under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 38.14, a defendant may not be convicted solely upon the testimony of an accomplice witness; instead, the accomplice’s testimony must be corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the de­fendant with the offense committed. An accomplice is one who participates with a defendant before, during, or after the commission of a crime and acts with the required culpable mental state. The participation must involve an affirmative act that promoted the commission of the offense with which the accused is charged.

        (2) An accomplice as a matter of law or fact is one who is susceptible to prosecution for the offense with which the accused is charged or a lesser included offense.

        (3) One is not an accomplice simply because he knew of the crime but failed to disclose it or even concealed the crime (such a person cannot be a co-conspirator).

Richard Racehorse Haynes

How Hard Can This Be?
Dan Cogdell

It was the Spring of 1979. Despite my shockingly impressive 2.67 GPA from the University of Texas, I had not been offered a job aside from the possibility of working for Proctor and Gamble peddling soap in the local HEB. Corporate America had clearly failed to recognize my greatness, and I was pondering just what in the heck my future would hold while languishing around the Frat House at the University. It was then that I stumbled across Texas v. Davis—an exceedingly well-written book by Mike Cochran about the T. Cullen Davis trials and the man who would later become my friend and mentor, Richard “Racehorse” Haynes. I had known Haynes while I was in high school in Houston—albeit distantly—through the off-road motorcycle racing community. Haynes was racing in the “old guy” (over 40) class, competing on a Husqvarna motorcycle. (Side note: One of the counter clerks at the local Husqvarna dealership in Houston was a young Lyle Lovett.) As I read through Cochran’s book about Haynes’ feats, I stupidly thought “How hard can that be if the ‘old guy’ from the Motocross track can do it?” Little did I know…

“I Want to Work for Racehorse Haynes”

That Spring, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Haynes, F. Lee Bailey, Percy Foreman, and any “real lawyer” I could. Arguably, the most time I ever spent in the library at UT was in my final semester doing just that. I tardily and hastily applied to several law schools and was accepted into just two—Texas Tech and South Texas College of Law. After flying into Lubbock on a Friday night and discovering a (then) desolate social scene, I decided to take my chances at South Texas and began in the Fall of 1979. Let me be clear: The sole reason I enrolled at law school was to work for Haynes. My focus was borderline obsessive about that goal, and I studied harder than I’d ever studied in my life to make certain I’d graduate at the top of my class (or at least as close thereto as I could). I took every criminal law–related course I could—dangerously spotting a least half a dozen State Bar–related courses in the process. I clerked for a small criminal defense firm in Houston and would watch Haynes as often as my schedule allowed while I was in law school. In my third year at South Texas, I nervously applied for a law clerk slot at the firm of Haynes and Fullenweider but was not offered that position. Retrospectively, that was probably a good thing, as I quickly thereafter applied at the Court of Criminal Appeals, and Presiding Judge John F. Onion Jr. was foolish enough to offer me a clerkship with him upon my graduation. If Judge Onion were honest, he’d likely tell you I was (at best) an inept law clerk for him, but if you’ve met the P. J., you know he’s too much of a gentleman to admit that.

Getting the “Dream Job”

I’d be a bit remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the chicanery I used in my interview for the Associate gig at Haynes and Fullenweider. Being so obsessed about being able to work for Haynes, I had scoured the planet for anyone who had gone through that process to learn as much as I could. Brian Wice (who had preceded me the year before at the Court of Criminal Appeals as law clerk) had schooled me on the process. I was certain I knew more than the other applicants (of which there were many) and was aware that after you interviewed with Haynes, two things would happen. The first was, at the end of the interview, Haynes would always ask something like “Do you have any questions of me?” I decided well in advance to avoid any solicitous comments like “What is your greatest victory?” Instead, I wanted to be singular and memorable, so when that time came I said, “So, Mr. Haynes, at Chappel Hill [a local motocross track], following the big downhill, why did you always take the slower line through the curve at the bottom?”

His pipe went sideways and his brow furrowed, and he said, “What?”

I repeated my question and he said, “How the hell did you know that?” I explained I had seen him do it in many races and even diagrammed it on paper for him.

The second thing that I had learned about the interview process was that you’d be asked to deliver a “Final Argument” at the end of your interview. Knowing I had broken through the barrier with him, I ratcheted up the stakes even higher and said: “OK, Mr. Haynes. I understand that now I am supposed to go down the hall and do a ‘surprise’ Final Argument while being videotaped. Frankly, I think that’s not the best use of our time. Look, you are going to make the decision to hire me—or not hire me—based in large part upon whether we get along. You can hire anybody you want, in terms of credentials. So, rather than having me ‘argue,’ I’d suggest we go across the street and get a drink.”

It was about 7:00pm at this point, and I knew Haynes was no stranger to alcohol. “You’ll find out more about whether you can stand me after a couple of drinks, compatibility wise, than you will by watching me give a Final Argument,” I said. “Let’s face it. I am here to learn how to be a lawyer from you. No kid out of law school knows much—if anything—about how to argue a case to a jury.”

My ploy worked like a charm, and we drank for several hours. By the fourth or fifth drink, I knew I was going to get my dream job. No question.

“It’s the Bailiffs You Need to Worry About, Not the Judges”

One of my first memories working for Richard was going with him on a routine visit to the Harris County Criminal Courthouse. Of course, Haynes was (literally) a living legend in those days, so everyone in the courthouse took notice when he showed up. In each courtroom, Haynes immediately began chatting with the court staff—primarily the bailiffs. He’d all but ignore the judges and instead was asking about the bailiff’s children, their softball teams, whether they’d caught any fish lately, etc., etc. When we left, I asked him (stupidly), “Why do you spend so much time with the bailiffs and so little time with the judges?”

Haynes went on (rather directly, for the record) and explained to me that it was the bailiffs who spent way more time with the jury (behind closed doors bringing lunch, walking them to their cars, etc.) than the judges ever did. “Don’t ever piss off a bailiff, son. Bad idea. Bad idea. Sometimes you must piss off a Judge, but you should never piss off a bailiff. They can talk you down in a second to the jury and you’ll ever even know it.” Lesson Number One learned that day. To this day, every time I am in a courtroom, I always speak to the bailiffs.

Getting to Know the Aryan Brotherhood

My first significant trial with Haynes was a murder trial that arose out of an inmate killing in Folsom Prison in California. Our client, Danny Christiansen, was charged with killing another inmate “because he was Hispanic.” The State’s theory was that our client participated in the murder as an “initiation killing” to get into the Aryan Brotherhood. To that end, we quickly met one of the “Original Founders” of the Aryan Brotherhood, a man named Wendell “Blue” Norris. Norris was about six foot six and had the physique of enraged body builder. Doing several “Life Withouts” (California had abolished the death penalty in that period of time), Norris was, by all accounts, the most feared man in Folsom. When we first met Norris, Haynes was far from his usual charming and witty self. Instead, he treated Norris with indifference and even bordered on being disrespectful to him during our conversations with him.

Because it was so unlike Haynes to act like that, I asked him about it. “Don’t ever show a guy like that too much respect, Skateboard [his nickname for me]. They’ll think you weak and solicitous and turn on you like a pit viper.”

Whatever, I thought. Norris wasn’t going to jack with us . . . After all, we were there to help one of “his crew.” A few weeks later, I was at Folsom in a steel room alone with Norris preparing him to testify, and he began letting me know that he knew I had applied for a mortgage back in Houston. He knew the address of the home, my (then) wife’s name, where she worked, and her salary. Now, keep in mind, this was 1984—long before “Al Gore invented the internet.” After my blood pressure dropped back down to somewhere in the range of the living, I realized that Haynes was exactly right: My courtesy and professionalism with Norris was but a weakness to him, and he was preparing to use it against me. Luckily, we ended up getting the case dismissed, but it was another lesson taught to me. Sometimes you can be too nice to people!

The “Texas Slave Ranch” Case

Of course, one of the more celebrated cases that I tried with Haynes (as well as Mike Ramsey and Ray Bass III) was the so-called Slave Ranch Trial in Kerrville, Texas, in the mid 1980s. In that case, the Ellebracht family (Walter Wesley Ellebracht Sr., Walter Wesley Ellebracht Jr., and Joyce Ellebracht) were charged with Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, with the predicate offenses being Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, and Murder. The State’s theory was that our family had falsely induced transients to work at their “keychain factory” in Mountain Home, Texas. They did so by luring the transients to their remote “factory” with promises of “free room and board.” When the transients would later try to leave, they were (at least according to the State’s theory) then manacled and restrained. Worse yet, the Ellebrachts adopted a sort of a “Frat House Hell Week Gone Wild” culture and began torturing (at least) one with a cattle prod. Naturally, they tape-recorded the torture sessions. After a particularly lengthy (tape-recorded) torture session, one poor soul died. His body was then burned in a cedar fire.

Shortly after his demise, another transient managed to escape and tell his account to law enforcement. Within a week or two of the death, the Texas Rangers executed a search warrant, where they recovered (of course) the tape recordings, the cattle prod, and human bone fragments. While the Ellebrachts were cash poor, they owned a couple of thousand acres of Hill Country property, which turned out to be more than enough to hire the most famous criminal lawyer in the state of Texas, if not the United States. You just can’t make this stuff up.

The Cab Driver Chooses Venue

As we wound closer to the start of the trial, there were several troubling issues. The first question was whether we would seek to change the venue due to the negative publicity (and there was a ton of it). Haynes assured me (as we were flying into Kerrville on a chartered flight), “I will let you know when we get there, Skate.”

I was befuddled by Haynes’ retort, as we’d done no telephone polling, no jury surveys, and no focus groups. What the hell was he going to base his decision on? When we landed, Haynes called (the only) cab driver in town to come and pick us up and told the Cab Company to “ask for Cogdell” when he got to the airport. The cab driver picked us up and Haynes (who the cab driver did not recognize) asked, “What do you think about those Ellebracht folks?”

The cab driver stated something to the effect that “they weren’t that bad and really had just burned some trash.” Haynes looked at me and said, “Does that answer your venue question, Skate?” Only Haynes would have ever thought of that—and it worked!

“Make Them Play the Worst Evidence Every Day”

“The tapes, Haynes, the tapes. What are we going to do about the tapes?” Even to this day, some 30 years later, I have never had to confront worse evidence. There were literally dozens of hours of ear-splitting tape-recorded torture sessions. They were horrific. There was just no way of not acknowledging how awful the tapes were.

“That’s easy. We are going to make the State play them every single day as many times as we can make them play them,” Haynes said.

I truly thought the old bird (at least to me at that time in my life I thought he was old) had flown the coop. Haynes then explained to me: “They are just like a lot of things—at first they are overpowering, but the more constant they are, they less important they become.”

The State was all too eager to play them every chance they got, mistakenly believing that each time they were played the outrage would increase. Quite the opposite effect happened. After listening to them being played repeatedly after weeks in trial, the jury was little moved by them when they ultimately deliberated. A smarter prosecutor would have played them twice—once in opening (or as soon thereafter as possible, evidence wise) and once in closing. Haynes knew that, and his plan to desensitize the jury by repeatedly playing them worked brilliantly. In the end, our client received probation. That “victory” was made even more sweet by the State having given a 15-year prison sentence to its primary cooperator, who was far less culpable than our client.

Haynes and the Cattle Prod

In almost every article written after Richard’s passing, there were comments about “Haynes’ shocking himself with a cattle prod in front of a Texas jury.” Which is almost true. I say “almost” because Haynes did shock himself as we were preparing for trial. He just didn’t do it in front of a jury. Truth is, we were preparing to cross-examine the State’s Medical Examiner, who we knew was going to testify (by looking at a piece of charred human bone) that the cause of death of the deceased was a heart attack brought about by electrical shock. Which was, of course, complete horse hockey.

