President's Column
January-February 2009

Where we’ve come from and where we’re going

Barry Macha

Criminal District Attorney in Witchita County

Thank you, members of TDCAA, for the honor and privilege of serving as your president in 2009. I am extremely grateful for your membership, helpful cooperation, and readiness to respond to any call to service. You are the lifeblood of our association. Our continued success depends on your participation.

The TDCAA staff is devoted to its work and possesses a deep sense of pride in the association’s accomplishments. Executive Director Rob Kepple is a great leader and has assembled a very talented team. To them goes a vast amount of the credit for making our association tick. They are true team players committed to our members and mission and always willing to stay late or go the extra mile to get the job done.

I had the good fortune of serving as TDCAA president in 1998. In one of my columns back then, I wrote about how TDCAA was doing and where we were headed by comparing TDCAA statistical data for 1997 to 1987. Comparing that information to where we are today is even more telling.

In 1987, TDCAA had 1,687 dues-paying members out of 2,838 potential members (59.4 percent); in 1997, 3,134 out of 4,659 (67.3 percent); in 2008, 3,907 out of 5,374 (72.7 percent). Thus, since 1987 we have added over 1,000 members with a 13-percentage-point increase in people who join.

The breadth and caliber of the training that TDCAA provides is unsurpassed. During 1997, the association put on 10 full seminars (three more than the seven we had in 1987) plus 15 regional legislative updates. In 2008, we put on 10 full seminars and three DWI seminars (plus the DWI Summit), five in-house trainings (where TDCAA staff travels to one of the larger offices to do training there), and 12 regional seminars.

The 1997 TDCAA staff of 15 employees almost doubled the eight we had in 1987. By 2008, the association had added only one more employee for a total of 16—but it has served 700 more members and trained almost 5,000 more people.

TDCAA had 10 publications in 1987. Diane Burch Beckham joined TDCAA’s staff in 1996 and by 1997 she had increased our publications to 29. In 2008, TDCAA offered 42 different books. Diane’s tireless efforts have been nothing short of spectacular. We clearly have the best publications on the market. That also applies to The Texas Prosecutor, TDCAA’s official journal. Since joining our staff in 2002, Sarah Wolf has taken our journal to an even higher level and made it the industry standard by which all others are measured. Each issue is chock-full of articles with timely and cutting-edge information that provides invaluable assistance to members and their staffs.

Our association continues to serve as a legislative resource in criminal law and government representation matters. In 1987, the legislative resource duties were primarily handled by our executive director at that time, Tom Krampitz. Tom passed that duty on to Rob Kepple when Rob was hired as TDCAA general counsel in 1990. When Tom resigned in 2002, Rob became executive director; he promptly hired Shannon Edmonds who has served as our primary legislative resource since then. We are the beneficiary of the respect and goodwill earned by Tom, Rob, and Shannon for their work in the legislative process. They are the best of the best, and their value to our association cannot be overstated. But their efforts to keep us informed about events in Austin do not supplant our individual responsibility to provide input directly to our legislators when they need help with criminal justice or government representation matters. We have been fortunate over the years that some of the larger DA offices have consistently sent personnel to help with legislative matters. Tim Curry, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney, in particular comes to mind, but Dallas and Harris Counties have also been significant long-time contributors.

That’s a brief look back to see how TDCAA has been doing for the last 20 years. So what’s on the horizon? To secure the future excellence of Texas prosecution and law enforcement, TDCAA created a charitable foundation in June 2006 to meet the association’s growing need for training and assistance, including specialized and consistent training in DWI, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse; expanded legal assistance in trial, appellate, and child advocacy support; and comprehensive victim/witness coordinator training, resources, and support. The foundation’s advisory committee includes some former district attorneys who are also past TDCAA presidents who will build on the solid foundation they were instrumental in creating: Dan Boulware (chair), Tom Bridges (also a current TDCAA book author/instructor), Cappy Eads, and Carol Vance.

I believe that in many ways the past holds the direction for our future. If TDCAA is going to continue to grow and meet the needs of its members, we need your membership, input, and support. Working together, we can achieve the stated purpose of our association: to promote the improvement of prosecution and government representation in the State of Texas by providing educational and technical assistance to prosecutors and their staffs, by providing educational and technical assistance to the law enforcement community, and by serving as a legislative resource in criminal law and government representation matters.

Thanks again for the wonderful opportunity to serve as your president. I look forward to seeing each of you soon. ✤