Monthly archive

October 2022 - Page 2

From the Front Porch: Learned Treaties: An obscure law school evidence question or a powerful weapon for the rural practitioner to use at trial?

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We rural practitioners have many advantages over our more urban criminal defense brothers and sisters. Less stress (in theory), less traffic, better lifestyle… wait, I will not go into everything because I do not want any more city lawyers to move here! But one thing we do not have is access to expert witnesses. For example, if you Google “expert witnesses Dallas”, you can find scores of experts who will testify about seemingly every issue you can think of. Hell, some consulting firms are even looking to hire more. However, if you have ever tried to ask one of them to come, say, to Nacogdoches, their response is likely to be, “Where’s that?” followed by a huge fee. In all fairness, who can blame them? It will take several days away from the office for them to come to rural places.

So, what is an honest, hard‑working rural practitioner to do? My advice? Grab one of those dusty evidence books from law school and look up the learned treatise exception to hearsay. Texas Rules of Evidence Rule 803 (18) states that “Statements in Learned Treatises, Periodicals, or Pamphlets are not hearsay if a) the statement is called to the attention of an expert witness on cross‑examination or relied on by the expert on direct examination, and b) The publication is established as a reliable authority by the expert’s admission or testimony, by another expert’s testimony, or by judicial notice. What does all that mean as a practical matter? You have the State’s witness testifying against some issue to the detriment of your client. You do not have an expert witness. But you can have the best book, manual, article from the world’s leading authority on the subject. How do you get this information before a jury? You call that to the attention of the expert witness on cross‑examination, then have them admit that is reliable. Once your book, article, manual passes legal muster, you get to read it to the jury.

I can hear the naysayers mumbling already. What if the State’s expert does not recognize that book, article, manual as a reliable authority? The State’s expert may say something like “I’ve never heard of it!” The framers of this rule must have seen that excuse coming. So as a safeguard, they put it that you can ask the Judge to take judicial notice of your expert materials. What if the Judge will not take judicial notice of it? Make an offer of proof. As a practical matter, that gives Judge’s something to worry about. They may change their position and let it in. At the very least, you may have an excellent issue for appeal. And you do not need to pay $5k for an expert to come to your rural location. You may only have to pay for the book or print out the article. This is one way in which we can all educate ourselves as experts, and this is a reasonable alternative on a rural court‑appointed attorney’s budget! So, the next time you are faced with an issue that requires expert witness testimony, do not despair. Get busy and do the research and find that learned treatise that provides the argument you’re searching for. When you have met the evidentiary burden for using a learned treatise in trial, you can then convey to the jury in your style the substance of that information and why they should consider its value in their deliberations. You do not have to drone on. Nowhere in the rule does it say you cannot read it with enthusiasm and charisma! Another upside to this is you do not have to worry about your expert witness being a gun for hire or someone who does not know what he is talking about. Also, let us not forget that the jury has observed your attention to detail and preparation on your client’s behalf. The information being given to the jury has received the court’s blessing and should be argued as having an expert’s seal of approval.

Federal Corner: Conflict of Interest Arising from Dual Representation

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Sheperd I: 27 F. 4th 1075 (5th Cir. 2022)

Sheperd II: 44 F.4th 305, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 22357; 2022 WL 3274129 (5th Cir. August 11, 2022)

In a couple of recent opinions, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the rules regarding ineffective assistance of counsel involving conflicts of interest. The decisions address the actions of an attorney who breached his duty of utmost loyalty and harmed a client. But, the decisions also raise the possibility that more ethical attorneys might make similar mistakes much more innocently.

Let’s start at the end with a quick recap of the facts cited by the Court in the second case. Ann Sheperd, the owner of a home‑health agency, was convicted of Medicare fraud. On appeal she complained that her Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel had been violated. Turns out, Sheperd’s pretrial counsel was also representing one of the Government’s star witnesses. The Court Remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing on whether Sheperd’s lawyer’s conflict of interest—a conflict the Government knew about—adversely affected his representation. The district court’s answer: Yes. (Sheperd II).