Having gone through Hell Week at the Sigma Chi house a few years before, I had significant personal experience with cattle prods. It would hurt but it wouldn’t kill a person. Haynes and I were talking one night in his office (as I recall Messrs. Beam and Daniels were also present) and I was explaining my belief that they hurt like hell but wouldn’t kill you. Haynes, a former Golden Gloves boxer, Marine, and Paratrooper, scoffed at the idea that it would “really hurt” and began to shock himself in his hand with the damned thing. THAT resulted in Haynes’ throwing his arm out of socket and a quick trip to the ER. To be fair, Haynes did have a bit of a “trick shoulder,” as he’d injured it decades before when that arm had been caught up in a parachute. We quickly decided that the task of “cattle prodding lawyer when the jury is present” would be left to me.

For the next several weeks, I literally stayed up at night “familiarizing myself” with the sensation of it until I could do it without flinching. Watching the eyes of the jury as I shocked myself while cross-examining the Medical Examiner is, as they say, “one memory they can’t ever take away from me.” My “bravery and audacity” in volunteering myself to do something so outrageous was not without precedent in the lineage of Haynes’ lawyers. Indeed, some 15 or so years before our Kerrville trial, Haynes and Mike Ramsey were defending some Bandito types in Florida charged with aggravated kidnapping and rape. In that trial, the poor victim had her hands nailed, crucifixion like, to a cross. The images of the hands being so nailed was thought to be impossible to overcome, so Haynes proposed to have Mike Ramsey’s hands (with proper anesthesia, of course) nailed to the jury rail. As I understand it, Ramsey even went so far to have gone to a local doctor the morning of final argument to numb his hands, but it was to no avail—the Judge wisely put a stop to that madness. Are you getting the picture yet of how inspiring Haynes was to work for?

The Legacy of Haynes

I am often asked, what was his greatest strength? Preparation? Cross-examination? Final argument? Not really. Instead, I think Haynes’ greatest strengths were his absolute commitment to the Constitution and his faith in our jury system. I know that sounds trite, but it isn’t. Here is a man who (at 17) fought at Iwo Jima. He later re-enlisted to fight in Korea. He fought for the Constitution because he believed in it. I never, ever saw him back down from any fight, anywhere if he felt he was in the right. He was neither crude nor boastful, but wonderfully confident. While it is true he liked the trappings of his success (his boats, his Porsche, or his Rolls-Royces), he could have made infinitely more money trying personal injury cases but chose to remain true to his craft. Haynes truly believed in helping his fellow man and helping young lawyers. Never once did I hear him reject another lawyers’ request for help or advice. Never once did I see him be rude, arrogant, or condescending. Haynes truly believed that “lawyers should leave the profession in better shape than it was in when they entered it.” Any of us who worked for him or around him were better lawyers (and people, frankly) for it. I have often said “If I am at all tall it is only because I was able to stand on the shoulders of a 5’7” giant.” There is a predictable pattern of “over-glorifying” folks when they pass on. That simply isn’t the case with Haynes. He was, in his time, the best damned criminal lawyer in the country. Period. Richard, my friend and mentor, may you Rest in Peace. You sure as hell have earned it, Hoss. Godspeed.

Richard Haynes: Warrior, Defender, Dear Friend
Christopher L. Tritico

I knew this day was coming for months. Richard had been on a slow decline for three years. The last two times I saw him, he was alert but unable to speak. I could tell he knew who I was, and we communicated like only two old friends of 38 years can; we did not need words.

In 1979, I was a senior in high school, and my dad, Lenny Tritico, had grown up with Richard. They met up at a high school reunion. He told Richard that I wanted to go to law school. Richard said, “Send him by I’ll give him a job”. Richard owed my dad and certainly me nothing. But at the end of the day, Richard Haynes gave me everything.

Haynes & Fullenweider was the most unique place to work. We worked hard and played harder. It was not only a fun place to work; it was the best place in the country to learn how to be a lawyer. You were exposed to the biggest cases in the country, the best and brightest lawyers. Your work had meaning. Your ideas were respected and employed. You were entrusted with the most important of task from the beginning of your career. Between 1979 and 1993 I was an office helper, messenger, private investigator, law clerk, and associate.

The day after I passed the bar, Richard called me into his office. He said, “So you want to be a criminal lawyer?”

I said, “Yes sir, I do.”

He gave me a file and said: “Here is your first case. There is a hearing tomorrow morning.”

Excited, I took the file to my office. What could it be? A trespass? A DWI? I could not wait to jump into my very first case. I opened the file and found that my new client was charged with two murders, two aggravated assaults, and impersonating a peace officer. My confidence waned just a little. I felt like perhaps he forgot that I had been a lawyer literally 24 hours! That was Richard Haynes; that was the culture at Haynes and Fullenweider. He put you into the fire immediately and let you go to work. I had no earthly idea what to do, but of course, I couldn’t tell him that.

Richard had a wonderful sense of humor. In college at the University of Houston, Richard, my Dad, and a few others created a week-long musical and comedy review. The Frontier Fiesta still goes on today. My dad told me that during the shows Richard would walk out on the stage and interrupt the program. He would holler, “Script,” and from the rafters someone would lower a roll of toilet paper. Richard would tear off a few squares and start into some of the funniest standup comedy he had ever heard. They must have created something special, as Look magazine wrote up the Frontier Fiesta as the “best college week in the country,” and 60 years later it is still going on at the University of Houston.

I was in his office one day when his assistant brought in a lady who was in fear that the government was monitoring her from the top of the buildings around her apartment. The only thing that could fight the government was for Richard Haynes and Donn Fullenweider to represent her together. I sat there trying not to laugh as Richard baited this lady along. Eventually, with a big smile on his face, he said: “I think you’re right. Let’s go see Donn.”

We got up and walked across the hall; Richard was about to leave this lady in Donn Fullenwider’s office. Fortunately for Donn he was out of town that day.

A few years later, another lady brought in her clock radio that she was convinced the government was sending her messages through and controlling her mind. She asked Richard to take care of it for her. Richard told her he would be happy to help. He instructed her to leave the clock radio with him and to come back the following day. As soon as she left he took out a post-it note and wrote “de-bugged” on it and stuck the note to the front of clock radio. The next day when she came back, Richard gave her the clock radio and told her it had been de-bugged. She said, “Thank you, thank you… You saved me.” She left, consoled and happy.

By far the best story I have is one Richard told me himself. Richard, Mike Ramsey, David Berg, and a bunch of friends were out celebrating one night. David had to leave early and gave them his American Express card and told them they could charge until midnight. After David left, they charged a bunch on the card and got tanked up, drove to the airport, and were in the process of chartering a plane to Las Vegas. American Express had the good sense to call David before they approved the charge. Richard and Mike Ramsey were ready to head out on that one.

I said earlier that Richard gave me everything. He gave me a place to learn how to be a lawyer. He showed me how to cross-examine a witness. He showed every day how zealous representation can be practiced with integrity and professionalism.

Richard Haynes recommended me as one of the trial lawyers on the Oklahoma City (OKC) bombing. He gave me my career. Our friendship lasted 38 years. One of the greatest honors of my life is that he and Naomi asked me to assist them in their final years with their affairs, after Richard fell and broke his hip about four years ago. He needed to retire, and requested that I help with closing his firm. It allowed me to spend more time with my friends Naomi and Richard. More importantly, it gave me a chance to repay them for over three decades of friendship, mentorship, and for all the things they have done for me. It was a labor of love.

Richard Haynes’ life can best be boiled down to a simple phrase: a life of service. Richard twice suited up for his country, he twice defended the principles of freedom. During the height of WWII, at 17, he joined the Marines and fought at Iwo Jima. During the Korean War, he went back in and trained paratroopers. His life of service continued as a criminal lawyer. He spent the next 50 years committed to protecting the principals of freedom. He spent his life looking the government in the eye and saying prove it. Representing the criminally accused, those that the public believes are the worst society has to offer, is a daunting task. Richard believed as do I—if the Constitution cannot work for the worst we have, it will not work for anyone. Richard stood up for the core values of our country and believed that standing up for the freedoms embodied in our Bill of Rights is an absolute necessity. His life was a life dedicated to service to the public, service to our Constitution.

There was only one thing that Richard put above service to the constitution: his family. His lovely wife Naomi, to whom he was married for over 60 years, and his children. Richard had four kids: Tracey, who passed away in 2015, Ricki, Blake, and Slade, eight grandkids, and seven great-grandkids.

I remember, we had been in a murder trial for about eight weeks. My wife was due with our second child, and one night we were talking. I was complaining that I had not seen my family in weeks. Richard told me his greatest regret was that he had spent so much time away from his family when his kids were growing up. It was a rare moment of vulnerability. It was truth, it was honesty. It was a complete and deep expression of love for his family.

People say, and it is true, that Richard Haynes is the greatest trial lawyer this country has ever seen. To me, however, he is my simply dear friend.

Remembering Racehorse
Randy Schaffer

Richard “Racehorse” Haynes was the last of the old school criminal defense lawyers. The tools of his trade were a Montblanc pen, a legal pad, and a steel trap for a brain. He did not need computers, electronic gadgets, or gimmickry to convey his message to juries. All he needed was words.

What made Racehorse run? Was it that he grew up poor on the wrong side of the tracks? Was it that he felt that the powers-that-be did not accept him, so he needed to call attention to himself in any way possible? We will never know the answer. What we do know is that three generations of clients benefited from his burning desire to prove that he was the best lawyer in America.

Richard understood what makes a criminal defense lawyer great. He stood his ground and did not back down. He believed that it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. He was willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. And he did all of it fearlessly, without regret.

I heard about what Richard could do long before I saw it myself. I did not have to be sold on him. His legend had sold itself. That was the way it was once, when word of mouth was gospel. That was the source of the joy I will always feel, the joy that I had the gift of practicing law with Richard when he was in his prime.

The last time I saw Richard at the courthouse, he was walking at a 45 degree angle to the ground, his briefcase dragging behind him and almost toppling him over. I thought that he had stayed too long, that he did not know when to quit. I failed to appreciate that for Richard, continuing to work when he could barely stand was his statement that he would not go gently into that good night, that he would rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So Richard leaves us, and an era goes with him. I choose to remember him not as he was at the end, but when he was healthy and stood proudly before juries, the most dangerous person in the courtroom—the way criminal defense lawyers used to be. And I will always remember that even when Richard Haynes was young, he was the best kind of old.

Clerking for Racehorse
Brian K. Walker

 I have to confess that when I started law school at the University of Houston in 2001, I had never heard of Richard “Racehorse” Haynes. However, Mr. Haynes spoke at my law school orientation, and I was immediately impressed by the charismatic 74-year-old lawyer. I was also amused when he stated, “When it is said that the law is a jealous mistress, that isn’t totally correct.” He paused, grinned, and then said, “The law is a nymphomaniac!”

Later that day, I spoke with my mom on the phone and told her about my first day in law school. When I told her that a lawyer named Racehorse Haynes had spoken to us during orientation, she told me about the Cullen Davis trials, how renowned Racehorse Haynes was, and what a great lawyer he was known to be.

A few months later, on a whim, I drove to Mr. Haynes’ office, and when told that he was not in the office yet, I asked his receptionist to tell him that “I wanted him to know that I wanted to work for him.” I left my cell phone number and was surprised when he personally called me back within the hour. A few days later, I sat in his office for a very informal interview, and Racehorse told me that if I decided to practice criminal defense law that I didn’t need to become “one of those lead ’em and plead ’em lawyers,” but instead, “someone who was willing to try a case if a case needed to be tried.”

While working for Racehorse, a lot of things impressed me about him. One—even though it was not uncommon for prospective clients to offer enormous fees for his services, or for outlandish things to happen, like one prominent attorney showing up in a mint-condition, all-original 1970s Corvette Stingray the attorney wanted to give Race as a token of his appreciation because he had helped him on a pro bono basis after the attorney had been charged with DWI—Racehorse was very humble. Beyond that, Race was frugal, practical, somewhat old-fashioned at times, and, yet, very gracious. He did not use a computer, he frequently smoked a pipe in his office, and he had photos, certificates, letters of admiration, and awards on the walls, from floor to ceiling. One photo that stands out in my mind, probably because I later became a JAG, is a headshot of the actor Jack Nicholson dressed up as Colonel Nathan Jessup in the 1992 classic “A Few Good Men.” There was a handwritten note from him, which said something along the lines of: “To Race, thank you for helping me with witness preparation. Jack.” I was impressed that Racehorse had helped Nicholson prepare for one of the most memorable scenes of his acting career, and yet, I never heard Racehorse say anything about it.

