Criminal Justice & Capital Punishment – Texas Style

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 11:45am to 1:00pm
Austin Bar Association

Program: Criminal Justice & Capital Punishment – Texas Style

When the world considers humane, compassionate, spiritually evolved criminal justice and capital punishment procedures, Texas immediately comes to mind. But not for the right reasons. Whether it’s Sharon Keller’s closing the courthouse door to kill a man on a day he should have lived, Ken Anderson’s prosecutorial misconduct in hiding evidence from Michael Morton to wrongfully imprison him for 25 years, Todd Willingham’s execution based on arson junk science later covered up by Rick Perry’s lackeys, or 14 inmates dying from extreme heat in un-air-conditioned Texas prisons—Texas has so much to teach other states and countries. At this Forum, we’ll hear about the Texas hall of horrors—and what will happen or could happen to make things better. This program will depress you and then inspire you.


Rebecca Bernhardt – Rebecca is Policy Director of the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit established to establish “a fair and just criminal justice System in Texas.” That’s a tall order. Rebecca clerked for the legendary U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, then she practiced civil rights law and worked for the ACLU. She is a consummate policy advocate on these issues and a unique resource for criminal justice reform in Texas.

Brian McGivern – Brian litigates prison cases for the Texas Civil Rights Project—including the excessive-heat, inadequate medical care, disability accommodation, and excessive force cases. Name the abuse, Brian has seen it—including prison temperatures between 130 and 140 degrees. How do Texas prisoners live—and dies—in those conditions? Brian will tell us.

Bob Libal – Bob is Executive Director of Grass Roots Leadership, which works to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, including through challenges to Travis County’s participation in the ICE detainer program.

Door Prizes:

1.  Dan Patrick, Personal Transformation—New Name, New Life, New Bank Account, New Lt. Gov.

2.  David Dewhurst, More Money, More Votes—Simple Math for Simplistic Republicans.

3.  Rick Perry, Impending Obsolescence—Texas Grand Juries—or Me—We’ll See.

“New (now Old) Reservation Policy Alert” – Please note our new policy on canceling reservations.  As a result of recent last-minute cancellations and no-shows, we will have to start charging for persons who make a reservation but do not attend.  The Forum still has to pay for those lunches, and at times we’ve had to absorb over $150 in costs for non-attendees who made reservations.  We now offer the option to pay online in advance for your lunch.  If you cancel at least 24 hours before the meeting, there will be no charge.  We apologize for any inconvenience and we appreciate your cooperation. 
Cost:  lunch is $15.00 for members, $20.00 for non-members.

Parking: 816 Congress Avenue/IBC Bank parking garage.  Enter the parking garage on 9th Street, between Colorado and Congress.  Bring your ticket to the receptionist on the 7th floor and you will be given a coupon to use to exit the garage at no charge.

Reservation required: To reserve your seat, email or or call Chuck Herring or Judy Erben at 320-0665.  Please tell us if you intend to bring a non-member guest and if you have any special dietary concerns.  PLEASE MAKE RESERVATIONS BY 5:00 P.M. ON MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014.

About the Forum: The Forum meets monthly for lunch to hear Democratic speakers.  Membership is $120/yr.  Non-members may attend, but members have priority and receive discount prices for lunches