Texas Prosecutor, January-February 2019

Training on tap for 2019

As 2018 petered to a halt, I found myself welcoming the new year in the same fashion as one year prior: sitting alone in a dark room and contemplating TDCAA training as I was regaled by the sounds of illegal fireworks (seriously, it was a lot this year). I know that sounds depressing. That is, it sounds depressing unless you know how exciting the 2019 training calendar looks! What better way to bring in the new year than to reflect on the hard work our boards and committees put in to make sure we have a slate of outstanding training to look forward to? I can’t think of one, so let’s get future-focused and talk about what lies on the horizon.
    By now the first of our two Prosecutor Trial Skills Courses (PTSC) will have been held. We’ve made some shifts in the agenda and are trying out new content, but the course remains the same dive into what it takes to be a professional prosecutor. Whether you are new to the job or looking for a refresher, you will learn something of value during this week working with your peers from across the state and hearing from some of the best prosecutors in the country. If you missed the January school, don’t fret—we are back in Austin to do it again in July.
    This year’s Investigator School will be in lovely San Antonio from the 4th to the 7th of February. That’s right around the corner! Surely, after seeing the Texans and Cowboys face off in “the big game,” we’ll be ready for a week of great training. The Investigator Board members outdid themselves this time around, and attendees are going to feast on a smorgasbord of topics ranging from “lone wolf” killers and photographing crime scenes to digital evidence. Additionally, we are offering Civilian Interaction Training (TCOLE 30418) so everyone can satisfy that requirement with a class designed just for CA and DA investigators.
    In April we’ll hold the first of two specialty schools. I’m pleased to inform you that the Training Committee elected to put on a Domestic Violence Seminar this year—but this one is going to be a little different from years past. Rather than run the risk of watering down the training by inundating attendees with tons of options, we are narrowing the focus to those topics necessary to successfully analyze, prepare, and try DV cases. Don’t get me wrong: If you are working in a prosecutor’s office and your job touches on family violence, there is definitely something here for you. We’ll be offering a track on protective orders, specific victim issues, and even post-arrest investigation. This seminar is about acquiring the tools, knowledge, and professional connections to successfully prosecute cases of domestic violence. Eyeball the course on our website and join us from April 9–12 in Georgetown.
    We’ll head back to San Antonio for our Civil Law Seminar May 8–10. The Civil Committee is again bringing you invaluable updates to all those areas of law that civil practitioners deal with the most. In addition, we’ll have a mid-session legislative outlook as well as talks on Garrity, jail standards, roads, and subdivisions. And the committee has heard your pleas and we are once again hosting forums for offices that deal with rural or more urban issues. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to get away from that format … probably some know-it-all who works at the Association.
    Next up is our second (and one-day-shorter) specialty school. We’ll be in scenic San Marcos from the 12th to the 14th of June covering all things Homicide-related. There was a specific goal to make this an offense-focused school rather than a survey course. In the last few years this specialty-course slot has been filled by evidence, cybercrimes, and most recently forensic evidence. All those schools were well-received by attendees, but the content lacked the cohesiveness that naturally occurs when the topic is narrowed by offense type. By returning to a more classic topic and agenda, we hope to scratch a training itch that we haven’t hit in a while.
    After our second PTSC in July, we’ll return to the Baylor Law School for the Advanced Trial Advocacy Course at the end of the month. If you are unfamiliar with this course, it is open by application only and limited to 32 attendees. The registration fee and hotel stays are covered by TDCAA—that’s right: It’s free! The week-long training is a mix of lecture, small group discussion, and courtroom advocacy, all using a real case as a teaching tool. Each attendee is filmed conducting parts of trial—voir dire, open, direct, cross, and close—which faculty advisors then review and provide one-on-one feedback. This is not a course designed for brand new prosecutors, but rather it’s about going from good to great. If you are interested in the course, do not hesitate to talk to your boss about it and apply. There are a variety of factors we consider when admitting applicants, and the worst thing that can happen is that you receive a polite email from me explaining that we can’t take you this time. So far for 2019, I’ve identified our course director and we’re working on the case problem now, so keep your eyes peeled for the brochure, which includes the case topic and application and should show up online and in the mail in late April or early May.
    The crystal ball gets hazy after that, and clouds are obscuring that distant shore. I’ll meet with the various boards and committees to plan our Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update in the coming months and will update you accordingly on its agenda. Until then, keep a sharp eye on the TDCAA website, tdcaa.com. We are constantly updating the training page with new information, and we have more irons in the fire than one article can safely hold. W. Clay Abbott, our DWI Resource Prosecutor, is coming to your town (or at least near it) with outstanding free training for you and local law enforcement on drugged driving and effective courtroom testimony. And don’t forget this is a legislative year, so those three-hour Legislative Updates will start mid-summer.
    As always, if you have any training questions, ideas, or just want to say hi, please email me at [email protected].

TDCAA's upcoming seminar schedule

Check TDCAA’s website  for the whole list of seminars, including DWI-related regionals, Border Prosecution Unit (BPU) training, and Legislative Updates, which start this summer. Register for any of these seminars online at www.tdcaa.com/training.
Investigator School, February 4–7, at the Omni Colonnade in San Antonio.
Newly Elected Boot Camp Part 2, February 21–22, at the Embassy Suites Central in Austin.
Domestic Violence, April 9–12, at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in Georgetown.
Civil Law Seminar, May 8–10, at the Omni Colonnade in San Antonio.
Homicide Seminar, June 12–14, at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in San Marcos.
Prosecutor Trial Skills Course, July 14–19, at the Omni Southpark in Austin.
Advanced Trial Advocacy Course, July 28–August 2, at Baylor Law School in Waco.
Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update, September 18–20, at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.