Saturday, 8:30 AM – Free At Last: Three Stories of Innocence
Kerry Max Cook
Former death row inmate seeking exoneration
Kerry Max Cook was 20 years old when he was arrested for the rape and murder of an East Texas woman. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. After Cook spent two decades on death row maintaining his innocence, DNA testing proved that he was innocent.
Spent 25 years in prison; exonerated in 2011
Michael Morton and his wife, Christine, lived in Austin for 10 years before she was brutally murdered in their home in 1986. Michael was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. After spending nearly 25 years in prison, Michael was released in October 2011 after DNA evidence linked his wife's killing to another man.
Spent 19 years in prison; Exonerated in 2006
Indicted for aggravated sexual assault in 1986, Billy James Smith served nearly 20 years for a rape he did not commit. After attempting to secure DNA testing for four years, Billy James Smith was finally granted DNA testing in 2005. The tests led to his exoneration in 2006.
Saturday, 9:45 AM – The Fight Over Forensic Science
State Representative, D-Dallas; Vice Chairman, House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, has served four terms representing House District 103. Before entering the House, Anchia served two terms on the Dallas school board. In his first session in the Legislature, Texas Monthly named him Rookie of the Year and in the 80th session named him one of the state's 10 best legislators.
Founder and Chief Counsel, Innocence Project of Texas
Jeff Blackburn is the founder of and chief counsel to the Innocence Project of Texas. The State Bar of Texas named him criminal defense lawyer of the year for 2002-03. Since 2009 Mr. Blackburn has served as chairman of the Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee of the State Bar of Texas.
Director of Governmental Relations, Texas District and County Attorneys Association
Shannon Edmonds is the director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, the largest statewide association of prosecutors in the nation. Edmonds serves as a liaison between prosecutors and the Legislature on criminal justice, juvenile justice and government representation issues.
Commissioner, Texas Forensic Science Commission; Chief Medical Examiner, Tarrant County
Dr. Nizam Peerwani is the chief medical examiner in Tarrant, Parker, Denton and Johnson counties and an adjunct professor at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. Peerwani was appointed to the Texas Forensic Science Commission by Gov. Rick Perry in September 2009 and re-appointed in October 2011.
Saturday, 11:00 AM – Prosecutorial Misconduct: The Great Debate
Criminal justice advocate; Spent 18 years in prison, exonerated in 2010
After a wrongful conviction for a brutal crime, Anthony Graves spent 18 years incarcerated in Texas prisons — 12 of those years on death row and 16 in solitary confinement. Today, less than two years after his release, Graves is a community advocate and consultant.
William Lee Hon
Criminal District Attorney, Polk County; President, Texas District and County Attorneys Association
William Lee Hon has served as the criminal district attorney of Polk County since January 2007. Throughout his career, Hon has prosecuted thousands of felony cases over offenses like capital murder, burglary, robbery, sexual assault, drug offenses, domestic violence and crimes against children.
District Attorney, Harris County
Patricia R. Lykos became Harris County district attorney in January 2009. She is the first woman to hold the position since it was created more than 170 years ago. Lykos has launched several unique initiatives, including an elite cold case unit that has tracked down more than 100 fugitives and returned them to Harris County.
District Attorney, Dallas County
Craig Watkins was elected in 2007 to the office of Dallas County district attorney. Watkins has created and expanded a number of programs unique to Dallas County, including the Conviction Integrity Unit, the Sexual Assault Unit, the Cold Case Unit, the Gang Unit, the Impact Offender Program and partnerships with various Innocence Projects throughout the state.
Saturday, 1:15 PM – The Future of Juvenile Justice
Deputy Director, Texas Appleseed
Deborah Fowler serves as deputy director of Texas Appleseed, which advocates for juvenile justice reform. Fowler oversees Appleseed’s legal team, coordinating legal efforts on juvenile justice, the school-to-prison pipeline and other project areas. She is a nationally recognized expert in school discipline and juvenile justice issues and has authored three major reports on the school-to-prison pipeline in Texas.
Executive Director, Texas Juvenile Justice Department
Michael Griffiths is the newly appointed executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Previously, Griffiths spent 15 years as head of juvenile services for the Dallas County Juvenile Department.
Director, Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Marc A. Levin is a director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Levin is an Austin attorney and author, frequently on legal and public policy issues. Levin has served as a law clerk to Judge Will Garwood on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and as a staff attorney at the Texas Supreme Court.
Executive Director, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
Ana Yáñez-Correa is the executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Yáñez-Correa has been the executive director of TCJC since 2005, though she also serves as the project director for TCJC’s Solutions for Sentencing & Incarceration Project, the Tools for Re-Entry Project and the Juvenile Justice Initiative.
Saturday, 2:30 PM – An 83rd Legislative Session Preview
State Senator, R-Southside Place; Vice Chairwoman, Senate Criminal Justice Committee
State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, was re-elected for a full term in 2010. She was first elected in 2008 after winning a special election to fill the vacated office of Senate District 17. Before serving in the Senate, Huffman served as a prosecutor in Harris County and was twice elected to the 183rd Criminal District Court.
State Representative, D-El Paso
State. Rep. Marisa Marquez, D-El Paso, was elected in 2008 and is serving her second term in the Texas House. Marquez represents District 77, which contains downtown El Paso, the University of Texas at El Paso and neighborhoods near Fort Bliss. She is the vice chairwoman of the County Affairs Committee and a member of the Corrections Committee and the House Administration and Local and Consent Calendars committees.
State Senator, D-El Paso
State Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, was elected in 2010 to represent District 29. Rodríguez previously served as the El Paso County attorney for 17 years. Rodríguez began his 37-year legal career as a staff attorney with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.
State Representative, R-Travis County
Paul Workman was involved in commercial construction for more than 35 years before he defeated the Democratic incumbent in the 2010 general election. He is currently the national director of the Associated General Contractors of America and serves on the board of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 10 years as an engineering officer and retired as a captain.
Additional panelist to be announced soon.
Saturday, 3:45 PM – One on One with Rusty Hardin
Criminal defense attorney; Founder of Rusty Hardin & Associates, P.C.
Rusty Hardin is the founder and leader of Rusty Hardin & Associates, P.C. Before entering private practice, Rusty established his reputation as an assistant district attorney in Houston for over 15 years. During that period, he never lost a felony jury trial and tried 14 death penalty cases.