Also, I was impressed by Racehorse’s creativity and his desire to be friendly with everyone he encountered. For example, one of my duties was to seal his handwritten notes and mail them to prosecutors he had recently faced in trial, letting them know what a fine job they had done representing the State of Texas or, in federal cases, the U.S. government.

During my tenure as his law clerk, Race came into the area where I worked one day and said, “Doesn’t your Pappy live somewhere around Central Texas?”

After I explained that Dad lived in North Texas, not far from some areas of Central Texas, Race asked me if I thought Dad would want to drive to Waco and sit second chair in a jury trial with him. I told him I would ask Dad and felt that Dad would, almost certainly, welcome the opportunity to do so. Within a few weeks, my father, Scott Walker (who is now a sitting judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals), drove to Waco and spent a week helping the legend do his thing. For many years after that, any time I would see Race, he would ask me how my “Pappy” was doing. I bet it would have tickled him to know that my “Pappy” is now a judge on the supreme criminal court in Texas. Unfortunately, I hadn’t spoken with Race for a while before he passed away, and I am not sure whether he was aware of Dad’s position on the Court.

I remember Race’s interesting stories, as well as his ability to stay committed to things he believed to be important. He was very health-conscious, for example. I remember eating lunch with him, Jack Rains, and a retired federal judge, and although the rest of us ordered cheeseburgers and fries, Race ate only fruit and a salad. This was very typical for Haynes, and I have to believe that it contributed to him living a very full 90 years.

I feel so privileged to have worked for a legend like Racehorse Haynes, and I doubt that there will ever be another attorney like him. After hearing him speak for the first time at my law school orientation, working for him during my 2L and 3L years—somehow, serendipitously—I got to hear Race when he was asked to be the keynote speaker for my law school graduation as well. My law school career began with Race and ended with Race . . . and I have to admit that one of my prized possessions is the photo of me in my graduation robe, standing in front of a smiling Racehorse, also in a black robe, after he unexpectedly stepped down from the platform at graduation, asked the Dean for permission, and then personally hooded me after I received my Juris Doctor. It was an honor I will never forget.

Exposing Junk Science Underlying Expert Testimony in the Guilt-Innocence Phase of a Child Sexual Abuse Trial

Texas Rules of Evidence 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise.

There is a great deal of solid scientific research that can be used as the basis for testimony in the guilt-innocent phase of a child sexual abuse trial. Unfortunately, there is also a great deal of junk science that routinely makes its way into these trials. For example, presently there is no scientific basis for expert testimony about the characteristics of sexually abused children during the guilt-innocence phase of a child sexual abuse trial. If Texas Rules of Evidence Rule 702 were followed in a strict manner, this type of expert testimony, along with many other topics, would be eliminated because this type of expert testimony does not help the trier of fact understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue.

There are two prongs to Rule 702. The first prong of Rule 702 describes what type of opinions an expert can offer. The second prong of Rule 702 describes who qualifies as an expert. Case law views these two prongs as independent, such that an expert could qualify under one prong but not the other. In U.S. v. Frazier (2004), the court explained the independent nature of the two prongs of Rule 702:

Of course, the unremarkable observation that an expert may be qualified by experience does not mean that experience, standing alone, is a sufficient foundation rendering reliable any conceivable opinion the expert may express. As we observed in Quiet Technology, while an expert’s overwhelming qualifications may bear on the reliability of his proffered testimony, they are by no means a guarantor of reliability . . . If admissibility could be established merely by the ipse dixit of an admittedly qualified expert, the reliability prong would be, for all practical purposes, subsumed by the qualification prong? [O]ur case law plainly establishes that one may be considered an expert but still offer unreliable testimony.

Most prosecution and defense attorneys do not know, nor would they be expected to know, how seriously lacking in empiricism some expert testimony really is. This lack of knowledge also affects rulings from the bench. If the attorneys cannot expose the junk science underlying the expert’s testimony, the court has no basis upon which to exclude such testimony.

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it provides information that attorneys can use to argue, and hopefully exclude, junk science testimony in the guilt-innocence phase of a child sexual abuse trial. If the attorney is unsuccessful in obtaining the court’s cooperation to exclude such testimony, then the second purpose of this paper comes into play. The information herein can be used to impeach experts who use junk science.

The format of the article is simple. An attorney question is posed to a hypothetical expert. The attorney question is designed to identify an area of research that should be excluded from a child sexual abuse trial because of a lack of empirical results that could be used by the trier of fact to determine a fact in issue or understand the evidence. After the question is posed, a summary of the current state of the research will be provided. This summary is designed to be used by an attorney to: (a) argue to eliminate this type of testimony; or (b) use in cross-examination to impeach the opposing expert.

Some experts will offer testimony about studies of sexually abused children seen in mental health clinics, as if to lead the trier of fact into believing that if the alleged victim shows these symptoms, the alleged victim was most likely sexually abused. What the expert doesn’t tell the trier of fact is that there are no known symptoms, or set of symptoms, that all or most sexually abused children exhibit. In other words, just because a child is showing some mental health symptom, the presence of a mental health symptom cannot be used as proof of sexual abuse.

Additionally, the expert almost never tells the trier of fact that a sizeable percentage of sexually abused children never exhibit any symptoms that result from the sexual abuse. Consider the following research findings regarding the lack of reliable indicators of sexual abuse.

When an expert testifies that a symptom indicates a child has been sexually abused, it is based upon the implicit assumption that child sexual abuse always causes some kind of symptoms and all we must do is look hard enough and we will find the symptom proving that the abuse occurred. This implicit assumption is refuted by the scientific research. All children who were sexually abused do not show symptoms related to the sexual abuse. Early research showed that up to 36% of all known victims of child sexual abuse do not develop any symptoms as a result of the sexual abuse (Finkelhor, 1990). More recent research has found that up to 49% of child sexual abuse victims show no clinical symptomatology (Kuehnle & Connell, 2009).

What about the victims of child sexual abuse that do exhibit symptoms? Do they exhibit a specific type of symptom or a recognizable pattern or class of symptoms? No, they do not.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Green collected all the peer-reviewed research he could find concerning the symptoms of children who had been sexually abused (Green, 1993). He set out to determine if he could identify a specific pattern or group of symptoms that were routinely associated with childhood sexual abuse. Dr. Green scrutinized over 100 peer-reviewed studies. Each study had about 20 to 30 children participating in the research, which is to say that he looked at the symptoms of several thousand children. Dr. Green concluded that a wide variety of symptoms result from child sexual abuse and no group or pattern of symptoms was uniquely associated with childhood sexual abuse—i.e., “validation of sexual abuse is hampered by the lack of specific behavioral markers” (p. 890).

The holy grail of symptoms associated with childhood sexual abuse is sexual behavior. Experts have been known to opine that if a child exhibits sexual behavior, it is a sign that the child was most assuredly sexually abused.

The research on childhood sexual behavior does not support this claim. Dr. Michael Lamb (1994) authored a position paper resulting from the work of a conference of European, Canadian, and American researchers. Dr. Lamb summarized the position of the international conference of experts as follows:

No specific behavioral syndromes characterize victims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse involves a wide range of possible behaviors which appear to have widely varying effects on its victims. The absence of any sexualized behavior does not confirm that sexual abuse did not take place any more than the presence of sexualized behavior conclusively demonstrates that sexual abuse occurred. (p. 153)

The reader probably noticed that the research articles reported in this section come from the early ’90s. Science has a way of establishing a fact and moving onto new areas of research. However, from time to time, researchers do take stock of the state of the research. With regard to the issue of scientifically based indicators of child sexual abuse, in 2009 Dr. Connell offered the following summary of the research:

One of the most important findings from the past several decades of research addressing the effects of child sexual abuse (CSA) is that no single sign or symptom, including aberrant sexualized behavior, characterizes the majority of sexually abused children. As Kuehnle (2002) wrote: Child sexual abuse is an event or a series of events, not a psychiatric disorder. The view of sexual abuse as a trigger that sets off an internal process in the child that surfaces as predictable behavioral and emotional symptoms, does not have an empirically based foundation. The array of symptoms exhibited by sexually abused children is also demonstrated by other types of maltreated and traumatized children, while a substantial percentage of sexually abused children (21% to 49%) are found to be asymptomatic. (Kuehnle & Connell, 2009; page 129)”

The current state of the research is very well established: there is no reliable way for an expert, or a jury, to use signs or symptoms to determine if a child has been sexually abused. Some experts try to sidestep the scientific literature and instead claim to be relying upon their “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” (Rule 702). Even if an expert does not rely upon a specific methodology, the manner in which the expert uses his or her education, training, and experience is subject to the Daubert standard, “In determining whether an expert’s testimony is reliable, the Daubert factors are applicable in cases where an expert eschews reliance on any rigorous methodology and instead purports to base his opinion merely on ‘experience’ or ‘training’” (U.S. v. Frazier, 2004).

Even before we address the matter of whether an expert can look at a victim statement and determine if sexual abuse has occurred, we must first address the issue of whether this is even a scientifically sound course of action. At issue is whether a state­ment that something has occurred (the outcry) can be used to prove that the event occurred (sexual abuse). If this sounds tautological, it is. Current research identifies this as tautology as “double dipping.”

Dr. David Faust and his colleagues (Kuehnle & Connell, 2009) explained that double dipping occurs when an indicator is used during intake to determine if a child needs to be evaluated, and it is also used during the sexual abuse evaluation as the basis for substantiating that the sexual abuse occurred. These researchers warned that any value an indicator of sexual abuse had was neutralized when it was used as the basis of the referral. For that reason, the outcry must not be re-used as proof of sexual abuse during the evaluation.

Let’s take a look at how double dipping can be misleading. Suppose that an outcry of sexual abuse was used as the basis for making referrals for an interview at a Child Advocacy Center. As you know, some children who make an outcry of sexual abuse are, in fact, sexually abused, and some children who outcry have never been sexually abused. Assume that all children who made an outcry of sexual abuse were referred for a forensic interview at a Child Advocacy Center. Let’s also assume all children who made an outcry, those who were sexually abused, and those who were not sexually abused made outcries during the forensic interview. At the end of the interview process, all children who made an outcry during the forensic interview are classified as sexually abused because they are consistent. The result: All children who were sexually abused would be correctly classified as sexually abused and all children who were never sexually abused would be incorrectly classified as sexually abused.

The foregoing is a classic example of double dipping, and it invariably results in the misclassification of children who were never sexually abused. The outcry made prior to and during the forensic interview are the same thing (i.e., they are both outcries). An outcry during the forensic interview cannot be used to prove an outcry prior to a forensic interview. When the same indicator, “outcry of sexual abuse,” is used during the referral and evaluation process, it cannot separate sexually abused children from children who were not sexually abused.

Double dipping also occurs when the indicator variables used for referral and screening are not identical but redundant, with the degree of redundancy reducing the potential additional value of the second variable proportionally (Kuehnle & Connell, 2009). If a variable is totally redundant with another variable, then it would be like using the same variable twice.

The harm of double dipping is manifold. First, double dipping guarantees misclassification of children who were never sexually abused as children who were sexually abused. Second, an expert who is unaware of the problems caused by double dip­ping might have unwarranted confidence in their findings. When these experts are on the witness stand, they could mislead the trier of fact. Third, double dipping can cause a premature end to the investigative process, resulting in a premature and erroneous conclusion, without considering all the possibilities.

Some experts claim to avoid the double dipping problem by stating that the outcry per se is not the thing that caused them to believe that sexual abuse occurred. These experts claim that they can look at child’s video or written statement and see signs that the sexual abuse occurred (e.g., sensory detail, logical sequence, detailed information, and so forth). The expert who claims this ability is claiming an ability that the scientific research says none of us possess.

