Browse Category

Shout Outs

Shout Outs

/

Shout‑out to local Tyler attorney Brett Harrison of Files Harrison, P.C. for his big NOT GUILTY in Anderson County last month. Brett’s client was indicted on two counts of aggravated sexual assault. Outstanding work, Brett! Congratulations!

Kudos to TCDLA Law School Committee Member, Jeff Shearer, who hosted a law school training session at Texas A&M School of Law, in Fort Worth. Thanks for representing TCDLA, Jeff!

Congratulations to Danny Easterling for his recent win on a murder case. The jury deliberated for 3 hours before determining their verdict of NOT GUILTY. Way to go, Danny!


Staff Highlights: Chief Financial Officer

Mari Flores

Title: Chief Financial Officer
Native State: Texas
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Favorite Color: Pink
Loves: Going on vacation

Mari Flores has been with TCDLA for 10 years serving as the Chief Financial Officer. Her 20+ years of financial experience has been in the nonprofit sector. She graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin, TX with a BBA in Finance and later with an MBA in accounting. She is married to her college sweetheart, Pepe Flores. They have four children, two girls ages 10 and 11, and two boys ages 15 and 26. They also have two miniature schnauzers, King and Bella. They keep busy with their children’s sporting events and vacationing when they can fit in the time!

Shout Outs

/

Kudos to Joseph Esparza who litigated from February 28th to March 6th, then received a NOT GUILTY verdict after a long fought battle in a general court‑martial at JBSA‑Randolph in San Antonio. The client fired his first defense team, who wanted him to plead guilty. He faced two sex charges involving his teenage, adopted daughter and two computer charges involving his ex‑wife, soliciting men online to have sex with her and posting intimate visual images of her online. But, pretrial motions filed got the defense some relief, the most important being the defense could elicit and admit evidence of the client and complainant’s cuckold lifestyle, which had defense implications for the offenses involving the ex‑wife. Great job!

Amazing work to Mike Ware, who was recently honored for his devotion to the Innocence Project of Texas. He and his freed client, Jason Hernandez, who is now an advocate and community leader, came together with NACDL and TCDLA to raise funds for both organizations. Way to go, Mike!

A metaphorical round of applause for Cynthia Eva Hujar Orr, who is the 2021 recipient of the Charles R. English award, given by the American Bar Association. Charles English was a California trial attorney who specialized in criminal defense cases. He was an active member of the American Bar Association, having served as a member of the Criminal Justice Section Council and Chairperson of the Section’s Committee on the Association Standards for Criminal Justice. He was well respected by members of the bench, and both prosecutors and defense bar. In 1998 he was named Outstanding Defense Attorney by the Los Angeles Bar Association. Congratulations on your merited accolade!

Congratulations to Jeff Kearney and David Gerger who won a rocket docket in Fort Worth. They got a one hour NOT GUILTY verdict in the Boeing federal fraud trial. The pilot was the only on tried for the Boeing crashes associated with new planes equipped with a MCAS system. Amazing job!

Congratulations to Eddie Cortes for his acquittal on maximum charges. His client will serve 15 years TDC with the possibility of parole at 50%, while the original anticipated outcome was 25 to life without the possibility of parole. Great work! Kudos, Eddie!

Shout Outs

/

Congratulations to Mark G. Daniel for his reappointment to the Texas Forensic Science Commission! TCDLA is proud to have one of our own serve the great state of Texas! Exceptional work, Mark!

Outstanding work to Angelica Cogliano who won her case, challenging the constitutionality of Operation Lone Star. Ultimately, the state agreed that her client (therefore all 2,000 defendants) deserve relief. Amazing work, Angelica!

Kudos to David Lee Botsford on a recent 5th Circuit victory! It deals with the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations. Argued on December 8th, reversal and remand: to determine which of the 4 counts may be barred by statute of limitations, and new trial on any of the 4 counts that are not barred. Great work, David!

Amazing work to Kathy Ehmann-Clardy and Sean Bajuk who heard the sweetest words ever spoken – NOT GUILTY, not once, not twice, but FIVE times. They tried five cases to a jury in Somervell County, working for three days on ABIFV, interfere 911 call, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and theft. Kudos, Kathy and Sean!

