Waco, McLennon County: But what a different country we could have created! What a more universally prosperous society we could have advanced. What a better existence for all our people could have been established. And here is how it could have happened.
In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence presented to the convention, Thomas Jefferson listed the King’s abuses. He saved the worst for last. I venture to say you never heard of it or were taught about it.
It said: “He has waged a cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him; captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither.”
At the insistence of South Carolina and Georgia, this Article condemning slavery was stricken.
For 246 years we have reaped the bitter harvest of this original sin of slavery. So let us resolve to breathe life into the Declaration and the Bill of Rights as we continue the great experiment called America. Ladies and gentlemen, our Declaration of Independence.
Bastrop, Bastrop County: I enjoy reading the Declaration of Independence in the Texas July heat in Bastrop, Texas. I meant to memorize the Declaration after reading each year. Maybe next year will be the time. Each July, reading at the courthouse is a reminder to me of how important our rights are. My only spectator this year, aside from an occasional passerby, was a silent robotic lawnmower. That does not make my reading experience any less significant to me. People are dying to get to our country and enjoy the opportunities that this document protects. Reading the Declaration of Independence aloud is a great way to honor it.
Reading of Declaration of Independence Reminds Community of Freedoms
Harrison County: Defense lawyers performed the annual recitation of the Declaration of Independence on Friday for Harrison County community members.
“The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, which is the statewide criminal defense bar association, puts this on. I’ve read the Declaration probably almost 8 times,” said Kyle Dansby, a local criminal defense attorney, and coordinator of the celebration. “And even though you’ve read it multiple, multiple times, when you read certain parts of it, in particular the big bold language that we know about, it’s still important, it still affects me.”
This is the tenth year the Declaration of Independence has been read in downtown Marshall during the Fourth of July weekend.
Harrison County can count on its local defense attorneys to uphold citizens’ freedoms and honor the Declaration of Independence. This holiday event served as a reminder to the public of the responsibilities and rights that all Americans share. “I’ll still get a feeling, still a little chill because we deal with these things every single day,” Dansby said, “As defense attorneys, the reason we read the Declaration of Independence around the fourth of July is to remind the public that we are here actually helping to enforce those rights on behalf of people who are accused by the State of Texas of committing crimes.”
Bonnie and Bob of Marshall gave a declaration of their enjoyment of Dansby’s recitation, feeling especially proud of the complete and correct pronunciation of such difficult words as those found in the historical document. “He did a wonderful job. He pronounces every word perfectly and some of those words are really difficult,” Bonnie said, noting the solace defense attorney Dansby provided throughout the celebration.
—Sadiq King, The Marshall News Messenger
Coldspring, San Jacinto County: I read the Declaration of Independence this morning (July 1, 2022) in Coldspring, Texas—the seat of San Jacinto County. Rain threatened. One guy yelled at me in code. Could have been Ku Klux Klan, QAnon, or something else. We must keep carrying the light to the dark forests. It has been done before.
—Bobby Scott Maybry
Olney, Montana: After attending the (excellent) Lubbock County Declaration reading, I drove 24 hours, 1745 miles to northwest Montana with my dog Penny. On July 4th in Olney—human population 191—I read members. County community in front of the Ranger station as a few fascinated squirrels, deer, moose and bear watched. Then I was off to Polebridge, population 100. I could not take the short‑ cut across Red Mountain because snow still blocked the road, but I arrived in time for the Independence Day festivities. The guy in the parade wearing a pink tutu and huge man breasts got more attention than me reading the Declaration. Understandable, I suppose.
Lockhart, Caldwell County: There were eight of us in Lockhart today, representing three law offices. Our “lead” reader was 13‑year‑old Ethan Garza, son of my long‑time investigator, Joe Angel Garza. Although he got away before we were able to get a name or his agency, there was a “press” photographer taking photos. The only newspaper out there is the “Lockhart Post Register.” We have tipped them off in the past but, presuming this fellow is from that agency, this year was the first time they’ve ever appeared. We all gathered at Black’s for great barbeque following the reading.
Brady, McCollough County: Daughter Lindsey Craig and grandson Rocky and I trekked south through the hinterlands to read the Declaration in Post, Sweetwater and Brady. It’s become a tradition. In 2016, we did the same thing in Big Spring, Gail and Garden City. The three of us have participated in Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers readings as well. Trust me, ten‑year‑old Rocky can tell you the true meaning of Independence Day better than 95 per cent of the population. What a wonderful patriotic family experience!
Weatherford, Parker County: Tom Vick and Dan Carney report: Mission Accomplished. My granddaughter Ashtyn Carney Sweatt, Senior Texas A & M Executive Officer Squadron 23, stood alongside me. She has participated in years past as well. She intends to enter law school after graduating TAMU next spring. So Proud.
San Diego, CA: Today we read in San Diego. This year, we also commemorated Juneteenth by reading General Order 3, the order issued at Galveston, Texas that began Juneteenth. We read General Order 3 before we read the Declaration, acknowledging that the Declaration was an aspiration, a hope for the future. As was General Order 3. And we can acknowledge that the journey from the Declaration to General Order 3 continues on to today, and what we do as defense attorneys continues that quest to affirm that all people are created equal and equally de‑ serving of justice. That kept the ceremony to a short time frame (one of its beauties).
Rockport, Aransas County: I read in the front entry of Aransas County’s makeshift lo‑ cation for court and other county offices. We lost the old court‑house in late August of 2017 (Hurricane Harvey). It is always a reminder of the hardships and sufferings that led our forefathers to break away from the rule of England. It is easy to forget.
—James E. Teague
Paint Rock, Concho County: The Concho County District Clerk, JP, and Sheriff ’s Deputy were more interested in the Revolutionary War rifled musket I brought than the reading! The court‑ house cat was missing this year, probably off on a trophy mouse hunt.
