About

UT Law's biennial Robert O. Dawson Conference on Criminal Appeals features members of the Court of Criminal Appeals and judges from the intermediate courts around Texas joining prosecutors and defense attorneys for discussions on current issues facing the criminal system.

2015 program highlights include:

  • Significant decisions and updates from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court in the last year
  • An overview of the law and procedures regarding Texas state writs from the perspective of the practitioner and the court
  • Techniques on writing effective briefs due to the change in reading habits, workload and legal sophistication of the appellate judicial audience in the 21st century
  • An appellate specialist with experience from both sides of the bench provides effective tips for oral argument
  • Court of Appeals Judicial Panel
  • Experts provide appellate tips from both sides of the criminal bar with tips on how to make briefs interesting and easier to understand without offending the opposing side
  • Earn up to 2.50 hours of ethics including lessons learned from the Michael Morton case, scientific evidence and the popular Reel Legal Ethics, featuring ethical legal dilemmas depicted in various movie scenes

Event Schedule

  • Time
    Credit
    Subject
    Speaker
  • Wednesday Afternoon, May 27, 2015
    Presiding Officer:
    Hon. Cheryl Johnson, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX
  • 12:30 pm
    Registration Opens

    Includes light refreshments.
  • 1:20 pm
    Welcoming Remarks

  • 1:30 pm
    1.00 hr
    Significant Decisions of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

    Hon. David C. Newell, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX

    Analyze significant decisions in the last year and what they mean for criminal law practitioners on both sides of the bar.
  • 2:30 pm
    1.00 hr
    Supreme Court Update

    Jennifer E. Laurin, The University of Texas School of Law - Austin, TX

    An update on relevant criminal procedure and criminal law cases decided by the United States Supreme Court in the 2014 term, a review of decisions yet to be handed down, and a preview of cases in the pipeline for the 2015 term.
  • 3:30 pm
    Break

  • 3:45 pm
    1.50 hrs
    Writs: Effective Writing, Process, Management, and Related Issues

    John G. Jasuta, Law Office of John G. Jasuta - Austin, TX
    Michael F. Stauffacher, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX

    A general overview of the law and procedures regarding Texas state writs from the perspectives of the practitioner and the court. Topics range from the nuts and bolts of investigating and preparing a writ application to the dos and don’ts from the perspective of the reviewing court. Recent cases and pending issues are also addressed.
  • 5:15 pm
    Adjourn

  • Time
    Credit
    Subject
    Speaker
  • Thursday Morning, May 28, 2015
    Presiding Officer:
    Hon. Barbara P. Hervey, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX
  • 8:30 am
    Conference Room Opens

    Includes continental breakfast.
  • 9:00 am
    0.50 hr
    Legal Writing for the Screen Reader

    Wayne Schiess, The University of Texas School of Law - Austin, TX

    More and more legal documents are filed electronically and read on a computer. Screen reading changes the way we perceive and process information. Learn ways to craft legal documents to be more useful for screen reading.
  • 9:30 am
    1.00 hr
    Evolving Brief-Writing Techniques for the 21st Century: Rethinking What You May Have Been Taught in Law School about Effective Written Advocacy

    Kevin Dubose, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP - Houston, TX

    Changes in reading habits, workload, and legal sophistication of the appellate judicial audience should change the way we write briefs. Hear tips for more effective written advocacy in today’s appellate courts.
  • 10:30 am
    Break

  • 10:45 am
    0.50 hr
    Clash of Courts: Avenging a Bad Court of Appeals Decision by Petition for Discretionary Review (PDR)

    Stacey Meredith Goldstein, Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney - Austin, TX

    Mechanics and practical strategies for convincing the Court of Criminal Appeals to exercise its discretion. 
  • 11:15 am
    0.75 hr
    Effective Oral Argument

    Hon. J. Brett Busby, Fourteenth Court of Appeals - Houston, TX

    What do you do when you’re being bullied by a judge? When the judges argue among themselves and ignore you? When a judge asks a “dumb” question? An appellate specialist with experience on both sides of the bench answers these and other questions to help you put your best foot forward in oral argument.
  • 12:00 pm
    Pick Up Lunch