The inability of professionals to look at a videotape and de­termine if a child was sexually abused was first confirmed in research done by Dr. Stephen Ceci and his colleagues (1994). Dr. Ceci showed twelve professionals ten videotapes of children. Five children were talking about things that actually happened to them. Five children were talking about false memories that the researchers had suggested to the child. The professionals who reviewed the videotapes were researchers and clinicians who worked in the area of child sexual abuse. The professionals were allowed to view, rewind, and review the videotapes as many times as they liked. At the end, the professionals were asked to identify which child was talking about a true memory and which child was talking about a false memory. The professionals did no better than flipping a coin—they were right about 50 percent of the time, or wrong about 50 percent of the time.

As you will note, Dr. Ceci’s study only involved twelve professionals. If this seems like a small sample, it is. Consequently, Dr. Ceci and his colleagues repeated this study with more than 1500 judges, researchers, and mental health professionals (Ceci and Bruck, 1995). The results have remained constant (i.e., 50 percent chance of getting it right).

Sometimes an expert will say that it was not the review of a videotape that led him to believe the child was sexually abused. Rather, the expert claims that a review of the child’s transcribed statement was the basis of the conclusion that the child showed signs of sexual abuse. However, there is research to refute the claim that transcribed statements can discriminate children who were sexually abused from children who were not.

Dr. Margie Bruck and her colleagues (1997) did a study in which she subjected children to misleading interviews. She had children describe two actual events and two fictitious events. Then she and her researchers interviewed the children four more times. Two of the interviews were designed to solidify mem­ories of the fictitious events by having children visualize the false events while the interviewer reinforced the child for recalling the fictitious event. There was even an interview in which the children told a puppet about the fictitious event. The final interview was with a new interviewer the children had never seen.

Dr. Bruck and her researchers used a highly sophisticated methodology of content analysis to code the child’s transcribed statements made during the last interview, looking for variables that were presumed to discriminate between true and false reports—including number of details, spontaneous reminiscences, consistency, contradiction, and narrative cohesion. The results: There were no significant differences between true and false stories told by the children (i.e., there is no way for a group of trained experts skilled in content analysis to identify truthful and contrived stories).

Finally, let’s consider research that was done with children who were actual sexual abuse victims. Dr. George Realmuto and his colleagues (1990) asked highly trained psychiatrists to interview children and determine which child had been sexually abused and which child had not been sexually abused. The psychiatrists correctly identified 53% of the children as either sexually abused or not sexually abused.

Dr. Realmuto’s research based upon evaluations of actual victims of child sexual abuse showed that professionals performed no better than flipping a coin when trying to differentiate sexual abuse victims from children who were never sexually abused. The chance rate found by Dr. Realmuto was the same rate that Dr. Ceci and Dr. Bruck found. Overall, it is safe to say that there is no scientific proof that a professional can reliably distinguish between sexually abused children and children who have never been sexually abused.

Some experts still offer testimony based upon a method that they developed to discriminate sexually abused children from children who were never sexually abused, despite the overwhelming, pervasive, and widely accepted opinion that it is not possible to do so. The experts who offer such testimony often claim to have their own methodology, which they have constructed and relied upon in their clinical practice. In Coble v. State (2010), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stated that there was no place in the courtroom for “idiosyncratic” methodologies. In that case, a psychiatrist testified in the punishment phase of a capital trial using his own “idiosyncratic” method of risk assessment. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals determined that idiosyncratic methods do not meet the criteria for expert testimony, and the expert’s testimony was deemed to be “unreliable.”

There is research showing that if an individual has been charged with a crime, some jurors are inclined to believe that individual committed the crime (Narby, Cutler, & Moran, 1993). As appalling as that may seem, even more appalling is testimony by an expert supporting this myth, especially in the area of child sexual abuse. The research regarding base rates of confirmed cases of child sexual abuse shows that only about half of these cases were deemed to be credible.

Dr. David Jones and Dr. Melbourne McGraw (1987) analyzed all the cases (total = 576) of child sexual abuse that were reported in Denver, Colorado, in one year (1983). Of these sexual abuse cases, 53% of the reports were classified as founded.

Dr. Jones participated in a study that replicated his 1987 study (Oates, Jones, Denson, Sirontak, & Krugman, 2000). In that study, the researchers examined all the child sexual abuse allegations reported by child protective services in Denver, Colorado, for a one-year period (1992). Of the 551 sexual abuse allegation cases, only 43% were substantiated. The rest were deemed to be not sexual abuse, inconclusive, or intentionally false.

Sometimes experts get overly concerned with false allegations as opposed to unfounded allegations. False allegations are a subset of unfounded allegations. It is important to keep in mind that the trier of fact is not merely concerned with false allegations, but whether or not the current allegation is true beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the trier of fact in a child sexual abuse trial should be concerned with the rate of unfounded allegations.

The issue of burden of proof should be kept in mind when considering the research on unfounded child sexual abuse cases. The burden of proof in these cases, which were Child Protective Services cases, was “Reason to Believe.” This burden of proof is less stringent than “Probable Cause for Arrest.” The Reason to Believe burden of proof is substantially less than the burden of proof used in a criminal trial. Thus, it might be reasonable to argue that if the burden of proof used in criminal trials was used by CPS, the rate of unfounded child sexual abuse cases would be much greater than 50%.

When the author was learning criminal profiling, he worked with a profiler trained at the FBI Behavioral Science In­sti­tute at Quantico, Virginia. One of the things that the veteran profiler emphasized was, “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” In North America, there are more horses than zebras. So, if you hear hoof beats and you are in North America, if you must take an educated guess about what type of animal is making the sound, choose horses, not zebras. Odds are, you will be correct more times than not.

The same principle applies to investigations of child sexual abuse. There are more children who were never sexually abused compared to the minority of children who were sexually abused. Regardless of the symptom that is under consideration, given the relatively small percentage of children who are sexually abused, if you had to guess whether a symptom was a sign of sex­ual abuse or not, chose no sexual abuse. Odds are, you will be correct more times than not.

To really appreciate this, consider what we know about the base rate of sexual abuse in childhood. To begin with, we must start with an accurate estimate of the base rate. We know that sexual abuse is often not reported, or if it is, the sexual abuse is reported years after it happens. So, we can’t look at the number of child sexual abuse cases that are reported. This would be an underestimate. The best way to determine the base rate of sexual abuse in childhood is to interview adults and ask them about their childhood experiences.

Dr. Kevin Gorey and Donald Leslie (1997) synthesized the findings of 16 surveys of adults who were questioned about sexual abuse in childhood. Many of these adults never revealed their history of sexual abuse until the researchers interviewed them. Based upon the research results, Gorey and Leslie estimated that by the age of 18, 17% of the females and 8% of the males had been sexually abused.

It should be noted that the base rates of 17% and 8% apply to males and females by the age of 18. But all of the complainant children involved in child sexual abuse trials are younger than age 18. Consequently, these base rates are actually an over-estimate of any child belonging to an age group younger than age 18.

We know from the work of Dr. David Finkelhor the median age of sexual abuse is age nine (Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis, & Smith, 1990). In other words, half of the children who are going to be sexually abused are sexually abused prior to age nine and half of the children are abused after age nine. Based upon their research, it appears that by the time a child completes the eighth grade, about 19% of all children will have been sexually abused, 13% of the girls and 6% of the boys.

Let’s take a look at how base rates affect the ability to identify sexually abused children. Imagine a school with 1,000 children in grades K through 8. Applying the base rate of childhood sexual abuse to the 1,000 children in this school, 19 percent, or 190 children, will have been sexually abused. There will be 810 children who never experienced sexual abuse. See the table below, which depicts the manner in which the base rate of childhood sexual abuse was used to determine the number of boys and girls who were sexually abused.

Let’s also say we believe some indicator of sexual abuse, Symptom X, happens 3 times more often among sexually abused children than among children who were not sexually abused. For example, 15% of the sexually abused children will show Symptom X but only 5% of the children who were never sexually abused will show Symptom X. The result is that 29 sexually abused children will show Symptom X, and 41 children who were never sexually abused would show Symptom X.

  • (190 sexually abused children) x 20% (% who show Symptom X) = 29 children
  • (810 children who were never sexually abused) x 5% (% who show Symptom X) = 41 children

As can be seen from the example, there are a total of 70 children who exhibited Symptom X. If jurors used Symptom X to identify children who were sexually abused, they would be correct 41% of the time (29/70 = 41%). Using Symptom X to identify sexually abused children means jurors would be wrong 59% of the time (41/70 = 59%).

Rule 702 requires that an expert help the trier of fact determine a fact in issue or understand the evidence. The foregoing mathematical proof shows that expert testimony about symptoms of child sexual abuse could reduce the accuracy to a rate of 41%. If the jurors wanted to be more accurate, they could ignore the expert testimony and flip a coin. The accuracy rate would be closer to 50–50.

Accuracy is the linchpin in determining admissibility of evidence under Rule 702. In Weatherred v. State (2000), the Texas Court of Criminal appeals reinforced the requirement that expert testimony must help the trier of fact be more accurate: “Under Rule 702, the proponent of scientific evidence must show, by clear and convincing proof, that the evidence he is proffering is sufficiently relevant and reliable to assist the jury in accurately [emphasis added] understanding other evidence or in determining a fact in issue.”

So, let’s return to the original question: Are there reliable indicators of childhood sexual abuse? No, the odds don’t favor such a contention. Odds are that any indicator of childhood sexual abuse will be more common among children who were never sexually abused. In other words, when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.

Ask any parent and they will tell you what the research says. A child can be going along and doing quite well, and then for no apparent reason the child will enter into a period of acting out. The basis of the acting out doesn’t have to be sexual abuse, or any problem. Change like this is so common that researchers who created norms for measuring childhood development define childhood in the following manner: “childhood is an upward spiral with periods of greater equilibrium alternating with periods of disequilibrium” (Poole and Wolfe, 2009).

In plain English, children can be doing fine and for no rea­son, other than natural development, the child can begin having all kinds of acting-out problems. This has direct implications for using acting-out symptoms to identify child sexual abuse victims: “behaviors that are typical of a large percentage of non-abused children have little value for determining if a child has been sexually abused” (Poole and Wolfe, 2009).

Experts in child sexual abuse trials most often mislead the trier of fact when testifying about three symptoms that they contend indicate sexual abuse: sexualized behavior, enuresis (i.e., wetting), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Here is what the scientific research says about the utility of each of these symptoms as indicators of sexual abuse.

Sexualized Behavior. Sexual play and masturbation are quite common throughout childhood. Contrary to reports that sexual behavior occurs in infants and toddlers, but disappears around the time the child goes to school, the research shows that school-age children continue to be sexual. They just get better at hiding their sexual behavior the older they get. Here is a breakdown of normal sexual behaviors at different ages (Poole and Lamb, 2009):

The table above summarizes some of the research showing sexual behavior is common throughout childhood. This research takes on significance when it is compared to another research finding: Less than 50% of sexually abused children exhibit sexualized behavior, and sexualized behavior can also be created by family problems, physical abuse, life stress, and psychiatric disturbance (Poole & Wolfe, 2009).

Expert testimony about sexual behavior does nothing to assist the trier of fact determine a fact in issue or understand the evidence. As noted in U.S. v. Bahena (2000), courts should “screen out evidence that is unreliable and would have a tendency to confuse or mislead the jury.”

Enuresis. Enuresis is bed wetting and wetting clothing. Enuresis is common among children, with only half of 3½-year-olds staying dry during the day and only half of four-year-olds staying dry at night. Of course, as a child ages, problems with enuresis decrease but do not disappear.

The research says that there is no specific cause for enuresis. The available research shows an astounding diversity of causes of enuresis, including medical issues, car accident, bullying at school, and embarrassment about toileting at school. Given that a minority of children are sexually abused, sexual abuse is rarely the cause of enuresis.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. An expert should never be allowed to offer testimony about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the guilt-innocence phase of child sexual abuse trials because it addresses the ultimate issue (i.e., the expert must assume that the sexual abuse occurred in order to make a diagnosis of PTSD).