Declaration of Independence Reading to Happen Friday
June 28, 2022—The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association announces that the United States Declaration of Independence will be read aloud on the front steps of the county courthouses of Texas counties prior to July 4, 2022.
In Shelby County, the Declaration will be read by local lawyers, Deck Jones, Jeff Adams, Stephen Shires and April Prince. The reading will take place at the main entrance to the historic Shelby County Courthouse at 1pm, Friday, July 1, 2022.
—Shelby County News
Cameron, Milam County: Unprompted, my intern Makenzie Mays set up pocket Constitution pamphlets on the prosecutor’s table. This was after of our TCDLA Declaration Celebration. Clearly, she has learned a few things this from fearful men.
The signers of the Declaration refused to be ruled by tyrannical kings and aristocrats and instead replaced them with servant representatives—and placed us in charge.
We are not descended from fearful men, so let us remember that our leaders are not kings—they are our servants and we must promptly rid ourselves of any representatives, at the local, State, and national level, who choose to act like rulers—rather than our humble servants. summer. (The State moved the pamphlets to an area for defendants.)
Gilmer, Upsher County: This morning I read the Declaration of Independence within the cool confines of the Upshur County Commissioners Court meeting. The County Judge asked that we not do it outside as it was hot, so instead I performed my reading inside prior to the adjournment of the meeting.
My completion was greeted with a standing ovation, and I received many hearty handshakes (no laurels) during my exit from the Commissioners Courtroom, and departure from the building.
What an amazing experience! I suffered a few chills down my spine during my reading, as the words were so amazingly powerful.
I was also able to plug TCDLA and specifically the reading to be held in Gregg County during my interview with KLTV.
Happy Independence Day to all my fellow warriors.
Childress, Childers County: Edward R . Murrow said, “We are not descended from fearful men.” The signers of the Declaration of Independence showed tremendous courage and bravery by signing a document that they knew could result in their deaths, but they signed anyway. They signed because liberty and honor are worth more than life and fortune.
Today we must remember that we are not descended from fearful men.
The signers of the Declaration refused to be ruled by tyrannical kings and aristocrats and instead replaced them with servant representatives—and placed us in charge. We are not descended from fearful men, so let us remember that our leaders are not kings—they are our servants and we must promptly rid ourselves of any representatives, at the local, State, and national level, who choose to act like rulers—rather than our humble servants.
Today, as we read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, let the words wash over you as though you are hearing them for the first time. Really absorb them because this was a revolutionary document that led to a revolutionary war that led to this great nation. Because we are not descended from fearful men.
—Bethany S. Stephens
Grosebeck Limestone County: We had a HUGE crowd at the Groesbeck 4th of July parade in Limestone County. I was standing one block from the courthouse at the parade announcer’s stand. We had lots of support from the crowd. Seemed appropriate for this criminal defense attorney to pose in front of a police car. I tear up every time I start and end the reading. It’s just one of my favorite times of the year!
Fort Worth, Tarrant County: The reading gives me goosebumps every year, such a moving experience. And I was honored to organize it this year.
Local attorneys to read Declaration of Independence
In anticipation of Independence Day, local attorneys will take time next week to read the words that hailed the birth of a new nation.
Members of the Hunt County Bar Association, along with judges from the county’s state district courts and county courts‑at‑law, intend to participate in the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Hunt County Courthouse at noon Friday, July 1.
About a dozen attorneys participated during the event last year, held during a few falling raindrops. Each attorney took a turn at one or more sections of the document. A small crowd gathered to watch the reading and then joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The event has been held seven times in the past eight years. It was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID‑19 pandemic.
The event is sponsored by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, which has been presenting readings of the Declaration since 2010. During 2016, for the first time, the readings were conducted outside of courthouses in each of the state’s 254 counties.
—Brad Kellar, Greenville Herald‑Banner
Levelland, Hockley County:
July 4th, 2022, We lawyers knew what to do.
We traveled Texas county to county,
With flags and readings and patriotic bounty.
Aloud we recited our forefathers idea of great sense,
Our American Declaration of Independence.
Five counties we did see,
Starting with Cochran and Hockley.
Then around West Texas the words we did carry,
Out to county Yoakum and on to Terry.
On final reading with our work fam,
Was up north to county Lamb.
We shared the day with judges and local friends,
Artists and singers and hot summer winds.
We sweated a bit and shook lots of hands,
Clapped each other’s backs and prayed for these lands.
I’m so proud of the freedoms we’ve fought for and won,
And those who carry on what our forefathers have done.
Happy July 4, 2022!
—Anna and Philip Ricker
Houston, Harris County: Friends: I view the Declaration of Independence as an imperfect document, at least in large part because it was written by a slave owner talking about liberty. It also bothers me that Native Americans are referred to as “savages.”
Even with its inherent flaws the Declaration is fundamental as to who we are. We are people who reject tyranny no matter the source. The Declaration was the beginning in our national struggle for liberty. It’s part of a continuum. It was followed by the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Emancipation Proclamation, 13th Amendment, Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the fight for Gay Rights and most recently Black Lives Matter.
I think as criminal defense lawyers we are part of the continuum. We are the natural heirs to our Founding Fathers, as we are the only people who daily fight to protect our neighbor’s liberty.
There will always be tyrants, some in robes. There will always be those who stand up to fight the tyrants. That’s us.
In 2010, when we stood with our backs to the Courthouse, we sought no permission. We just did it. We were fighting lots of abusive judges then. When we read it, when I heard “king,” I thought judge. To me it’s an annual opportunity to remind the tyrants in the courthouse and elsewhere that we don’t accept their tyranny and we will fight them for as long as takes.