State Bar of Texas to honor UT Arlington official By Diane Smith | email@example.com
ARLINGTON -- Michael Moore isn't a lawyer, but his work is helping change how Texas provides the poor with legal representation.
Moore, dean of undergraduate students and senior vice provost at the University of Texas at Arlington, is the first recipient of an award created in his honor by the State Bar of Texas.
He is being singled out for 15 years of service on the Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters.
"I am humbled by the recognition," Moore said. "I always felt the work that we did was very much a collective effort by members of the committee. To be recognized by my former committee members and the State Bar with this award is indeed a surprise and a humbling experience."
The Michael K. Moore Award for Research and Writing in the Area of Indigent Defense will be presented July 23 in San Antonio during the State Bar of Texas' annual Advanced Criminal Law Course.
Jeff Blackburn, committee chairman, said Moore used his research talents to expose problems in Texas' criminal defense of low-income people.
"He has given activists, who are trying to make changes, academic and scientific arguments to back up what we are doing," said Blackburn, who is chief counsel to the Innocence Project of Texas, which works to exonerate people wrongfully convicted of serious crimes in Texas.
The project helped clear Tim Cole, an Army veteran from Fort Worth who was the first Texas inmate to be posthumously exonerated by DNA testing.
Allan Butcher, UTA professor emeritus and founding member of the committee, said Moore was enlisted to advise the committee about how to best survey the state of indigent defense in Texas.
The result was, "Muting Gideon's Trumpet: The Crisis in Indigent Criminal Defense in Texas."
Butcher said this work exposed a system in crisis and alludes to the U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, which determined that criminal defendants have a right to an attorney when they can't afford one. The report helped lay the foundation for the Fair Defense Act of 2001, which overhauled the legal representation of poor people accused of crimes.
"He was deeply involved," Butcher said. "He did indeed play a critical role."
Moore also testified before the Legislature to help gain support for the Fair Defense Act of 2001.
The issue of indigent representation remains important, Moore said.
"We have made tremendous progress in Texas, but there is more work to be done," he said.
"It is important that we remain vigilant to the notion of equal justice for all. Defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges -- all should be working toward the same goal: not to win the case, but to see that justice is done. Until we can no longer determine that the level of justice varies by race or economic situation, we will have work to be done." - - - - - Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 | Twitter: @dianestar
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State Bar of Texas to honor UT Arlington official Petra.,Thu Jul 5 13:24