Training Wheels
March-April 2022

Two types of training that go great together

By Brian Klas
TDCAA Training Director in Austin

TDCAA’s 2022 training calendar is one of our best yet. This year will see our return to the live, in-person training that made us famous. That’s right. Famous. With top-of-the-line presenters covering the most pressing issues in prosecution, attendees are sure to learn something they can immediately apply to the business of justice. Coupled with the networking and collegial conversation that cannot be adequately replicated in the virtual world, our on-location training will continue to serve as the backbone of TDCAA’s training portfolio.

            A full spate of live training, however, does not signal the looming eradication of future online offerings. The pandemic taught us how to operate in an online environment and showcased its many benefits. With the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup as a model—where two different halves harmonize into one magical whole—we are dedicated to producing remote training that complements our in-person training. We’re so confident in the value of virtual courses that we hired an assistant training director, Gregg Cox, to run the online show. If you don’t know him, Mr. Cox is a longtime prosecutor with a trove of experience. Even as I type this, he is deep in his electronic laboratory cooking up a collection of curated content purpose-built for the remote learner.

            Enough puffery. Let’s look at some of TDCAA’s near-future training!

Prosecuting Violent Crimes Conference in April

If all has gone according to plan, then you are reading this in mid-March. That means you still have time to register for and attend our April specialty conference, Prosecuting Violent Crimes. It will include full-day tracks on domestic violence, adult sexual assault, officer-involved offenses, and homicide. We’ve tinkered with the design of each track to allow for deeper coverage of these tough topics. Hosted in Houston and aided by some of the most experienced prosecutors in the state, it will cover the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully prosecute violent crimes.

Civil Law Conference in May

Next up is the yearly Civil Law Conference at the historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio. The live Civil Conference has been cancelled two years in a row, with last year’s morphing into an online-only course. TDCAA’s Civil Committee knows how important it is for prosecutors assigned to civil work to share ideas and network—those relationships are the string and soup cans, if you will, that connect civil practitioners so no one is marooned alone on an island. Not settling for networking alone, the committee put together a fantastic lineup on the issues faced when advising and representing county government.

            Plan to attend if you are Teddy Roosevelt-curious—apparently, he recruited some of his Rough Riders in the Menger’s bar, and there are a couple of bullet holes in the wall from Roosevelt’s own gun. And you can’t beat San Antonio in May.

Advanced Appellate Advocacy Course in June

A great human probably once said that June is a time for new things, and this year we’re trying out something new-ish: an Advanced Appellate Advocacy Course. Alan Curry with the Criminal District Attorney’s Office in Galveston County will be the course director, and he will be ably assisted by Emily Johnson-Liu with the State Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. They have designed a complete program for new and intermediate appellate prosecutors to sharpen their advocacy skills.

            The course will be split into two parts. The first will happen over two days in June here in Austin. About a month later, the second part will occur alongside the first two days of our Advanced Advocacy Skills Course at the Baylor School of Law in Waco (more on that course later in this column). Splitting up the Appellate Course in this way will accommodate efficient and meaningful training in the two skills an appellate attorney must possess: strong writing and oral argument. Like its trial advocacy counterpart, the Appellate Course will require an application, and attendance is limited. Keep an eye on our website and your mailbox for a brochure containing more information and an application.

Two courses in July

Our examination of the training calendar ends in July. We’ll start the month with the TDCAA’s regularly scheduled Prosecutor Trial Skills Course for new prosecutors. Like this last January, I expect that we’ll be capping attendance because of the size of the hotel ballroom and the design of the course, so register as soon as that brochure hits your mailbox.

            At the end of the month, we will kick off our Advanced Advocacy Skills Course at the Baylor School of Law, which has once again graciously opened its doors to us. This year, our case scenario for the Advanced Course will be sexual assault of a child, and Sunni Mitchell, an ADA in Fort Bend County, is our course director. We’re excited for Sunni take on this responsibility and join a long line of tremendous prosecutors who have previously filled that role. If you are looking for ways to take a leap in your professional prosecutor development, the Advanced Trial Advocacy Course is for you. Remember that both the Advanced Appellate and Advanced Trial Advocacy Courses require an application, and attendance is limited.

Online courses already available

Did I mention that Gregg Cox is in his lab working on remote training? As you read this, our Fundamentals of Child Welfare Law course is available for viewing online. With help from the Texas Children’s Commission, we designed this course for newer attorneys assigned to a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseload. It offers five-plus hours of MCLE taught by experienced, knowledgeable attorneys from both prosecutor offices and the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Child welfare law has long been recognized as a training need, and online delivery is a great fit for it. The course will be available on our website for the foreseeable future so it can assist anyone who finds him or herself newly assigned to a CPS docket. Rather than having to wait for a live event to cover the ins and outs of this area of law, attorneys can get what they need on our website as soon as they need it.

            More online development is occurring as I type, and whether you are a peanut butter or a chocolate fan, it is exciting stuff. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to check our website,, where you can find the most recent training updates and register for all of our courses.