ON THE AGENDA
Dear TCDLA Members & Friends:
The TCDLA Board of Directors, its Executive Committee, other Board committees, and Chief Executive Officer, have been proactively meeting and conferring by phone and email to address the current health emergency and its impact on our members and TCDLA.
I want to reaffirm that we are concerned for the health and safety of our members and their families, staff, and clients, as well as the other professionals and court personnel we work with on a daily basis. We add our voice to those urging you to follow the advice of the health authorities and medical professionals in your community, and hope you are and continue to be safe and well. It goes without saying that if a member has a medical or quarantine issue and needs support of the organization to help triage his/her law practice, deal with courts, and the like, we have Board and TCDLA members ready to assist. The same goes with the more basic needs of any member affected by this. We are here to help. Take care of yourselves, stay in touch with each other with concerns on the relevant listserve or directly, and contact me or any member of the Board if we can be of assistance.
These are uncertain times. As a not-for-profit entity, we are not immune to the broader impact on our profession and on our society. Nonetheless, here are the steps we are taking immediately to address this crisis:
First, our Ethics Hotline is at your disposal. The number is 512-646-2734. In addition to providing advice regarding legal ethics, Robert Pelton and his team want to help you with any personal issues you may be having that you feel uncomfortable talking to others about. The calls are confidential and Robert stresses that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to call.
Second, we have created a COVID-19 Task Force with a representative in each districts dedicated to working at the local level. The committee is Chaired by Clay Steadman. This means more personalized attention and better understanding of the specific issues you are going through. Our task forces will be able to respond to your needs and give you the pertinent information and resources quickly.
Third, our Memos/Motions Bank Committee, chaired by Tip Hargrove is currently in the process of creating specialized motions addressing COVID-19 that you can use to protect yourself and your clients.
Fourth, we are in the process of creating online CLE options for our members. You will be able to earn CLE hours by watching videos and listening to audio from our seminars. You will be able to order these video and audio files through our website. CLE will be available per hour or in bundles of 6 or 18 hours.
Fifth, our statewide Strike Force, chaired by Nicole DeBorde and Reagan Wynn is still ready and able to back you up in the event you are retaliated against. This resource is particularly invaluable at a time like this, when not all courts are suspending business and you may fear you and/or your client may be exposed to illness. If you come under contempt of court, receive disciplinary actions, or are threatened, please contact your district Strike Force representative.
Sixth, Rusty Duncan will NOT be canceled. In the event COVID-19 is still a public health hazard in June, we will have an online streaming option available for those who can’t attend in person. Course Directors, John Convery, David Guinn, Deandra Grant, and Carmen Roe will continue working to make this a successful event.
Seventh, we are working with the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Executive Director Geoff Burkhart on providing aid and resources to Texas public defenders.
Eighth, we are working with our lobbyists, Shea Place and Allen Place, on keeping our members up to date on the legislative listserve. They will also be working closely with common interest organizations we can ally with.
Ninth, we are working on providing the following accommodations to temporarily take the place of jail and prison visits: Phone, Skype, and Zoom. We will fight to have the fees for these accommodations waived.
Tenth, we are working to get CAC videos under protective orders. Texas Court moving to an online format.
Eleventh, we are working on a conditional plea system.
Twelfth, we are advocating for the release of individuals from jails and prisons who are awaiting trial.
Thirteenth, given the uncertainty that will face us and all nonprofits in the coming year, we are examining our budget, expenses, and revenue carefully to make sure we develop appropriate contingency plans.
Fourteenth, Corrections and Parole Committee, chaired by David O’Neil and Bill Haber and our Indigent Defense Committee on advocating for the health and civil rights of people in jails, prisons, on parole, awaiting trial, and others going through the justice system at this unfortunate point in time.
Fifteenth, Strike Force Committee, chaired by Nicole DeBorde is here to protect the defense function by assisting attorneys under attack for their role defending the accused.
Sixteenth, creating a resource page on website, special thanks to Nicole DeBorde and Robb Fickman for assisting in gathering information. https://www.tcdla.com/TCDLA/COVID.aspx
Finally, we are aware that the emergency will negatively impact our clients and our ability to serve our clients (via court closures, prison restrictions, etc), and ask that our members make us aware of issues that arise so we can, where we are able, assist in advocacy with law enforcement and court authorities.
If you have any concerns, questions or anything you want to discuss, please send your concerns, requests or motions to email@example.com.
Thank you to all of our brave members for graciously volunteering their time. It is important, now more than ever, that we stay TCDLAStrong, collaborate, and unite.