Texas Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4
6-year term. Must be age 35-74 years, a U.S. Citizen, a Texas resident, licensed to practice law in Texas, a registered voter, and have at least 10 years experience as a lawyer or judge. Reviews all death penalty cases and applications for habeas corpus in felony cases, hears final appeals on criminal cases, and administers publicly funded judicial and attorney education.
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Kevin Patrick Yeary
Background: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?
Mental Health: How should the Court of Criminal Appeals address mental health issues of those who come before the court?
Access to Justice: What opportunities are there, if any, to improve the state’s indigent defense system in criminal cases?
Other Issues: What other issues do you believe will be most pressing for the Court of Criminal Appeals?
*Law Clerk- Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 1yr (1992-1992)
*Private Lawyer- Criminal/Civil Defense 3yrs (1992-1995)
*Appellate Prosecutor- Dallas, Houston, San Antonio 19yrs (1995-2014)
*Judge- Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 5+yrs (2015-Present)
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, along with the Texas Supreme Court, recently established the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health "to engage and empower court systems through collaboration, education, and leadership, and to thereby improve the lives of individuals with mental health needs and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)."
The Texas Indigent Defense Commission "provides financial and technical support to counties to develop and maintain quality, cost-effective indigent defense systems that meet the needs of local communities and the requirements of the Constitution and state law."
The Court must follow the rule of law and ensure that the written law provides the even playing field that all citizens should expect from our judicial system. Judges must not be policy makers, but should instead decide disputes between parties to litigation, guided by reference to the constitution and laws, which are written by others.
I am the presiding district court judge of the oldest Criminal District Court in Texas. I have 14 years experience as a trial court judge over a felony district, county criminal and municipal courts. I have tried over 400 trials in my career.
The CCA is an appellate court so issues of mental health raised on appeal are the issues that may be addressed. The CCA also funds education programs and grants for judges, lawyers and prosecutors. Expanding the funding for additional education on mental health in criminal cases would make a vast difference in the entire criminal justice system.
First, review cases of ineffective assistance of counsel closely. One can be ineffective not merely by not doing something they should have done but also for the lack of time they have based on carrying too heavy of a case load, based on ABA standards. Second, indigent defense attorneys must be given adequate resources for investigators, experts and other tools.
(1) To help answer and educate members of the legislature on where bail reform is currently in Texas. (2) Review staffing needs for additional lawyers on writs that come into the CCA. (3) To consider using differing platforms to increase transparency to the public. (4) Diversify internships to give access to law students that have not traditionally been given access.
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