Texas Defender Service (TDS)

Texas Defender Service (TDS) Texas Defender Service (TDS) is a non-profit law firm that seeks to establish a fair and equitable criminal justice system in Texas.

Operating as usual

All four state executions scheduled to have happened so far in 2021 have been blocked. That includes two in Texas, one i...
02/12/2021
Willie B. Smith's execution called off by the state just before midnight

All four state executions scheduled to have happened so far in 2021 have been blocked. That includes two in Texas, one in Tennessee, and now one in Alabama.

The US is now in its longest stretch without a state execution in 40 years.

Alabama inmate Willie B. Smith was set to be put to death on Thursday in Atmore, but his execution was called off just before midnight.

Tennessee executed Sedley Alley in 2006, despite most physical evidence pointing toward an alternate, unknown suspect.No...
02/09/2021
Opinion | Did Tennessee Execute an Innocent Man?

Tennessee executed Sedley Alley in 2006, despite most physical evidence pointing toward an alternate, unknown suspect.

Now, his daughter is fighting for DNA testing to prove his innocence. The State opposes the testing.

If DNA exonerates Sedley Alley, it will be the first time someone was proved to have been wrongly put to death.

"The Trump administration’s spree of executions seems to have given [death penalty repeal] some urgency in Virginia."“[T...
02/05/2021
Virginia, Shifting Left Fast, Moves Closer to Abolishing Death Penalty

"The Trump administration’s spree of executions seems to have given [death penalty repeal] some urgency in Virginia."

“[T]he rash of executions just put the issue front and center for some people who hadn’t thought about it before.”

From The New York Times on the first state in the former Confederacy abolishing the death penalty:

Democrats in control of the House and the State Senate have passed a ban on executions, and the governor is expected to approve it — the latest sign of an ascendant progressive agenda in the state.

Clinton Young is on death row in Texas for a crime he says he didn't commit. Recently, defense attorneys learned that th...
02/04/2021
Moonlighting prosecutor sent Texas man to death row; 17 years later, he could get a new trial

Clinton Young is on death row in Texas for a crime he says he didn't commit. Recently, defense attorneys learned that the prosecutor on his case was also working as a clerk for the judge.

USA TODAY has a great piece on Young's quest for a new trial.

A prosecutor moonlighted on the cases of 355 defendants for nine judges. Their sentences range from probation to the death penalty.

"For many decades, there have been men marooned in prisons, mainly throughout the South, with death sentences that both ...
02/04/2021
He's Too Mentally Ill to Execute. Why Is He Still on Death Row After 45 Years?

"For many decades, there have been men marooned in prisons, mainly throughout the South, with death sentences that both sides know, under some sort of détente, will never be carried out."

Important piece by The Marshall Project on how people who are too mentally ill to execute are kept in solitary confinement on death row, even though they will likely never be executed.

Raymond Riles has been on death row longer than anyone in America. He's one of many who have languished there for decades with severe mental illnesses.

“I could not even believe it until I just walked out the door, and it was the first moment I felt it was true." - Austin...
02/01/2021
‘Likely Innocent’: Judge Frees Woman Jailed 15 Years in Child’s Death

“I could not even believe it until I just walked out the door, and it was the first moment I felt it was true." - Austin's Rosa Jimenez, a "likely innocent" woman, on her emotional story, in The New York Times.

Rosa Jimenez was imprisoned after being convicted of murder in the death of a toddler who choked on paper towels while she was babysitting him in 2003. Experts now say the death was accidental.

Junk science and potential unethical prosecutorial conduct put Areli Escobar on death row. A court in Austin now says he...
01/21/2021
Austin’s Unreliable Crime Lab Could Lead to Another Wrongful Execution

Junk science and potential unethical prosecutorial conduct put Areli Escobar on death row. A court in Austin now says he deserves a new trial.

Dubious DNA evidence—and a potential coverup by the Travis County DA’s office—are at the heart of a judge’s recommendation that Areli Escobar gets a new trial.