The diagnostic criteria for PTSD can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Criterion A (1) for the PTSD diagnosis states, “The person has been exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.”

Experts and fact witnesses offering testimony that a child has PTSD allows them to say that the child meets Criterion A—the child was sexually abused. In essence, this expert witness is saying not only did the sexual abuse occur; it also had a profound effect on the child. The expert cannot talk about a child having PTSD without talking about Criterion A (1), which invades the jury’s responsibility for determining if the sexual abuse occurred.

Aside from the obvious legal problem with testimony about PTSD, there are good empirical reasons why this testimony should be excluded because it would mislead the trier of fact. Researchers have found that between 63% and 80% of child sexual abuse victims cannot be diagnosed with PTSD (Finkelhor, 1990). So, if the trier of fact is supposed to use testimony about PTSD to resolve a fact issue (i.e., is the defendant guilty of child sexual abuse), the trier of fact would be misled 63–80% of the time that the expert testifies about PTSD.

Many researchers and clinicians agree that the PTSD diagnosis is:

well suited to traumas such as war shock and rape and prob­ably sexual abuse that occurs under violent circumstances. However, much sexual abuse does not occur under conditions of danger, threat, and violence. Many abusers, misusing their authority or manipulating moral standards, act with the child’s trust. Sometimes the fact of having been abused is recognized only in retrospect as children learn more about appropriate conduct . . . Sexual abuse cannot be subsumed or explained with the framework of PTSD. Moreover, to think of victims of sexual abuse as primarily suffering from PTSD will lead us to miss some of its most serious effects (Finkelhor, 1999; pp. 328–329).

Dr. Stuart Greenberg and Dr. Daniel Shuman (1997) opined that therapists should not testify as experts because of irreconcilable conflicts between the roles of treating mental health professionals and expert witness mental health professionals. These authors identified ten different conflicts between the roles of a therapist and testifying expert.

In order to provide good treatment, the treating professional must believe the client and place the client’s needs as paramount. In a word, the treating professional must be the client’s advocate. To do less would be unethical. On the other hand, a testifying expert owes allegiance to the trier of fact, which excludes the possibility that this professional can be an advocate for the client. For this reason, there is no way to reconcile the roles of treating mental health professional and expert witness mental health professional.

If treating mental health professionals should not serve a role in legal proceedings, does it mean that the complainant in a child sexual abuse case should not receive treatment? No, that is not the upshot of delineating the irreconcilable role conflict. What it means is that the treating professional can provide treatment but should not testify. But this does not fully resolve the conflict in roles. The treating professional should be sensitive to legal status of the client and avoid the kinds of treatment that could contaminate the legal case.

Based upon their extensive work in the area, Dr. Ceci and Dr. Bruck have written:

On the basis of what we now know, it would be imprudent to use fantasy inductions, imagery play, and memory work during therapy sessions conducted before the completion of forensic interviews. These practices can be saved for after the legal resolutions. Prior to it, therapy should be restricted to working on every day coping strategies that cannot be challenged by the defendant’s counsel as creating false memories. This would seem to be a reasonable compromise, one that provides needed mental health support to the child while minimizing potentially suggestive practices (Ceci and Bruck, 1995, p. 289).

The first Child Advocacy Center (CAC) was created in 1985 by Robert “Bud” Cramer, who was the district attorney in Madison County, Alabama. The first CAC was called “The Little House,” and it was located in Huntsville, Alabama.

When District Attorney Cramer became Congressman Cramer, he was instrumental in establishing the National Children’s Alliance, which provided training, support, technical assistance, and leadership to CACs throughout the United States. A visit to the NCA website would tell you that there are more than 700 CACs receiving support from the NCA.

Congressman Bud Cramer has been quoted as saying: “As it was initially conceived, a primary goal of the CAC mode was to increase successful prosecution of child sexual abuse. A secondary goal was to conduct more child-friendly interviews in settings other than intimidating police stations, medical settings, or social services offices.”

Every organization is free to choose its goals, and there is nothing wrong with CACs choosing prosecution as its primary goal. There is, however, something wrong with a CAC center portraying the forensic interviews it conducts as objective, when everything about a CAC has a pro-prosecution bias.

Consider the work of Dr. Gary B. Melton and Dr. Robin J. Kimbrough-Melton (2006), who examined the effect that working in a CAC had upon mental health professionals. These researchers observed that the multidisciplinary structure of CACs, where mental health professionals joined forces with investigative staff (who were focused on prosecution), may have caused the mental health professionals to lose their objectivity and be drawn into the advancement of a specific agenda (i.e., prosecution of sexual offenders, rather than retaining a neutral stance on the question of alleged abuse).

As previously stated, an agency is free to choose its own goals. However, if CACs were to broaden their goals to include objectivity as a goal, the composition of the CAC multidisciplinary team would have to include defense attorneys, investigators for the defense, and forensic mental health experts who had a command of the scientific research regarding child sexual abuse. If this were to happen, there would be an increased opportunity for the results of CAC interviews to be forensic (i.e., objective).

Props such as anatomical dolls, anatomical diagrams, and drawings by children are often used during forensic interviews. Whatever the intended function of these props, all props must meet an uncompromising standard. The props should help children remember and recount what happened without affecting the quality or accuracy of the information produced (Pipe & Salmon, 2009). Unfortunately, no prop has been proven to meet this standard.

All props used during forensic interviews have been determined to cut both ways, which is to say the props can facilitate memory and verbalization in some children and can cause other children to make false statements, even false allegations of touching. Consider some of the findings from the scientific research:

  • Anatomically Detailed Dolls: Dolls have been deemed to be problematic for two reasons. First, they have been considered to be inherently suggestive (Ceci & Bruck, 1993). Second, correct use of the dolls during a forensic interview require the child to have specific cognitive abilities, which they often lack. For example, Dr. Judy DeLoache and Dr. Donald Marzolf (1995) did an experiment in which they asked children to place a sticker on a doll where a sticker had been placed on their bodies. Error rates for different age children were as follows: age four—8% error rate; age three—29% error rate; age two and half—59% error rate. Dr. Karen Theirry and her colleagues (2005) examined 175 child sexual abuse interviews and concluded that information obtained using dolls was inferior to information obtained when the interviewer did not use a doll.
  • Body Diagrams: Anatomical line drawings of adult and child bodies are often used in child sexual abuse interviews. Four studies have examined the use of body diagrams as an aid to the report of touch using analog event paradigm: “All four of the studies show that while body diagrams do help children report touch that occurred, they also lead to reports of touch that did not occur, particularly when used in combination with specific questions about touch”(Pipe & Salmon, 2009).
  • Children’s Drawings: Sometimes children are asked to make drawings during a forensic interview. As found with other nonverbal techniques, the effects of drawing are not uniform. Sometimes drawing can facilitate recall and discussion of past events, and sometimes drawing can result in children presenting false events as if the events were true (Pipe & Salmon, 2009).
     For example, Dr. Deryn Strange and his colleagues (2003) asked children to draw events that did not happen. Dr. Strange found that children who were asked to draw fictitious events were more likely to claim that those events happened as compared to children who did not draw them.
     Dr. Julien Gross (2006) and his colleagues did a similar study. They asked children to draw false events about a visit to a police station. They discovered that drawing false events led to five- to ten-year-olds reporting false information as if it were true.
     Perhaps the most prototypical study was done by Dr. Margie Bruck and her colleagues (2000). She found that drawing was associated both with more accurate information and increased acceptance of false reminders. This study epitomized the research: Drawing leads some children to be more accurate and some children to create false memories, and there is no way to look at the drawings and know which drawings pertain to real or fictitious events.


It is quite common for an expert to meet the qualification prong of Rule 702 (knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education). It is equally common that once an expert meets the qualification prong, little attention is paid to the accuracy prong of Rule 702 (if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue).

As discussed in Rosen v. Ciba-Geigy Corp. (1996), “Under the regime of Daubert a district judge asked to admit scientific evidence must determine whether the evidence is genuinely scientific, as distinct from being unscientific speculation offered by a genuine scientist.” In other words, just because an expert meets the qualification prong, it does not mean the expert automatically meets the accuracy prong of Rule 702.

Put another way, once an expert meets the qualification prong, the expert is not free to testify willy-nilly based upon “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.” There is considerable case law that argues against such testimony:

  • “But it is the basis of the witness’ opinion, and not the witness’ qualifications or his bare opinions alone, that can settle an issue as a matter of law; a claim will not stand or fall on the mere ipse dixit of a credentialed witness” (Burrow v. Arce, 1999).
  • “An expert’s simple ipse dixit is insufficient to establish a matter; rather, the expert must explain the basis of his statements to link his conclusions to the facts” (Earle v. Ratliff, 1999).
  • “Nothing in either Daubert or the Federal Rules of Evidence requires a district court to admit opinion evidence that is connected to existing data only by the ipse dixit of the expert” (Flores v. Johnson, 2000).

Many of the problems associated with expert testimony in child sex abuse trials could be avoided if a three-step process is employed. First, the attorney should contact the expert and ask if the expert could testify in a specific case about specific issues. When making this request, the attorney should send the expert all relevant discovery. Second, the expert should conduct a review of the scientific literature, not the clinical literature (more about that in a moment). If the expert finds overlap between the case and the scientific literature, the expert should inform the attorney about the overlap. If the attorney finds the potential testimony helpful, the attorney should arrange for the expert to testify. Third, the expert should testify based upon a hypothetical, keeping in mind that a hypothetical must be based upon facts in evidence. Otherwise the expert will not be helping the trier of fact. When testifying, the expert should merely describe and explain how certain scientific studies overlap with the case, leaving it up to the trier of fact to use the expert’s testimony about the research to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue.

This approach to expert testimony has the potential to work well if the expert is testifying about research literature, not clinical literature. Research literature meets the criteria established by Rule 702 and Daubert. Clinical literature does not.

Research literature can be identified in the following man­ner. The authors published in a peer-reviewed journal for research. The authors reviewed the literature, used a specific scien­tific methodology, used inferential statistical analysis, and discussed results of inferential statistics.

Clinical literature, such as a therapy workbook, is little more than the ipse dixit of the author, and there is no scientific methodology, measuring subjects, inferential statistical analysis, and discussion of inferential statistical results.

Perhaps the easiest way to differentiate clinical and research literature concerns one of the Daubert criteria: known error rate. In a research study, the authors are required to report an error rate—e.g., 95% confidence interval. In clinical literature, the author assures readers that the offering is accurate based upon “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education,” which case law in Texas has determined to be an inadequate basis for expert testimony.

Finally, it is worth noting that some books are good compendiums of scientific research that could serve as the basis of scientifically based testimony meeting Rule 702 and Daubert criteria. Examples of books that could readily serve as the basis for expert testimony in child sexual abuse case include Ceci’s book, Jeopardy in the Courtroom, and Kuehnle’s book, The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations.


American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: Fifth Edition—Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Bruck, M., Hembrooke, H. & Ceci, S (1997). Children’s reports of pleasant and unpleasant events. In J. D. Read & D. S. Lindsay (Eds.) Recollections of Trauma: Scientific Evidence in Clinical Practice (pp. 199–213). New York: Plenum.

Bruck, M., Melnyk, L., and Ceci, S. J. (2000). Draw it again Sam: The effects of drawing on children’s suggestibility and source monitoring ability. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 77, 169–196.

Burrow v. Arce, 997 S.W. 2d 229, 235 (Tex. 1999).

Ceci, S. J., & Bruck, M. (1993). Suggestibility of the child witness: A historical review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 403–439.

Ceci, S. J. & Bruck, M. (1995). Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s Testimony. Washington, DC: American Psychological Press.

Ceci, S. J., Loftis, E., Leichtman, M. D., and Bruck, M. (1994). The possible role of source misattributions in the creation of false beliefs among preschoolers, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 42, 304–320.

Coble v. State, 330 S.W.3d 253 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010).

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

DeLoache, J. S., &. Marzolf, D. (1995). The use of dolls to interview young children: Issues of symbolic representation. Journal of Child Psychology, 60, 155–173.

