B.A., Asian Studies, Furman University;
J.D. (international law concentration) and M.A., Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University.
One of three 2019 Texas Super Lawyers in constitutional law; established constitutional rights in Turner v. Driver, 848 F.3d 678 (5th Cir. 2017) (recording police) and Zadeh v. Robinson, 928 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 2019) (pre-compliance review of subpoenas to doctors); filed 19-676 at the Supreme Court; pierced grand jury secrecy; & CLE instructor regarding constitutional law.
The Court should dispense with its unconstitutional "adaptive functioning analysis" in death penalty cases involving mental health issues, follow the medical community's adaptive-functioning inquiry on adaptive deficits, and voluntarily honor U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence concerning the death penalty (rather than being repeatedly reversed because it refuses to do so).
Monitoring appointments to ensure caseloads do not render appointed counsel ineffective, establishing public defenders' offices in counties that do not have them (thereby facilitating additional training to the indigent defense community), and providing reliable resources for investigators, scientific testing, and mental health evaluations.
Protecting the People’s constitutional rights (especially in death penalty cases and for unrepresented inmates in habeas corpus proceedings); by retraining (or replacing) my staff, by prohibiting the closure of the courthouse to those seeking emergency relief, and by adjusting technological policies to facilitate communication when emergency relief is sought.
Actual innocence standards, the Court's 2010 elimination of factual sufficiency review (despite its existence under Texas law since 1837), death penalty jurisprudence, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
Prairie View A&M University- B.A.
Thurgood Marshall School of Law- J.D.
• Criminal District Court 7, Presiding Judge, Dallas County, Texas, Felony Court; • County Criminal Court 11, Presiding Judge, Dallas County, Texas, Family Violence Court; • City of Dallas, Associate Municipal Court Judge; • City of Princeton, Municipal Court Judge; • City of Lucas, Municipal Court Judge; • City of Balch Springs, Municipal Court Judge; • The Frizell Firm
The Court of Criminal Appeals should ensure that trial courts examine mentally ill defendants for their capacity to know the difference between right and wrong as well as whether a mental illness affected their judgement and was properly asserted and applied for sentencing purposes.
We should require internships similar to internships in the medical field where newly licensed attorneys work for government agencies, firms and solo practitioners doing trial work and appellate work for at least one year prior to becoming licensed. This will give non-profit and pro bono agencies more attorneys to handle an increased case load, while giving indigent defendants and civil respondents much needed legal representation.
Death Penalty Cases. My priority is to ensure defendants sentenced to capital punishment, have cases reviewed regardless of the date the death penalty is scheduled to be implemented. Rather than implementing Stays of execution, the sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment until the appellate process is complete.
Wrongful convictions. We should examine the case law premise that there are many trials which occur at the state court level that have errors, but frequently the errors are not considered to be reversible error. This prevents many defendants from receiving a fair trial.
Baylor School of Law, 1986
BBA, Baylor University, 1983
Over 30 years handling felony, misdemeanor, & juvenile cases. Private practice since 1991. Also, served as City Attorney, Assistant CA, Assistant DA. As TDLR Commissioner & Chair, a quasi-judicial capacity, ruled on over a 1000 administrative appeals.
The Judicial Committee on Mental Health assesses the resources available; recommends ways to improve communication between the courts, attorneys, clients, and mental health providers; provides training to judges; and continues to make recommendations for improvement of the current system. Unquestionably, these efforts should continue.
The rule of law is undermined when defendants cannot afford counsel. The Fair Defense Act was established to administer appropriations and policies to help counties with indigent defense programs. Also, transparency and accountability at the local level will ensure fairness, eliminate conflicts of interest and cronyism. Pro bono work is a way to provide counsel.
Above all other duties, judges should uphold the rule of law. Additionally, they should be independent and impartial, and they should demonstrate appropriate temperament by respecting all parties to a case and should have good character.
Keep pace with the ever-changing challenges of technology in order to appropriately address DNA issues. Also, make sure the Michael Morton law is properly enforced, so the right persons are charged for criminal offenses.
BYU, B.S., August 1982
St. Mary's University School of Law, J.D. 1987
1) I have practiced criminal law full-time for over 31 years.
2) Former State and Federal prosecutor with substantial trial and appellate experience.
3) Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
4) Judge for over 20 years and appointed by Gov. Bush.
6) Adjunct Law Professor 12+ years.
6) Distinguished 2015 Law Graduate StMU.
Early intervention is critical in cases dealing with mental health issues, as such, trial courts are in a better position to assist the immediate needs of citizens in those cases. The Court of Criminal Appeals and Texas Supreme Court are part of a joint commission that provide training to professionals assisting those with mental illnesses.
The TCCA oversees funding to train those organizations that represent indigent defendants. That is a starting point. However, in order to improve the system, both counties and the State must commit to providing the financial resources necessary to staff offices in counties with lawyers that have substantial experience in the criminal justice system. Putting defense lawyers on the same pay scale as prosecutors would encourage more to apply for those positions. Other opportunities from the legislature, such as passing procedural and discovery rules, as they accomplished in recent sessions would contribute to improving the system.
The TCCA is the busiest appellate court in our country reviewing all death penalty cases, post conviction writs (including claims of actual innocence) and appeals from 14 intermediate appellate courts across the State. The total number of cases in any given year is in the thousands. Timely disposing of these cases for all parties is my highest priority.
Post conviction writs (including actual innocence claims) constitute the largest number of cases the TCCA reviews. Given the changes in modern day science and technology that can be used in the courtroom, it is imperative that our court keep up with these changes and recognize those that can have both negative and positive impacts on cases before the TCCA.
Texas A&M University, 1974-1977
Baylor University Law Degree, J.D. 1986
Board certified in Criminal Appellate Law. Baylor Law graduate. Practiced law 32 years, including criminal trials, appeals, writ applications, as a prosecutor and defense counsel. Argued cases before TX Court of Criminal Appeals, TX courts of appeal and the U.S. 5th Cir. Filed applications for certiorari and briefing with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mentally disabled person must be protected and afforded adequate opportunity to present evidence and address issues related to mental illness and intellectual disabilities. The Court must provide guidance to practitioners and courts below in its opinions with emphasis that protects persons with mental health issues.
1. The Court can and must continue to support training and continuing legal education for attorneys who represent indigent defendants. 2. Indigent defense attorneys must be supported and compensated adequately to ensure effective assistance of counsel to indigent defendants. 3. Cash bail should not be used to incarcerate the poor before trial for no other reason than they cannot raise funds to hire a bonding company. 4. Mass incarceration and the disparity of incarceration rates of minorities and the poor must be reduced by adequate study and implementation of rule changes in partnership with the legislative and executive branches.
Treating parties before the Court equally and fairly is a hallmark of the rule of law. The parties must be given the opportunity to develop the record adequately for their issues to be properly addressed. In death penalty cases, the Court must be open to allowing defendants to present their cases in as complete a fashion as possible.
The Timothy Cole tragedy is an example of wrongful incarceration that has been the subject of a Court commission study . The lessons learned from that study must be implemented fully and the Court must be ever mindful of the damage wrongful incaceration has on people, the rule of law and the justice system.