Victor Amador of Lewisville was victorious when the 2nd COA ordered the 16th Judicial District Court in Denton to dismiss a murder case against his client due to the violation of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act. Victor filed a motion to quash the 2008 indictment, the 16th court denied it, so he filed a Writ of Prohibition and Mandamus. The COA ruled in his favor, and the defendant walked out of the Denton County Jail on April 8, 2011. Nice work, Victor.
Corpus Christi members had a May to remember: Constance Luedicke and Michelle Ochoa heard the two-word verdict 22 times in a possession of child pornography case in the 105th District Court in Nueces County. On the same day, Jimmy Granberry heard the “not guilty” returned in an assault case in County Court at Law #2 in Nueces County. Way to go, Corpons.
Fort Worth member Bob Ford scored a major victory for Chelsea Richardson, the first woman in Tarrant County to be sentenced to death. After a four-year appellate battle, Bob secured an agreement with the DA’s office that the former prosecutor on her case withheld evidence, and that she should get a new punishment hearing—and a life sentence. Richardson and two others were found guilty of the slayings of her boyfriend’s parents at their home in Mansfield in 2003. If District Judge Steven Herod, who was appointed to hear the appeal, agrees with their conclusions, he will make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. If the appellate court agrees, both sides then plan to enter into an agreement, and Richardson will receive a life sentence. A long, tough fight, Bob. Way to hang.
Two Trial College grads—Leslie Starr Barrows (2010) and Dean Miyazono (2011)—heard the two-word verdict in a DWI 2nd with a portable breath test of .175 in Tarrant County Criminal Court No. 7. Good work, y’all. You make us proud. Tarrant County prosecutors have had their hands full there recently: 4 not-guilty verdicts in that court in the past 2 weeks!
Keith and Cynthia Hampton of Austin won a mandamus in the Court of Criminal Appeals June 15th. The case involved the disqualification by the trial court of Bob Phillips, the defendants’ retained counsel, for a perceived conflict of interest because of his former representation of a witness who was expected to testify for the state, but who had nothing to do with the defendants’ case. In re Bowen v. Carnes, __S.W.3d__ (Tex.Crim.App. Nos. 76,519 & 76,520, delivered June 15, 2011). The case is important because it not only reinforces the defendant’s 6th Amendment right to chosen counsel, but, because the CCA, after observing that the trial court made no record on whether there was a conflict, disabuses the state and trial court of the notion that counsel can be removed merely because of how his representation may appear to the public: “[B]efore the mere appearance of unfairness may be allowed to defeat the Sixth Amendment presumption in favor of retained counsel, it must be accompanied at least by some serious potential for conflict. Here, the respondent allowed his concern about the public’s perception of fairness, without more, to override the relators’ own perception that the best way they could assure fairness for themselves was to be ‘defended by the counsel [they] believe[d] to be best.’  Such a concern, untethered to a finding of an actual or serious potential for conflict of interest, cannot suffice to overcome the . . . presumption [in favor of retained counsel].” The Court also rejected the state’s argument that appeal was an adequate remedy: “Requiring an accused to go through the ordeal of trial and appeal before he can pursue his remedy on appeal is a waste of public resources that can serve only to compel him unduly to reveal his evidence and trial strategy to the State.” Congratulations, Keith and Cynthia, on a great win!
The TCDLA Droid App Is Here
The new Android app for codes is now available in the App Market. Thanks once again go out to Grant Scheiner, Chair of the Computer & Technology Section of the State Bar of Texas, for his efforts seeing this created.
TCDLA warrior Stan Brown, who has practiced law in Abilene since 1972, will be honored in July as the first recipient of the Warren Burnett Award by the Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee of the State Bar of Texas. Jeff Blackburn, chairman of the committee presenting the award, told Greg Kendall-Ball of the Abilene Reporter-News: “Stan is the perfect example of a totally unsung hero who has been doing the right thing—because it’s the right thing—for decades, often with little or no reward. He’s absolutely following in the footsteps of Warren Burnett.”
Jeff said that Brown was the perfect recipient of this award, named in honor of Warren Burnett, an Odessa lawyer who, Blackburn said, “made as big a mark and cut as big a swath through the legal profession as any lawyer Texas has produced.”
For nearly 40 years, Stan has been handling court-appointed criminal cases in Taylor County and the surrounding area. A member of TCDLA since 1974, Stan earned a political science degree from UT then graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1969. For the past two years, he’s mostly been appointed to work on appeals cases. “That’s my way of slowing down a little bit,” he says.