A new interactive, online database provides the public full access to records on 6,913 deaths that have occurred in Texas state custody since 2005. The database, launched by The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA), is designed to provide transparency of the state’s justice system and inform public policy.
The 11-year data set includes information about deaths in police interactions, jails and prisons, along with the deceased’s name, demographic information, time and place of death, cause of death, length of time in custody and a narrative submitted by the local custodian, such as the local sheriff or prison director. The website launched July 27 and is accessible at http://texasjusticeinitiative.org.
The Texas Justice Initiative was created by Amanda Woog, a postdoctoral fellow in IUPRA, an institution developed in 2010 through collaborative efforts with the Texas Legislative Black Caucus to conduct and promote the production of policy-relevant research aimed at enhancing the lives of African Americans and other communities of color.
“The goal of the initial launch is to make this data and some early findings available to researchers, policymakers, stakeholders and those directly impacted by Texas’ criminal justice system,” said Woog, who received her Juris Doctor from the UT School of Law. “Too many people are dying, and it’s going to require a collaborative effort to help identify problems and come up with solutions.”
The interactive site allows users to filter through categories, such as demographics or cause of death, and isolate data sets in order to answer their own research questions. Woog reported some of her findings in a Texas Custodial Death Report:
- Latinos accounted for 28 percent of the deaths in custody, black people accounted for 30 percent of the deaths in custody, and white people accounted for 42 percent.
• More than 1,900 of those who died had not been convicted of a crime.
• Natural causes or illness, suicide and justifiable homicide were the leading causes of death, accounting for 70, 11 and 8 percent of deaths, respectively.
• Justifiable homicide was the leading cause of nonnatural deaths for both black and Latino men, accounting for 30 and 34 percent of nonnatural deaths, respectively.
• Suicide was the leading cause of nonnatural deaths for whites, accounting for nearly 50 percent of nonnatural deaths for both white men and women.
• Alcohol or drug intoxication was the leading cause of nonnatural deaths for black and Latina women, accounting for 37 and 32 percent of nonnatural deaths, respectively.
“The unprecedented compilation of data will for the first time permit comparison among jurisdictions’ incidents of custodial deaths over time. Combined with a readily usable format, these contributions put the Texas Justice Initiative on the national vanguard of open data and build accountability and trust between law enforcement and the communities they police,” said UT law professor Jennifer Laurin, a member of the project’s advisory committee with Michele Deitch, a senior lecturer in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Kali Gross, a former UT Austin professor of African and African diaspora studies who is now at Wesleyan University.
California is the only other state to offer such a resource; last year its Attorney General’s Office debuted Open Justice, which included broad information about the state’s deaths in custody. The Texas Justice Initiative includes both identifying and narrative information for each death to encourage research into complexities in the criminal justice system, Woog said.
As a requirement under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 49.18, the person in charge of the custodial institution, such as the sheriff or facility director, must file the four-page custodial death report within 30 days of the incident. This information is considered public record and available upon request.
Dickinson Wright PLLC continues its North American expansion with the opening of its 17th office in Austin. Joining Dickinson Wright’s Austin office as members will be corporate & securities attorney, Darrell R. Windham and intellectual property attorneys Ross Spencer Garsson and K. Lance Anderson.
“We are honored to be a part of Dickinson Wright’s expansion into Texas and spearhead the opening of the Austin office,” said Darrell Windham, the managing member of the Austin office. “Dickinson Wright is a well-known law firm with a strong presence across the U.S. and in Canada. As attorneys with long-standing presence in the coolest and fastest-growing city in the country, we look forward to continuing to serve our clients with the highest level of quality and expertise they deserve. Dickinson Wright offers our Austin clients access to top-quality legal talent and resources across the country and globally, and the firm shares our commitment to providing Austin’s philanthropic and community organizations with our support and leadership.”