A job well done to appellate counsel, Alan Bennett, for winning his trial in a Waco District Court. Opinion affirmed the exclusion of evidence that was not turned over by the State “as soon as practical”. Evidence produced on the eve of trial was excluded… and his ruling affirmed. Way to go, Alan!


Staff Highlights: Seminar Clerk

Jessica Steen

Title: Seminar Clerk
Native State: Texas
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Favorite Color: Sea-foam Green
Loves: hiking nature trails and quilting
Interesting Fact: She has had pet reptiles since age six

Jessica Steen is currently studying at ACC for general studies, with the hope to transfer to a university in order to continue her studies in forest and wildlife management. She has participated and staffed countless Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts events, holding a variety of positions, which include secretary work, accounting, administration, and training. At TCDLA, Jessica works on mailing publications and merchandise to members, and packs materials for seminars. In her downtime, she can be found chilling with her animals or starting a new quilting project.

Shout Outs

/

Shout Out to Emily Miller who received a NOT GUILTY verdict after a three day trial in Mills county on retaliation against a Peace Officer. Emily referenced information found on the listserv. Way to be resourceful! Amazing work, Emily!

Kudos to Steven Green, who celebrated two NOT GUILTY verdicts on a sexual assault of a child case in Van Zandt county. Way to go, Steven!

Great work to Srav Muralindhar, who received a NOT GUILTY in Van Zandt County on an atypical felony stalking case. The alleged victim was the county court at law judge,  and involved facts that included a randy bull and the judge’s harlot cow, cutting barbed wire fences, and courthouse confrontations. And all of this while Srav coped with a hostile visiting judge who denied his request for a jury shuffle and gave the incorrect information to the jury. Congratulations Srav!

Congratulations to Will Vaughn! He received a NOT GUILTY verdict on a continuous family violence felony case, plus three lesser misdemeanors in Washington county. Great job, Will!

Shout Outs

/

Clint Broden had a client charged in federal court for failure to register as a sex offender in the Northern District of Texas based upon an Illinois Child Pornography conviction. The case was dismissed on the eve of trial through a motion in limine based on the argument that the Illinois child pornography law had a broader mens rea element (should have known child was under 18) than the federal law (knew child was under 18). Because the Illinois statute “swept more broadly” than the federal SORNA statute, Broden argued that the Illinois could not form the basis of a federal failure to register charge and therefore was inadmissible at trial and need to be excluded in limine. Without the admissibility of that conviction, the government had to dismiss the case because it was the only basis for the federal failure to register charge. Congratulations, Clint!

Congratulations to Heather Barbieri, who got a NOT GUILTY on false allegations of continuous sexual assault of a child, last week in Collin county. Amazing work, Heather!

Mark Griffith received a verdict of NOT GUILTY on a DWI case. His client’s blood test was suppressed prior to trial. After a full investigation and a two day jury trial, “Sweet Justice” was served. Congratulations, Mark!

The Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously decided Ex Parte Clinton Lee Young, No. WR-65,137-05 (unpublished) granting a new trial on September 22, 2021. Young had been on death row since 2003, and had three previous writs failed. The Los Angeles Federal Defenders, Capital Habeas Unit, took on the case and found records that the district judges had paid Assistant District Attorney Ralph Petty $16,000 for working for the judges on Young’s case, while drawing a salary from the District Attorney’s office. The DA self-recused and a neighboring County’s DA was appointed to represent the State. Allison Clayton was enlisted to assist with FOIA requests and other investigation of Midland County records. Ultimately, Petty double-dipped repeatedly, getting paid by several judges as their “law clerk”, from around 2000-2016, on top of a base annual salary of about $151,950. At least $262,650, in addition to his salary, was paid by the judges. Petty retired in lieu of State Bar discipline. In response to discovery efforts, Petty asserted his Fifth Amendment rights. This throws into doubt the validity of about 450 convictions in Midland County. TCDLA has filed Complaints with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, reporting record facts on all the offending judges. Outstanding job to Allison Clayton, and all who contributed!

