Interim Update: November 2019

November 22, 2019

            With the upcoming holiday week expected to be a slow one for news (and for office attendance), we are sending out this monthly update a week early to give you something to chew on while you are enjoying time with family and friends.

No news is good news?

            Frankly, we’re hard-pressed to think of any urgent legislative news to pass along this month. Perhaps that’s the beauty of a legislature that takes long interims between sessions—although it may also have a little something to do with the fact that campaign filings started this month. (P.S. For those of you on the ballot next year … good luck!)

NOTICE: TDCAA Annual Business Meeting

            The Texas District and County Attorneys Association will hold its Annual Business Meeting in conjunction with the Elected Prosecutor Conference on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. at the Lakeway Resort and Spa in Lakeway, Texas. The agenda will include the election of officers for terms beginning on January 1, 2020.  The board positions to be selected are President-Elect, Secretary/Treasurer, District Attorney-at-Large, Assistant Prosecutor-at-Large, and Regional Directors for Regions 3, 5, 6, and 8 (use the search bar on our website to see the counties in those regions).

            Last week, the Nominations Committee met and forwarded the following nominations to the full membership for consideration at the annual business meeting:

President-Elect: John Dodson, Uvalde County Attorney
Secretary/Treasurer: Jack Roady, Galveston County Criminal District Attorney
District Attorney-at-Large: Julie Renken, Washington County District Attorney
Assistant Prosecutor-at-Large: Tiana Sanford, Montgomery County Assistant DA 

For more information, contact Rob Kepple.

Elected Prosecutor Conference

            Our 2019 Elected Prosecutor Conference will be held at the Lakeway Resort & Spa just west of Austin the week after Thanksgiving. In addition to a curriculum that includes topics such as the rise in domestic terrorism, responding effectively to cases of domestic violence and adult sexual assault, and the latest information from the DPS crime labs, we are also scheduled to recognize Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and State Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction) for their work on DWI-related legislation (among other policy work) last session. Registration information is available here; sign up today and help us show appreciation of their hard work!

            Note that immediately prior to the Elected course, TDCAA is offering a special Prosecutor Management Institute (PMI) Course designed specifically for elected prosecutors. Click here for information regarding that stand-alone course.

Prosecutor Trial Skills Course coming up

            TDCAA’s next Prosecutor Trial Skills Course is open for registration! Join us in Austin from January 12–17, 2020, for this weeklong event—it is the perfect training for both new prosecutors and more seasoned prosecutors looking for a refresher. Click here for more information and to register online.

Quotes of the Month

“Some might have overestimated the degree to which horrific shootings move public opinion.”
            —James Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin, interpreting the results of one of its recent polls that shows most of the Republican voters they polled are opposed to a so-called “assault weapon” ban.

“People are tired and fed up that those in control—and at this point in time, Republicans—are doing nothing about this. Virginia Tech happened 12 years ago and people thought there would be something. … [T]he voters are fed up and demanding change. If we can’t change the laws, we’re going to change your seats.”
            —Lori Haas, Virginia state director of Stop Gun Violence, in a Houston Chronicle article on how gun control groups hope to use recent electoral victories in that state to achieve similar changes in Texas.

“I think as a state we’ve become very numb to it. This is probably one of the most deadly [sic] situations we have in the state, and it’s one of the most controllable situations we have in the state. Ninety percent of the deaths that we’ve had over the [last] 19 years are preventable.”
            —Laura Ryan, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, referring to the more than 67,000 people who have died on Texas roadways since November 7, 2000, the state’s last day with no traffic fatalities.

“I think the closest analogy to CBD is caffeine. I really believe it’s kind of ‘the caffeine of the 21st Century.’ And, you know, what are the biggest caffeine companies? It’s Starbucks, it’s Red Bull, et cetera. And they don’t market caffeine. They market the feeling that the compound enables, which kind of inspired our approach. … We’re saying Recess is an antidote to modern times. The idea is like, ‘The world’s gone crazy, and we all need a Recess.’”
            —Benjamin Witte, founder and CEO of Recess, a CBD-infused sparkling water brand sold on the East Coast and in California, explaining how he thinks the cannabis-related industry should market its products.

“We are legalizing marijuana before we can actually finish studies that take 10 to 20 years to complete to find out that answer. To some degree we have opted to do the experiment on ourselves as a society and see what results. … [I]t’s not called ‘dope’ for no reason.”
            —Dr. Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in an article discussing the challenges of determining a driver’s impairment from recreational marijuana, which will be legal in Illinois as of January 1, 2020.

“People come from all over the country to come to Austin because it’s famous. This is a famous place to live on the streets. Everybody knows that. If you want to live on the streets, go to Austin. You don’t even have to buy food. Everybody feeds you, give you money. You can party. It’s a blast, man!”
            —Unidentified homeless man interviewed by Fox News correspondent Aishah Hasnie as part of her story on state efforts to clean up homeless camps in the state capital.

“The news is true. It is why I chose not seek re-election. I had imperiled my health. I do not have anyone to blame but myself. I accept this because it is true and it will help me get better. … In a weird way I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that. … I have many relationships to repair, starting at home, and I intend to seek treatment. I apologize to each and every person that feels I have let them down. I look forward to a future with my family and friends, to being healthy, and finally, home.”
            —Statement by State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass), chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, upon publication of the news that he has been charged with POCS (1–4g) in Travis County after an envelope he dropped at a private airport terminal in Austin was found to contain cocaine.