Congratulations to TCDLA Director Jani Maselli Wood and General Counsel Patricia Cummings, both of whom were selected by Texas Lawyer as “Texas Lawyer’s 2014 Winning Women.” Of course, we all knew they’re winners, but it’s nice to be recognized as such in the press.
In August, Houston attorney Nicole DeBorde was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Nicole has served as president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and chair of the Houston Bar Association, among her many positions, and currently is a TCDLA board member. Congratulations, Nicole.
Ted Wood and co-counsel Jamal Rhadbane heard the two-word verdict recently on an aggravated robbery in San Antonio. The complaining eyewitness said he was 70 percent sure that D did the deal, so counsels asked him if he thought he should go to prison on a 70 percent confidence ID. He said no. The jury still took 4 hours to acquit, for which Ted and Jamal are grateful. Defendant had an IQ of 70, so it was disturbing they took so long on such a weak ID. All’s well, guys. Good job.
Mick Mickelsen has recently enjoyed a couple significant victories for the defense. This spring he successfully defended a client on counts relating to allegations of theft of trade secrets from Texas Instruments. D returned from China to face three counts of knowingly stealing and misappropriating TI trade secrets and was found not guilty on all counts.
And in July 2014, Mick prevented a client from being charged with disability fraud in Federal court. The client was facing lengthy prison time under the sentencing guidelines, but due to the extenuating circumstances the judge declined to impose a guideline sentence and placed him on probation. Congrats, Mick, for jobs well done.
On June 25, 2014, TCDLA Director Clint Broden won another appellate case before the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The client hired Broden after he was convicted at trial. Although the Fifth Circuit upheld the conviction, Broden convinced the Court to reverse the sentence. It is expected that the client’s sentencing could be reduced by approximately seven years upon re-sentencing. Good work, Clint.
TCDLA past president Cynthia Orr got good news from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on her appeal in the case of Hannah Overton, who’s served seven years in prison of a life sentence on a capital murder conviction. The trial had drawn national attention, featured on ABC’s “20/20” and Katie Couric’s daytime talk show “Katie.” The Nueces County District Attorney’s office now has the option to try her on a lesser charge, dismiss the case, or retry her on the capital murder charge. This was some fine work, Cynthia. Congratulations.
Kathryn Case, Executive Director of Texas Defenders, sent along these kudos: Three cheers to attorney Dan Hurley and his entire team for getting the death penalty waived for Amarillo plastic surgeon Thomas Michael Dixon! Dixon was accused of hiring a hitman in July 2012 to kill a rival doctor dating Dixon’s ex-girlfriend. In November 2013, the Lubbock DA announced he would seek the death penalty against Dixon, but has now withdrawn its intent to seek death, and the case is scheduled to go to trial as a mini-cap in late October. The hitman, represented by a Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases defense team led by Dennis Reeves, avoided the death penalty when he accepted a plea deal in return for an LWOP sentence.
Kudos also to capital defense counsel Jerald Graber, Robert Morrow, and Phillip Scardino, to mitigation specialists Gina Vitale and Amy Martin, and to fact investigators Laura Lawhon and Suzanne Kehoe for obtaining an incredible plea to stacked life sentences today for a defendant facing two separate capital murder charges in Harris County. D faced the death penalty for a murder in the course of the robbery of a game room, and some months later, authorities obtained evidence that he had also shot and killed a print-shop owner and stolen the man’s car. A mitigation document submitted to the DA’s office was described as a persuasive work of art, yielding the offer of stacked LWOP sentences in return for guilty pleas. There is much more to this story, Kathryn says, but suffice it to say, it is a story of never giving up the effort to save the client’s life.