“Dickinson Wright’s expansion into Texas is an exciting opportunity to join a rapidly-growing major market with a vibrant business community,” said William T. Burgess, CEO of Dickinson Wright. “Austin has grown into a diversified economy with significant opportunities targeting emerging markets. Our attorneys in Austin collectively bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise, with an emphasis on corporate law, intellectual property, private equity, securities, and emerging technologies. With the convergence of healthcare and life sciences, an ever-present high-tech community and a top-tier public research institution, Dickinson Wright looks to play a strategic role in the growth and success of this unique capital city.”
Below is a description of Dickinson Wright’s new attorneys and their practices:
Darrell R. Windham, Member – Darrell has more than 35 years of experience in all types of business, transactional and securities matters. His experience includes representing clients in domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, financing and restructuring transactions, strategic alliances and public and private securities offerings. He also advises clients on business start-ups and organizations, corporate governance, securities law compliance, joint ventures and other domestic and international business and technology transactions. Mr. Windham has served as lead counsel to acquirers, sellers and issuers in hundreds of merger and acquisition transactions and public and private securities offerings, including the representation of issuers and investment banks in initial and secondary public offerings and in the purchase and sale of, strategic alliances with, and investments in, medical device, life science, manufacturing, software and semiconductor businesses and technologies. He also counsels technology companies and investors from organization through early and later stage financing rounds and exit transactions. Mr. Windham received his B.B.A. in Accounting from The University of Texas and his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law. Darrell has served as a director and executive officer of public companies and private businesses and in leadership positions in the Austin community in many charitable and non-profit organizations, including serving as President and Chairman of the Texas Exes and as the first President of the Contemporary Austin.
Ross Spencer Garsson, Member – Mr. Garsson has more than 20 years of experience practicing intellectual property and technology law. He focuses his practice on intellectual property litigation, patent prosecution and intellectual property portfolio management in a variety of technology areas, including chemical, nanotechnology, semiconductor and computer technologies. He has litigated numerous intellectual property disputes in state and federal district courts, in the U.S. Court of Appeals, and at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He has worked closely with nanotechnologists to procure and license their technologies. His work with the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University and the Alan G. MacDiarmid Nanotech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas has resulted in some of the most important patents for producing and manipulating carbon nanotubes. He represented Xitronix in defense of patent infringement claims involving Xitronix’s systems for non-destructively testing of semiconductor chips and represented Bain Consulting (now Growtheorem Consulting) in a breach of contract dispute regarding health care payment technologies. Mr. Garsson received both his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and B.A. in Mathematics from Rice University. He received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law. Ross serves on the Board of Directors of ACE Academy, a private school for gifted and talented children in Austin, and is the on the Board of Advisors of the Rice Alliance.
Lance Anderson, Member – Mr. Anderson has more than 15 years of experience preparing and negotiating complex technology and intellectual property transactions. A registered patent attorney, Mr. Anderson also conducts due diligence for licensing, mergers and acquisitions, technology agreements, strategic planning, patent prosecution, trade secrets and employment mobility, and related operational legal issues. Of particular focus, Mr. Anderson represents clients within the innovation and research enterprise including academic and institutional technology transfer, research and development, clinical and regulatory matters, strategic collaborations, CRADAs, manufacturing, distribution, confidentiality and materials exchange, and related alliances. In addition to representing clients on intellectual property issues, he has been involved in many aspects of corporate law, operations, financing and litigation ranging from start-up and early stage companies to mature market leaders. Mr. Anderson received both his B.S. in Entomology and MS in Crop Science from Texas Tech University. He received his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law.
Akerman LLP announced yesterday that it has attracted 30 litigators and trial lawyers from Beirne Maynard & Parsons, including two that office in Austin.
The lawyers, previously with Beirne Maynard & Parsons, are Joe M. Allen, Of Counsel, and Trey Trainor, Partner. Their bios can be viewed here: http://www.akerman.com/bios/search.asp?loc=68
Akerman is a leading transactions and trial law firm “known for its core strengths in middle market M&A, within the financial services and real estate industries, and for a diverse Latin America practice.” The firm boasts more than 650 lawyers and government affairs professionals across a network of 24 offices.
