Second Annual Criminal Defense Bar’s National Reading of the Declaration of Independence

 

2010

 

In 2010, Houston criminal defense lawyer Robb Fickman had the idea that the Declaration of Independence should be read in front of the Harris County Criminal Courthouse in honor of July 4th.  For him, the Reading of the Declaration on the steps of the Courthouse by members of the defense bar would be a symbolic protest against the injustices so frequently encountered in the Courthouse.  That year, Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA) President, Nicole Deborde, supported the Reading.  Some arms were twisted and fifteen good criminal defense lawyers showed up to read.  In turn each attorney read a section of the Declaration.  When those fifteen Houston criminal defense lawyers finished the Reading, everyone was quite moved.  It was then that they all agreed to make the Reading of the Declaration of Independence an annual event for HCCLA.

2011

In 2011, HCCLA President Earl Musick embraced the Reading.  Earl organized a much bigger event than the previous year, with more than 100 criminal defense lawyers showing up and thirty-eight reading sections of the Declaration.  Also in 2011, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA) President Gary Trichter embraced the Readings.  Gary and TCDLA’s Executive Director Joseph Martinez and Melissa Schank got the word out to TCDLA members.  Thus, in 2011, what started in Houston spread across the Lone Star State.

2012

 

In 2012, HCCLA President Chris Tritico again supported the Reading.  Additionally, TCDLA President Lydia Clay Jackson supported TCDLA’s full involvement.  Earlier in 2012, Robb Fickman decided that it was time to take what had started in Houston and make it a national grassroots movement.  TCDLA’s Joseph Martinez, Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Ann Cooper, Georgia’s Jennifer Mackall, Utah’s Kent Hart, San Diego’s Knut Johnson, Mississippi Public Defender Leslie Lee, and The National College of DWI Lawyers joined in spreading the word.  On July 3rd, 2012, HCCLA again led the way in Reading the Declaration in Houston, Texas.  President Chris Tritico led thirty-eight lawyers in the Reading.  TCDLA again followed HCCLA’s lead.  Criminal Defense lawyers held Readings in front of courthouses across Texas in places like Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Lubbock, Fort Worth, San Angelo, Uvalde, Kerrville, Longview, Tyler, Athens, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Huntsville, Conroe and Fort Bend.

Efforts to make the Reading a national event immediately paid off.  The Reading of the Declaration of Independence spread across the country.  In 2012, in the “First Annual Criminal Defense Bar’s National Reading of the Declaration of Independence”, Criminal Defense Lawyers held Readings in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Grand Junction, Albuquerque, Wichita, Little Rock, Lansing, Jackson, Mobile, Montgomery, Atlanta, Macon County, Savannah, Charlotte, Washington D.C. and many other cities and towns.  These Readings marked the beginning of the Defense Bar’s National Reading.

2013

What began with fifteen lawyers in front of the Harris County Criminal Courthouse in Houston, Texas in 2010 grew in 2013.  In 2013, criminal defense lawyers held 73 Readings in 10 states and Washington D.C.  Texas again led the way with the criminal defense bar holding Readings in front of courthouses in 51 cities and towns (For photos from this year’s reading, click on the 2013 Pictures tab).

ALABAMA

In Alabama, Ann Cooper organized Readings throughout the state.  Criminal defense lawyers held Readings in Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Bessemer, Gadsden, and Washington County.  Ann’s unwavering leadership has made this a new tradition in Alabama.

In Tuscaloosa, Hays Webb led a Reading with sixteen other defense lawyers. Accompanying the crowd of spectators was the local newspapers and news stations.  This Reading was a collaborative effort by the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association.

In Bessemer, Paula Lampkin led a Reading with local newspaper coverage.  There were so many participants that Paula nearly had to give up her reading section.  Prior to the Reading there was a singing performance by Nathanial Ruthedge as well as a performance by the local school’s ROTC.  Bessemer has big plans for next year including fireworks and a barbeque cookout.

In Mobile, Vivian Beckerle, Mike Wing, and Amy Adams held their Reading in front of the Mobile County Courthouse.

In Washington County, Ruth Lynch organized a Reading. 

In Gadsden, Charles Hart organized the Reading in front of the Spirit of American Citizenship Monument.

CALIFORNIA

In California, criminal defense lawyer Knut Johnson again led the way.  Readings of the Declaration of Independence grew from last year’s single reading in San Diego to three readings this year in San Diego, El Cajon, and Vista.

