TCDLA Brothers and Sisters:
I have been writing and rewriting this first President’s page for one year. Many thoughts as to what I wanted to say have come and gone, but many have stayed. I now begin with those that have remained. First, I want to especially thank our outgoing President, Bill Harris, for being an insightful, dedicated, and effective leader. His boot will be difficult to fill.
Second, I am humbled, honored, and thankful that a majority of you voted me your President. I am equally appreciative to those who voted against me, because by doing so, you validated and gave meaning to our Association’s election process.
Clearly, this presidency is a change from those of the recent past because we have not had a truly elected president since 1966–97. It was then that David Botsford was so honored by an earlier majority that wanted change. That said, I acknowledge that being elected does not make this presidency better than those of the intervening periods, but in the same way, it does it make it any less. All that it means is that a majority of those who voted were ready for a change and that I am part of that change. At 60 years of age and with 31 years of practice experience behind me, I accept this challenge to explore changes that will leave TCDLA in a better position that I found it.
It has now been one year since that election ended. During that time, I have worked hard to not disappoint those who voted for me and to convince those who did not that I am their president, too. I remain committed to the principles that, as your president, each member is just as important as the next, that TCDLA is not me, nor the officers or board, and nor is it the staff. Rather, TCDLA is the membership and that we, who you put in charge, ought to be working for and with you! The Lakota, a Great Sioux Native American Nation, have a saying—“mitahuye oyasin.” It translates “all our relatives” and means “we are all related.” As a criminal defense lawyer and your president, I believe that mitahuye oyasin applies to our Association, for all of us within TCDLA are related in both spirit and purpose. If anything can be said of our membership, it is that we police the police and defend “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” every day!
Some have suggested that an incoming president having an agenda is a bad thing. Indeed, I believe that as your President, it would be a bad thing if I did not. In a larger sense, my plan is to carry out and further the successes made by my predecessors. It cannot be a bad thing to build on past legacies and accomplishments of our Association’s earlier leaders.
My plan includes you, the membership, to work on separate and distinct committees. Your committees presently are made up of 33 women and 116 men who have volunteered to give their time, effort, and good will to you. All of these committees and their mission statements are listed online and will be listed in our membership directory too. In regard to new committees, the Judicial Integrity, Prosecution Integrity, Minority/Diversity, and List Serve Committees will be of particular import for each of our members.
Being mindful of fortunate opportunities, I am happy to announce that our Association is strengthening its ties to our State Bar of Texas. President-Elect Buck Files has already been very helpful to us in that he committed to have the State Bar share its online voting and video conferencing technology with TCDLA. These advances will allow all our committees to video conference and to give each of our members a meaningful and convenient vote. We are also pleased to announce our continued partnership with the National College for DUI Defense in presenting MSE and in certifying our DWI program hours for use by college members. Finally, I am especially pleased to announce our new alliance with Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer College. We are bringing psychodrama to Texas Here; credit needs to be given to board member and vice chair of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Project, John Ackerman, for making this happen.
The list serve committee has made part of its mission to get a majority of our membership online. Today, fewer than one-third of our members can be reached online. Our goal is to get at least 95 percent of our membership online. Our legislative committee, led by Allan Place, was successful in getting a courthouse access bill passed, and our courthouse access lawyer badge committee, led by Chairperson Lori Botello, will be working hard at getting us one badge for access to every courthouse in the state. Incidentally, this was an item I had promised to pursue when I ran for president elect. Finally, our new ethics committee, led by Robert Pelton, will be accessible 24/7 through our “ethics hot line” (512-646-2734).
My hope is to be a good president for you, and, as God allows me to see what is right, I will always strive to do right by you. Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving with you.
J. Gary Trichter,