Need some CLE?
Enjoy breakfast and coffee generously underwritten by the Civil Litigation Section of the Austin Bar.
SPEAKER: Claude Ducloux
DATE: Wednesday, July 20
TIME: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
LOCATION: Long Center for the Performing Arts AT&T Rooms,
701 West Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78704
COST: $30 donation to Austin Shakespeare
CLE: 1 hour Ethics
CLICK HERE to buy tickets.
The following appeared in Austin Lawyer, the official magazine of the Austin Bar.
Leslie Dippel, Assistant Travis County Attorney, began her term as President of the Austin Bar Association on July 1, 2016.
Austin Bar: In addition to your job as Assistant County Attorney, you are a wife and the mom of three kids (ages 17, 13 and 6). And now you’re the President of the Austin Bar Association. How do you manage to juggle all of those responsibilities?
Dippel: I get asked that question a lot. When people ask me how I do it all, I say, “Sometimes I can’t.” I am not a passive participant in anything. I’m on the PTA boards at all three of my children’s schools. Not only do I enjoy it, but it shows my kids that I am interested in what they are doing. It’s also how I ﬁnd out what’s going on in their schools. It is important to me, so I prioritize it. I do everything I can, but I know that I can’t always do everything and be everywhere. Probably my biggest fear is disappointing someone by not doing something they were counting on me to do. I hope that does not happen. If I do make a mistake, it is important to me to apologize, ﬁx it, and move on.
Austin Bar: Where did you go to school?
Dippel: My husband and I are both hometown kids. We were born and raised in Austin. My family is from Killeen, Texas and I went to middle and high school there, so I sort of have two hometowns. I got my undergraduate degree in political science and Spanish at [then] Southwest Texas State University, and went to law school at the University of Houston Law Center.
Austin Bar: Why did you want to become a lawyer?
Dippel: I wish I had a beautiful story to answer that question. The truth is, I grew up in a family with several lawyers. One of my mentors was my dear uncle, Don Wood. He was an attorney for Locke Lord in Houston. I am sure having people I love and respect be involved in the law inﬂuenced me. I have always been interested in the law. I am a litigator and I love the writing aspect of that practice. It also captures my left-brain performance nature—I love the courtroom. What lawyer doesn’t love to talk?
Austin Bar: What was your first job out of law school?
Dippel: I got married in law school. My husband moved to Houston with me on the express condition of moving back to Austin as soon as I graduated, which we did. In fact, we were literally packing moving boxes on graduation day! My ﬁrst job after law school was with the Attorney General’s ofﬁce in the Law Enforcement Defense Division. That’s where I met Judge Eric Shepperd. If you want to try cases, that is a great ofﬁce. I was trying a case in federal court within 30 days of having my license. It was an incredible experience. My favorite thing about it was, as a young lawyer, you have this idea of what you should sound like, look like, or act like in the courtroom. The gift the job in the Attorney General’s ofﬁce gave me was I got to try on several different personas. I tried on being the “country” lawyer, the “serious” lawyer, and the stereotypical “whatever” lawyer. It taught me that none of those things are right. The best lawyer you can be is who you are. I am me: Leslie. I smile, I crack jokes, and I giggle sometimes. That is who I am. I know that won’t connect with everyone, but if I try to act like someone else, I won’t connect with anyone. Getting to litigate frequently as a young lawyer in the Attorney General’s ofﬁce gave me an incredible maturity which I don’t think I would have gotten as quickly in private practice.