Clearly, the position occupied by Sheperd’s counsel is not one that a competent lawyer with a grasp of ethical principles and a casual understanding of conflict of interest would occupy. However, due to the complexity of the rules that address conflict of interest, defense counsel does not have to be oblivious to ethical obligations to occupy similar territory. In addition to being a firm reminder of the duty of utmost loyalty owed to a client, the case is important for how it addressed the second prong of the Strickland analysis (harm), and for the remedy available for this type of harm. If you ever thought about writing a writ, or just hope to avoid being the legitimate subject of one, read these cases.

I. SHEPERD I

A.   The Facts

The facts of the case are set out brilliantly in Sheperd I. However, a little editing has been done for brevity, clarity, and to avoid further shaming of the lawyers. The quotes from both cases appear without the footnotes, citations, and quotation marks present in the opinions.

Ann Sheperd owned and operated a home‑health agency. In June 2016, a grand jury indicted her (and several others) with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Sheperd retained counsel. The district court set trial for August 2016. A month later, Sheperd replaced her counsel. The District Court declared the case complex, and relaxed the trial deadlines. Sheperd replaced her counsel again in February 2018. “Attorney A”.

Two months after entering his appearance as Sheperd’s counsel, Attorney A met with FBI agents and a federal prosecutor to discuss Sheperd’s trial. But he was not there acting on Sheperd’s behalf. Attorney A was there to act on another client’s behalf—Okpara. Attorney A had helped Okpara secure a plea deal related to healthcare fraud in a different district court almost a year before. So why did Okpara need Attorney A at the meeting? Because Okpara was Sheperd’s friend and business associate—a relationship the Government wanted to exploit by calling Okpara as a witness against Sheperd.

If representing both Sheperd and Okpara at the same time sounds zany to you, then you wouldn’t be alone. The Government thought it sounded zany, too. In fact, it even pointed out to Attorney A that he had an obvious conflict. Attorney A replied that he hadn’t noticed. Even so, the meeting continued since, according to Attorney A, Sheperd wanted to plead guilty and would do so by the next month, in May. Turns out, the meeting was a success … for Okpara. Afterward, the Government amended Okpara’s plea deal to include 5K1 consideration. That is, in exchange for Okpara having provided the Government with substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense, the Government agreed to permit Okpara to receive a reduced sentence.

Nobody told Sheperd about Attorney A’s conflict. Nobody told the district court about it either. But that time was not wasted. The Government used it to bring six more counts of healthcare fraud against Sheperd. The grand jury returned a superseding indictment that charged Sheperd with all six counts. Attorney A, for his part, continued to receive ‑provided discovery. Not until August—with trial looming—did Attorney A start trying to address his conflict. He approached a former state Assistant Attorney General with experience prosecuting healthcare‑fraud cases “Attorney B” about taking over Sheperd’s defense. Attorney A had worked with Attorney B before, and Attorney B got involved, in his words, on August 14.

On August 20, Attorney A finally revealed to Sheperd his conflict and proposed solution. But Sheperd felt burned. She initially refused to retain Attorney B. The district court set a status conference.

The status conference took place on August 27, 2018. Attorney B was not present. Attorney A assured the court that Attorney B would be prepared for trial two weeks later. That same day, Sheperd changed her mind, agreed to let Attorney B represent her, and Attorney A then withdrew as counsel.

A few days later Sheperd’s case was transferred to a new judge. The new judge held a pretrial conference on September 4. At the conference the judge asked the parties if they could move up the trial date. All parties represented they could not, pointing, in part, to Attorney B’s recent appearance in the case. Counsel for defendants also flagged the conflict issue for the district court, but suggested that the trial could proceed so long as Okpara did not testify. After discussing the conflict, the judge stated that he had never seen this type of conflict. The district court then, to the surprise of all parties, moved the trial date up by three days—to Friday, September 7.

On September 6, the day before trial, Attorney B moved for a continuance, arguing, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the status of Ms. Sheperd’s counsel had denied him significant trial preparation time. He had only worked meaningfully on the case for approximately one week, despite having been involved for three. Alternatively, Attorney B moved to withdraw. That same day, all defendants also filed a joint motion, asking the court to, among other things, continue the trial and exclude Okpara’s testimony. The court did not rule on the motions. Trial began the next day.