Kudos to T.W. Davidson, who represented a client on trial for murder in Cherokee county. After a nine day trial and six hour jury deliberation, they received a NOT GUILTY verdict. Great work, T.W.!

Shout-Out to Mark Thiessen, Amanda Culbertson, and Kacie Penman, who were able to achieve a NOT GUILTY on a .146 suppressed breath test DWI case. They were able to prove that the 15 minute required observation period for the breath testing was violated by the arresting officer by checking the DPS computer logs. Kudos to all!


Staff Highlights: TCDLA’s Seminar Associate

Desirae Esquivel

Title: Seminar Associate
Native State: Texas
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Favorite Color: Lime Green
Loves: to be creative
Interesting Fact: She cannot wink, snap or whistle.

Desirae Esquivel has six years of service industry experience and has been a bookkeeper for over two years. At TCDLA, she prepares registration forms, agendas and evaluations. She also applies for the CLE credit and maintains the online CLE. In her spare time, she likes to draw, paint, craft and sew. In addition, she volunteers at dog adoption events and enjoys the great outdoors.

Shout Outs

/

Kudos to Mark Thiessen, Amanda Culbertson, and Andrew Gendi, who received a verdict of Not Guilty on a DWI charge after the officer failed to ask the client if they had anything in their mouth (gum/bite guard for migraines), which invalidated the intoxilyzer test. Congratulations to all!

Amazing work to T.W. Davidson who gave his client her life back. The 55 year old Defendant with a first degree felony charge and $243,000+ due was facing life in prison. Ultimately, the court ruled that his client was in a situation where, through no fault or action of her own, it was “legally and factually impossible” for her to pay the outstanding restitution. With tears of joy flowing, the client and counsel hugged in victory. The case was DISMISSED.

Ervette Sims received a NOT GUILTY on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Denton County recently. This was a self-defense case full of missing evidence that just so happened to be favorable to the Accused – her 911 call for instance. The jurors were educated, some wore masks, and some stayed around after the NG verdict to hug the newly-acquitted Accused. Outstanding job, Ervette!

Shout-Out to Paul Morgan for passionately defending his client, who was only 17 years old at the time of the alleged offense. Paul suffered personal attacks from the State’s counsel, but ended up with a Capital Murder Reversal! Way to go, Paul!

In September, Westerners International awarded Chuck Lanehart the Coke Wood award for best published article of 2020, “Custer, Captive Girls and the Cheyenne on Sweetwater Creek,” originally published by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. The story is also a part of Chuck’s book, Tragedy and Triumph on the Texas Plains, published in May 2021 by the History Press and available at booksellers everywhere. Congratulations, Chuck!


Staff Highlights: TCDLA’s Accountant

Cris Abascal

Title: Accountant
Native State: Texas
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Favorite Color: Turquoise
Loves to: Spend time with her grandson
Interesting Fact: She has a plate and 12 screws in her ankle from an accident when she was young.  

Cristina Abascal has been with TCDLA for thirteen years. She has twelve years of nonprofit experience in accounting and auditing. Her hard work, dedication, efficiency and ability to adapt to change are her greatest strengths. When she is not at work she is enjoying spending time with her first and only grandson Elijah.

Shout Outs

/

Congratulations to Robert Pelton of Houston for receiving the State Bar of Texas Presidents’ Award. The Presidents’ Award is presented at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting each year and honors exceptional service to the public and legal profession. Robert has been a previous recipient of the Richard Racehorse Haynes lifetime achievement award from HCCLA and the Jim Bomer award from the College of State Bar. He is also the creator and founder of the TCDLA Ethics Committee and hotline. Hats off to you, Robert!

We are happy to report a win for both the TCDLA Strike Force Committee and Paul Goeke. Judge Cohoon of the 451st District Court of Kendall County issued an order and contempt notice, which was ultimately withdrawn. Kudos to Don Flanary, Reagan Wynn, and Paul Goeke! TCDLA Strike Force assistance is available to any member of  TCDLA who is being persecuted for standing up for their clients.