In San Diego, Knut Johnson led 23 criminal defense lawyers in a Reading in front of the San Diego County Courthouse.  The Second Annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence in San Diego was also covered by local news media.

In Vista, Richard Duquette and seven other defense lawyers read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Vista California Courthouse.  Each participant read a page of the historic document to the gathered spectators.

In El Cajon, Criminal defense lawyer Kathleen Lee organized their first Reading

GEORGIA

The state of Georgia held the second most Readings this year.  Jennifer Mackall again did a remarkable job in organizing Readings throughout the Peach State.  Readings were held in Augusta, Cobb County, Jefferson County, Laurens County, Fayette County, Catoosa County, and Bartow County.  A big thanks goes out to all the individuals responsible for making these Readings happen as well as everyone that participated.

In Augusta, Elmer Young and Travis Saul accompanied by a small group of individuals fought the inclement weather and gathered at the “Signers Monument” downtown.  These defense lawyers read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety at this memorable and symbolic venue.

In Dublin, Catherine Bernard gathered a group of nearly 25 people to read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Laurens County Courthouse.  Of these 25 individuals four lawyers, a paralegal and an intern joined from the Public Defender’s Office.  All read The Declaration of Independence in unison.

In Ringgold, David Dunn and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers organized a Reading that garnered an immense amount of media attention, including local newspapers as well as two Chattanooga television stations.  Due to the inclement weather the Reading was inside the courthouse.  The turnout from last year nearly quadrupled.  When speaking to WDEF News 12 about the reading of the Declaration of Independence David Dunn said, “This country’s being torn apart by all kinds of political divisions and people get so wound up in that they forget the things that unite us as Americans.”

In Bartow County, Kelley Dial led twenty three defense lawyers in the second Reading of the Declaration of Independence.  Inclement weather forced these criminal defense lawyers inside the Old Bartow County Courthouse to a now unused courtroom, where many of these lawyers’ careers began.  Defense lawyer and organizer Kelley Dial told the Daily Tribune News, Kelley Dial said, “It’s a good way to talk about the beginnings, not only of our nation, but our justice system and to remind people how it started.”

In Cobb County, poor weather and a last minute change of location did not keep Kim Keheley Frye and the other 21 readers, nor the twenty spectators, from reading the Declaration of Independence.  The Reading was covered by local media TV23 as well as the Marietta Daily Journal.

In Fayette County, criminal defense lawyer James J. Dalton II organized a slightly different Reading.  The main readers of the Declaration of Independence were the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.  These young men each read a section of the Declaration of Independence on the courthouse steps of the Fayette County Complex.

The Reading in Jefferson County was organized by Betty Kirby-Williams.

Texas

Three years ago this grassroots movement began with 15 criminal defense lawyers reading the Declaration of Independence in front of the courthouse in Houston, Texas.  This year, Robb Fickman and TCDLA made it their goal to organize 50 Readings in Texas.  This year, TCDLA members held Readings in front of courthouses in 51 cities and towns.  From Abilene to Amarillo, from Austin to El Paso, From Galveston to Fort Worth, From Houston to Huntsville, criminal defense lawyers gathered at their local courthouses to read the Declaration of Independence.

In Houston, HCCLA President Todd DuPont led 38 HCCLA members in the Reading.  There were 100 spectators including lawyers, judges, and press on hand to watch.  National and state organizer Robb Fickman stated, “We are not the Tea Party.  We are not some fringe group.  We are criminal defense lawyers dedicated to supporting the Constitution and zealously representing our clients.  The Declaration was a beginning not an end.  It was followed by the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement.  In Reading the Declaration, we re-affirm that we are the heirs of our founding fathers.  We are part of the continuum in the long fight for liberty in this county.  We will fight tyranny inside and outside the courthouse.

In Abilene, Rick Mabry joined 5 members of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Ken Leggett, Jenny Henley, Stan Brown, and Randy Crownover.  There were approximately a dozen spectators listening intently as these criminal defense lawyers read.

In Alice, Michael Guerra organized the Reading.  It may have been held slightly later than the other Readings; however, this group wasn’t short on patriotism.

