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State Prosecutors Gather at Baylor Law School for Trial Advocacy Course

Aug. 29, 2012

Baylor Law News Release

Writer: Julie Campbell Carlson

Contact: Janet Perez, 254-710-6681, Janet_Perez@baylor.edu

For the ninth year, the Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) held its advanced trial advocacy skills course at Baylor Law School.

Beginning Aug. 6, as many as 37 participants gathered at the law school to attend lectures and work on their courtroom skills. The course ended at noon Friday, Aug. 10.

The trial advocacy course is designed to allow experienced prosecutors a chance to further refine their knowledge base and trial skills through a series of critiqued presentations in courtroom settings. There were also detailed presentations on the particular topic chosen for the course, which this year was intoxication manslaughter cases. Classroom presentations covered such topics as "Presenting the Crash Scene: Photos, Videos and Math," "How to Choose the Right Indictment," "Dealing with Defense Experts and Jury Selection," among others.

Course attendees also worked on their courtroom skills and practiced jury selection, opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments in front of faculty advisers. The 37 participants were divided into three groups, each with three faculty advisers per courtroom. Two offered live critiques immediately after the presentation, and the third provided comments during a video session in which the faculty adviser and the attendee watched the recorded performance.

Faculty advisers included Jo Anne Linzer, assistant criminal district attorney, Montgomery County; Bill Vassar, assistant criminal district attorney, Tarrant County; Richard Alpert, assistant criminal district attorney, Tarrant County; Warren Diepraam, assistant criminal district attorney, Montgomery County; Mel Koehler, assistant criminal district attorney, Comal County; Glen Fitzmartin, assistant criminal district attorney, Dallas County; Clay Abbott, DWI resource prosecutor, TDCAA; Catherine Evans, assistant district attorney, Harris County; John Kwasnoski, one of the nation's leading experts on motor vehicle crash reconstruction; Lindsey Roberts, assistant district attorney, Williamson County; Brian Baker, assistant district attorney, Brazos County; and John Jordan, assistant district attorney, Harris County. TDCAA staff members who were present for the course were Erik Nielsen, training director, and Manda Herzing, meeting planner.

In the past, the TDCAA course has focused on homicides, narcotics, sexual assaults, child abuse and appellate arguments. Next year, it will focus its course on advanced appellate skills.

"The partnership between the TDCAA and Baylor Law School is a long-running one dating back nearly a decade now," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "We are pleased to provide a host venue for these public servant prosecutors, especially as they hone their trial skills. Given that our own program is marked by such a high-profile reputation in advocacy education and training, this partnership is natural one."

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