I’ve always been attracted to fighting for the underdog. When I see how powerful the government is and when I sit next to someone to fight against that government, and we win something for them that they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten it is extremely satisfying. There was a time when the criminal justice system would punish and incarcerate ONLY criminals. That has changed. Now, it is a system that takes ordinary people and turns them into criminals. It arrests them for making a single mistake. People who have lived their whole lives without breaking the law, paid their taxes, contributed to their community are treated like common criminals because of what MIGHT happen not because of what actually has happened. This is wrong, and it has gone from being the exception to the rule. Our community, and every community where this regularly occurs whether it’s in San Antonio or any of the other South-Central Texas community is weaker because of it. The good news is that independent law firms can advocate for their client’s interests and fight this injustice on a case by case basis. This is why we practice law. It is because this is the best possible way to stop
I started handling DWI cases back in Arizona in 2004-2005 as a misdemeanor prosecutor. I was an Assistant County Attorney out in Pima County, Arizona. What was interesting about Arizona was that Arizona, before most other states, had started doing blood draw cases. In Arizona, the police officers are very often phlebotomists, so they are certified to draw people’s blood. When they pull somebody over and they suspect the DWI, oftentimes they will draw blood right there on the side of the road. I was a prosecutor when this process began. I am very familiar with the blood draw process, and DWIs that are based on blood cases. This is something that Bexar County and South and Central Texas transitioned into 10 years later, but the science and the problems with blood draws remain constant. I have a background in prosecuting DWI cases in Bexar County, and as a Bexar County criminal defense attorney, I’ve defended hundreds of people charged with DWI.
I remember one time I was on a ride along with a police officer in Tucson, Arizona. He pulled over a lady who was swerving outside of her lane. She was an older lady and he had her do the field sobriety tests. She didn’t do very well so he drew her blood on the side of the road. I’ll never forget that. Here was a lady who had no criminal record, who was really minding her own business and all of a sudden all of her dignity that she had spent all her life developing was stripped away from her. When I moved back to Texas I continued prosecuting DWIs but I was haunted by that image of that lady by the side of the road. I started asking if I was really on the right side of justice. When I left the Bexar County DA’s office and started practicing criminal defense I became convinced that I had not been doing justice, and that now, defending people from the government, I was doing justice.
Why Did You Choose To Practice Criminal Law Instead Of Any Other Practice Area?
I chose criminal defense because I recognize that our criminal justice system is perpetrating a great injustice on many people in our society. I want to help prevent that injustice where I can and make sure that every one of my clients’ stories is told in the best possible way so people receive consequences based on who they are not a mistake that they’ve made.
I was fortunate to grow up with a great education. While I was in school I primarily studied history. While I studied history I learned about the great injustices of the past. I learned about slavery and the holocaust. I always wondered if I had lived in those times if I would have had the moral fiber necessary to stand up against the injustice. But I believed that these injustices were figments of the past and creations of my ancestors. My education gave me the gift of keeping an eye out for injustice, it gave me the ability to recognize it and taught me the importance of calling it out for what it is, and for fighting against it.
As a prosecutor, when I was working for the State of Texas, I became painfully aware of the scale that people were getting put on probation, and people were getting sent to the jail or were getting sent to prison. Most of these people were people that had drug and alcohol problems, and were not people who were violent. They had NEVER hurt anyone in their whole life. I became aware that the criminal justice system is a process, and the process is a mass production process where people go from being lower middle income, middle income, upper-middle income, the criminal justice system processes them and in that process removes them from the life that they know and replaces it with something worse. As people get processed through the criminal justice process, they end up being one step lower. They get put into a position where they can no longer afford the things that they could afford before. They get turned from middle class contributors into lower class individuals that have to rely on government assistance, they’re on probation, maybe they go to prison or maybe they go to jail. So, this mass production criminal justice system is an incredible evil in our world, and once I realized that I realized that I was faced with the great moral question of our time. What side do you stand on? Do you stand on the mass production criminal justice system or do you stand with the individual?
My response is to stand with the individual. Lawyers have an incredible opportunity to make a powerful difference in peoples’ lives. People often come to us at their lowest point, and they come to us looking for help. We have a far better ability to help those people help themselves in a way that is more effective than the State’s so-called Community Supervision solutions.
I believe that our law firm is taking people out of this mass production system and getting them special treatment. Whether that means looking at the facts of their case and getting their cases dismissed, whether that means taking their cases to a jury and arguing that they are not guilty, or if that means negotiating their best possible deal. What I do is I believe that we’re taking people out of the jaws of the system that is really reducing their liberty, reducing their income, reducing their economic class, and keeping them as an intact as they possibly can be. That’s what I see myself doing. What I’m passionate about is standing up for people, so that the state doesn’t take so much for a decision that was maybe one bad night, one bad decision, if it’s even that.
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