Kudos to TCDLA members recently certified in criminal law by the Board of Legal Specialization: Jonathan Hyatt (Longview), Justin Nimz (Wichita Falls), Richard Oliver (Houston), and Jed Silverman (Houston). Congratulations, fellow warriors.
San Antonio defense attorneys John Economidy, Donald Flanary Jr., and James Price emerged Friday, January 15, 2016, from the 290th District Court with the dismissal of two capital murder indictments against their client in a triple murder case. On the eve of an anticipated marathon suppression hearing, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the capital charges. In return, the client entered an Alford plea to a single count of a 38-count indictment for third-degree felony offense of possession of child pornography and received a 10-year sentence. Congratulations, gentlemen, on a job well done.
Kudos also to Bill Mason of Cleburne, who in December heard the two-word verdict in Johnson County on a five-count Indecency with a Child by Contact. A 15-year-old complainant testified to sexual contact by her 25-year-old uncle on two different occasions in 2012. Testimony showed D’s semen DNA in the complainant’s pajama pants. Turns out, the ex-girlfriend had worn the same pants for a tryst the next day—hence the presence of D’s DNA. Congratulations, Bill, on a job well done.
Texas criminal defense lawyers in general—and TCDLA members in particular—are due a big congratulations for their part in 54 exonerations statewide last year, ensuring that innocent people don’t remain in prison. Across the country, a record 149 prisoners were exonerated in 2015, more than a third in Texas, with exonerees spending an average of 14½ years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. The rapid increase of exonerations has led the largest urban areas in Texas to create conviction integrity units—including Harris, Bexar, Travis, and Tarrant counties. Dallas County was the first in the nation to establish such a unit, with a familiar face to TCDLA in charge— former TCDLA General Counsel Patricia Cummings, now the Special Fields Bureau Chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.