After working for the Attorney General’s ofﬁce, I clerked for two federal magistrates—Judge Steve Capelle, who is now the First Assistant in the County Attorney’s Ofﬁce, and Judge Andy Austin. Those are two men I admire greatly for their dedication to their families and their careers. Then I went into private practice at Hilgers & Watkins, which later merged with Brown McCarroll. That was a great experience, too. I loved the people I worked with and I had great mentors there who taught me the business side of the law. Baby Dippel number two joined our family a few years after I joined the ﬁrm. Judge Shepperd was the Director of Civil Litigation in the County Attorney’s ofﬁce at the time. He called one day to tell me they had an opening, and the timing was right for my family. The rest, as they say, is history.
Austin Bar: What do you love most about your job?
Dippel: I truly admire David Escamilla. He’s an excellent lawyer, community activist, and just a good man. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The Travis County Attorney’s Ofﬁce is simply a nice place to walk into every day under his leadership. And the work is fascinating. I love working with the local elected ofﬁcials in the city where I live—to watch the work being done and to advise them on legal matters. I have a small role in that by providing employment advising and litigation. All the ofﬁces in the county have a similar feel. They are all family and it all feels close-knit. I have developed friendships in the commissioners’ ofﬁces, sheriff’s ofﬁce, district and county clerk’s ofﬁces, the judges’ ofﬁces, and many others. It always boils down to relationships no matter where you are.
Beyond that, the reason I’ve stayed and have enjoyed it so much is employment law can be an emotional practice. It’s a large responsibility because you are dealing with people’s jobs, their livelihoods. It is how they identify themselves. It’s a very relationship-based practice. It’s like the pillars I learned in Leadership Austin: Skills, Issues, and Relationships. When you combine all of those things, then you’re in your sweet spot. I guess this is mine.
Austin Bar: When did you first get involved in Bar?
Dippel: In law school. I was a research assistant to a professor who was involved with the Houston Young Lawyers Association. They always asked him to help place a student member on their board. During my third year, he asked the research assistants and I said I’d do it. I didn’t know much about it at the time, but what a gift it turned out to be. I was the student representative on the HYLA Board. That is where I met Justice Dale Wainwright, who embodied the characteristics of excellence, professionalism, and community service. I was pleased to have the opportunity to tell him what an impression he made on me at last year’s Austin Bar Foundation Gala. I was on the HYLA Board the year we hired our ﬁrst Executive Director. It was exciting to be involved in that. So when I moved here, I just joined the Austin Bar Association. I thought that’s just what you did. I jumped on to the Bench Bar Committee that ﬁrst year and have not looked back.
Austin Bar: Who were the first people you interacted with in the Austin Bar who made an impact?
Dippel: Justice Bob Pemberton was the chair of Bench Bar Committee that ﬁrst year. He was so kind and welcoming to a brand new person who didn’t even know what the Bench Bar was at ﬁrst. His kindness made an impact. On that committee, I met former Austin Bar Association president, Ann Greenberg, and Frank King and we became friends instantly. The next year, Frank called to say they were looking for a committee chair and he liked that I actually came to committee meetings. That was so funny to me–of course I went to the meetings! So that is the story of how I co-chaired my ﬁrst committee—I showed up!
Austin Bar: If you had a word of advice to a young lawyer, what would it be?
Dippel: There are many areas of my career that I would like to say were part of a grand plan, but I look back and while it may look that way, it wasn’t designed that way. I went where the jobs were and that ultimately developed me into a well-rounded lawyer. So that’s the advice—maybe you can’t manufacture and design your career like that. Maybe you can’t control it. But you can pull lessons out of each experience and together, they become part of the tapestry. Austin is still a small town and the legal community even more so. Relationships are important here. Building the base of relationships is what the Bar does. So I advise just jumping in and showing up. Meet people. It doesn’t have to be intentional. You can just have fun and meet people and along the way you’ve met this base of people who are mentors, referrals, colleagues, and friends. People who will remember you. It just happens naturally. Find that person whom you admire and get to know him or her better. Say, “I like what that person is doing, I like who she is. I want to ﬁgure out what she’s doing.” Seek out your mentors.
