Special Thanks to TCDLA's Course Directors


Nicole DeBorde, Houston

Nicole DeBorde, co-chair of TCDLA’s Strike Force and member of the Board of Directors, also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, where she is a member of the White Collar, Election, and Amicus committees. She has served on the board of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Project, as Houston Bar Association's Criminal Law and Procedure Section Chair, and as president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and Inns of Court. Nicole can often be seen in her role as legal analyst on national networks such as Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as in frequent speaking engagements. Among her many awards, she has been honored with the 2006 President's Award from HCCLA, has appeared regularly as a Texas Monthly Texas Super Lawyer, was recognized by U.S. News and World Reports for inclusion on the Best Lawyers in America list, and was selected by Best Lawyers as 2017’s Lawyer of the Year in Criminal Defense for the Houston area. Nicole served as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's Office from 1994 through 2002, then turning to private practice as a criminal defense attorney.

Gerry Goldstein, San Antonio

Gerald "Gerry" Harris Goldstein is a nationally known and respected defense lawyer and Past President of both the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Profiled in numerous publications, Gerry is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and Texas Lawyer's Legal Legends. He has served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin and currently serves on the faculty at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio. Among his many honors, Gerry received the Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award (for Outstanding Criminal Defense Attorney) from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, was named the Outstanding Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas by the State Bar of Texas in 1991, and was named a "Texas Legal Legend" by the State Bar of Texas in November of 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union gave him the John Henry Faulk Civil Libertarian of the Year Award in 1999, and he was named to the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2002 and given the San Antonio Bar Association’s Hall of Fame Award in 2013. Not surprisingly, Gerry received the William S. Sessions American Inns of Court First Annual “Goldstein Award of Excellence” in 2015.

John Hunter Smith, Sherman

John Hunter Smith received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University in Business Administration, and his law degree from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. He is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Educational Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National College for DUI Defense, and the National Trial Lawyers Association—Criminal Trial Lawyers Association. He serves on the Board of Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and on the following committees: Criminal Defense Lawyers Project (past chair), Budget and Finance, Prosecutorial lntegrity, and Veterans Assistance. John Hunter is a also graduate of Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyer College. Texas Monthly magazine has named him a Texas Super Lawyer. Since 2013, John Hunter has been listed as one of the "Top 100 Trial Lawyers" in the State of Texas by the National Trial Lawyers Association. He has served on the District 1-A Grievance Committee from 2007 to 2013, serving as chair for two years. John Hunter, who has earned an AV Rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, has been included in their exclusive Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He regularly speaks on Jury Selection, Cross-Examination, Pretrial Investigation, Pretrial Motions, and Ethics.

Mark Thiessen, Houston 

Mark Thiessen is a criminal trial lawyer and the Chairman/CEO of the Thiessen Law Firm in Houston, Texas. Mark earned the American Chemical Society-Chemistry and the Law (ACS-CHAL) Forensic Lawyer-Scientist designation, which is the highest form of scientific recognition available for lawyers. Mark is a frequent legal seminar lecturer, author of numerous published legal articles, and a LawLine and HBA faculty member. Mark is the current DWI Committee co-chair and a Board Member for Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), on the Board of Directors for Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA), and a Charter Member and Director for DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA). Mark is a Texas Super Lawyer and was awarded the 2012 Unsung Hero Award by HCCLA.