After a 90-minute jury deliberation in Andrews County, Bret Mansur achieved a verdict of not guilty on a charge of continuous sexual assault of a child <14. Kudos, Bret!

Congratulations to TW Davidson, who achieved victory in multiple Cherokee county cases. Representing a man pre-indictment and then on an application for writ of habeas corpus. He kept the defendant from indictment in Part One of his grand jury proceedings. To avoid the examining trial fight, Davidson proposed a reasonable bond amount, which he wrote. His client was granted a long-awaited appeal after months of hard work. He then represented two young men charged with criminal trespassing on a Constables property in 2018. The Constable opened fire on the men unjustly, and contradicted himself while on the stand during cross-examination. After three long days…the jury delivered a verdict of not guilty. Amazing work, Thad!

Great work to Mitch Adams, whose DWI trial was dismissed mid-trial in Smith County. The prosecutor failed to provide a copy of the blood test prior to trial, so Adams objected the State’s lab chemist expert witness testimony. Congrats, Mitch!

Kudos to Sravanesh Muralindhar, who defended a client in a first-degree murder trial in Cherokee County. He argued, instead, for an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, which he received. Way to go, Sravanesh!

Congratulations are in order for Adam Muery and team! It took them three long years to achieve an acquittal for their client on an aggravated assault charge. Justice has finally prevailed after persistent effort. Great work!

Randy Wilson’s Possession of Child Pornography case was dismissed after he presented criteria, stating what does and does not qualify as “child pornography”. Kudos, Randy!

Shout Outs

/

Congratulations to Sarah Roland for receiving the Lubbock Area Bar Association’s President’s Award, as she just finished her term. Great work, Sarah!

Kudos to Carlo D’Angelo for receiving an acquittal on a big drug case last week in Federal Court. Congrats on your hard fought victory, Carlo!

We will miss Lisa Gonzalez, who will leave the TCDLA Board and served as Vice Chair of the New Lawyers Committee due to being appointed as the 268th Associate District Court Judge. Congratulations, Lisa!

Kudos to Stephanie Alvarado, whose client was released from jail. His children were so excited to be reunited with their Daddy, they ran down the sidewalk to leap into his arms. Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child under 14 dismissed!

Jessica Canter, Claire Profilet, Lynnette DeBault, and Victoria Saxe obtained a directed verdict for their client in a jury trial on a misdemeanor assault – family violence case. Before getting a complete dismissal of the charges for their client by pointing out to the judge that the State had failed to produce any evidence of two elements of the charge, they vigorously fought the case, challenging the jury array and getting two potential jurors to admit on Voir Dire they would be biased against their client because of his race. Great job, ladies!

Congratulations to Nnamdi Ekeh whose client’s 2019 DWI Speedy trial motion was granted/dismissed. He thought he’d made a losing argument, as the government argued that the pandemic prevented a trial. The judge thought otherwise. Big reminder to keep shooting your shot no matter what!

Kudos to Tyler Flood, whose first jury (DWI) trial since the pandemic lasted 9 minutes and resulted in a not guilty verdict. Tyler’s client drove his industrial water truck though a guardrail and off the freeway into a ditch at 10:30 a.m… cooler in the truck and bottle caps in his pockets. He then hid a beer bottle in his pants… but not very well. The police found the bottle in his pants, after seeing him shove said bottle in through the fly.

Thuy Le fought against a case of infant abuse after a caseworker accused parents of not believing in western medicine – falling back on stereotypes of Asian parents. Thuy argued that medical records show the baby was premature at birth. The judge ruled no evidence of abuse and the baby was returned home just in time to celebrate their first birthday. Great job, Thuy!

When Daniel H. Wannamaker was assigned to a federal conspiracy indictment case, he was cool, confident and reassuring from the beginning, stated his client. After Daniel was a successful advocate, his client decided to return the favor, saying “He worked his magic and the case was dismissed! He truly fights for his clients and kept in constant communication with me. He always treated me kindly and with respect even though I didn’t actually spend any money on him. I highly recommend Dan. God forbid I get another federal case, but if I do, I will be calling on him again!” Kudos, Daniel!

