March-April 2010

A note about our new appellate attorney’s duties

Thanks to generous contributions to the Texas District & County Attorneys Foundation, TDCAA’s new appellate attorney, John Stride, is available to consult and assist with appellate issues at Texas prosecutor offices. Because of the high volume of criminal appeals in Texas, John’s focus will be on assistance rather than direct representation. TDCAA will provide this help through:

  1. email communication and telephone consultations on appellate issues and trial issues that will affect appeals;
  2. regional training sessions on appeals, as well as training segments at the TDCAA Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update and Elected Prosecutor Conference; and
  3. compilation of a brief bank that includes sample language on the most commonly filed appellate issues.

John will be available to help write briefs for prosecutor offices in Texas. Ordinarily, use of TDCAA’s briefing services will be reserved for more challenging, novel, undecided, or controversial legal issues, and normally won’t be available for elementary or largely factual issues such as sufficiency of evidence or ineffective assistance of counsel. John should be able to handle approximately 10 replies to defense appeals in non-capital cases per year, under the following guidelines:

  1. The prosecutor’s office must send a written request by fax (512/478-4112) or e-mail (stride (at) to John within five calendar days of receiving the defense brief.
  2. The request must include a copy of the defense brief, and a copy of the record must follow within an additional three calendar days.
  3. No more than one request per office per year will be accepted.
  4. Each request will be considered by the TDCAA Appellate Advisory Committee, which will vote to approve or deny the request based on the issues presented, whether other resources are available, and John’s current caseload.
  5. The committee will make a decision within three business days, and if the project is rejected, the record will be sent back within two business days of that decision.
  6. While John will draft briefs for prosecutor offices, it is the responsibility of each office to sign and file the documents. Based on bylaws adopted by the TDCAA Board of Directors, no TDCAA staff member may sign a brief on behalf of the association.
  7. John will advise and coach prosecutors on oral argument strategies, but he will not appear to make oral argument
  8. Based on bylaws previously adopted by the TDCAA Board of Directors, neither John nor any other TDCAA staff member will sign an amicus brief written on behalf of the association. For critical issues of statewide importance, John will instead communicate with the office handling the appeal and ascertain its interest in asking other prosecutor offices to submit amicus briefs on the issue. If the office handling the appeal is interested, John will coordinate with other offices to seek amicus support on behalf of the office handling the issue.
  9. One of John’s key duties is to identify emerging trends and issues in Texas criminal jurisprudence and assist Texas prosecutors in developing a consistent and coordinated approach to addressing those trends. John will write columns in each edition of the Prosecutor, and one of the topics should be a list of ongoing issues of statewide importance. John will use the available methods of communication with TDCAA members (website, e-mail, the Prosecutor) to let members know of TDCAA’s interest in assisting offices on appeal with those issues.