TYLA Officers


Rebekah Steely Brooker, President


Dustin M. Howell, Chair


Sam Houston, Vice President


Baili B. Rhodes, Secretary


John W. Shaw, Treasurer


C. Barrett Thomas, President-elect


Priscilla D. Camacho, Chair-elect


Kristy Blanchard, Immediate Past President

TYLA Directors


Amanda A. Abraham, District 1


Sharesa Y. Alexander, Minority At-Large Director


Raymond J. Baeza, District 14

    Aaron J. Burke, District 5, Place 1

Aaron T. Capps, District 5, Place 2


D. Lance Currie, District 5, Place 3


Laura W. Docker, District 10, Place 1

    Andrew Dornburg, District 21
    John W. Ellis, District 8, Place 2
    Zeke Fortenberry, District 4

Bill Gardner, District 5, Place 4


Morgan L. Gaskin, District 6, Place 5

    Nick Guinn, District 18, Place 1

Adam C. Harden, District 6, Place 6


Amber L. James, District 17


Curtis W. Lucas, District 9

    Rudolph K. Metayer, District 8, Palce 1

Laura Pratt, District 3

    Sally Pretorius, District 8, Place 2

Baili B. Rhodes, District 2


Alex B. Roberts, District 6, Place 3

    Eduardo Romero, District 19
    Michelle P. Scheffler, District 6, Place 2

John W. Shaw, District 10, Place 2

    Nicole Soussan, District 6, Place 4
    L. Brook Stuntebeck, District 11

C. Barrett Thomas, District 15

    Judge Amanda N. Torres, Minority At-Large Director

Shannon Steel White, District 12

    Brandy Wingate Voss, District 13
    Veronica S. Wolfe, District 18, Place 2

Baylor Wortham, District 7

    Alex Yarbrough, District 16


Justice Paul W. Green, Supreme Court Liaison


Jenny Smith, Access To Justice Liaison


Brandon Crisp, ABA YLD District 25 Representative


Travis Patterson, ABA/YLD District 26 Representative


Assistant Dean Jill Nikirk, Law School Liaison


Belashia Wallace, Law Student Liaison


TYLA Office

Tracy Brown, Director of Administration
Bree Trevino, Project Coordinator

Michelle Palacios, Office Manager
General Questions: tyla@texasbar.com

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 12487, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711-2487
(800) 204-2222 ext. 1529
FAX: (512) 427-4117

Street Address

1414 Colorado, 4th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 427-1529


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.





























































Tips For Young Lawyers

Tips For Young Lawyers

The Prisoner Playbook
By:  Brandon T. Winn, Winn Law, Gilmer, Texas

These are tough economic times, and circumstances are not likely to change soon. Many young lawyers are going to find themselves with a bar card and no job. At some point you, like me, might realize that being self-employed is the only option.

Once you have started your own firm, you will realize that one way to get a new client is by having that client be assigned to you by the court. Then if you are like me, you will walk into a jail for the first time in your life. There, you will be confronted with the “Prisoner Playbook.”

Here are ten of the most common things that lawyers encounter from clients in jail. Further are some pointers or answers for your client.

My (mom, sister, girlfriend) is going to pay you on the side.

“It is unethical to accept money from a court appointed client. I do my best work for every client; my real payment is building my reputation as a great lawyer.” Clients know that court-appointed attorneys are overworked and underpaid. I hear this statement at least once a month if not more so.

The complaining witness was supposed to drop the charges.

This is heard most frequently in a domestic assault case. You or your investigator should contact the complaining witness to check the validity of your client’s statement.
Depending on your jurisdiction, the district attorney may not accept an affidavit of non-prosecution to a domestic assault case that was not prepared in their office.

My parents are going to hire / have already hired an attorney.

