It’s hard to believe that this is my last President’s message! That means my year as the President of TCDLA is coming to an end, and it has just flown by. What a ride it has been!
Initially, I was going to write more about some of the bills moving in the Texas Legislature related to sexual behavior, the new offense of indecent contact, definitions of consent, the crime of bestiality—or some other bills of importance, like the 300-page rewrite of the code or the bill that would eliminate sales tax on your morning pastry as long as it is served cold (except kolaches—don’t worry, they can be hot or cold and avoid the tax!).
But, upon some reflection, I feel like we will collectively hear about new laws in June at Rusty Duncan, so instead of discussing more potential bills while there is still a month left in the 85th Legislative Session, I decided to use this last Voice message to reflect on the last year and successes of TCDLA.
TCDLA remains the lead defense attorney organization providing critical services to our membership. Our heavy-hitters Strike Team had to stop everything in a few cases and go to the rescue of an individual member being targeted by a judge. Our Amicus Committee prepared and submitted several briefs that we hope will help judges align with the right point of view and catalyze change on important issues.
TCDLA put on a total of 125 defense-attorney or defense-team training programs—including 48 seminars on location and 77 online courses—to ensure that our members have the latest and most reliable information as they take on serious criminal cases. More than 5,675 defense attorneys and team members attended the seminars held statewide. The reviews from attendees are generally glowing, and attendees report that they learn new and innovative ways to defend their cases from our trainings.
Not that I have any bias, but certainly the President’s Trip CLE put on in the Voyager of the Seas Conference was a highlight of the year—we had great speakers, learned and laughed in the sun. In some cases, we learned too much information about our colleagues.
TCDLA has faced a number of challenges this year as well. Our staff has worked tirelessly to put together these amazing and creative CLEs. Our financial staff has worked to ensure complete compliance with the terms of our grant from the Court of Criminal Appeals. The TCDLA audit, completed in February 2017, indicated no issues that were out of standard compliance.
Our legislative team has—and is still—working long days ensuring that our clients are protected from unfair legislative efforts to undercut our clients’ statutory or constitutional rights. In the waning days of the Legislature, they are watching prosecutors or other interest groups who may attempt to put in amendments with which we disagree. Already we have seen huge successes from our lobbying team—not the least of which is insisting that preventive detention be taken out of the pretrial release bill—so now, our clients will not be held without bond while their cases are pending.
We all know that the success of a leader, a director, or a President is the quality of his or her staff. I believe that TCDLA has an amazing and committed staff, for which we members and leaders should be grateful. I hope to stay involved so that there is continuity among our leaders and institutional memory about important decisions. And, most importantly, I wish every success for our new President, David Moore, as he takes on the gavel and the responsibilities it represents.