The Oral Presentation

The goal of all members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles is the same. They want to parole those who are ready to succeed and retain those inmates who have not yet reached the point of adequate punishment for the crimes committed or still pose a threat to the lives and property of Texans.

The Board's decision to parole is based upon facts rather than emotions and their interest is beyond what is best for the inmate, his family and friends. The Board is more concerned about the impact an early release will have on the community than the well being of any one offender.

The client was convicted of a crime; otherwise he would not be in prison. Debating the guilt or innocence is usually pointless because the courts have already decided that matter. Particularly unhelpful are diatribes about the unfairness of the justice system and how "all the murderers and rapists do not stay in prison nearly this long." The facts of the offense or offenses need to be addressed, but not dwelled upon.

Since Board Members are individuals with different backgrounds and experience the attorney's knowledge of the Board members backgrounds and their individual approach to the decision making process is invaluable. Only an attorney who has practiced exclusively in the area of parole for a substantial period of time possesses such insights.

If an attorney is not fully honest with a Board panel that attorney will lose credibility with the entire Board. Board members talk to each other, so misleading a Board Member on one panel can damage an attorney's reputation with the entire Board. No one can predict the future and the Board panel does not expect anyone to guarantee an inmate's future conduct. There is a time for advocacy and subjective opinions, but when information is presented as facts, one should verify the information proffered to the panel. The best presentations are those that are well organized, argued from merit alone, and supported by objective data. The worst presentations are driven by emotional unfocused arguments, with little if any objective information provided by an attorney who knows nothing about the client or the workings of the Board. Board Members evaluate presentations and those attorneys who consistently deliver quality work will build respect and credibility. As those attorneys who practice in the courtroom know, being respected and considered credible can be the difference in winning and losing the close decisions. No case is worth losing the respect of Board Members.

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