There are lots of politicians who claim to be super patriotic. They are generally neither super nor patriotic. These self-proclaimed super patriotic politicians often claim a strong allegiance to our founding fathers. In truth, a good number of these politicians take positions that are contrary to those of our founding fathers. Loudly boasting that one is a patriot while advocating positions that are contrary to those of our founders is disingenuous and sometimes downright delusional.
There is only one group that consistently maintains its fidelity to the principles enunciated by our founding fathers; that group is the defense bar. Only the defense bar daily stands and fights to preserve the Bill of Rights. We do not brag on our fidelity to the Constitution—we live it.
For at least three decades, for as long as I have practiced, our society has cast us as the bad guys. We are often viewed at best as maybe one moral notch above the guiltiest of our clients.
As defense lawyers, we are often treated with disdain. Local news and popular television have largely contributed to our vilification. In defending those charged with a crime, we are often treated as if we support the crime. Such is not the case. It is a libel and it is not true. In supporting the Constitution and defending the accused, we do not thereby become supporters of the alleged criminal conduct.
The next time someone mocks you for being a defense lawyer, take them on cross. Utilize the “Doctor Analogy,” which goes as follows:
- Doctors take an oath, right?
- If a doctor is in the emergency room and they bring in a man who is riddled with bullets, pursuant to the doctor’s oath, would you expect the doctor to try his best to save the man?
- If the man riddled with bullets was also accused of shooting a cop or molesting a child, would you still expect the doctor to use his ability, professional skills, and experience to save the man?
- If the doctor saved the man accused of shooting the cop or molesting the child, would you think less of the doctor for having done his job, or would you appreciate that the doctor had honorably kept his oath?
As defense lawyers, we take an oath, and our oath is no less serious to us than any doctor’s oath is to him. In many ways, we have the same job as doctors. Like doctors, it is our duty to use our professional skills to try to save those who come to us. Arguably, the only difference is that doctors work in the emergency room, and we work in the courtroom.
It is time that we defense lawyers stop accepting this mistreatment. Our colleagues in the defense bar should be lionized, not demonized.
The words in the Declaration were a start in the long continuing fight for liberty in this country. The words are a rejection of tyranny and a bonding of those willing to give all to fight tyranny.
The defense bar daily continues the fight for liberty against those who would take it. The tyrants of today are not kings, per se. The tyrants of today are abusive judges & prosecutors who think themselves kings & queens.
So when we read the Declaration aloud in front of courthouses, it is a powerful symbolic statement. It is our public embracing of our role in the long continuum in the fight for liberty in this country. It is our announcement that we are united in our fight against abusive judges and prosecutors.
This year, TCDLA members were lead by a tremendous group of 74 volunteer local defense lawyers. In each community, these defense lawyers stepped forward to organize local readings.
In an unprecedented event, TCDLA lawyers lead readings in 74 Texas cities and towns, 4 states, and 2 foreign countries. In an historic event, TCDLA defense lawyers stood shoulder to shoulder in front of courthouses in one out of every four counties in Texas. Together, we held readings from El Paso to Orange and from Pampa to Harlingen.
Together, we made a powerful statement to our adversaries that we, the defense bar, are united like never before.
The long days of the defense bar remaining quiet are over! We are proud of our work! We are the heirs of our founding fathers! As such, we lay claim to the Declaration of Independence. We are the proud guardians of the principles enunciated therein.
From this point forward, TCDLA will annually celebrate July 4th with readings of the Declaration. We will raise our voices across Texas and annually reaffirm our commitment in our fight for liberty and against tyranny.
As the statewide organizer, I thank and praise all local organizers for your leadership, time, and dedication. All local leaders and participants deserve our praise and thanks—for every reading makes us all stronger. The local organizers and the communities where they lead readings are all listed below.
If you have not sent me your group photo please do so. If you are interested in joining us next year by organizing a reading in your hometown, please let me know. Next year we will have 100 readings across Texas!
God Bless Texas!
TCDLA State coordinator
The 2014 TCDLA Declaration Readings
Amarillo—Jeff Blackburn & Ryan Brown
Austin—Bradley Hargis & Joseph Martinez
Bandera—John & Cindy Payne
Bay City—Scott Markowitz
Big Bend—Jim Darnell
Burnet—Tony Odiorne & Michelle Moore
Corpus Christi—Michelle Ochoa & Constance Luedicke
Corsicana—Kerri Donica & Steve Keathley
Del Rio—Gail Schroeter
El Paso—Jim Darnell
Fredericksburg —Tammy Keener & Cheryl Sione
Fort Davis—Mimi Smith
Fort Worth—Shawn Paschall
Georgetown—John Armstrong & Shawn Dick
Graham—Franz Von Hoffman
Hillsboro—Terence “Tiger” Russell
Houston—Robb Fickman & Carmen Roe
Kaufman—Michael Ray Harris
La Grange—Phil Baker
Laredo—Roberto Balli, Oscar Peña & Ray Rodriguez
Lockhart—David Shulman & Kevin Fine
McKinney—Jon O’Toole & Karen Chesley
Mount Vernon—Bart Craytor
New Boston—Bart Craytor
New Braunfels—Megan Roper & Jamie Balagia
Richmond—Dawn Zell Wright
San Angelo—Tip Hargrove & Fred Brigman
San Antonio—Adam Kobs & John Convery
San Marcos—Scot Courtney
Waco—Josh Teton & Tom Ragland
Wichita Falls—Rick Bunch
Other Readings By TCDLA Members
Blank Point Beach, Sea Ranch—Richard Anderson
New Orleans, Louisiana—Sharon Curtis
Yellowstone, Wyoming—Tyler Flood
Readings Outside the States
Paris, France—Mark Bennett
Cancun, Mexico—Danny Easterling