In 1996, Congress and the courts used white supremacist terrorism as a justification to, in some cases, nearly foreclose...
01/19/2021
Opinion | The Fire Last Time

In 1996, Congress and the courts used white supremacist terrorism as a justification to, in some cases, nearly foreclose real review of constitutional deprivations in death penalty cases.

We cannot make the same mistake again. From The New York Times:

Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 attack in Oklahoma City spurred legislation that gutted death row inmates’ rights. In the wake of the siege of the Capitol, will we make a similar mistake?

"In five days, a president will take office who wants to eliminate the death penalty. And the current administration is ...
01/15/2021
Trump Is Putting the Machinery of Death Into Overdrive

"In five days, a president will take office who wants to eliminate the death penalty. And the current administration is attempting one final act of cruelty before he does."

After 17 years without a federal execution in the United States, the Trump administration has gone on what can only be called a killing spree.

"Nobody has the right to take another life. I don’t care if it’s the law. And it’s so easy to change the law.”Let's get ...
01/11/2021
Trump’s Execution Spree Is Not About Him. It’s About Us.

"Nobody has the right to take another life. I don’t care if it’s the law. And it’s so easy to change the law.”

Let's get to it.

The killings in Terre Haute may look like an aberration, but they are part of a violent tradition that Americans have long accepted.

"Who figured out how to turn crushed Doritos and hot water into masa for tamales? I’ve rarely been as impressed as I’ve ...
01/10/2021
This Chicken and Rice Is Perfect Home Cooking, With Prison Roots

"Who figured out how to turn crushed Doritos and hot water into masa for tamales? I’ve rarely been as impressed as I’ve been by these portraits of ingenuity, born of the utmost constraints."

A great piece on cooking in prison.

Earlonne Woods let his kitchen instincts guide him at San Quentin. But Samin Nosrat offered to teach him this more flavorful version.

“The people who are being executed tend not to be the worst of the worst offenders but the most vulnerable,” said Robert...
01/08/2021
What Lisa Montgomery Has In Common With Many On Death Row: Extensive Trauma.

“The people who are being executed tend not to be the worst of the worst offenders but the most vulnerable,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “They are disproportionately severely mentally ill, brain damaged, intellectually disabled or chronically abused or a combination of those.”

Such an important piece from The Marshall Project.

Mental illness, childhood abuse and brain injuries affect a large share of those who face the death penalty.

2020 has been a year of tragedy. But we can start 2021 by saving one life: the life of a woman who has endured lifelong ...
01/05/2021

2020 has been a year of tragedy. But we can start 2021 by saving one life: the life of a woman who has endured lifelong abuse, trauma, and severe mental illness. Let’s #SaveLisa.

Go to SaveLisa.org to sign the petition, and share as wide as you can!

"If there is any silver lining to Trump’s execution spree, it is that it has reinvigorated momentum against the death pe...
01/04/2021
How the Pandemic Exposed the Failures of Capital Punishment

"If there is any silver lining to Trump’s execution spree, it is that it has reinvigorated momentum against the death penalty."

Will Trump’s execution spree, court shutdowns, and the toll of Covid-19 hasten the demise of the death penalty?

"The idea of execution promises catharsis. The reality of it delivers the opposite, a nauseating sense of shame and regr...
01/03/2021
Opinion | The Man I Saw Them Kill

"The idea of execution promises catharsis. The reality of it delivers the opposite, a nauseating sense of shame and regret."

From The New York Times on Trump's ruthless spree of executions.

The Trump administration has resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. I witnessed the latest one.