A few days into trial, the Government called Okpara as a witness. That brought the conflict‑of‑ interest issue to a head. Defense counsel collectively reasserted the arguments from their pretrial motion: (1) Attorney A could have provided Okpara with privileged information to enhance Okpara’s efforts to cooperate with the Government; (2) if Okpara testified, he could share self‑incriminating statements that Sheperd shared with Attorney A; and (3) the current indictment could have been based on tainted information from Okpara. Attorney A and Sheperd took the stand. The district court ultimately excluded Okpara from testifying.

At the close of trial, Attorney B renewed the defendants’ joint pretrial motion, asking the district court to dismiss the case because of the conflict of interest. The district court denied the motion. The jury found Sheperd guilty on all counts. The district court sentenced her to 30 years in prison. Sheperd timely appealed, alleging several grounds to reverse based on Attorney A’s conflict of interest.

B. The Court Lays Down the Law SHEPERD I

The Court began with a statement of the law, mainly citing Strickland V. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), when it wrote:

The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court has explained that one of the safeguards making trials fair is the right to counsel. In all criminal prosecutions, the Sixth Amendment declares, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. That’s no hollow guarantee. The Counsel Clause does not countenance empty suits; it requires effective assistance of counsel—the presence of competence and absence of conflicts.

Unfortunately, not all representations meet that standard. At times a representation may suffer from actual ineffectiveness—one that so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result. That standard is satisfied when the defendant can show that (1) her counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) that the deficiencies in counsel’s performance were prejudicial to the defense.

United States v. Sheperd, 27 F.4th 1075, 1082‑83 (5th Cir. 2022)(internal quotations omitted).

C. Conflicted Representation Reduces the Burden – SHEPERD I

The Court then continued the legal foundation of ineffective assistance of counsel as related to conflicts of interest.

That two-pronged test has a special application when a defendant argues that her representation was infected with a conflict of interest. One of the most indispensable duties that any counsel owes his client is the duty of loyalty. Counsel breaches that duty when he labors under an actual conflict of interest. And if he breaches the bedrock duty of loyalty, then his representation will fall below the objective standard of reasonableness that the Constitution requires.

But what about prejudice? Defendants still need to show it in actual-conflict cases. They show it, though, in a special way—by showing that their case is subject to a limited presumption of prejudice. Whether it applies boils down to one question: Did the conflict adversely affect counsel’s performance? That’s a lighter burden for defendants. Proving prejudice directly means showing a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. On the other hand, the limited presumption of prejudice in actual-conflict cases turns on whether the conflict adversely affected the representation. One way defendants can answer that mixed question of law and fact is through evidence that counsel’s judgment was actually fettered by concern over the effect of certain trial decisions on other clients.

The Government concedes there is no dispute that Attorney A operated under a conflict of interest. It also concedes that both it and Attorney A were obligated by rules of ethics to bring the conflict to the court’s attention. Still, that’s only the first half of Sheperd’s burden. She still must prove that Attorney A’s conflict adversely affected his performance. And on that question, on this record, we can’t tell one way or the other. (Sheperd I- 27 F.4th at 1083).

United States v. Sheperd, 27 F.4th at 83 (internal quotations omitted).

II. SHEPERD II

A. Results on Remand

On remand, the District Court was tasked with con‑ ducting “an evidentiary hearing on whether Shepherd’s lawyer’s conflict of interest—a conflict the Government knew about— adversely affected his representation.” United States v. Sheperd, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 22357,

*1, 44 F.4th 305 (5th Cir. 2022). The District Court answered the question in the affirmative, The Fifth Circuit sought out to determine the proper remedy in the case. Id. The Appellate Court did not appear to be impressed by the Government’s argument on the issue:

We ordered the parties to file letter briefs addressing any issues arising from the district court’s findings and conclusions, as well as the appropriate relief if any. The Government now concedes that Sheperd’s Sixth Amendment right to conflict-free counsel was violated and that some remedy may nonetheless be warranted. All that’s left, then, is to craft that remedy. The Government points us to the Supreme Court’s decision in Lafler v. Cooper, where the Court explained that Sixth Amendment remedies should be tailored to the injury suffered from the constitutional violation and should not unnecessarily infringe on competing interests. The remedy must neutralize the taint of the constitutional violation, but not grant a windfall to the defendant or needlessly squander the considerable resources the State properly invested in the criminal prosecution. For example, when a defendant declines a plea offer as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel and then receives a greater sentence as a result of trial, then the remedy could involve resentencing or ordering the Government to reoffer the plea deal, depending on the circumstances.

