Thank you so much for this awesome honor. The 41 intelligent lawyers who have come before me have all left our organization better than when they took the oath, and I intend to follow their example. Our association is not “broken,” so I will not be “fixin’” anything! I will only make it more responsive to the needs of those who promote justice and the common good.
I tip my hat to Gary Trichter; he has done a fantastic job as president of our association. The path he has left me is well lighted, for which I am most grateful. His effort to unify our associations has been most fruitful. He has solidified our relationship with the CCA to such an extent that our financial health looks solid. Additionally, we now own our home. Thank you so much, Gary. You and Heidi may take a well-deserved bow.
I took the formal oath as a lawyer on the University of Texas campus. When I was walking out, there were many organizations and SBOT sections seeking to obtain membership from the “baby lawyers.” There was one table supervised by a middle-aged woman, and she pointedly caught my eye and beckoned me over. She asked if I was going to practice criminal law, and when I told her I was, she said I could not do my job well if I did not belong to the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. She told me that the association had the best seminars, the best trial lawyers, and the best help for lawyers. She said members of the association make it a point to watch each other’s backs. I joined that day and found she told the truth.
I do plan to enhance the resources we have to aid criminal defense lawyers in performing their duties and obligations. I believe with all my heart that we, individually and as an organization, stand between the government and its zealous representatives. So long as there is a TCDLA, no criminal defense lawyer will ever stand alone.
I see our association taking the initiative in Brady reform, with our legislature and the State Bar. Further, I see us calling to account those prosecutors who seek to pollute juries in direct violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct—specifically, Rule 3.06(c).
If you discover a needed resource that would enhance your abilities, you are obliged to bring that to the attention of the Board for consideration. Nine chances out of ten, there is another lawyer who is experiencing the same need.
The committees of TCDLA will earnestly endeavor to be responsive to the needs of the membership—as well as to other criminal defense lawyers.
We all will also make a concerted effort to increase our membership. It is a remarkable accomplishment that we have become the largest state criminal defense association in the country.
I earnestly anticipate that our relationship with TCDLEI will be financially more advantageous to our members. As LEI is no longer in the property owner business, I believe that monies will again begin to flow for scholarships and other educational investments.
On a somber note, we as the elected leaders of our association must make it a point to watch out for the mental health of our colleagues. One suicide, one colleague abusing alcohol or drugs, one colleague not fulfilling his legal duties, is one too many. I am very proud to say that TCDLA has the resources to address these problems within our number. We must individually be on guard, and help one another when we even suspect such a problem is developing. One gets over embarrassment far faster than grief.
I am available to each of you, as well as to our membership in general, to entertain your suggestions and concerns regarding the effective management of our association. Just as all my predecessors, I believe that a free exchange of ideas only enhances our membership. All you have to do is ask me for my cell number.
Men and women have given their lives to protect and defend the laws we have sworn to uphold. We cannot let them down when we are protecting those laws in the courtroom by acting in any way that diminishes their sacrifices, as well as those by their families.
Each of us has talents that will, when employed, lend themselves to the enhancement of our association. I therefore ask each of you to use those efforts to allow the paraphrased words of Reverend Sykes to become a reality: “Stand. There goes a TCDLA lawyer.”
Thank you for this honor, and now let’s get to work.