groucho got it wrong!


Groucho Marx once quipped, “I wouldn’t belong to any organization that would have me as a member!” Fortunately for me, I did not heed that advice 26 years ago when Scrappy Holmes and Odis Hill urged me to join TCDLA. Now, here I am.

What a humbling experience this is as I draw near the date when I will be sworn in as the President of TCDLA. It is such a privilege to take over the helm of an organization that has given so much to me during the last quarter of a century. I love TCDLA, and words cannot express the humility I feel following in the footsteps of those Presidents who have come before me. I am, in varying degrees, both excited and filled with trepidation about the upcoming year.

I am excited about the future for TCDLA. In June, as I am taking the oath, we will also be swearing in 16 new members to our Board of Directors. This is the largest influx of “new blood” that I can ever recall. Last fall, in my capacity as President-Elect, I had the honor of chairing the nominations process that led to the incoming class of Board Members. I can assure you that they are long, not just on quantity, but on quality as well. They are a talented, terrific group, and they will help lead TCDLA for the next eight years of their tenure. I expect great things from them.

I am also pumped up about the men and women who have volunteered to chair the committees forming the backbone of our organization. From the Executive Committee, to Strike Force, to the Legislative Committee on down, I could not ask for a better group to help me guide TCDLA.

And, we are so blessed to have our wonderful staff at the home office led by our Executive Director, Joseph Martinez. They do such a terrific job running the organization on a daily basis, and I intend to lean heavily on them.

At over 3,000 members, TCDLA is the largest state organization of criminal defense lawyers in the United States. There is strength in numbers. And, while a gathering that size of criminal lawyers is sometimes akin to herding cats, we can do phenomenal things together in the pursuit of justice and the common good.

Let me encourage each of you to become more active this year in YOUR organization. First, show pride in your membership by publicly displaying that you are one of us. Help recruit new members, especially those new to our profession. Take on the challenge of mentoring young lawyers. Lastly, think about contributing your time by volunteering to serve on committees within TCDLA (call the home office) or by contributing motions or articles to the Voice (contact Editor Sarah Roland).

Before signing the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin famously said in a letter, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” As criminal defense lawyers, we need to stick together. For non-members, let me encourage you to come join this band of brothers and sisters that is TCDLA. For current members, I would challenge you to step up and become more active in your organization. We need and welcome your participation. Come help make us stronger!