Sarah Roland passes along word that a fellow Denton attorney, Dawn Moore, had quite the appellate victory recently. Dawn won two appeals in two days—May 29 and 30—in the cases Christopher Allen Gillette v. The State of Texas and The State of Texas v. Ryan T. Harrison. Quite an accomplishment for all your hard work, Dawn. Congratulations.
TCDLA member Bill Mason of Cleburne got a “not guilty” on a two-count Indecency with a Child by Contact jury trial in July in the 18th District Court of Johnson County. It’s a tough county with even tougher prosecutors, as defense attorneys from Dallas and Fort Worth will testify. The jury heard testimony from the 6-year-old alleged victim, as well as from the Child Advocacy Center interviewer, the forensic sexual abuse nurse from Cook Children’s Hospital, and a polygraph expert, as well as information of an extraneous indecency allegation from a 15-year-old girl. In spite of all this, the jury only took an hour and a half to find for the defendant. Nice work in a tough case, Bill.
Federal columnist Buck Files was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Texas Bar Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Also on the Board is former TCDLA president Michael Heiskell, appointed two years ago by Buck, making it a first—having two criminal defense attorneys on the Board at the same time. Another honor for two of our stars.
Brian Bouffard won an acquittal in an Air Force court-martial at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, in late May. His client, a native Texan and Air Force staff sergeant, was found not guilty of rape in 90 minutes by a panel of senior officers and enlisted jury members—despite tearful testimony from the complaining witness in the case. Brian cross-examined the complaining witness using 2½ hours of closed-circuit video showing her behavior toward the accused in the bar that night, which convincingly demonstrated her untruthfulness on direct examination. Brian led a tenacious trial defense team into the fight, including Captain Collin F. Delaney, USAF, of Chicago, Illinois, and Dr. Kelly Goodness, PhD, a seasoned forensic psychologist in Keller, Texas. Victory was sweet for an innocent client facing 30 years in Leavenworth. It was a joyous 12-hour flight back to DFW! Congrats to Brian and the hard-charging U.S. v. Rodriguez trial defense team!
Scott Edgett of Plano related a story to John Ackerman as testament to the efficacy of John’s psychodrama program.
“I had an open plea on a DWI 3rd (really his 5th DWI but only charged as an F3) this morning in front of a very difficult judge, but I really did not have any other options to keep my client out of prison.
“When he hired me almost two years ago, he was begging and pleading that he wanted to change his life saying how alcohol was killing him every day and he did not want to go to prison again. We came up with a game plan early on—what he needed to do to change his life and his dependence on alcohol. We started with a little intervention in my office with his wife and adult children. This intervention turned into a psychodrama session, as I was searching for what was the deep-down cause of his pain causing him to drink. After he broke down in my office, crying hysterically, just like a normal psychodrama session for me every October in Round Top, he was able to pinpoint things that happened to him as a teenager. He began drinking in his teens to not deal with the constant reminders of what was going on in his life. Thus, he continued to drink to erase those memories on a daily basis.
“We were able to get him to a therapist for the first time in his life to deal with his childhood issues. We were able to get him into substance abuse treatment. We were able to get him to not only go to AA meetings everyday, but to even become someone’s sponsor. He has not had a drink of alcohol for 19 months now. He looks great and feels great. He is a completely new person! I even took his mug shots from his last 2 DWI arrests that showed his deep red face and had him hold the photos up next to his face while in court today. He looked like a different person.
“Today for the open plea, I had my client testify about what he had to go through as a teenager, and how he would always turn to alcohol as the eraser. He even got off the witness stand and showed the judge what it was like to come home from school every single day, pausing and taking a deep breath before he opened his front door to go in to his stepfather (also an alcoholic) beating and raping his mother and younger sister in front of him. He had the entire courtroom in tears, including the judge. After his testimony, the judge got down from the bench and came around and gave my client a big hug in the middle of the courtroom.
“The judge gave him 10 years probation with no SAFPF and no treatment.
“If I hadn’t had my client and his family come into my office so we could find what was causing him to drink, then I would have never known and he would have likely been spending the next 10 years in TDC.
“Thanks again to John Ackerman and all of the Psychodrama Staff (and TCDLA) for introducing me to psychodrama a few years ago!”
A powerful story and a beautiful ending, Scott. Kudos to you for your efforts on your client’s behalf.
Congratulations to Harris County Public Defender Alex Bunin, who received the Warren Burnett Award from the State Bar of Texas’ Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee. Alex said, “This award is really for all 63 employees of the Public Defender’s office, and it’s a tribute to Harris County and this court to have the vision to provide the resources and the structure for our office.” The award celebrates the life of Warren E. Burnett, a colorful, Shakespeare-quoting Texas lawyer who achieved near-legendary status by winning big jury awards, taking on seemingly impossible murder cases, and defending the powerless. Kudos, Alex, for all your hard work.
Congratulations to former TCDLA President Gerry Morris for his latest honor. Gerry is now serving as President-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Gerry has served on the NACDL Board of Directors since 2001, among his many other assignments there.
Longview attorney and recent Rusty Duncan Course Director Jason Cassel showed some masterful legal legerdemain in the case of a former TCDLA President and a speeding ticket he received. Jason apparently got the ticket dismissed despite the fact, as a party close to the incident revealed, “he was guilty as sin.” Kudos, Jason.
Congratulations also to Justin Underwood of El Paso, who heard the two-word verdict on an indecency with a child by contact case—with a videotaped confession, no less. Word has it that a local news station is preparing a story on the police interrogation techniques and false confession evidence.