We are excited to announce a $5,000 matching gift this holiday season from our partner H-E-B to help TDS save the lives....
12/22/2020
TDS Digital Campaign 2020

We are excited to announce a $5,000 matching gift this holiday season from our partner H-E-B to help TDS save the lives. Donate by December 31 and double the impact of your gift! https://www.classy.org/campaign/tds-digital-campaign-2020/c305983

This GivingTuesday help Texas Defender Service celebrate 25 years of providing passionate representation for those facing death and to eradicate systemic flaws in our criminal justice system. Texas Defender Service (TDS) is a nonprofit law firm with offices in Austin and Houston, TX. Founded i...

Urgent Action Needed!President Trump has more lame duck executions scheduled in January. Here's how you can help:Sign th...
12/14/2020
Congress: Abolish the Federal & Military Death Penalty

Urgent Action Needed!

President Trump has more lame duck executions scheduled in January. Here's how you can help:

Sign this petition to get President-Elect Biden to speak out: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-elect-biden-call-out-trumps-lame-duck-executions

Write your representatives: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/congress-abolish-the-federal-military-death-penalty

Tell congress the death penalty is not an effective tool to stop crime. Take action now to abolish the federal death penalty!

12/09/2020

Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered relief for TDS mitigation unit client Clifton Williams, who was originally sentenced to death despite his intellectual disability.

Now two death-sentenced TDS mitigation unit clients—the other being Geronimo Gutierrez—have obtained relief from the court in the past two weeks! Congratulations to all involved!

This is great news out of Ohio! However, as the latest federal executions have shown, moratorium policies can change as ...
12/08/2020
Gov. Mike DeWine: Lethal injection no longer execution option in Ohio

This is great news out of Ohio! However, as the latest federal executions have shown, moratorium policies can change as administrations change. The fight continues.

It’s “pretty clear” there won’t be any executions next year, DeWine told The Associated Press during a year-end interview.

12/01/2020
TDS Fights for Justice

Anthony Graves was formerly on Texas death row and knows first-hand what it mean to lose hope. Texas Defender Service (TDS) brings hope, love, care, equality and justice and a fighting spirit to our clients on death row. Support TDS today on #GivingTuesday2020 https://www.classy.org/campaign/c305983 #justice #criminaljustice

"Higgs is slated to die on Jan. 15, the birth date of Martin Luther King Jr., a fitting final statement of disregard for...
12/01/2020
This is the Last Man Due to Be Executed by the Trump Administration

"Higgs is slated to die on Jan. 15, the birth date of Martin Luther King Jr., a fitting final statement of disregard for Black life from an administration defined by its racism."

Important piece from The Daily Beast.

The outgoing Trump administration will have killed more prisoners since July than any other administration has done in a full year since 1896.

Save the Date! On #GivingTuesday join Texas Defender Service (TDS) in our 25-year fight to provide passionate representa...
11/25/2020

Save the Date! On #GivingTuesday join Texas Defender Service (TDS) in our 25-year fight to provide passionate representation for those facing death and to eradicate systemic flaws in our criminal justice system. Go to https://www.classy.org/campaign/c305983 for more info and mark your calendars for Dec. 1! #criminaljustice #socialjustice #givingtuesday2020

The share of Americans who oppose the death penalty is higher than at any point in more than 50 years!
11/23/2020
Gallup: Support in U.S. for death penalty at lowest point in decades

The share of Americans who oppose the death penalty is higher than at any point in more than 50 years!

Support in the United States for capital punishment keeps declining and more Americans now oppose the death penalty than at any point in more than a half-century, according to a Gallup survey Thursday.

Orlando Hall was sentenced to death by an all-white jury. The prosecutor who helped pick his jury was later found by the...
11/18/2020
Trump Presses Forward With Execution of Man Convicted by All-White Jury

Orlando Hall was sentenced to death by an all-white jury. The prosecutor who helped pick his jury was later found by the Supreme Court to have utilized racist jury selection techniques. The government still plans to execute him tomorrow.

Orlando Hall, among the first to be condemned under the 1994 Crime Bill, will be the eighth person executed on federal death row this year.

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Houston, TX
77004

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Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
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(713) 222-7788

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