I want to emphasize at the outset that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles does not encourage or discourage attorney representation at parole review hearings. Oftentimes, Institutional Parole Officers will tell inmates and families that hiring an attorney is a waste of time and money and that the Board doesn’t like to be bothered with attorneys. This is far from the truth.
Oftentimes, myths exist — usually generated by less-than-ethical attorneys — that they have the ability to deliver a favorable parole vote due to mysterious or illicit influence that they exercise over the Board members. This, too, is far from the truth.
A thorough and professional presentation by an attorney skilled in the field of parole who has the respect of the Board members can assure that the inmate will receive a more full and fair consideration of their case than they might otherwise receive through an ordinary review.
The best word to describe the attorney’s role in a parole hearing is “advocate”. A good parole attorney should examine the case, investigate issues that might not ordinarily appear in a file, organize the information, and present the facts to the Board Panel. The attorney should concentrate on the relevant issues instead of using a blunderbuss approach and hope that something useful might emerge. An effective attorney will present a clear and complete picture of his client as an individual with a plan of action, the tools to thrive in society, and the desire to succeed. A good attorney sets his client apart from the vast sea of white uniforms that the public thinks of when they think of a prison inmate. This is what a client can expect from an attorney and it is all an attorney can reasonably and ethically provide. When the potential client and his family understand the attorney’s role in the parole process they will, in all likelihood, wish to have legal counsel handle their parole presentation.