January-February 2017

TDCAA Leadership Report

Rob Kepple

TDCAA Executive Director in Austin

On November 30 the Association held its annual business meeting to elect leadership for the new year. I am pleased to report the following election results: In 2017, Randall Sims (DA in Potter County) will serve as your President. Under TDCAA by-laws Randall will also serve as Chair of the Board for 2017 as our current President, Bernard Ammerman (former C&DA in Willacy County), left office at the end of the year. Jennifer Tharp (CDA in Comal County) will serve as President Elect, and Jarvis Parsons (DA in Brazos County) was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Greg Willis (CDA in Collin County) was elected to a two-year term as the Criminal District Attorney at Large, and Teresa Todd (CA in Jeff Davis County) will serve as County Attorney at Large.
    We also have new Regional Directors, who will serve two-year terms: Region 1, Landon Lambert (CA in Donley County; Wally Hatch, DA in Hale County, outgoing); Region 2, Dusty Gallivan (CA in Ector County; Bill Helwig, CDA in Yoakum County, outgoing); Region 4, Stephen Tyler (CDA in Victoria County; Jose Aliseda, 156th Judicial District Attorney, outgoing); and Region 7, Kriste Burnett (DA in Palo Pinto County; Mike Fouts, 39th Judicial District Attorney, outgoing).
    I want to take a moment to thank the regional directors and other members who are going off the Board, including Vince Ryan (CA in Harris County, serving as County Attorney at Large), and Jack Roady (CDA in Galveston County, serving as CDA at Large). And although all of these folks have for the moment rotated off the Board, their contributions have been great, and we hope they don’t go far. Personally, I have appreciated how Vince has brought the power of his civil office to the benefit of all civil practitioners in our offices all around the state. And Jack did a masterful job of leading our profession through this mixture DNA quagmire. Bill Helwig has been, to steal a campy term from today’s business work, the Chief Innovation Officer. It has been a team effort of all who led us through another successful year, and the leadership is much appreciated.
Welcome, newly elected prosecutors
This election cycle we have a large class of just-elected prosecutors. Some have already taken office by appointment, but most were sworn in on January 1. Our running list of newly elected prosecutors appears below. I say “running list” because with 337 elected prosecutors in Texas, we invariably will miss one or two election results (sorry!).
    This is a reminder that our profession is ever-changing, and if we are to be at our best TDCAA has to be at its best. We started with the Newly Elected Boot Camp at the end of November, and we will host a follow-up just for the new folks on February 23 and 24 in Austin. The follow-up training has been pretty popular—a lot of unexpected questions come up in the first month in office, and this is a chance to get them answered by other experienced prosecutors.

Running list of new elected prosecutors

New County & District ­Attorneys
Brian Evans, C&DA in Freestone County
Jose Meraz, Jr., C&DA in Ochiltree County
Annette Hinojosa, C&DA in Willacy County

New Criminal District ­Attorneys
Faith Johnson, CDA in Dallas County
Pam Guenther, CDA in Jackson County
Nicole Bishop, CDA in Kendall County
Jim Hicks, CDA in Taylor County

New District Attorneys
Kimbra Ogg, DA in Harris County
Elmer Beckworth, Jr., DA in Cherokee County
Robert Lassmann, DA in DeWitt, Goliad, and Refugio Counties
Shawn Dick, DA in Williamson County
Kriste Burnett, DA in Palo Pinto County
Richard Thompson, DA in Nolan, Fisher, and Mitchell Counties
Samuel Smith, Jr., DA in San Patricio County
Jennifer Dick, DA in Baylor, Cottle, King, and Knox Counties
Margaret Moore, DA in Travis County
Michael Bagley, DA in Val Verde, Kinney, and Terrell Counties
Audrey Louis, DA in Atascosa, Frio, Karnes, La Salle, and Wilson Counties
Sandra Wilson, DA in Pecos, Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Presidio Counties
Casey Polhemus, DA in Montague, Archer, and Clay Counties
Mark Gonzalez, DA in Nueces County
Philip Furlow, DA in Dawson, Gaines, Garza, and Lynn Counties
Amanda Navarette, DA in Winkler and Crane Counties
Wade Jackson, DA in Floyd, Briscoe, Dickens, and Motley Counties
John Best, DA in Tom Green, Concho, and Runnels Counties
Stephen Shires, DA in Shelby County
Laura Nodolf, DA in Midland County
Joseph Martin, III, DA in Angelina County
Mark Hall, DA in Henderson County
Lucy Wilke, DA in Kerr, Gillespie, and Kendall Counties
Adam Sibley, Jr., DA in Bosque, Comanche, and Hamilton Counties
John Warren, DA in Cooke County
Dawn Allison, DA in Wharton County

New County Attorneys
Cary Kirby, CA in Angelina County
Cody Robinette, CA in Baylor County
Deborah Earley, CA in Blanco County
Susan Deski, CA in Burleson County
Nicholas Arrott, II, CA in Coke County
Bryan Clayton, CA in Concho County
Michael Hall, CA in Fisher County
Joseph Sindon, CA in Frio County
Kyle Miller, CA in Hemphill County
Matt Mills, CA in Hood County
Joseph Guerra, CA in Jim Wells County
Jennifer Dillingham, CA in Karnes County
Donnie Coleman, CA in Kimble County
David Hajek, CA in King County
Todd Durden, CA in Kinney County
Caleb Henson, CA in Leon County
Matthew Poston, CA in Liberty County
Sterling Burleson, II, CA in Mitchell County
Jimmy Ashby, CA in Palo Pinto County
Frank Lacy, CA in Pecos County
Rod Ponton, CA in Presidio County
Deborah Bauer, CA in Refugio County
Tamara Cochran-May, CA in San Patricio County
Lilli Hensley, CA in Sterling County
Riley Branch, CA in Stonewall County
Kenneth Bellah, CA in Terrell County
Paige Skehan, CA in Upton County
Thomas Caldwell, CA in Wilson County

And a new State Prosecuting Attorney
Also welcome to Stacey Soule, who takes over as State Prosecuting Attorney in Austin after Lisa McMinn retired. Stacey had been an assistant SPA before taking the head job, so she knows her way around. We’re glad to have you on board!

Thanks to those who have announced “ready” for the State
I can’t begin to thank all the folks who left elected office at the end of December for your dedication, energy, and leadership. It has been our privilege to be there for you. Out of the 52 people leaving office, I count over 20 as career prosecutors. Y’all have stuck with the profession through some hard times and helped us redouble our efforts to seek justice. You’ve left the profession in better shape than when you started, and for that we thank you. We are stronger for your service, and I hope you won’t be strangers. (And on a personal note, Bob Adams, I hope that you will continue to send me one of your underwater photos every now and again!)

The new Dean of Texas District Attorneys
With the retirement of Bruce Curry (DA in Kerr, Gillespie, and Kendall Counties) after 30 years of service, please congratulate Charles Bailey (DA in Camp and Titus Counties) as the new Dean of Texas District Attorneys. Chuck took the helm as DA in the 76th Judicial District in September 1987, which means he has 29 years of elected service. Chuck, you are going to need to keep at it awhile longer if you want the overall Texas prosecutor title. That belongs to Joe Warner Bell, the CA in Trinity County, who has been at it for 38 years and has the title Dean of Texas County Attorneys locked up!