Burke Butler

Burke Butler (she/her) became Executive Director of Texas Defender Service in 2022, where she leads TDS’s vibrant, committed team in their mission to fight for the end of mass incarceration and excessive punishment in Texas. She can be reached at bbutler@texasdefender.org

Burke has worked on criminal justice matters for over twelve years. Her experience spans policy, research, appellate litigation, and advocacy. Burke graduated from Yale Law School in 2011, where she was a recipient of the C. LaRue Munson Prize for Excellence in a Law School Clinical Program. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Harris L Hartz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and to the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In 2013, Burke was awarded an Arthur Liman Fellowship from Yale Law School to spearhead a comprehensive investigation of Texas’s use of solitary confinement. Later, as a Staff Attorney at Texas Defender Service and then as a Principal at Phillips Black, Burke represented capitally sentenced prisoners in their post-conviction proceedings in state and federal court. At the Justice Collaborative, Burke engaged local elected officials to institute progressive policies to transform the criminal punishment system. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of Chicago, where she majored in English literature. Burke’s creative writing has appeared in The Texas Observer and in the literary magazines The Virginia Quarterly Review and Gulf Coast. Before becoming engaged in human rights issues in Texas’s criminal-legal system, she worked and volunteered in Afghanistan, Peru, India, Sierra Leone, and London.

In 2019, she was named a Premier Woman in Law by the Houston Association of Women Attorneys.