The TCDLA office is currently closed this week. We have had severe water damage to the office due to a broken water pipe. We are removing water and drying out the premises currently. Reconstruction will be in the end of the week. We have very limited access at this time. I apologize for any inconveniences this may be causing. Feel free to contact or for assistance.

July 4th Readings

The Readings will take place on Thursday, July 2nd, or Friday, July 3rd, this year—depending on local closings. More organizers are needed! Email Robb Fickman,, or call him at (713) 655-7400 if you want to participate. You can see pictures and details about previous years' events here.

See who's already signed up here.

Join Now!

Become a member of the largest state association for criminal defense attorneys in the nation and take advantage of member pricing on seminars, events and products. Join TCDLA »

Go Mobile

To download the TCDLA iPhone app, please visit Apple's "App Store" on your mobile device. For Android devices, go to the "Play Store." Search for "TCDLA" and download your free app. You will need your TCDLA username and password to login to the app. learn more »

Press Release 5/22/15:

The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of those accused of crimes. The Waco situation of recent days raises serious concerns.  It seems unprecedented that you have 170 individuals charged with the same or similar crimes and identical bail amounts set at 1 Million Dollars each. When you consider the constitutional prohibition against excessive bail as well as the requirement for probable cause prior to arresting an individual, the risks of abuse in the Waco case seem obvious.

TCDLA supports enforcement of the law and believes that the public should be protected. However, TCDLA has a growing concern in this situation that the net has been cast too widely and it is probable that not all those being held are guilty of criminal activity.

Emmett Harris


Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

President's Message

A Swan Song

There is an ancient belief that swans, though silent or not so musical during life, sing a beautiful song just before death. Thus the metaphorical phrase describing a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. This will be mine. While I certainly have no plan to die, I do plan to step aside at Rusty Duncan and welcome Mr. Sam Bassett as our next President of TCDLA. He has been and will continue to be a fine leader of our association. Now as I toddle off the stage let me leave these few thoughts with you. (Continue reading here.) 

Voice for the Defense

21 | 
Extending Riley and Wurie: Warrant­less Privacy Intrusions on Location Records of Texas Defendants—By Drew Willey w/ Angela Cameron

26 | Learning the Rules of Evidence the Hard, Slow WayBy Ed & Sara Stapleton

34 | 
Shifting Burdens of Proof in a Motion to Suppress—By Kyle Therrian

38 | The Means of Mitigation—By Gerald J. Bierbaum

Featured Events

2nd Annual Lone Star DWI: Drugs
July 17, 2015
Austin, TX
Register here>>

Round Top IV—Advanced Skills Training
October 7–11, 2015
Roundtop, TX
Register here>>

New Attorney Reporting Requirements

Reporting portal now live -

HB 1318 requires both attorneys and counties beginning this October to report new information to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission regarding the caseloads of attorneys who accept public appointmentsThe information will allow policymakers to make better decisions on the best way to manage their appointment processes. It should also benefit the bar by raising awareness of the work attorneys do and help identify situations in which low pay may be creating pressures on some defense attorneys to accept more cases than they can reasonably handle. It may also help pinpoint places where the wheel system may not be working as designed and further investigation may be warranted to ensure that appointments are being made in a fair, neutral, and nondiscriminatory manner. The bill requires the following:

An attorney appointed under this article shall: … not later than October 15 of each year and on a form prescribed by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, submit to the county information, for the preceding fiscal year, that describes the percentage of the attorney's practice time that was dedicated to work based on appointments accepted in the county under this article and Title 3, Family Code.

More information is available here. Click here for a copy of the Attorney Reporting Instructions and Form. Click here for a copy of the Optional Attorney Practice-Time Reporting Worksheet. Additional information will be forthcoming as the October implementation date approaches.