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Texas Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9

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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    David Newell

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    Brandon Birmingham

Biographical Information

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?

I serve you as a Judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals. I have over two decades of experience handling and deciding criminal appeals as either a lawyer or a judge. I am board certified in both criminal and criminal appellate law.
It can adopt dynamic standards to allow non-dangerous citizens suffering from mental illness who commit a crime to easily transfer out of the criminal justice system from a jail bed to a hospital bed so they can get the help they deserve. Violent offenders should also be treated for their illnesses, but in a secure facility for the safety of the community.
Creation of more regional public defender's offices could help ensure a standard level of competent representation. Additionally, the Court of Criminal Appeals could pro-actively set out minimum standards for representation of indigent defendants in serious cases
Mental health issues, mentioned above, are obviously pressing. Wrongful convictions based upon junk science or police misconduct are also very serious. Additionally, reforming bail practices so that the indigent are not incarcerated for extended periods of time prior to conviction unless there is a flight or safety risk is another significant to address.
Two-term Felony Trial Court Judge, former Presiding Judge-all Felony District Courts, Dallas. Lead counsel on over 100 jury trials from DWI to Capital Murder. 2 specialty court dockets, visiting professor at SMU Law School.
My experience has taught me how important properly addressing mental health issues are to reducing recidivism. The CCA should help increase training for lawyers on these issues, and where appropriate, work to increase funding for courts across Texas for worthwhile mental health programs.
Justice shouldn't depend upon a person's access to resources-lessons we've learned from the Dallas County exonerations. We must increase funding through the legislature to help counties pay for reasonable and necessary costs of providing indigent defense. Second, we have to establish state-wide best practices to define and manage the case loads of indigent defense counsel.
From allowing a verdict to stand while a lawyer slept in court, to letting politics impact decisions, or reversals by the United States Supreme Court in death penalty cases, rulings from the CCA have contributed to the public's skepticism of our criminal courts, and illustrate very clearly the need for change. If we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.