I grow old …
I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?
Do I dare eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Well, I guess it’s not as dire and depressing as all that. I really am turning over the reins of the Voice for the Defense after four years. But, the fact is, I just turned 50 and am feeling rather sorry for myself.
As of Rusty this year, I have retired and Michael Gross and Grant Scheiner have taken over as Editor-in-Chief for the Voice and Editor of the Voice Online, respectively. I am going to hang around and I think do some blogging on the Voice Online. The thought of writing 100–200 words in a given session really appeals to me right now. I think as I have grown older, my ADD has actually gotten worse.
I am extremely proud of the Voice, though, and look forward to seeing it progress in others’ hands.
Like I said at Rusty, if I am remembered for anything, it will probably be the Voice Online, which we launched during my term as Editor. The truth, though, is that I came up with the idea (which was not altogether original in 2009 when I came up with it). Then, Melissa Schank and Craig Hattersley (and then our web designer, Stacy Clifford) shouldered the work. Melissa, in particular, oversaw scanning every issue of the Voice from inception to the present day for our archives and did some work on the code. I had the idea and an outline of what I envisioned. An idea, however, no matter how great, is pretty much DOA without execution, and Melissa and Craig provided that. The Board provided the seed money to get it done. It was a team effort and the end product reflects that.
If I could choose what I am to be remembered for, it would be making the Voice more accessible to our members. I wanted (and persevered) to take personality completely out of publication decisions. If I could help it, no decision to publish or not publish would ever be based upon whom the prospective author’s friends (or enemies) were. That, in my opinion, is as it should be. Now, with the Voice Online and blog, one doesn’t even need to be a member to join in. No debate is benefited through restricting the number of voices allowed to participate. And the Voice for the Defense ought to be a forum for debate.
I hope in the future more members will take part in this debate. A number of members have their own blogs, but have never once offered a blog entry in the Voice Online. This utter lack of participation is my only gripe from my term. The listserve, on the other hand, is an extremely active forum for commentary. I hope in the future that some of you will take a chance and turn some of those discussions outward. It would benefit the organization.
I believe that all board members ought to have a requirement to author just four blog posts per year. And rather than just scold all the board on a quarterly basis for not doing them, they should be tracked as attendance at board meetings is now tracked. If a board member fails to fulfill the quota, he or she will be kicked off the board. If we had a vibrant blog, our stats would go through the roof and our organization would become more visible as a result. Higher visibility means more members and more legitimacy at the Legislature, among other things. Simple as that. Weigh these benefits against the ridiculously small amount of effort to simply put together 200 words of commentary about some recent event, and I feel perfectly justified in suggesting that the board member should go.
One thing I would have liked to have floated would have been an alternative to the listserve, at least as to substantive matters. I have just recently seen yet another call for some kind of knowledge base created from substantive conversations on the listserve, of which there are many. I am no tech guru, but to my mind, a listserve is not even capable of such a thing. There is no way to really search a listserve, and to the extent that a knowledge base is created, it is only because you aren’t in the habit of deleting your emails. I don’t care how dedicated and smart the members of a listserve are, if you want a knowledge base, the listserve concept is just not going to support that.
Instead, I hope that this organization will one day establish a forum. A forum stores information topically under headings and is fully searchable. If a year ago some member posted a bunch of great stuff about scientific evidence in sexual abuse cases, you could find that in a forum through a keyword search, and unlike emails, this knowledge base is located on the web, not in the inbox on your computer. It would be a rational alternative to the listserve and something that I hope will one day get a fair, clear-eyed look.
More than anything, I would just like to say thank you to the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association for letting me be Editor of the Voice. The Voice, like TCDLA, has a rich heritage and I am extremely proud to have spent four years at the helm. You are my brothers and sisters and I love you all.