Susan Burton was my supervising partner at Hilgers & Watkins. I was with the Calvert Inn of Court at the time. One time, I was sitting by Judge Suzanne Covington at dinner. Susan and I had been in Judge Covington’s court recently for a hearing. During dinner, I introduced myself and she said, “I remember.” She leaned over and literally patted my hand. She said she was pleased to see me in court with Susan. “I see so many young lawyers come through my court with people who may not have the best reputations, and I worry about their development,” she said. “I worry about what they are going to be like in 10 years. I was so happy to see you under her wing. We need more lawyers like that.” My lesson from that was, the things you think matter, don’t. But being truthful, authentic, and being a person of your word—that matters.
Austin Bar: What are your goals, or what do you want to achieve, during your year as President?
Dippel: I want more people to understand, and take advantage of, the amazing work that the Austin Bar does. And I want more people to give their talents to the Bar, too, because it’s reciprocal. You won’t know what’s going on if you don’t come to an event. There are so many avenues to be involved in and not all of them have to be about being a lawyer. Although if you want to do that, you can. Do you want to get involved in something practice-based, like a section? We have monthly CLEs. Whether it’s com-munity based, professional based, or judicial based, there is something for everyone. Show up. Then get involved. Serve on a committee, take a leadership role. There are so many ways to be involved. And those that are already involved need to ask people to come with them. Once, when Sherine Thomas and I co-chaired Leadership Austin’s recruitment committee, we timidly asked Judge Elisabeth Earle to speak at an event. We thought she was doing us a huge favor. It turns out she was looking for a way to become more involved and our invitation changed her trajectory in the organization. She ended up serving on the board. We would never have known her interest if we had not asked. We have to ask people to get involved. But they need to know they don’t have to be “all in”. They don’t have to be President. They don’t have to assume any leadership position. There is something here for everyone, whatever their interest or commitment level. It is all appreciated and they will get something out of it, whatever they do.
Austin Bar: What do you think they’ll get out of it?
Dippel: I can tell you what I get out of it. I’m a relationship person, so I’ve made a lot of friends. Some of them have become professional colleagues, some have become the sort of friends where we’re involved in each other’s families. Friendships, contacts, networking, CLE. It’s all here.
The Austin Bar is also a very organized way to get involved in the community. Everybody wants to do volunteer work, or help in the community, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make that happen. The Bar makes these things so easy to plug into. You want to help CPS and foster kids get adopted at Adoption Day? Ok, then go do it. Like animals? Walk dogs with the Animal Law Section. Interested in mentoring young lawyers? Great! Get involved with the mentoring program. Like ﬁtness? Help raise money for the Heart Association and join the Fit Bar team for the Heart Walk. Like to write? Contribute an article to Austin Lawyer. Like kids? Get involved in the Law-Related Education in Schools committee and help collect books for kids at the courthouse. The list is endless. Just be yourself—and come on.
Carey Gunn Venditti, a real estate shareholder in the Austin office of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, recently accepted an invitation to become an Advisory Council Member of the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center (REFIC) of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.
REFIC is a nationally recognized think tank cultivating cutting-edge research and curricula on finance-related real estate issues, such as the valuation of mortgage-backed securities, the financial structure of real estate investments trusts, the agency issues associated with real estate financing agreements and the efficiency of real estate investment markets. Council members are nominated among other real estate professionals and included by invitation only.
“I am honored to be chosen to join such esteemed company at such a great university, and I look forward to strengthening our firm’s relationships through REFIC,” said Venditti. “This is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and learn from some of the best minds in the business.”
REFIC sponsors several valuable programs, including a National Real Estate Challenge competition for business school graduate students, a student-managed REIT Fund focused solely on U.S. real estate trust (REIT) equity securities, a mentoring program for students and an annual Summer Real Estate Research Symposium co-hosted with UC-Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, Wharton and National University of Singapore.