Applying those principles to this case, the appropriate remedy is to VACATE Sheperd’s convictions and REMAND for a new trial. That remedy may well cause the Government to spend considerable resources. But it is not needless. As the Government admits, it never offered Sheperd a plea deal while she was represented by her conflicted pretrial counsel, or after. So there is no rejected plea deal to measure Sheperd’s harm against. And while Sheperd did reject a plea deal well before her conflicted counsel began representing her, the Government argues we cannot order it to reoffer that bargain without violating separation-of-powers principles. So we’ll give the Government what it asks for, then, by avoiding any constitutional issue.

The constitutional right to counsel is perhaps the central feature of our adversarial system, as it helps make real the Constitution’s other criminal procedure promises. And it is not lost on us that the Government knew Sheperd’s pretrial counsel was conflicted yet delayed informing the district court about it—for months. The Government’s proposed remedy—to keep the convictions intact but remand for new plea negotiations—wouldn’t neutralize the taint of the constitutional violation. After all, what would encourage the Government to offer a reasonable plea when it could hold intact convictions over Sheperd’s head? Nothing.

We VACATE Sheperd’s convictions and REMAND for a new trial.

Id., pp. *1‑4.

Clearly, the Fifth Circuit could not stomach the unethical practice of a lawyer representing a defendant and a snitch in the same case. You might think that this case would have no applicability to you. If you have read this far, you are probably incapable of engaging in the kind of unethical activities demonstrated by Attorney A in Sheperd. However, it is possible for far more noble counsel to find themselves in a similar predicament.

B. Less Obvious But More Frightening Applications

Although the error made by Sheperd’s lawyer might have sounded ethical alarms with almost all lawyers, it is not hard to imagine how good lawyers could innocently straddle the same ethical line. The defendant arrested today may very well be a snitch, or even a witness, down the road. Seeing the name of a current or former client in a new client’s discovery is a common event. When that happens, all work on the case stops until the conflict question is resolved. As with most things legal, the starting point is the applicable rules.

C. What are the Rules?

  1. Federal courts defer to the State or District Bar Association in which the Court resides. (See for example: Local Criminal Rule 57.8(e) Northern District of Texas, which defers to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct for the definition of unethical conduct).
  2. Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
    1. Rule 05. Confidentiality of Information
      1. Confidential information includes both privileged information and unprivileged client information. Privileged information refers to the information of a client protected by the lawyer‑client privilege of Rule 503 of the Texas Rules of Evidence or of Rule 503 of the Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence or by the principles of attorney‑client privilege governed by Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence for United States Courts and Magistrates. Unprivileged client information means all information relating to a client or furnished by the client, other than privileged information, acquired by the lawyer during the course of or by reason of the representation of the client.
      2. Except as permitted by paragraphs (c) and (d), or as required by paragraphs (e) and (f), a lawyer shall not knowingly:
        1. Reveal confidential information of a client or a former client to:
          1. a person that the client has instructed is not to receive the information; or
          2. anyone else, other than the client, the client’s representatives, or the members, associates, or employees of the lawyer’s law firm.
        2. Use confidential information of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client consents after consultation.
        3. Use confidential information of a former client to the disadvantage of the former client after the representation is concluded unless the former client consents after consultation or the confidential information has become generally known.
        4. Use privileged information of a client for the advantage of the lawyer or of a third person, unless the client consents after consultation.
    2. Rule 06. Conflict of Interest: General Rule
      1. A lawyer shall not represent opposing parties to the same litigation.
      2. In other situations and except to the extent permitted by paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a person if the representation of that person:
        1. involves a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially and directly adverse to the interests of another client of the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm; or
        2. reasonably appears to be or become adversely limited by the lawyer’s or law firm’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by the lawyer’s or law firm’s own interests.
  1. Texas Rules of Evidence
    1. Rule 03 Lawyer‑Client Privilege
      1.  A “client” is a person, public officer, or corporation, association, or other organization or entity ‑ whether public or private ‑ that:
        1. is rendered professional legal services by a lawyer; or
        2. consults a lawyer with a view to obtaining professional legal services from the lawyer.

