“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”
February flew by. The month started with seminars during the Austin shutdown, led by our fearless course directors Rick Wardroup (Capital); Jani Maselli Wood (Appellate); Teri Zimmerman, John Shelburne, and John Convery (Veterans); and Rick Wardroup and Alyse Ferguson (Mental Health). Special thanks to all the speakers and attendees who braved the weather and made this event possible.
Next up was TCDLA’s Federal Law & Gumbo. The excellent topics and speakers in New Orleans kept the entire audience entranced each day till 4:30 pm. Speakers then lingered and met with attendees individually, and the questions continued at length. You know it’s good when no one leaves early on a Friday! Course directors John Convery and David Botsford hosted a stellar lineup. (If you missed the event, you can find it in the on-demand portion of our website.)
Of particular note was the presentation of the TCDLA Distinguished Service Award to Roy Barrera Sr., surrounded as he was by a number of attending past presidents. It was such an honor to meet a legend and listen to his stories. At the age of 95, Roy still retains clients and actively litigates, including in a recent criminal felony. He may be the longest-standing criminal defense attorney in the state, licensed more than 70 years. In 2021, Roy had two jury trials—one trial to verdict and another ending in a mistrial. He truly is one of our gentle giants.
The fun times did not end with the seminar; this also included our President’s Trip, hosted by Michael Gross. His choice social events combined great times, delicious meals, plus the camaraderie of our past presidents, officers, lifelong members, and new faces. We spent four days and evenings together and really got to know each other and catch up. The photos can’t begin to show just how much fun we had!
Gene Anthes and Sean Levinson from the Membership Committee also put together a rousing get-together: our first Members Social Event Touring the Cowboys Stadium. This was a great idea to bring members and families together to meet and form relationships in a fun, relaxing environment. The Membership Committee has three more social events planned this year: a Dallas Stars Hockey game, a Texas Rangers game, and a Wine Tasting—Austin to Fredericksburg. We will be sending more details soon.
The month continued with an Indigent Defense seminar in Dallas, where Lynn Richardson assembled a talented lineup for an overwhelming turnout of attendees. This event has always been popular due to Lynn’s leadership and support. In addition, we hosted two Juvenile Training Immersion Programs. Bill Cox and Kathleen Casey-Gamez worked tirelessly with trainers who prepared materials and a written curriculum designed specifically for Texas. The series of small group interactive programs—each a different topic—proved to be a resounding success. The next one is March 4 in El Paso on Adolescent Development. The final program of the series will be held virtually on April 29, dealing with “The Role of Counsel and Organization 101: Managing the Juvenile Caseload.”
It must be noted that we have worked closely with the grant on innumerable related items. We want to thank Judge Hervey and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges in general for their continued support for the education of criminal defense attorneys and support staff.
We also held a successful Career Pathways training to engage law-school students, new lawyers, and lawyers exploring a specialty or new career. More than 40 criminal defense attorneys shared their experiences, career paths, local county cultures, and norms—whether in private practice, firms, or PD/MAC offices. If you missed out, you can still view this on the website.
TCDLA also joined with the NACDL Foundation in a united effort to fund TCDLEI scholarships. We appreciate all our members who contributed and/or attended. The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Educational Institute Board met to prepare for the Rusty Duncan Silent Auction as well as plan for the remainder of the fiscal year. Do you have something you would like to donate—artwork, vacation home, jewelry, memorabilia? We welcome anything!
The Future Indigent Defense Leaders 3.0 class has been finalized, and we will next turn to planning travel to Gideon Core 101 in April. If you didn’t get in this year, applications will open up for 4.0 in November. We had so many qualified applicants that TIDC and HCPDO really had a hard time selecting candidates. The client-centered focus was overwhelming, listening to each applicant’s story. Special thanks to those who assisted in the numerous interviews—Thuy Le, Brandon Ball, Kathleen Casey-Gamez, Bill Cox, and Rick Wardroup. We have weekly planning meetings with these folks as well as Geoff Burkhart and Alex Bunin.
As Michael mentioned in his article, many of our other committees met this month. The Awards Committee, for one, met to select the recipients and research candidates—itself quite a task! All our committee volunteers should be lauded, as they continuously look for ways to provide services for our members.
This month has indeed flown by. I worked night and day to catch up so I could enjoy my time spent with members, whether traveling, zooming, or on the phone. Time flies when you’re having fun, and enjoying what I do in life is its own reward itself. Now time for March Madness!