Steven R. Green and John Scott of Athens recently reached a plea agreement for Life without Parole in the capital murder case of Donny Lee Greenhow in the 294th Judicial District Court of Van Zandt County, Texas. The State indicted Mr. Greenhow for the double murder of two family friends while strung out on illegal drugs and prescription medications. The State was seeking the death penalty, but with the help of mitigation specialist Gerry Byington and a sympathetic victims’ family, Green and Scott were able to convince the State that life without parole was the appropriate resolution. Congratulations, counselors.
Former TCDLA Director and Houston lawyer Jack B. Zimmermann was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association at its banquet on May 8, 2014. Zimmermann was introduced by former National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Jim E. Lavine as a defender of the constitution, champion of the underdog, zealous ethical advocate, American hero who served his country in combat with distinction and valor, leader of the Bar, and teacher of young lawyers to improve the quality of representation of the citizen accused. His many nationally significant cases were reviewed, and Zimmermann recalled humorous incidents from some key cases and testimony before Congress. All 350 seats were sold for the largest banquet audience in HCCLA history. He continues to practice as a senior partner in a Houston-based law firm focusing on state, federal, and military defense cases. You’re a credit to the association, Jack.
As our new Second Vice President, David Moore, noted, Bernie Tiede was released from custody in Carthage recently. David says that a huge reason for that was the courage that Danny Buck Davidson showed in doing what he felt was appropriate under the facts and the law. “I truly believe that his actions truly exemplify a prosecutor who takes his oath seriously regarding seeking justice,” said David. “I know that he will face undue and unfair criticism in many circles. I believe that we should do something as an organization to recognize his willingness to take a position with considerable risk of fallout because he believed it was the right thing to do.” Immediate Past President Bobby Mims, in a letter to Davidson, concurred: “The Board of Directors and the 3,500 members of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association commend you for your pursuit of justice in the Bernie Tiede case. As you know, everyone wins when justice is done, and we are confident that you are one of those elected officials who relentlessly pursues justice.”
Back at the end of March, Chris Raesz had what he described as the weirdest trial experience. He had spent months going to docket trying to get his client approved for pretrial diversion on the theft of an iPhone, finally gaining approval. And his client turned it down. So Chris put the case on the trial docket, whereupon the State offered deferred. And his client turned it down.
So a trial it was. Chris notes that he presented two very good suppression issues (with the judge admitting that he wanted the GPS portion appealed), but both were denied. So Chris told his client that he thought he should absolutely not testify—when prior to trial he thought it would absolutely be necessary. His client listened this time and didn’t testify. Twenty minutes into deliberations and the jury came out with a big “not guilty.” As Chris says, “Sometimes our clients are smarter than we are.”
At the end of last month, Casie Gotro and Don Flanary scored a not guilty on a very tough Intox-Manslaughter in San Antonio. The case involved a BAC of .15 and the tragic death of a child. Don, who became a TCDLA Director at Rusty, says that both of them dug very deep and applied the powerful tools learned in their psychodrama experiences. Don credits his co-counsel, one of the TCDLA Pro Bono Lawyers of the year: “Casie was amazing to watch. I could not have done it without her! I am definitely headed to the Ranch now!” A hard-fought win for two of our best.
Hall of Fame inductee Stan Schneider adds that Casie was a true road warrior: “She and I started a murder trial in Galveston on May 5th. Our client was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. She left Galveston immediately after the verdict and drove to San Antonio to start an intoxication manslaughter trial with Don Flannery on May 16th. The jury returned a two-word verdict yesterday at 5 p.m. She spent a month on the road in trial but helped obtain great results on two difficult cases.”
The Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers Association donated $10,000 to the Texas Tech University School of Law Foundation April 9, during a brief ceremony at the TTUSL Hunt Courtroom. LCDLA Immediate Past President David Hazlewood, along with LCDLA fundraising coordinator Jill Stangl, presented the check to TTUSL Dean Darby Dickerson.
The gift is one of many in a series of donations LCDLA has made to the law school since 2005. Each year, the law school hosts the popular Prairie Dog Lawyers Advanced Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by LCDLA, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Project. This year, in conjunction with the seminar, LCDLA raised funds through its annual membership party, private donations, and t-shirt sales. TCDLA, which also held its quarterly board of directors meeting in conjunction with this year’s seminar, was instrumental in the fundraising effort.
The money will benefit the Brendan Murray Criminal Defense Scholarship, which was created following his death on September 14, 2006. Brendan, son of longtime LCDLA and TCDLA member Brian Murray and wife Lynne, was a 22-year-old Texas Tech law student and TCDLA employee. He was a zealous advocate for the poor and oppressed throughout his life. Thus, the scholarship benefits worthy law students attracted to defending God’s children who have not yet attained perfection from those who have. To date, the fund has reached more than $92,000 from donations.