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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Dallas County Court of Criminal Appeals 2

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Johnny J Lanzillo IV (Dem) Attorney

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    Pamela Luther (Dem) Attorney and Former Prosecutor

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    Bruce Kaye (Dem) Attorney

  • Marilynn Mayse (Dem)

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Biographical Information

PERFORMANCE & EXPERTISE: Please outline your legal experience, including any specializations and peer review status. Describe any public reprimands or suspensions you have received.

EFFICIENCY: What methods do you support, if any, to increase the efficiency of the County Court of Criminal Appeals to provide swift justice?

ACCESS TO JUSTICE: What, if anything, should be done to improve access to justice for low income residents in criminal cases?

OTHER ISSUES: What other issues do you believe will be most pressing in the County Court of Criminal Appeals and how would you address them?

Age 32
Education University of North Texas - BA History '08;Texas Wesleyan School of Law - JD '12
While in law school, I began my legal career in the school's family law clinic, where I represented indigent clients in family law cases. I also was a volunteer for the Innocence Project where I was a team leader. Since being licensed, I have handled over 800 criminal cases, including jury trials and contested hearings ranging from Class C misdemeanors, up to 1st degree felonies, and I have done this in counties across Texas. I also currently take court appointments in Dallas County. I am admitted to practice in Federal Court, and have handled several Federal criminal cases. I have also handled another 50+ family and civil cases, including a number of family law trials. I have not had any issues with the State Bar of Texas.
As managing partner of my law firm, Peter & Lanzillo, I have gained valuable management experience in maintaining our offices docket that averages over 100 civil and criminal cases. I am responsible for payroll, HR, and office management on top of my duties as an attorney. I intend to take this experience to manage my court efficiently. Additionally, I intend to use pretrial hearings before trial to help manage my trial docket. I intend to use these pretrial hearing to more expeditiously determine cases that may settle, as well which cases will actually go to trial when they are set. By controlling this, I hope to eliminate some of the uncertainty currently in place in many Dallas County courts.
The justice system should not favor those with money. My goal is to continue to push for bail reform and ensure defendants who are indigent are having attorneys appointed quickly. I would also like to work with the District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff to find a way to create a diversion program for people in jail. If eligible, you should not be denied an opportunity at a diversion program and a dismissal of your case simply because you cannot afford bond, or you have a hold, such as an immigration hold. This will help defendants avoid the convictions they are currently taking simply to get out of jail, therefore creating a lifelong stigma of a criminal conviction.
Other issues that I believe would be pressing are substance abuse and mental health. I would want to work to ensure that those who are suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues are getting the treatment they need. Catching substance abuse problems at the misdemeanor level could prevent many defendants from eventually seeing the inside of a felony courtroom down the line. Additionally, ensuring that those with mental health issues are making it to mental health court for evaluation would be a pressing matter, and I intend to give attorneys and defendants the opportunity and time to seek that evaluation and treatment.
Age 57
Education Bryan Adams High School B.S. -University of Texas at Austin Southern Methodist University Law School
Campaign Phone (469) 569-2917
I'm a former prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and a former attorney for the Public Defender's Office for Dallas County. I've been in private practice, criminal defense, for the past 4 years.

My entire career has been devoted to criminal work. I not only understand the inner workings of court procedure, but I have researched and argued constitutional issues for both the government and the defense.

I have tried countless cases to verdict before juries and before the court. I have also successfully raised and argued motions regarding admissibility of evidence at trial.

I have had no suspensions or reprimands of any kind.

Primarily, my background experience and the knowledge of how the District Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office and private practitioners operate helps immensely in knowing how to move a court efficiently. It's not only court rulings that affect the fairness of outcomes, but simple procedural rules have a ripple effect on victims, law enforcement and defendants. Dallas County is known for having a very slow moving docket. I would like to implement more pretrial hearings in my court that would require the presence of the attorneys, but without the witnesses, in order to handle pretrial matters and have the parties announce if they are ready to proceed to trial. I have no doubt this will increase the number of cases moved by trial.
Cooperation and participation with the Public Defender’s Office is extremely important. Specialty courts in Dallas County exist for mental health (CCC #3), Veteran’s (CDC #4) and prostitution (CCC #9), which are extremely appropriate and highly effective programs for certain misdemeanor defendants. My court, Dallas County Court of Criminal Appeals #2 is the only court that continues to allow defendants to perform workdays instead of incarceration. Other procedures that Judges can ensure are adequate and available translators in the courtroom and clear, concise admonishments to defendants when they are pleading to cases to help ensure they understand the consequences to their record and/or their immigration status.
I would encourage cooperation between the state and the defense to creative plea deals catered to the individual’s needs (mental health, immigration status, substance abuse, etc.) rather than jail.

My court, Dallas County Court of Criminal Appeals #2 is the only court that continues to allow defendants to perform workdays instead of incarceration. This program is valuable, but needs updating. For instance, the forms for this program in Dallas County have outdated information that is not corrected until AFTER a defendant has been admitted, sometimes making it impossible for him/her to complete the unexpected conditions. Some of the important information on these forms have been incorrect for over 10 years.
Age 51
Education Tulane University University of Florida South Texas College of Law
Campaign Phone (214) 566-0211
25 years of criminal defense experience in both state and federal court. In addition to numerous jury and bench trials, I have also written over 70 appellate briefs in both state and federal court. I have been appointed as the Special Prosecutor by Judge White for the 194th Judicial District Court. I have also been appointed as the Writ Master/Magistrate for CDC 4 (Judge Collins) and the 282nd Judicial District Court (Judge Givens). I have never been suspended or had any public reprimand. I have also served on the District 3g Grievance Panel. No other candidate has the same level of experience in my race.
I believe unlimited resets on misdemeanor cases slows down the docket and I will have a "3 and Go" policy of three resets and then a disposition setting.
Presently, low income residents typically can not afford to make bail in their case which means they sit in jail waiting for their court date. This causes terrific hardship on the Defendant's family as many lose their jobs and/or their housing while sitting in the County Jail awaiting their court date. Moreover, this system costs the taxpayers huge sums of money. The cure is to take the approach that many major cities (including Houston) are taking which is to lower the bond amount (or give a P.R. Bond - where the defendant is not required to post any money) and set the matter for as quick a court date as possible. This practice will also increase the efficiency of the Court because cases will be disposed of at a much faster pace.
My main objectives will be to (1) protect the citizens from those who abuse alcohol and continue to operate motor vehicles; (2) to try help Defendants who suffer from addition and mental illness via the Probation Department and the many social services that are afforded to Defendants, (3) protect abused spouses (requiring abuse classes for Defendants) and (4) when appropriate, access a fair and reasonable term of incarceration in the County Jail.
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