The definition of “client” under Rule 503 of the Texas Rules of Evidence is broad enough to cover any potential client that discloses any fact relevant to the case. It is clear from these rules that a lawyer could easily get entangled by talking with two defendants regarding the same conspiracy. In that situation, a lawyer cannot use information disclosed by either client to the advantage or disadvantage of either client. The lawyer is unable to do his job.

The likelihood of such a conflict is greatly increased when all defendants are not arrested at the same time. A lawyer could talk to one client months before speaking with another client, with both clients having been charged in the same indictment. According to the Rule 503, it does not matter if the first potential client did not retain the lawyer. If the lawyer consulted with the person with a goal of getting hired, that person is a client.

A similar conflict could arise when a person arrested provides information that implicates others who are subsequently charged. This often occurs in traffic stop or controlled buy situations where the first person arrested is charged individually and then spills the beans on the rest of the gang. A lawyer often does not get the full details of the client’s discussions with the Government until he receives discovery. At that point, the lawyer should have had several conversations with the client where confidential information would have been shared. Under one of these scenarios, a good lawyer could find themselves potentially in the same position occupied by counsel in Sheperd. This is a situation often encountered in smaller jurisdictions, but possible anywhere. Such a conflict affects retained counsel and appointed counsel equally. An appropriate action, declining representation or filing a motion to withdraw, to such conflict might financially burden the ethical lawyer, but the unethical lawyer may suffer greater consequences.

TAKEAWAYS

  1. The reduced burden to demonstrate harm under the Strickland analysis is an important distinction for clients who have suffered conflicted representation. It is a “lighter lift” to demonstrate that the conflict affected the representation than it would be to demonstrate that a defendant would have been exonerated or that a lower sentence would have been pronounced, but for the error.
  2. The discussion of the remedy for a conflict of interest in Sheperd II is a wonderfully uncomplicated statement of the law. The remedy must neutralize the taint of the constitutional violation by going back to the point where the case was untainted.
  3. The Government’s lawyers took a scolding. All lawyers have a duty to report an ethical breach, and no party should benefit by abiding the infraction.
  4. If you see a name that rings a bell at any point in the case, find out why before you move forward.
  5. Screen potential clients for ability to pay prior to consultation. In a large conspiracy case, you only get one ticket. Don’t waste it on someone that needs appointed counsel.
  6. Having a client sign a waiver of conflicts is inadequate; it is a band aid on a severed artery.
  7. Decline or withdraw when you should. Being an ethical lawyer may hurt your bottom line, but your bar card is worth more than one case.

Shout Outs

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Robert C. Hinton (left), Michael P. Heiskell (middle), and Ronald L. Goranson (right) at Baylor Lawyer of the Year Luncheon. Photo Courtesy of Nick Teixeira, Baylor Law.

Michael P. Heiskell grew up in the small central Texas community of Pelham. Formerly known as Forks of the Creek, Pelham was settled by ex-slaves in 1866 and had an estimated population of 75 families in the 1950s. He is a proud “Double Bear,” graduating from Baylor University in 1972 and Baylor Law in 1974. When he arrived at Baylor in the late sixties, he was one of just five Black students on campus. By the time he finished his undergraduate degree in 1972, that number had grown to nearly 100— largely due to his efforts. During his time at Baylor, Michael was the first president of Agiza Funika (“Blacks Involved,” in Swahili), a social-service club designed to give African-American students a social outlet while helping them become more deeply involved in campus and community life. Michael was also president of the political science club Pi Sigma Alpha, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre Law Society, and a member of both Baylor’s Student Foundation and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.

Following his graduation from Baylor, Heiskell enrolled at Baylor Law in 1972, was an active member of the Student Bar Association, and became the law school’s first Black graduate in 1974. Michael has remained an active Baylor alumnus and currently serves on the Baylor University Board of Regents.