    Included in registration.
  • Thursday Afternoon, May 28, 2015
    Presiding Officer:
    Hon. Cheryl Johnson, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX
  • LUNCHEON PRESENTATION
  • 12:20 pm
    1.00 hr ethics
    Reel Legal Ethics, Part Deux

    V. Ivan Martinez, 34th Judicial District Attorney's Office - El Paso, TX

    A discussion of the ethical rules that offer guidance to legal dilemmas depicted in various movie scenes.
  • 1:20 pm
    Break

  • 1:35 pm
    0.50 hr
    Error in Jury Charges

    Jay R. Brandon, Bexar County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Section - San Antonio, TX

    Finding arguable errors in jury charges, both objected-to and not, including jury unanimity, lesser included offenses, and defenses. Strategies for defending against such claims are also addressed.
  • 2:05 pm
    0.75 hr
    Solving the Dilemma of Wrongful Convictions

    Hon. Barbara P. Hervey, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX

    While we have recognized the most common causes of wrongful convictions and have diligently pursued methods to prevent punishing the “actually innocent,” more work must be done.
  • 2:50 pm
    Break

  • 3:00 pm
    1.00 hr
    Appellate Tips from the Experts

    George McCall “Mac” Secrest Jr., Bennett & Secrest, PLLC - Houston, TX
    Edward L. "Chip" Wilkinson, Tarrant County District Attorney's Office - Fort Worth, TX

    A view from both sides of the criminal bar with practical tips on how appellate advocates and appellate courts can make their briefs and opinions interesting, easier to understand, and less likely to inflame the opposing side or losing party.
  • 4:00 pm
    1.00 hr ethics
    Disclosure, Ethics, and the Michael Morton Case: Lessons Learned 

    Patricia J. Cummings, General Counsel, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and Law Office of Patricia J. Cummings - Austin, TX

    Examine ethical issues that confront prosecutors and defense counsel with respect to evidentiary disclosure in the context of the prosecution and subsequent exoneration of Michael Morton. Review disclosure-based causes of Morton's wrongful conviction, legislative reforms intended to address those discovery failures, and the adaptation of prosecutors and defense attorneys to those changes—especially in the appellate context.
  • 5:00 pm
    Adjourn

  • Time
    Credit
    Subject
    Speaker
  • Friday Morning, May 29, 2015
    Presiding Officer:
    Hon. Barbara P. Hervey, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - Austin, TX
  • 8:30 am
    Conference Room Opens

    Includes continental breakfast.
  • 9:00 am
    0.50 hr
    Juvenile Appeals: What Law Applies?

    Dal R Ruggles, Law Office of Dal R Ruggles - Austin, TX

    Juvenile law is a mix of Criminal, Civil and Family Code rules. Explore the important differences in juvenile appeal cases that result from the amalgamation that is juvenile law.
  • 9:30 am
    0.50 hr
    Creative Research Techniques: Digging Deep without Deep Pockets

    Gretchen Sims Sween, Of Counsel, Beck Redden LLP, and Adjunct Faculty, The University of Texas School of Law - Austin, TX

    Learn how to find secondary material and other legal sources cost-effectively and present those sources in appellate briefs so as to inspire the court’s confidence.
  • 10:00 am
    Break

  • 10:15 am
    1.00 hr
    0.50 hr ethics
    Scientific Evidence: When to Open and Close the Door as Gatekeeper
    This session has moved to 11:15 AM.

    Cynthia Eva Hujar Orr, Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley - San Antonio, TX

    How to determine the qualifications of the witness as a scientist or expert and insure the integrity of the criminal process.
  • 11:15 am
    0.75 hr
    Court of Appeals Judicial Panel
    This session has moved to 10:15 AM.

    Moderator:
    Jay R. Brandon, Bexar County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Section - San Antonio, TX
    Panelists:
    Hon. Terry Jennings, First Court of Appeals - Houston, TX
    Hon. Sandee Bryan Marion, Fourth Court of Appeals - San Antonio, TX

    Courts of Appeals judges discuss what they do, the Courts' dockets, and better ways for practitioners to represent parties before the Courts.
  • 12:00 pm
    Adjourn

Conference Faculty

Jay R. Brandon

Bexar County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Section
San Antonio, TX

Hon. J. Brett Busby

Fourteenth Court of Appeals
Houston, TX

Patricia J. Cummings

General Counsel, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and Law Office of Patricia J. Cummings
Austin, TX