In Amarillo, outstanding defense lawyer Jeff Blackburn, Adam Tisdell, Todd Hatter, Joe Batson, Diana McCoy, Ryan Brown, and John Bennett gathered on the steps of the Potter County Courthouse to read the Declaration of Independence.  This Reading received local media attention and had an article published on the website of Connect Amarillo.

In Athens, Danna Mayhall organized the Reading of the Declaration.  Danna was joined by five other defense lawyers on the steps of the Henderson County Courthouse.  These criminal defense lawyers sang the National Anthem, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and read the Declaration.

In Austin, TCDLA Vice President Sam Bassett and local legend Bennie Ray once again organized a very successful Reading that consisted of 25 lawyers from the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the local Criminal Defense Bar.  TCDLA Executive Director Joseph Martinez joined in the Reading.

In Bandera, past TCDLA President, cowboy lawyer Gary Trichter, Tammy Keener, and Harold Danford were joined by other lawyers and retired military servicemen to make the Reading possible.  Twenty people read the Declaration of Independence.

In Boerne, Gary Trichter, Tammy Keener, and Harold Danford were joined by five other people to read the Declaration of Independence.  These three outstanding criminal defense lawyers were responsible for making four Readings in central Texas happen.

In Brenham, the Reading was organized by Mary Jo Holloway.  Mary Jo and four other readers gathered at the Gazebo outside the Washington County Courthouse to read the Declaration.  Mary Jo’s grandsons handed out American flags to all individuals in attendance.

In Brownsville, Alex Dominguez led a very successful Reading that landed on the front page of the Brownsville Herald.

In Corpus Christi, Michelle Ochoa and Constance Luedike lead criminal defense lawyers in the Reading on the front steps of the Nueces County Courthouse.  Channel 3 covered the event.

In Dallas, Deandra Grant and Susan Anderson along with 18 other defense lawyers joined together on the steps of the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building to read the Declaration in honor of the Fourth of July.  In the crowd of spectators was local press.

In Del Rio, Gail Schroeter led Eric Bayne, Angela Saad, Liz O’Connell, and Jeff Mahl joined in reading the Declaration of Independence.  They read on the steps of the Val Verde County Court of Law

In Fort Worth, Shawn Paschall and 17 other criminal defense lawyers read the Declaration on the steps of the Tim Curry Justice Center.  Together they read the Declaration to more than 20 spectators.

In Fredricksburg, Gary Trichter, Tammy Keener, and Harold Danford were joined by others to read the Declaration of Independence.

In Galveston, Julia Hatcher and Lori Laird organized the historic first Reading.  They were joined by 3 other criminal defense lawyers and read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Galveston County Courthouse.  This reading came with a sound system and a video recording.

In Georgetown, defense lawyer Shawn Dick led 16 defense lawyers in the Reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Historic Courthouse.  Several friends and family members joined the readers.  Shawn Dick and all the other readers have big plans for next year’s Reading, which include color guards, PA systems and costumes.

In Hillsboro, Tigar Russell led a Reading.  Local press requested photos.

In Huntsville, David O’Neil and TCDLA members William Savoie, Barbara Law, Thomas Brewer, Tracey Sorenson, Temple Ramming held the Third Annual Reading on July 3, 2013 at the Gazebo in front of the Walker County Courthouse.  Among the audience were members of the judiciary, the Mayor, a former Mayor, City Council Members, as well as many local citizens.

In Kerrville, Gary Trichter, Tammy Keener, and Harold Danford led another Reading.   The 30 spectators in attendance included judges, law enforcement, lawyers, citizens, and retired military and local press.

In Lockhart, David Schulman organized a Reading drive to Lockhart from Austin to assure there would be a defense bar Reading of the Declaration.  The Reading was a success (with all the readers going to Black’s Barbeque Restaurant to eat), as well as hand out more copies of the Declaration.

In Longview, TCDLA officer David Moore again organized a Reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Gregg County Courthouse.  David was joined by 10 other criminal defense lawyers in reading the Declaration.

In Lubbock, Chuck Lanehart and David Hazlewood led 14 members of the Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers Association read the Declaration of Independence.  The Reading was on the Lubbock County Courthouse steps.  The Lubbock Avalanche Journal was in attendance and ran an article about the Reading in its July 4th edition.