“Michael exemplifies every quality of a Baylor Lawyer. He is a fierce yet compassionate advocate for his clients and has an unswerving dedication to improving the quality of our justice system while maintaining the highest ideals of the legal profession,” stated Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. “He is an outstanding lawyer and a truly authentic person. His career and life bear testimony to his richly deserving this honor.”

Michael was one of the three founding partners of Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell. He now serves as the firm’s senior attorney. Before founding the firm in 1984, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for Galveston County from 1975 to 1980, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Texas from 1980 to 1984.


A big round of applause for E.G “Gerry” Morris, of Austin, TX. He received the Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the Association’s annual meeting in Palm Beach, FL on August 13. The Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award is given annually to the criminal defense attorney who best exemplifies the goals and values of the Association and the legal profession. Congratulations, Gerry!

Kudos to Allen Ross of Rusk, TX and Jeff Herrington of Palestine, TX. They received a NOT GUILTY on Capital and lesser included Murder. This case previously ended in a mistrial when evidence was not properly disclosed by the Sheriff’s Office. The State’s only evidence was an alleged confession of the then 17-year-old, in Sheriff’s custody. The Defense attacked this confession as involuntary and pointed out potential culprit for the murder. The client was 17 years old when he entered the jail, and 21 years old when he walked out with an acquittal thanks to Allen and Jeff. Outstanding job!

Shout Out to Mitch Adams who won his burglary of a building case in the 4th District Court. This case also ended in a mistrial because Mitch’s client was hospitalized. The State’s only piece of evidence was a traffic citation left in a car that was the alleged getaway vehicle. The citation listed demographic details contrary to an eyewitness’s description of the female suspect. Mitch pointed out the discrepancies and won the day for his client. Great job, Mitch!

Amazing work by attorney Beverly Melontree, who won her Assault Causing Bodily Injury juvenile case in CCL3. This was a bench trial in front of the County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Getz. Victories in front of that Court are very seldom, so she was advised not to move forward in this manner. They were proven wrong when the Judge found the assault not true and stated Beverly had proven self-defense for her juvenile client. Tremendous work, Beverly!

Congrats to Joseph Esparza, who won a general court martial for an USAF NCO client accused of multiple sex offenses, rape, sexual assault, and an assault and battery involving two alleged victims at JBSA Lackland in San Antonio. He prepped the case hard and was able to show in cross examination that both alleged victims had their own reasons to fabricate their claims against his client and that, further, they colluded to bring their accusations against his client. Client testified in his own defense and multiple character witnesses testified after him as to his excellent character for truthfulness. The verdict after a 4 day trial was NOT GUILTY on all charges. Amazing work!

Pat on the back to Mark Griffith for a Not Guilty charge Client was arrested for DWI and blood test procured that came back over the limit. At the scene, officers were made aware that client was on the Autism Spectrum but ignored the fact that he had a neurological disability on the scene and in their testimony. Expert for defense described behavioral and mental issues that can appear due to being on the spectrum. The defense empowered the jury to stop disregarding disabilities. The verdict was the beautiful two words. Way to go!

Shout Out to Dean Watts for a case dismissal by reason of insanity for a felony evading case in Nacogdoches. Accomplished after 2 years and countless hours of hard work. Fantastic job!


Staff Highlights: The New Voice Behind the Voice

Alicia Thomas

Title: Communications Coordinator
Native State: South Dakota
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Favorite Color: Teal
Loves: Crafting & Exploring

Alicia Thomas started with TCDLA in March of 2021 as the Media Specialist and has recently been promoted to Communications Coordinator. In her time at TCDLA she has gotten to know many of the members and enjoyed working with the staff. Before TCDLA, Alicia has had a variety of jobs ranging from working at an ice cream shop to customer service in IT. She graduated from South Dakota State University with a BFA in Graphic Design in May of 2020. In June of the same year, she and her high school sweetheart, David, got married, packed up, and moved to Texas. In her free time, Alicia can be found doing a variety of graphic design projects, playing with her dogs, crafting, or watching The Office.