Earle v. Ratliff, 998 S.W. 2d 882, 890 (Tex. 1999).

Flores v. Johnson, 210 F. 3d 456, 465–466 (5th Cir. 2000).

Kuehnle, K. & Connell, M. (2009). The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment and Testimony. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Finkelhor, D. (1990). Early and long-term effects of child sexual abuse: An update. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 21, 325–330.

Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990) Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse and Neglect, 14, 19–28.

Green, A. H. (1993). Child sexual abuse: Immediate and Long-Term Effects and Intervention, Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 890–902.

Gorey, K. M. & Leslie, D. R. (1997). The prevalence of child sexual abuse: Integrated review and adjustment for potential response and measurement biases. Child abuse and Neglect, 21, 391–398.

Jones, D. & McGraw, J. M. (1987). Reliable and fictitious accounts of sexual abuse in children, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2, 27–45.

Greenberg, S. A. & Shuman, D. W. (1997). Irreconcilable conflict between therapeutic and forensic roles. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 28, 50–57.

Gross, J., Hayne, H., and Poole, A. (2006). The use of drawings in interviews with children: A potential pitfall. In J. R. Marrow (ed.). Focus on Child Psychology Research. NY: Nova.

Lamb, M. E. (1994). The investigation of child sexual abuse: An interdisciplinary consensus statement. Expert Evidence, 2, 151–163.

Oates, R. K., Jones, D. P. H., Denson, D., Sirotnak, A., Gary, N., Krugman, R. D. 2000 Erroneous Concerns about Child Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 24, 149–157.

Melton, G. B. & Kimbrough-Melton, R. J. (2006). Integrating assessment, treatment, and justice: Pipe dream or possibility. In S. N. Sparta & G. P. Koocher (eds.). Forensic Mental Health Assessment of Children and Adolescents. NY: Oxford University Press.

Narby, D. J., Cutler, B. L. & Moran, G. (1993). A meta-analysis of the association between authoritarianism and juror’ perceptions of defendant culpability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 34–42.

Poole, D. & Wolfe, M. (2009). Normative Sexual and Nonsexual Behaviors that May be Confused with Symptoms of Sexual Abuse. In Kathryn Kuehnle and Mary Connell (eds.). The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment and Testimony. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pipe, M., & Salmon, K. (2009). Dolls, drawings, body diagrams, and other props. In Kathryn Kuehnle and Mary Connell (eds.). The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment and Testimony. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Realmuto, G., Jensen, J., & Wescoe, S. (1990). Specificity and sensitivity of sexually anatomically correct dolls in substantiating abuse: A pilot study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 743–746.

Rosen v. Ciba-Geigy Corp., 78 F. 3d 316 (7th Cir. 1996).

Salmon, K. & Pipe, M. (2000). Recalling an event one year later: The impact of props, drawing, and prior interviewer. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 14, 184–220.

Strange, D., Garry, M. & Southerland, R. (2003). Drawing out children’s false memories. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 607–619.

Theirry, K. L., Lamb, M. E., Orbach, Y. & Pipe, M. E. (2005). Developmental differences in the function and use of anatomical dolls during interviews with alleged sexual abuse victims. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 1125–1134.

U.S. v. Bahena, 223 F.3d 797, 809 (8th Cir. 2000).

U.S. v. Frazier, 387 F.3d 1244, 1261 (11th Cir. 2004).

Weatherred v. State,15 S.W. 3d 540, 542 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000).

June 2017 Complete Issue – PDF Download



21 | How Hard Can This Be? – By Dan Cogdell
25 | Richard Haynes: Warrior, Defender, Dear Friend – By Christopher L. Tritico
26 | Remembering Racehorse – By Randy Schaffer
27 | Clerking for Racehorse – By Brian K. Walker
29 | Exposing Junk Science Underlying Expert Testimony in the Guilt-Innocence Phase of a Child Sexual Abuse Trial – By Matthew L. Ferrara, PhD

6 | President’s Message
8 | Executive Director’s Perspective
10 | Editor’s Comment
12 | Ethics and the Law
15 | Federal Corner
19 | Shout Outs

5 | CLE Seminars and Events
39 | Significant Decisions Report

President’s Message: Groucho Got It Wrong! – By David E. Moore


Groucho Marx once quipped, “I wouldn’t belong to any organization that would have me as a member!” Fortunately for me, I did not heed that advice 26 years ago when Scrappy Holmes and Odis Hill urged me to join TCDLA. Now, here I am.

What a humbling experience this is as I draw near the date when I will be sworn in as the President of TCDLA. It is such a privilege to take over the helm of an organization that has given so much to me during the last quarter of a century. I love TCDLA, and words cannot express the humility I feel following in the footsteps of those Presidents who have come before me. I am, in varying degrees, both excited and filled with trepidation about the upcoming year.

I am excited about the future for TCDLA. In June, as I am taking the oath, we will also be swearing in 16 new members to our Board of Directors. This is the largest influx of “new blood” that I can ever recall. Last fall, in my capacity as President-Elect, I had the honor of chairing the nominations process that led to the incoming class of Board Members. I can assure you that they are long, not just on quantity, but on quality as well. They are a talented, terrific group, and they will help lead TCDLA for the next eight years of their tenure. I expect great things from them.

I am also pumped up about the men and women who have volunteered to chair the committees forming the backbone of our organization. From the Executive Committee, to Strike Force, to the Legislative Committee on down, I could not ask for a better group to help me guide TCDLA.

And, we are so blessed to have our wonderful staff at the home office led by our Executive Director, Joseph Martinez. They do such a terrific job running the organization on a daily basis, and I intend to lean heavily on them.

At over 3,000 members, TCDLA is the largest state organization of criminal defense lawyers in the United States. There is strength in numbers. And, while a gathering that size of criminal lawyers is sometimes akin to herding cats, we can do phenomenal things together in the pursuit of justice and the common good.

Let me encourage each of you to become more active this year in YOUR organization. First, show pride in your membership by publicly displaying that you are one of us. Help recruit new members, especially those new to our profession. Take on the challenge of mentoring young lawyers. Lastly, think about contributing your time by volunteering to serve on committees within TCDLA (call the home office) or by contributing motions or articles to the Voice (contact Editor Sarah Roland).

Before signing the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin famously said in a letter, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” As criminal defense lawyers, we need to stick together. For non-members, let me encourage you to come join this band of brothers and sisters that is TCDLA. For current members, I would challenge you to step up and become more active in your organization. We need and welcome your participation. Come help make us stronger!

Executive Director’s Perspective: Giving Thanks – By Joseph A. Martinez


We thank outgoing TCDLA President John Convery (San Antonio) for his service to the TCDLA membership over the last year. Thanks to his steadfast leadership, TCDLA is a better association. We wish him good verdicts and prosperity. David Moore (Longview) takes the helm of TCDLA as president on June 24, 2017, at the 46th Annual TCDLA Annual Meeting. We look forward to successfully managing the challenges under David’s leadership.

We thank the outgoing chair of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Project (CDLP), John Hunter Smith (Sherman), for his outstanding dedication and tireless efforts over the past year. We wish him well and good verdicts. Heather Barbieri (Plano) is the new chair. CDLP oversees the grants TCDLA receives from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Clay Steadman (Kerrville) is the new co-chair.

We thank Lance Evans (Fort Worth) for his leadership as chair of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Educational Institute (TCDLEI). He will remain Chair of TCDLEI.

Congratulations to the new TCDLA Hall of Fame inductees, Betty Blackwell (Austin), Gerry Morris (Austin), and Katherine Scardino (Houston). They are exceptional lawyers who have brought honor and distinction to the legal profession. They have continually shared their knowledge and resources with lawyers across Texas.

The 85th Texas Legislative session is sine die—at least the first one. Our legislative team will be providing summary reports to our members in the coming days and throughout the summer. Special thanks to Andrea Keilen, Allen Place, David Gonzales, and Shay Place for their efforts throughout the last five months. We also thank our Legislative Committee under the direction of William Harris (Fort Worth) and Vice Chair Susan Kelley (Waco). The legislative committee included Mark Daniel (Fort Worth) and Bobby Mims (Tyler).

Special thanks to our course directors for this year’s 30th Annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course to be held in San Antonio in June. They are Cynthia Orr (San Antonio), Audrey Moorehead (Dallas), Robert Lerma (Brownsville), and Frank Sellers (Fort Worth).

Please make plans to join us at next year’s 31st Annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course on June 21–23, 2018.

Special thanks to the members who donated items for the silent auction held during Rusty Duncan.

Special thanks to Stan Schwieger (Waco) and John Hunter Smith (Sherman), our course directors for the CDLP Beating the Drum for Justice held in Waco in April. Thanks to their efforts we had 87 attendees.

Special thanks to Abner Burnett (Edinburg), our course director for CDLP Parole Event held in Edinburg in April. Thanks to his efforts, we had 33 attendees.

Special thanks to our course directors, Heather Barbieri (Plano) and Kelly Pace (Tyler), for the CDLP Beating the Drum for Justice held in Tyler in April. Thanks to their efforts we had 71 attendees.

Special thanks to Bobby Barrera, president of the San Antonio Bar Association (SABA), for allowing TCDLA/CDLP to co-sponsor the 54th Annual Criminal Law Institute held in San Antonio in April. This is the first organized CLE in criminal law in Texas. TCDLA is honored to be a part of this most prestigious event. The course directors were Mark Stevens, John Convery, and Robert Price, all of San Antonio.

Special thanks to the Course Planning Committee, Sarah Guidry, Zahra B. Whitfield, the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, Professor Ashraf Mozayani, the TSU School of Public Affairs Forensic Science Lab, and Assistant Dean Prudence Smith of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law (all from Houston), for the Earl Carl Institute’s 4th Annual Child Welfare Forensics Conference held at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston in April. CDLP/TCDLA was a co-sponsor. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we had 206 attendees.

Special thanks to our course directors, Dustin Nimz (Wichita Falls) and John Hunter Smith (Sherman), for the CDLP Beating the Drum for Justice held in Wichita Falls in April. Thanks to their efforts we had 32 attendees.

Special thanks to our course directors, Sorcha Landau (Houston) and Jani Maselli (Houston), for our CDLP Appellate CLE, co-sponsored with the Harris County Public Defenders Officer. Thanks to their efforts we had 124 attendees.

Special thanks to our course directors, Deandra Grant (Dallas), Lawrence Boyd (Dallas), and Courtney Stamper (Waxahachie), for our 10th Annual DWI Defense Project held at the Gray Wolf Lodge in Grapevine in May. Thanks to their efforts we had 129 attendees.

Please join us for the fun-filled activities on South Padre Island this summer. Bring the family.

July 12Training the Trainers (for those who want to speak at a TCDLA/CDLP CLE)
July 13–14Beating the Drum for Justice CLE
July 13TCDLA Beach Barbecue
July 14Louie’s Famous Seafood Buffet and Fireworks
July 15TCDLA/CDLP/TCDLEI Orientation
July 15Luau with the Moores

TCDLA currently has 3,106 members. It is the largest criminal defense lawyers association in the country. We ask our members to encourage other lawyers who practice criminal defense to join TCDLA.

Weren’t able to attend this year’s Rusty Duncan event? You can order the DVD and get CLE credit. Please go to our website for more information and to order.

Do you need CLE credit and can’t attend our seminar training? Please call the Home Office (512-478-2514) for a list of the DVDs and accompanying CLE credit.

Don’t have a local criminal defense bar in our area? Would you like to re-energize or jump-start your organization? Are you interested in forming a local criminal defense bar? Need help getting organized? Please contact Susan Anderson (Dallas), , Laurie Key (Lubbock), , or Carmen Roe (Houston), , co-chairs of the TCDLA Affiliate Committee.

Good verdicts to all.

Editor’s Comment: Great Leaders – By Sarah Roland


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.

In spite of what is clearly happening behind closed doors there, “our nation’s capital” was surprisingly peaceful and quiet for the few days we were there. There weren’t any obvious protests or riots. Everyone was nice and talkative. There were no signs of tumult. It was the perfect atmosphere to absorb and appreciate both the weight of our history and the impact of our leaders.

