January-February 2007

Executive Director’s Report

In the last Texas Prosecutor we had the chance to thank a few prosecutors who have retired from the profession and moved on. Add to that list of folks who left office at the end of 2006 Chris Schneider (CDA in Caldwell); Bill Hill (CDA in Dallas); Mike Wenk (CDA in San Marcos); and Bruce Fetter (CDA in Gilmer). Y’all have made us proud—best of luck to you!

The answer people

Congratulations to our research attorney, Sean Johnson, who passed the bar and was sworn in November 10 by the Honorable Cathy Cochran, Court of Criminal Appeals judge. The good news is, even though he is now a certified lawyer, he will continue to charge the same amount for his legal assistance!

And welcome to our new law clerk, Emily Sitton. Emily is a third-year student at the UT School of Law and is fresh off a tour of duty as an intern at the Travis County DA’s Office. She has already hit the ground running, so feel free to call in and challenge her with a tough question. She’s up to it.

A hearty TDCAA welcome

Some new folks have been appointed to elected prosecutor positions during this last year. We have missed a few along the way, but you will meet these new prosecutors at our seminars: Roy Cordes, Jr. (CA in Richmond); Rod Ponton (CA in Alpine); Donnis Scott (CA in Tahoka); and Jack McGaughey (DA in Montague).

And January 1, a new crop of elected prosecutors took office. Welcome to Richard “Trey” Hicks (CDA in Lockhart); Jody Upham (CA in Ozona); Paul Johnson (CDA in Denton); Sherri Tibbe (CDA in San Marcos); Clint Allen (CDA in Linden); Craig Watkins (CDA in Dallas); Landon Lambert (CA in Clarendon); Steve Hollis (CDA in Jasper); Rick Harrison (CDA in Kaufman); Misti Spacek (CDA in Newton); Bill Burnett (CDA in Coldspring); Billy Byrd (CDA in Gilmer); Lowell Thompson (CDA in Corsicana); Lee Hon (CDA in Livingston); Kristen Fouts (CA in Haskell); Stephen Tyler (CDA in Victoria); Elton Mathis (CDA in Hempstead); and Staley Heatly (DA in Vernon).

Special mention goes to the newly appointed county attorney in Pecos, Alva Alvarez. Alva has just graduated from UT Law and passed the bar. As of December, at our Elected Prosecutor Conference, she had not yet received her bar card number. Alva was just getting her feet wet as an assistant when Richard Slack, the 92-year-old county attorney who served the public in various positions for over 40 years, retired. Don’t let Alva get lonely out there. We are doing all we can to make sure y’all have the support you need to hit the ground running, but a phone call of encouragement from a neighbor wouldn’t hurt either!

Feats of Clay

As you know, Clay Abbott is our DWI resource prosecutor. In the last couple years he has crisscrossed Texas with tailor-made training for prosecutors and police officers. He’s traveled so much he’s on his second car (fortunately, he was able to find a decent duplicate of his trademark red Dodge convertible).

We have just been notified that Clay’s efforts have been nominated for a prestigious “Best Practices” award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Outstanding job, Clay! I expect the awards ceremony to take place this spring, and we will plan a watch party.

So if you want some “best practices” to hit your town, check out the website, www.tdcaa.com, to download an application for Clay’s DWI training. Do it soon because he is already filling up his travel dates for the winter and spring. In the meantime, we’re going to start hunting for another red convertible. At this rate he’s going to need it soon.

Membership update

Your association enjoys tremendous support from the folks it serves. Because of limited resources, we have to find different ways to bring you the training and services you need. One way is through our modest membership dues.
And as a reminder, your membership brings you some important services:
•    discounted registration fees to the 2007 TDCAA Summer Legislative Updates;
•    a complementary membership directory on CD-ROM, which will be shipped this spring;
•    free registration to three-hour regional ethics training; and
•    for elected prosecutors, free weekly legislative update faxes during the 80th Legislative Session from Shannon Edmonds (which can be shared with the whole office).

Associate members receive a free subscription to this flagship publication, The Texas Prosecutor.

If all of these benefits sound too good to pass up and you are not yet a full-fledged, dues-paying member, please call Lara Brumen, our membership director, at 512/474-2436 to sign up. We’d love to have you.

Ode to a website

Many of you frequent the TDCAA website, www.tdcaa.com, which is a great resource for Texas prosecutors. One of the best things about it is the user forums where prosecutors share ideas and information. And we have found that the open forum can be downright inspirational to some members.

Recently, Richard Alpert, known for his DWI expertise and his books on the subject, showed real creative flare when he penned these lyrics as a way to honor the site:

To the tune of “My Favorite Things”:
Law briefs and papers and listings of experts,
Postings and musing and self righteous lecture,
Getting quick help as your rope frays to string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Comments by Bradley in every third posting,
Talk about trials and sometimes some boasting,
Learned opinions and brief borrowing,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the day drags
When my zeal sags,
When I’m feeling sad.
I simply log onto this wonderful board
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Why do I suddenly feel the urge to sew a bunch of kids’ clothing out of curtains?

You can come home again!

Many of you know Dain Whitworth as a defense attorney here in Austin. Many of you know Dain because he is married to Judy Bellsnyder, one of TDCAA’s meeting planners. Even more of you know Dain because he was the first executive director of TDCAA, when this association got its start in training back in 1970. A good guy to be around, even if he was part of the loyal opposition.
Well, I’d like to introduce you to Dain Whitworth, Assistant Criminal District Attorney in Port Lavaca. Dain took a job with Dan Heard in January. It sure is good to have Dain at our counsel table. Welcome home.