Kevin Dubose

Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP
Houston, TX

Stacey Meredith Goldstein

Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney
Austin, TX

Hon. Barbara P. Hervey

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

John G. Jasuta

Law Office of John G. Jasuta
Austin, TX

Hon. Terry Jennings

First Court of Appeals
Houston, TX

Jennifer E. Laurin

The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

Hon. Sandee Bryan Marion

Fourth Court of Appeals
San Antonio, TX

V. Ivan Martinez

34th Judicial District Attorney's Office
El Paso, TX

Hon. David C. Newell

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

Cynthia Eva Hujar Orr

Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley
San Antonio, TX

Dal R Ruggles

Law Office of Dal R Ruggles
Austin, TX

Wayne Schiess

The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

George McCall “Mac” Secrest Jr.

Bennett & Secrest, PLLC
Houston, TX

Michael F. Stauffacher

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

Gretchen Sims Sween

Of Counsel, Beck Redden LLP, and Adjunct Faculty, The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

Edward L. "Chip" Wilkinson

Tarrant County District Attorney's Office
Fort Worth, TX

Planning Committee

Hon. Barbara P. Hervey—Co-Chair

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

Hon. Cheryl Johnson—Co-Chair

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

William P. Allison

The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

Jay R. Brandon

Bexar County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Section
San Antonio, TX

Patricia J. Cummings

General Counsel, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and Law Office of Patricia J. Cummings
Austin, TX

Hon. Michael Keasler

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Austin, TX

Jennifer E. Laurin

The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

Gregory J. Smith

The University of Texas School of Law
Austin, TX

Credit Info

MCLE Credit
A Texas MCLE Reporting Form will be included in your course materials. Please complete and return to the registration desk and UT Law CLE will report credit on your behalf to the State Bar of Texas, or you can self-report your credit directly to the State Bar of Texas at texasbar.com. A Certificate of Attendance will be provided at the conference to keep for your records.  
At the conference, you will need to sign in on the Record of Attendance form at the registration desk. Self-report your CLE credit directly to the State Bar of California at calbar.ca.gov. You will receive a Certificate of Attendance at the conference to keep for your records. UT Law CLE will maintain Attendance Records for four years.  
At the conference, you will need to sign in on the Record of Attendance form at the registration desk. You will receive a Certificate of Attendance at the conference to keep for your records. UT Law CLE will report credit on your behalf to the Oklahoma Bar Association within 30 days after the conference.
Note on Self-Reporting Your Credits in Another State
If you wish to satisfy MCLE or other professional education requirements in another state for a program offered by the University of Texas School of Law, please check with the state bar or other licensing authority in that state before taking the program to ensure it will qualify for self-reporting your credits.
Other Credit
The University of Texas School of Law (Provider #250) live conferences are presumptively approved by The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy for Texas Accounting CPE credit based on a 50-minute credit hour. Approved for general CPE credit only.

At the conference, you will need to sign in on the Accounting CPE Record of Attendance form at the registration desk. You will receive a Texas Accounting Certificate of Completion at the conference for your records. Self-report your CPE credit directly to TSBPA. UT Law CLE will maintain Attendance Records for four years.  

Contact Laura Tolin, ltolin@law.utexas.edu, if you have additional questions.

Key Dates

Austin – May 27-29, 2015 – Radisson Hotel and Suites, Austin-Downtown
Conference Concluded
Buy
Austin
Last day for Individual early registration: May 20, 2015

Add $50 for registrations received after this time

Last day for Group (5 registrants minimum) early registration: May 20, 2015

Add $50 for registrations received after this time

Last day for Group (10 registrants minimum) early registration: May 20, 2015

Add $50 for registrations received after this time

Last day for cancellation (full refund): May 22, 2015
Last day for cancellation (partial refund): May 25, 2015

$50 processing fee applied

Venue

speaker

111 E. Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, TX
512.478.9611 (reservations)

Accommodations

$169 room rate good through April 26, 2015 (subject to availability). 

Parking Information

Daily Self-Parking:  $4
Overnight Self-Parking: $10 
Daily Valet Parking:  $25


Nearby Hotel Accommodations

speaker

500 E. 4th Street
Austin, TX
512-482-8000 (reservations)

speaker

200 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701-4028
1-512-472-1500

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