TEXAS DEFENDER SERVICE
Texas Defender Service (TDS) is a nonprofit law firm with offices in Austin and Houston, TX. Founded in 1995, our primary task and commitment is to the representation of Texas prisoners under sentence of death or charged with capital murder. Our work affects all aspects of a criminal case—from the moment law enforcement begins its investigation through execution—which allows us to identify and eliminate systemic flaws affecting every aspect of the justice system. During our short history, we have litigated six cases to the U.S. Supreme Court and won each time.
More recently we have:
- Investigated and prepared a mitigation case for Arturo Garza, which ultimately convinced a jury to sentence him to life without parole instead of to death. This result inspired Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez to settle four capital murder cases, stating that the community has spoken on capital punishment.
- Obtained a stay of execution on behalf of Blaine Milam on the grounds that the state relied on debunked bite mark evidence at his trial and that he is intellectually disabled and exempt from execution.
- Worked with members of Texas criminal justice stakeholders to convince the Texas House of Representatives to pass a series of bills that would increase the fairness of a capital proceeding. As the Washington Post noted, these votes signaled a rare willingness to soften our state’s tough stance on the death penalty.
However, our work is not done. Texas still leads the nation in executions and wrongful convictions. Our consistent presence in the courtroom, at the Capitol, and even before the U.S. Supreme Court, is more important now than ever. Your support and attendance at the Light of Justice Luncheon will allow us to continue this work in 2020.