We have had so many leaders—both good and bad—throughout our nation’s history. But, regardless of political affiliation or belief, we can call agree there are some who have been great leaders. Martin Luther King Jr., Elizabeth Blackwell, Henry Ford, and Jackie Robinson all come to mind. Fortunately, there are too many to name and count.

So, what are the qualities that make a great leader? Integrity to do what is right even behind closed doors and especially in the face of what isn’t popular. The ability to inspire with words and actions. A perpetually resonating passion and creativity to come up with new ideas and solutions. Focus and grit to carry forth a vision even in the face of obstacles. Generosity and inclusiveness to always bring others into the foal. Persistence and tenacity to keep going even when the going gets rougher than rough. A recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. These are the raw ingredients of great leaders.

As criminal defense lawyers, we all have the qualities of great leaders. We aren’t the go-along-to-get-along type of people. By nature of our chosen profession, we have to speak out and speak loud to effectuate change. We are naturally inclusive and accepting. We continually have to come up with new ideas to challenge the status quo and get relief for our clients. We have to have integrity and grit to succeed in this profession.

TCDLA has been fortunate to have had many great leaders of our profession and organization. Richard “Racehorse” Haynes was one of those leaders. While I did not have the privilege to personally know Mr. Haynes, his reputation as a leader in the world of criminal defense and within TCDLA has always been known and has never been questioned. David Moore is another of those leaders. I have had the privilege of observing and admiring David from afar as a new, young member of TCDLA and working with him within TCDLA. He has the qualities of a great leader and has been helping steer this organization for a number of years. Let us follow his great leadership as we start another year.

Ethics and the Law: Racehorse


Lawyer Haynes was an inspiration to us all. I had the  privilege to work with him on a few cases. Yes, he was a great lawyer but also a great American. Lawyer Haynes had served our country in one of the worst battles of WWII, the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was in the middle of the battle and would run messages back and forth to different commanders. He told me they picked him because he was short and less likely to be shot. He was fearless in war and fearless as a lawyer. It was my good fortune to get to know him and the other lawyers and non-lawyers who worked with him. Elise Sartwelle worked for Lawyer Haynes for many years, and she cared for and loved Racehorse very much. Elise helped keep up with the clients, helping Lawyer Haynes with personal matters, and her services were priceless. Elise was totally dedicated to keeping his office going when his health started to fade. Jack Zimmerman, one of the original members of the Ethics Committee, wrote this moving eulogy that was read at the funeral. Jack is also a retired Marine Colonel, and Lawyer Haynes was very proud of that.

I think everyone that has spoken so far has given you reasons why Haynes was a great trial lawyer, and in my opinion Richard Haynes was the best trial lawyer that I had ever seen. But I wanted to concentrate on not only Haynes as a great lawyer but also as a great human being. And the reason he was a great human being was that he cared about people.

To give you an example of what I am talking about, he and I were trying a case in a small South Texas town where we were out for dinner in a small roadside diner, and being the junior member of the team it was my responsibility to take care of administrative matters like paying the bill. And he watched what I put on the tip. And I used the standard 15% tip and he got all over me, saying that these people live on these tips and you should be more generous, especially in a small town where they aren’t paid anything. And he made it clear to me that when we are trying an out-of-town case, in a small town—especially in a small town—you should care about people and should tip more than 15% amount.

And while we are talking about pay, he persuaded me after 14 years of active duty as a major of Marines to leave the Marine Corps to come practice law with him in Houston, Texas, and he told me that there would be a significant pay increase. After a while I realized that I had taken a pay cut of about $6,000 that I would be getting as a major, and I went to him and told him: “Haynes, you told me that I was going to be making more money. You promised me that I would be making the pay of a general, and you know I’ve taken a pretty good cut here in my pay.”

He said: “Well Jack, I did tell you you’d make the pay of a general, but I did not tell you what Army it’s in. I was talking about the Mexican Army.”

So he had a sense of humor, but also was concerned with equal rights and the appearance of equal rights. Not just the fake occurrence of it. And the way I first learned that was when he called me in his office one time and said, “Close the door.” And he said, “We got problem with your name.”

I said, “How’s that?” And he said: “Well, the last part of your name is mann. We just can’t have that in this law firm.” He said from now on, your name is Zimmerperson, so you will be referred to as Zimmerperson from now on, and I was for the rest of the time that I was there. So I thought this would give you a little insight into his sense of humor and his sense of fairness.

But the next item is that he trusted the lawyers who worked with him and trusted our judgment. That is why everybody is so loyal, and that is why there are so many former members of the law firm of Haynes & Fullenweider who are present today. There are all of the civil lawyers who worked there, almost all of the criminal lawyers who worked there, here at this funeral service. And I think he generated loyalty because he trusted us, and I use this as an example: trying a major, major murder case involving the widow of the Secretary of State of Texas at the time, who was also the son of the Governor, who was also a former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and the wife was on trial for being the cause of death for the famous fellow.

We heard about midway through trial that someone had contacted one of our investigators and said: “Hey, you guys may be in trouble because some juror was overheard saying that they would never vote to acquit somebody that was associated with the power structure. That wouldn’t be right.”

And then we found out almost on the same day, within just days, that another juror was overheard at the grocery store over the weekend saying, “The way that guy beat that girl up, I would never vote to convict her,” and we reported that to the district attorney’s office. So I contacted the district attorney and he said, “Hey, I need to tell you something,” and he told me about his situation and I told him what happened with mine, and we both realized that we were going to have a hung jury one way or another—whichever way the majority went.

And the county did not want to have to pay for another jury trial and I didn’t want to put my client through another jury trial. We were almost finished with the trial. So that night I called Haynes and I said: “Hey, I need some advice. What do you recommend?”

He said, “I don’t know that Judge.”

They brought in a new judge because it was such a big publicity case. The local judge recused himself. And I said: “I don’t know either. I’ve never tried a case in his court, he is from out of town.”

So Haynes said, “What do you think of the way he is running the trial?”

Now, my last assignment on active duty before I came to Haynes and Fullenweider’s office was as a Marine Corps military trial judge, and so I always gauged the qualifications of the civilian judges I was before based on if they ruled on a motion or objection the way I thought it should be ruled on. If they did, I thought they were really great judges; if they didn’t, I didn’t think they were so good.

So he said, “What you think about this judge’s fairness?”

I said: “Well, every ruling that he has made so far in these several days of trial, I think has been right on. I think he is fair, and it appears he is worthy of trust.”

He said, “Well, do what your gut says to do.”

So the next day, instead of having a mistrial, we agreed to excuse the jury and go to a bench trial, just before the judge, and that advice was sage because, as it turned out, that decision to waive the jury and go to the judge resulted in a 20-minute deliberation. After final arguments the judge came back and found my client not guilty. So I use that as an example of him putting his trust in his subordinates, in developing good trial lawyers.


I end by saying that some of the other people talked about how he loved his family, and let me tell you two things about how I know he loved his wife, Naomi. We were trying a case in a rural Louisiana court, and after dinner we went shopping on a street that had all these shops on it, and he went in and he bought a sconce. Does everybody here know what a sconce is? About half of you raised your hands. I sure didn’t know what a sconce was before. Do you know what a sconce is? It is something you put on a wall and you can put a candle in it, or if it’s electrified, you can put a light bulb in it. But I had no idea what a sconce was, and I admitted I didn’t know. But he bought that for his wife and then he brought it back as a present. I thought, man, I would have never thought to do that, and I love my wife more than anybody loves their wife. But he did it because he knew she would appreciate it, and I understood from the family that they’re still in the house that they bought.

Another example and the last thing I’ll bore you with is when we were trying the case in Louisiana I was telling you about. We were representing a state district judge and the district attorney, who were charged with buying votes in a rural Louisiana parish, being tried in federal court. We ended up getting one of the cases dismissed and the jury acquitted on the other one, so we had a victory party there, and the supporters of the judge and district attorney literally rented the local country club. They only had our party in there that night, and they asked Haynes what kind of music he liked. He said he liked country-western. So they hired a four-piece country-western band, and they were taking requests for songs. And the thing I remembered about that night was that his favorite song that they played was a country-western song that ends with the line “he stopped loving her that day.” I don’t know if you are familiar with that song or not. So now, a few days ago Richard passed away. People can say he stopped loving Naomi that day, but in reality, I know that he and Naomi are looking at us now from wherever they are and he didn’t stop loving her that day. He still loves her and she still loves him.

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded

By United States Marines.

Federal Corner: Those Waiver of Appeal Provisions in Plea Agreements – By F. R. Buck Files Jr.


Congress can create laws and the federal courts can interpret these laws, but we are seldom caught off guard by them. At least we have the opportunity to be aware of, for some considerable time, what each is considering.

Not so in the case of policy changes by members of the Executive Branch. Take, for example, the recent decision of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to instruct his federal prosecutors that they should pursue the most serious possible charges in all criminal cases, no matter what the circumstances. Even for those of us who are immersed in the criminal justice system and observed Sessions’ success in blocking criminal justice reform, this was surprising. We are going back to the days of Attorney General John Ashcraft and his similar admonition to his federal prosecutors. With Sessions out of the Senate, though, there is at least the possibility that bipartisan support for criminal justice reform might actually succeed in legislation that would trump Sessions’ policy change. [A poor attempt at humor.]

My un-favorite example of a bad policy change (other than the Ashcraft memo) is in the matter of guilty pleas and plea agreements. I remember the day that an AUSA sent me a proposed Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement that contained a waiver of appeal provision—one that would severely limit my client’s right to a direct appeal and, also, his right to habeas review.

For many years, the judges of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas would not, as a matter of policy, permit counsel to enter plea agreements under Fed. Crim. R. Proc. 11(c)(1)(C) because they did not want to be bound to totally accept or totally reject such plea agreements. When that policy changed, the lawyers of the District—both Government prosecutors and defense attorneys—rejoiced. Then the Government decided to create another problem for us.

I was incensed at the idea that my client should be expected to waive his appellate rights (including habeas relief) without first having an understanding of what might be at issue. When I called the AUSA to voice my concerns, I was met with the reply that I have heard on so many occasions: “This is our office’s new policy.” So what was I to do? I harkened back to that advice that I had gotten at a TCDLA seminar more than 40 years ago: When you have an issue to bring before the Court and it is something out of the ordinary, file a Motion for Appropriate Relief and ask for a hearing. I chose to do just that.

Our judge in the case was John H. Hannah Jr. Many of you never had the opportunity to meet him or appear before him. For those of us who did, he was held in the highest esteem. He had served as the elected District Attorney of Angelina County, Texas, and as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. While not in Government service, he had been an outstanding lawyer, both in criminal and civil cases. All who knew him would agree that he had a fine sense of what justice should be.

Judge Hannah gave me my hearing and I made an impassioned, if unsuccessful, plea against the Government’s proposed waiver of appeal policy. I presented public policy arguments and raised, I thought, issues of constitutional dimension. Judge Hannah was not impressed. At the conclusion of the hearing, he announced that jury selection would begin on the following Monday morning—unless the defendant and I signed a plea agreement or agreed to proceed on a plea of guilty without a plea agreement. I left the courtroom knowing that we were going to be saddled with this waiver provision forever. If I could not convince Judge John Henry Hannah Jr., I could not convince any judge.

[Appellate Review of the Waiver of Appeal Cases]

The United States Courts of Appeal have now reviewed thousands of cases that have waiver of appeal issues. One of the latest of these was United States v. Griffin, ___F.3d___, 2017 WL 1487249 [(6th Cir. (Apr. 26, 2017)]. [The Panel: Circuit Judges Gibbons, Cook and Griffin (Opinion by Griffin)] The Court held that the defendant’s valid waiver of his appellate rights in the plea agreement barred his challenge to the imposition of a sentencing increase for obstruction of justice and denial of a reduction for acceptance of responsibility.

