It’s hard for me to imagine that my year as TCDLA president is coming to a close. In many ways it seems like it’s just been minutes . . . (underwater!!!). But seriously, I cannot tell you how much I have appreciated this opportunity of service.
Through the years, some of my predecessors have been lucky enough to have the kind of terms where the stars are aligned, and they are somehow able to skate through the calendar without any issues or drama. I will spare you the details, but this has certainly not been one of those years.
Just a few months ago, we said goodbye to our Executive Director of 16 years, Joseph Martinez. I know he will be missed, but I am confident that Melissa Schank is more than capable, and that she is extremely prepared to lead us forward in the years to come. Thank you, Melissa, for all you have done to assist me this year. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our entire staff at the home office for their continued excellence, particularly in this period of change.
I hesitate to single people out for praise, because there are so many folks who could and should be mentioned. I am always worried that I will omit some deserving soul. But, there are some who I am compelled to mention by name. So, damn the torpedoes . . .
I want to thank the members of my Executive Committee for their support and assistance. Mark Snodgrass, Kerri Donica, Grant Scheiner, Michael Gross, Heather Barbieri, and John Hunter Smith, the ascending officers of TCDLA, made up the bulk of the Executive Committee, and TCDLA will be in their good hands for years to come.
I also want to thank the other members of that committee. Audrey Moorehead—good luck on the bench, we need more judges like you! Sarah Roland—Sarah does so many things for TCDLA . . . CLE Course directorships, Editor for the Voice, Executive Committee member. Sarah is truly a shining star of TCDLA, and I expect that she will continue to do great things for us in the years to come.
I particularly want to thank the two past presidents who graced the Executive Committee, my dear friends Stanley Schneider and David Botsford. Your institutional knowledge, your wisdom, your support, and your guidance have been invaluable to me.
Thank you to all the TCDLA board members and TCDLEI board members who unselfishly give of yourselves for our organization. I want to thank especially the ghosts of LEI chairs past, present, and future—David Guinn, Lance Evans, and Clay Steadman.
Nicole Deborde and Reagan Wynn as co-chairs of TCDLA’s Strike Force. They dedicate untold hours to boldly stepping into the fray when our members need them most. Special kudos to them and to all our Strike Force members across the state.
To John Hunter Smith and Lance Evans and the members of their Prosecutorial Integrity Committee. To Ed Mallett and Philip Wischkaemper and the Judicial Relations Committee. To Mark Daniel for his stellar representation of us on the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Thank you!
We are so fortunate to have Michael Mowla. Michael does tremendous work on both the Significant Decisions Report and as moderator for the listserv. Thank you, Michael.
Thank you so much Allen and Shea Place for your continued efforts in both educating us about last year’s legislative session and continuing to monitor the legislature and prepare for the upcoming year. Your help is invaluable.
Thank you to our CDLP chairs, Heather Barbieri and Clay Steadman, for your tireless planning, organizing, and dedication to educating our members and lawyers around the state.
And to all our other various committee chairs and members who serve as the backbone of our organization, Thank You!
Also, thanks to all of our course directors and seminar speakers who help ensure that TCDLA continues to provide the absolute best criminal defense CLE in the nation.
Past presidents—I cannot say enough about the men and women who have served before me and who have whispered words of encouragement and offered their sage advice. I have not only been buoyed by their support; they have also set the precedent and the path for me of continued service to TCDLA after my term expires.
Thanks to my law partners, Greg Waldron and Jason Parrish, for giving me the time I needed to devote to this job. I appreciate you guys watching my six when there otherwise were not enough hours in the day.
More than anyone else, I want to thank my wife Pamela and my boys Casey, Jacob, and Micah for being so understanding and supportive when I was busy doing TCDLA “stuff.”
While I cannot say that I have appreciated the deadlines that roll around like clockwork for each month’s President’s Message, I have enjoyed the opportunity of the bully pulpit. From the beginning, it was my desire to do more in my columns than tell you how many seminars we did the previous month, or how the trains are running on time. I did not want to try to educate you on the legal issue du jour. I left that for folks way smarter than me to do so on pages deeper in the Voice. Instead, I wanted my columns to entertain you, inform a bit, and maybe (at least to a small degree) challenge, uplift, or inspire you. From Groucho, to John Adams, to Nazi Germany, to Kemo Sabe (he is just finishing his first year, doing great, made mock trial travel team and tells me he wants to be a lawyer!), to Altuve and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, to the Santa Claus Bandit, to Robert Louis Stephenson, to the lawyers of the Alamo, and ultimately to Reverend Kyles and Dr. King, I have enjoyed our journey together.
Let me conclude with this: I believe that our society is approaching the shoals of dangerous waters. I worry about the way that we treat our neighbors who don’t look or worship the way we do. I worry about our nation’s fixation on a perceived threat to our Second Amendment while we seemingly turn a blind eye to the constant erosions of our guarantees under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments. I am dismayed by the constant assault on the Fourth Estate and the tendency to easily dismiss and label inconvenient or damaging information as fake news. And, I am concerned about the denigration of our courts and the assault on the Rule of Law.
These are troubling times, and the clouds only seem to be darkening on the horizon. I hope that I am wrong.
I am, however, encouraged that on the journey ahead, I will be sojourning with you, this great group of brothers and sisters.
I want to leave you with a couple of quotes from John F. Kennedy. He said: “Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met—obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.” To that end, President Kennedy also exhorted us: “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”
There is work to be done. I will always hold you and our organization in my thoughts and prayers. I hope and trust you will do the same for me.