Kudos to Josh Tetens and Michel Simer – whose client was found not guilty after serving 818 days in jail. They argued that the state failed to prove its case, as no weapon was seen by witnesses in the stabbing accusation. Their client cried tears of joy as he left the courthouse after being found not guilty of aggravated assault.

May 9th marked three years since Stan Schneider and David Schulman presented an argument to the court of appeals in Waco on the Michael Morton Act. The appearance was David’s first before the Waco Court, meaning he had, after 32 years, finally appeared in front of all of Texas’ fourteen Courts of Appeals. Congratulations, David!

Congratulations to Ryan Kreck! He received his second not guilty in a row on Continuous SXAB of a child in Collin County. Great work, Ryan!

Congratulations to Michelle Simpson Tuegel, Russell David Hunt Sr., and criminal appellate attorney, Walter Reaves! The Texas Court of Criminal appeals vacated the death sentence of a client they represented at trial. The death sentence was vacated based on evidence of intellectual disability which they fought hard to prepare and present evidence on at trial. Sometimes they work comes through, years later…7 years to be exact. Great work!

Don’t be shy, brag on a colleague! E-mail your shout-out to to be featured in our next issue.


Staff Highlights:

TCDLA’s Executive Assistant: Keri Steen

Keri is the glue that holds our office together, helping to keep us organize & on track! -Melissa Schank

Title: Executive Assistant
Native State: Wisconsin
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Favorite Color: Purple
Loves to: Play board games
Fun Fact: She’s a Green Bay Packers fan!

Keri was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years before she joined TCDLA five years ago. Her household has twin daughters and one son; along with two dogs, a cat, a bearded dragon, a hognose snake, a green iguana, and their newest edition – an Uromastyx. When she is not working, she loves to watch movies and play board games with her family.

Shout Outs

/

Kudos to Alex Bunin and Gonzalo Rios, Jr. for being reappointed to the Governing Board of Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Congratulations, Alex and Gonzalo!

Congratulations to Tip Hargrove for earning the Palmetto Medal, which is one of the highest awards presented by the Citadel College Alma Mater. Mr. Hargrove’s service reflects great credit upon himself, the Citadel, and it’s Alumni Association, Kudos, Tip!

Congratulations Mark G. Daniel (Ft. Worth) on your Texas Senate reappointment to Texas Forensic Science Commission. Thank you for your public service and keeping TCDLA members updated, and fighting for justice.

Kudos to our TCDLA members who testified at the State Capitol led by our TCDLA Legislative Team Bill Harris, Chair and Lobbyists Allen Place, Shea Place, and David Gonzalez! TCDLA members who came to Austin to testify: Nicolas Hughes (Houston), Rick Flores (Austin), David Botsford (Austin), Michael Gross (San Antonio), John Convery (San Antonio), and Frank Sellers (Ft. Worth) #TCDLASTRONG.

Thank you Wilvin Carter (Houston) for assisting a fellow colleague to save his/her Bar License and his/her career and to receive an Order of Dismissal after a year-long fight. Their confidence and trust in you was well met.

Congratulations Carmen Roe (Houston) whose client received probation on a PSI today – an attorney who pled guilty to two felonies for unlawful practice of law after losing his bar card. The offer was 10 years.

Suzanne Spencer (Austin) received a phone call criminal defense attorneys wait a lifetime for in March 2021. Suzanne represented an Unaccompanied Minor Immigrant a few years ago. He immigrated from Honduras by himself during the 2014 migration. Upon turning 17 while in the throes of a psychotic episode, he was charged with 6 offenses ranging from Continuous FV to VOPO to Assault on PO.

Suzanne was court-appointed to represent him. He was found ITST (incompetent to stand trial). However, he was restored to competency at the State Hospital. She was able to bond him out on Mental Health PR bond (unique unwritten policy to Travis County). Over the next 2 years, he complied with conditions and maintained employment in construction. They were successful at getting 5 of the 6 cases dismissed and upon the advice of a good immigration attorney, the 6th case was reduced to a misdemeanor and amended in a carefully crafted plea bargain designed to have no effect on my client’s Immigration Petition. My work was done and we parted ways.