There is nothing special about Griffin, but it illustrates the common points addressed by the appellate courts in virtually every case in which a defendant has waived his right to appeal and then attempted to do so:

  • There is a waiver of appeal provision in the plea agreement that has been signed by the defendant.
  • During the plea colloquy, the defendant will have been called upon to acknowledge that he has executed his waiver of appeal and that he understands the significance of his waiver.
  • After sentence is imposed, the defendant will give notice of appeal and the Government will rely on the defendant’s waiver of appeal.
  • The defendant will attempt to parse the wording of the plea agreement in order that he can appeal.
  • The appellate court will almost always rule against the defendant.

The curse of where we find ourselves is this: The waiver of appeal provision in the plea agreement is going to apply to the most important of issues, even those of Constitutional dimension. An important waiver of appeal case is United States v. Keele, 755 F.3d 752 (5th Cir. 2014). [The Panel: Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart and Circuit Judges Jolly and Smith (Opinion by Chief Judge Stewart)]. In Keele, the Court held that,

  • The defendant’s waiver of appeal was knowing and voluntary;
  • In a matter of first impression, the defendant’s appeal waiver barred his challenge to a restitution order; and,
  • The defendant’s appeal waiver applied to his Eighth Amendment claim that restitution was disproportionate to his role in the offense.

[A Brief Synopsis of the Facts]

Ricky J. Keele, after entering into a plea agreement with the Government that contained a general appeal waiver provision, pleaded guilty to “helping Matthew Simpson dispose of, transfer and conceal a $1,500,000 cashier’s check from Citizens Bank of Texas in order to prevent the funds from being seized by the Government.” The plea agreement provided for restitution to the victims—not only of the offense, but also arising from all relevant conduct and not limited to the conduct arising from the offense of conviction alone.

Chief Judge Stewart’s opinion reads, in part, as follows:

[The Background of the Case]

Keele was charged in a superseding bill of information with helping Matthew Simpson dispose of, transfer, and conceal a $1,500,000 cashier’s check from Citizens Bank of Texas in order to prevent the funds from being seized by the Government. Keele waived his right to an indictment and entered into a written agreement to plead guilty to the superseding information. The plea agreement set maximum sentencing exposure at 24 months and included restitution to the victims arising from “all relevant conduct” and was not limited to the conduct arising from the offense of conviction alone. The plea agreement also contained an appeal waiver which stated that Keele waived the right to appeal his conviction and sentence except in the case of a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum, an involuntary plea or appeal waiver, or ineffective assistance affecting the voluntariness of the plea or appeal waiver.

[The Presentence Report]

The presentence report (“PSR”) described a long term, complex conspiracy, perpetrated by Keele, Simpson, Michael Faulkner, and sixteen other co-defendants, to defraud telecommunication companies of property and services and to defraud individual victims of money, property, and services. Five victim impact statements referenced in Keele’s PSR contained losses totaling $3,691,102.70. However, according to the second, third, and fourth superseding information, the aggregate loss of all victims of the conspiracy was estimated to be between $15,000,000 and $20,000,000.

[Sentencing and the Notice of Appeal]

The district court sentenced Keele to 24 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay $3,691,102.70 in restitution to the victims under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (“MVRA”). Keele filed the instant appeal.

[Keele’s Argument on Appeal]

Keele maintains that the appeal waiver in his plea agreement does not encompass restitution. Keele argues that the waiver did not specifically mention restitution and further claims that the district court, in discussing the appeal waiver at rearraignment, did not specify that he was waiving his right to appeal any restitution order. On this basis, Keele asserts that the restitution order is reviewable despite the appeal waiver contained in his plea agreement. We disagree.

* * *

[The Issue of First Impression]

Whether a general appeal waiver bars a challenge to a restitution order is unsettled in this circuit, and other circuits have reached differing results, at least where restitution was not mentioned in the plea agreement.

* * *

[The Plea Colloquy]

In addition to restitution’s being mentioned in Keele’s plea agreement, the district court also informed Keele multiple times at sentencing and rearraignment that his sentence “includes restitution” arising from all “relevant conduct” and would not be limited to that arising from the offense of conviction. The district court admonished Keele that he “will be required to make full restitution . . . because restitution is by statute mandatory in this case.” Moreover, Keele stated at sentencing, “[t]he restitution, I know you have the right to do that. You have said that. The only thing I ask you to consider is that at 58 years old it will be a burden that I cannot accomplish, and I know that. I ask you to think about that before you sentence me.” Keele also agreed that he understood that he was waiving his right to appeal his conviction and sentence with certain limited exceptions. (emphasis added)

[The Written Plea Agreement]

The written plea agreement also stated that restitution was mandatory under the law and that the extent of restitution ordered by the court may include “restitution arising from all relevant conduct, not limited to that arising from the offense of conviction alone[.]” Additionally, Keele’s factual resume contains fourteen paragraphs of “relevant conduct,” which Keele admitted to be true, that exceeded the scope of the 18 U.S.C. § 2232(a) offense of which he was convicted. Further, as the Government points out, Keele expressly waived his right to appeal his “sentence” or “seek any future reduction in his sentence” in his plea agreement. That same plea agreement defines “sentence” to include mandatory “restitution to victims” [emphasis added].

[Waiver Bars Keele’s Appeal]

We therefore conclude after reviewing the whole of the record—specifically, the plea agreement and the appeal waiver, the PSR, the district court’s statements to Keele at sentencing and rearraignment, and Keele’s statements at sentencing—that Keele’s valid appeal waiver did in fact bar his right to appeal the restitution order. Additionally, we note that, while defendant has made no such argument on appeal herein, an “in excess of the statutory maximum” challenge, if properly raised on appeal, would not be barred by an appeal waiver. See United States v. Chem. & Metal Indus., Inc. (C & MI), 677 F.3d 750, 752 (5th Cir.2012). Accordingly, Keele’s appeal of the restitution order is dismissed [emphasis added].

* * *

[The Waiver Even Goes to the Eighth Amendment Issue]

Keele argues that the amount of restitution ordered by the district court was disproportionate to his role in the offense and, therefore, his Eighth Amendment rights were violated. For the reasons stated herein, we hold that Keele’s Eighth Amendment claims are also waived [emphasis added].

Before 2014, the Supreme Court had never written on whether the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment could apply to restitution orders. In Paroline, the Court considered whether the victim of a child pornography offense should be entitled to restitution in the amount of $3,400,000 based on the defendant’s possession of two pornographic images of her. In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, restitution had been denied. On appellate review, both a panel of the United States Court of Appeals and the En Banc Court decided in the Government’s favor and remanded the case to the district court for entry of judgment of restitution in the amount of $3,400,000.

The Supreme Court held that:

  • The proximate-cause requirement applied to all losses described in statute requiring an award of restitution for certain federal criminal offenses; and,
  • Restitution for child pornography possession should be awarded in amount comporting with defendant’s relative role in causal process underlying victim’s general losses [Opinion of the Court by Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan; dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Roberts in which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined; and, dissenting opinion filed by Justice Sotomayor] [emphasis added]. Paroline v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 1710 (2014)

Judge Kennedy’s opinion reads, in part, as follows:

Her severe approach could also raise questions under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

* * *

The reality is that the victim’s suggested approach would amount to holding each possessor of her images liable for the conduct of thousands of other independently acting possessors and distributors, with no legal or practical avenue for seeking contribution. That approach is so severe it might raise questions under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. To be sure, this Court has said that “the Excessive Fines Clause was intended to limit only those fines directly imposed by, and payable to, the government.” Browning–Ferris Industries of Vt., Inc. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U.S. 257, 268, 109 S.Ct. 2909, 106 L.Ed.2d 219 (1989). But while restitution under § 2259 is paid to a victim, it is imposed by the Government “at the culmination of a criminal proceeding and requires conviction of an underlying” crime, United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321, 328, 118 S.Ct. 2028, 141 L.Ed.2d 314 (1998). Thus, despite the differences between restitution and a traditional fine, restitution still implicates “the prosecutorial powers of government,” Browning–Ferris, supra, at 275, 109 S.Ct. 2909. The primary goal of restitution is remedial or compensatory, cf. Bajakajian, supra, at 329, 118 S.Ct. 2028, but it also serves punitive purposes, see Pasquantino v. United States, 544 U.S. 349, 365, 125 S.Ct. 1766, 161 L.Ed.2d 619 (2005) (“The purpose of awarding restitution” under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A “is . . . to mete out appropriate criminal punishment”); Kelly, 479 U.S., at 49, n. 10, 107 S.Ct. 353. That may be “sufficient to bring [it] within the purview of the Excessive Fines Clause,” Bajakajian, supra, at 329, n. 4, 118 S.Ct. 2028. And there is a real question whether holding a single possessor liable for millions of dollars in losses collectively caused by thousands of independent actors might be excessive and disproportionate in these circumstances. These concerns offer further reason not to interpret the statute the way the victim suggests [emphasis added].

Paroline was remanded to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and then to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Eventually, an agreed judgment was entered in the amount of $30,000 for restitution and attorney’s fees. That was better than $3,400,000.

My Thoughts

  • In federal criminal restitution cases, there is a way to avoid being shocked at the amount of restitution ordered and also cut off from appellate review—talk to a Financial Litigation Unit lawyer during the negotiation stage. Every judicial district has such an FLU. That’s when you can present an argument in respect to your position and have the opportunity to work out a stipulation as to the amount owed and how it is to be paid.
  • And, there is another benefit. Sometimes, in return for pre-payment of all or even a portion of the restitution owed, the Government might make a better offer as to the confinement issue in your case.
  • The overall message: When your client has agreed to an appellate waiver provision in a plea agreement, his case is probably going to end in the trial court.

Shout Outs


David Michael Ryan sent a shout out to Mark Bennett and Lane Haygood for their recent NG verdict in DC441. D, an 18-year-old senior, plead out to DADJ after asking 14-year-old freshman if he is gay and wants to copulate. Mark got the statute found unconstitutional, then was retained to get D out of plea. Done. Miffed state files criminal solicitation of a minor charges. Turns out D was acting as middleman for interested party. CW admitted on cross he knew interested party, and interested party also had made a pass at CW. State finds interested party and calls interested party, whose testimony was short and sweet—and would have been really damaging, but for the fact that it contradicted both D’s and CW’s stories. This let Mark argue in closing that both D and CW were telling the truth (CW was merely mistaken in his apprehension of D’s intent), while the State’s “star” witness was a “non-truth-telling person.” Jury returned the big NG in just over 3 hours, including lunch. Congrats, gentlemen, on a job well done.

Congratulations due to Houston’s Mark Thiessen and co-counsel Ryan Deck of Round Rock for a recent win in Williamson County. D, a father of three and a former Army sniper (recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Medal of Valor), had never been arrested. He was charged with Intoxicated Manslaughter of a fetus and Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon after a terrible accident. Although the jury convicted him, they gave him probation on the charges. Mark thanked in particular his defense team: Amanda Culbertson, who helped with the blood and retrograde extrapolation (.161 blood test 5 hours after the accident), Dr. Lance A. Platt with the SFSTs, Ricardo Palcios with accident reconstruction, and Jonathan Haymon for educating everyone on what is in an El Niño at Chilis (other driver was intoxicated). In an emotional trial against tough DAs in an unforgiving county, D got his family and freedom back. Good work, team.

Kudos to warriors Gerry Goldstein and Cynthia Orr, who succeeded in getting the state’s highest court to spare the life of one of Texas’ longest-serving Death Row inmates, Pedro Sosa. Sosa has been stuck in a solitary Death Row cell for the past 33 years. Gerry and Cynthia have represented him in both Federal and State habeas actions for the past 17 years.

Congrats to Austin’s Richard Segura for recently being awarded the Adjunct Professor of the Year award at the University of Texas School of Law. The law students appreciate his hard work and supervision at the Criminal Defense Clinic!

Shout out to Jason Luong of Houston for his win in the First Court of Appeals. D was convicted of Assault-Family Member, but Jason got a reversal in the Court of Appeals. Jason credits Renee Nguyen and Stephen Aslett for assistance on the legal briefing in the case.