“That’s great! But I am here now and this is a very serious case that we need to prepare for. So for the time being, until this other lawyer contacts me, let’s proceed like I am going to represent you.” In the past year I have been appointed to represent clients who came from well-funded families. I contacted the families to see if they were going to retain an attorney for their child. All of them told me, “No, we did that in the past and we are tired of getting them out of trouble.” I was glad that I prepared to defend the case from the first day rather than planning on handing the file off to some other lawyer.

Can you get me out on a PR bond?

Some jurisdictions allow a lawyer to post an attorney bond that holds the lawyer liable for the client’s bail. It is advisable to not bond out a court-appointed client. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure art. 17.151 deals with release due to the state’s delay in trying the defendant. Articles 17.03–17.04 deal with a personal-recognizance bond.

Can you get me a 12.44?

Texas Penal Code § 12.44 deals with state jail felonies punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. Most of my clients do not know what a 12 44 is when they ask for one, they just know that they want one. Texas Penal Code §12.44(a) deals with getting this special treatment from the judge. Texas Penal Code §12.44(b) deals with getting this treatment with a request from the district attorney.

Get me a Bond reduction.

“This is not the nature of my representation. The Court does not pay me to do bail-reduction hearings.” Your jurisdiction may be different, you should check to find out. Should your jurisdiction allow you to file a Motion for Bond Reduction, then advise your client. “First, you will need to contact three bondsmen and find out what their rates are, because I will need one to testify. I also need to know who is going to post your bail, because I need that person to testify. And I need to know how much money your family, or whoever is going to post the bail, has to post for you, because they will need to testify about that.” Further, be warned, and warn your client, that I have seen prosecutors bring their own witnesses on my clients’ criminal history and un-filed felony drug-delivery cases—and use that evidence to ask the Court not only to deny my motion, but to also raise the bail.

The dope was cut; there wasn’t that much of it. It wasn’t pot; it was potpourri.

Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.002(5) defines “controlled substance” to include dilutants. And since Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.1031 became effective on September 1, 2011, “marijuana” now includes synthetic pot—“any quantity of a synthetic chemical compound that is a cannabinoid receptor agonist and mimics the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids”.

They can’t enhance this. It takes three of a kind to enhance a sentence.

Wrong. Chapter 12, Subchapter D of the Texas Penal Code deals with sentence enhancements. Some punishments can be enhanced because of the nature of the crime itself or because of as few as one earlier conviction. Special attention should be paid to the following: Health and Safety Code § 481.134 (b); Penal Code § 49.09; Penal Code § 31.03; and of course all of the enumerated “3g” offenses listed in Code of Criminal Procedure art. 42.12 § 3g.

I want a trial!

Clients say this for many reasons. First, they are truly innocent. Second, they have heard that the best deals come on the eve of trial. Third, they are trying to extend their stay in the county jail. Fourth, they may have gone to prison several times, all on plea deals, and they are just bored with doing the same thing time and time again. Fifth, they may be on parole, which a guilty plea would revokee. There are almost as many reasons to go to trial as there are trials.  

I am lying to you.

Maybe these aren’t the words your clients are going to use, but this is something they are going to say to you. I have friends who practice family, personal injury, and bankruptcy law—they agree that all clients lie. For every lie that is told there is probably a unique reason. Clients may say what they think you want to hear, may not understand that you need the truth instead of the story they've concocted, or may not want you to pass judgment on them. The main reason that I believe that a client lies to a court-appointed attorney has to do with the feeling that a court-appointed attorney does not care: The client has the concern that the lawyer is going to “sell him out” to the district attorney.

Dealing with a Court Appointed Client can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Most lawyers who have spent any measurable amount of time on the Appointment wheel agree, that some of our best law was practiced for a Court Appointed Client. All your clients deserve your best work. Working hard for a Court Appointed Client will build your reputation as a great Attorney.

Brandon Winn is a country lawyer who lives with his wife, teenage daughter, and infant son on the dairy farm where he grew up. His practice is split 50/50 between family and criminal law. Brandon also spends his time consulting in law-practice management.