Two years later, on March 12th, out of the blue – the client called to thank her. The day before he had been Granted LPR in the US Immigration Court in San Antonio. (LPR stands for Lawful Permanent Resident). The client was so happy and told Suzanne that he owed it all to me. She reminded him that he did his part which wasn’t easy and the result was a team effort that included 2 amenable prosecutors. The client is doing well contributing to the GDP. He is married and a father now.

Thanks to Seth Fuller (Denton) who represented an adult client with a co-defendant juvenile brother (both victims of sex trafficking) in Bell County who was appointed a lawyer originally a blind man could see was not capable/willing to defend this kid on a murder charge (now that he’s been certified re-indicted to cap). We were desperately looking for a new lawyer for the juvenile, but a single mom with two kids in jail, there was no money to hire a lawyer. Bell county refused to allow a withdrawal of the court-appointed for a new court-appointed. Mr. Fuller, when asked, took this juvenile case pro-bono and has knocked Bell County off its feet. Bell county now  has a new policy because of Mr. Fuller. He has and is fighting this case like he’s being paid a million dollars an hour. His willingness to take this case pro-bono has and will literally save a 14-year-old (trafficking victim) life. We are forever indebted to Mr. Fuller. 

E-mail your shout-out to
to be featured
in our next issue!


Staff Highlights: The Voice’s New Communications Coordinator!

The Voice for the Defense is excited to announce that Austin-based graphic designer Rebecca Keith, has joined TCDLA as our new Communications Coordinator!

Rebecca is a solution-driven graphic designer and visual artist, proudly born and raised in the “Wild and Wonderful” state of West Virginia. She earned her BFA from Marshall University, graduating with honors in 2015. She developed a love for travel (and red wine) while studying abroad in Florence, Italy with the university’s College of Art and Media.

Rebecca has since built many strong relationships and gained ample experience generating creative content across a wide variety of industries. Utilizing her fine-tuned skills and expertise, creative problem solving is her happy place. She takes pride in the work she does and enjoys the design process, working passionately on each project that passes by her desk from concept to delivery.

When she is not putting the pencil to paper or the pixel to screen, Rebecca can be found with her nose in a good book, coasting around on her long board, exploring new places and being the best Aunt she can to five beautiful kiddos. As a recent Texas resident, she has summer plans to check out the desert and take surfing lessons at Port Aransas Beach.

Shout Outs

/

Kudos to Jason Cassel, who helped dismiss the murder charge against his client, Deborah Smiley McFadden, for the death of her then‑boyfriend, Edward George, Jr. McFadden was accused of the murder in 2003. On Feb. 17, 2017, she was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Cassel contended that the prosecuting attorney suppressed evidence that would have been beneficial for McFadden. Congratulations, Jason!

Kudos to Brent Mayr, who is representing a Eddy, Texas, man who is among those indicted for the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. In a February 11 court filing, Mayr argued that his client “is anything but insurrectionary” and that cell phone footage proves this. It may seem a daunting case to take on, but Brent is handling it with the same ethical professionalism that he uses when assisting lawyers who call the Ethics Hotline. Best of luck, Brent, and kudos for taking the case!

Congratulations to Jason Niehaus and TCDLA’s Amicus Curiae Committee for the work and win in Watkins v. State, PD‑1015‑18 (Tex. Crim. App. 3/3/21).

Congratulations to Josh Zientek, who handled an appeal before the 9th Court of Appeals and was able to get stacked sentences removed from his client’s conviction. Excellent work, Josh!

Congratulations to Eric Torberson, who saved a dog from the death penalty. The dog in question was out for a walk with his owner and was frightened by a jogger coming up behind, and the dog pawed at the jogger but didn’t even break her skin. Paws in the air for Eric!

Congratulations to Nnamdi Ekeh, whose client was no billed on a aggravated sexual assault charge and whose charge for felony assault of breathing impediment was dismissed!

To be featured in our shout outs, email details to Melissa Schank at

1 2 3