In McKinney, Karen Chesley and Sharon Curtis were joined by 7 other criminal defense lawyers in reading the Declaration of Independence at the Collin County Courthouse.  All the readers gathered around the county seal in the rotunda.  Among the 20 spectators in attendance were judges who gathered to listen.

In Nacogdoches, criminal defense lawyer Tim James was joined by John Heath Jr., John Boundy, and Noel Cooper in reading the Declaration of Independence in front of the Nacogdoches County Courthouse.

In New Boston, Bart Craytor and Mark Elliot read the Declaration of Independence for the first time as a part of the grassroots effort.

In Paris, Barney Sawyer along with 13 other lawyers  read the Declaration of Independence at the plaza downtown.

In Uvalde, TCDLA President-Elect Emmett Harris organized another very successful Reading.  More than 100 people attended this year.  Warren Wolf made an appearance and was the featured speaker.  There was also a special scout group that came and performed Native American dances.

In Vanderpool, David Black, his wife, and their two grandchildren proudly read the Declaration of Independence.

In Wharton, John Roades is responsible for organizing the Reading.  John was joined by fellow defense lawyers Colleen Manske, Richard Manske, James Perez, and Dawn Allison.

In El Paso and Big Bend, Jim Darnell organized the Readings.  The Reading in Conroe was organized by Josh Zientek and Lydia Clay-Jackson.  Readings in Comanche and Corsicana were organized by John Stickels and Steve Keathley respectively. The City of Denton, Texas held a Reading thanks to the efforts of Sarah Roland. The Bryan-College Station Reading was organized by Shane Phelps.

The Eastland Reading was organized by Landon Thompson.  Martin Zimmerman organized Readings in New Braunfels and Seguin.  The Richmond Reading was organized by Lee Cox and Lisa Gonzalez.  The San Angelo Reading was organized by Tip Hargrove.  The San Antonio Reading was organized by John Convery, Adam Kobs and Jaime Balaglia.  The San Marcos Reading was organized by Scot Courtney. 

In Sweetwater, the Reading was organized by John Young.  The Reading was the headline story in the local newspaper. 

In Tyler, Jason Ellis organized the Reading.  In Waco the Reading was organized by Josh Tetens and Tom Ragland.  In Waxahachie, the Reading was organized by Cindy Ermatinger and in Wichita Falls the Reading was organized by Bob Estrada.

NEW MEXICO

In Albuquerque, Rod Frechette was joined by Tom Mescall for the second consecutive year for their Reading.  This year’s Reading took place on July 3rd on the front steps of Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse.  After the Reading the audience voiced their immense appreciation for Rod and Tom for reading the Declaration of Independence.

MISSISSIPPI

In Wayne County, criminal defense attorney Marcus Evans stood alone and read the Declaration.  The local newspaper covered.

COLORADO

In Grand Junction, Daniel Shaffer and eleven defense lawyers read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Grand Junction Courthouse.

MICHIGAN

In Lansing, for the second year outstanding criminal defense lawyer Mike Nichols led the way for 6 other defense attorneys in reading the Declaration of Independence in front of the county courthouse.  The Lansing State Journal and the Channel 6 News covered Mike’s efforts.

WASHINGTON D.C.

For the second year, criminal defense lawyer Debbie Anderson led the Reading.  Debbie was joined by five other defense lawyers to read the Declaration of Independence in front of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

LOUISIANA

In Minden, Gary Peak from Eastland, Texas and two other people decided to stop at the local courthouse.  Gary read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the courthouse.  People stopped while passing by to hear the words that our Founding Fathers so eloquently wrote almost two and a half centuries ago.

UTAH

In Ogden, Devan Coggins organized the second annual Reading.

HAWAII

Houston criminal defense lawyer and HCCLA officer Rand Mintzer took advantage of a family vacation to spread the defense bar’s message.  With his family and local lawyers Rand led the Reading of the Declaration.

And now for something completely different…

LONDON, ENGLAND

Houston criminal defense lawyer and HCCLA board member Tyler Flood was in London on July 4th.  Standing before Parliament Tyler read the Declaration of Independence.  A reminder to all that we will go wherever we must go and prove our dedication to fighting tyranny.

Thank you to every Criminal Defense Lawyer that organized or participated in a Reading of the Declaration of Independence this year.  Everyone that has ever taken part in this national grassroots movement should start planning their Readings for next year now.


Defense Lawyers: Contact us if you are interested in hosting a reading in your town.