Venditti advises investors, developers and owners of various commercial, mixed-use, multi-family, office, retail, planned community and condominium projects in the acquisition, disposition and development of land and the purchase, sale, leasing, operation and administration of income producing properties.
On July 1, 2016, Leslie Dippel begins her term as president of the Austin Bar Association. Dippel will lead the Austin Bar for a one-year term. During the upcoming year, Dippel will highlight the many community outreach programs of the Austin Bar Association. In particular, she hopes to support and expand the Free Legal Advice Clinic for Veterans, a monthly legal clinic for military veterans and their families, and the Self-Represented Litigant Project, which provides first-class pro bono legal services to self-represented litigants seeking assistance through the Travis County Law Library and Self Help Center.
Immediate past-president of the Austin Bar, Judge Eric Shepperd, had this to say about his successor, “Leslie Dippel will be a great Austin Bar President. She is a terrific trial lawyer and a highly effective consensus-building leader who will lead the Bar to even greater award-winning heights. She will dare greatly and succeed.”
Dippel leads the employment law section of the Travis County Attorney’s Office. She began her career as a trial lawyer in the Law Enforcement Defense Division in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas and a briefing attorney for United States Magistrate Judges Stephen H. Capelle and Andrew W. Austin. Immediately prior to joining the Travis County team, Dippel was in private practice with Brown McCarroll (now Husch Blackwell). For the majority of her legal career, her practice has emphasized labor and employment law. Dippel holds a BA in Political Science from Southwest Texas State University and a JD from the University of Houston Law Center.
Dippel is an active member of the Austin community. She has been a member of the board of directors of the Austin Bar Association since 2005, and is a past member of the board of directors of Leadership Austin and the Robert W. Calvert Inn of Court. She is a current member of the advisory board for Mothers Against Drunk
Driving, the civil committee of the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association, three PTA boards, and the Bowie High School women’s lacrosse team booster club. She and her husband are native Austinites and live in south Austin with their three children who are all active in soccer and lacrosse. Any spare time away from the courtroom is spent on soccer and lacrosse fields across the great state of Texas.
Joining Dippel as Austin Bar officers for the upcoming bar year are Amy Welborn, President-Elect; Adam Schramek, Secretary; D. Todd Smith, Treasurer; and Judge Eric Shepperd, immediate Past-President. Rounding out the board of directors are Amanda Arriaga, Laura Merritt, Amanda Taylor, Kennon Wooten, David Courreges, Blair Dancy, Chari Kelly, and Cindy Saiter.
Katie Fillmore begins her term as president of the Austin Young Lawyers Association on July 1, 2016. New leadership for AYLA also includes Austin Kaplan, President-Elect: Jorge Padilla, Treasurer; Drew Harris, Secretary; and Chari Kelly, immediate Past-President. The AYLA board of directors includes Sandy Bayne, David King, Stacie Bennett, Andrea Rose, Andrew Cates, Franklin Hopkins, Rachael Jones, and Erin Smith, with Director-at-Large, Tom Jacob.
The Austin Bar Foundation was established in 2003 to support and expand the provision of legal-related charitable and educations programs and services in Central Texas. Since its inception, over $107,000 has been given in grants to local legal-related charities. The 2016 grant recipients are the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Travis County, the Texas State Law Library, Catholic Charities of Central Texas, and AYLA.
Officers for the Austin Bar Foundation are Judge Eric Shepperd, Chair; Leslie Dippel, Chair-elect; Toya Cirica Bell, Vice-Chair; Laura Sharp, Treasurer; and Laura Merritt, Secretary. Directors are Eric Behrens, Michael Dodd, Judge Elisabeth Earle, Manuel Escobar, Lowell Keig, Meghan Kempf, Mishell Kneeland, Janet McCullar, Marilyn Poole, Pete Reid, D. Todd Smith, Gavin Villareal and Amy Welborn.
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, one of the nation’s preeminent law firms serving the healthcare industry, received “Top Honors” from the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) for 2016.