A well-prepared written presentation should be included in any parole presentation. Without a well-prepared written presentation, the inmate, his family, and the Parole panel would have good cause to doubt the lawyer’s abilities and his commitment to his client.
The members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles are required by statute to meet with the crime victims and their representatives. However, they do not have to meet with inmates, their families, or their legal representatives. Board rules state that unless otherwise provided, all communications regarding inmates should be in writing. While Board Members may not be required to meet with attorney representatives, all offices will accept written parole presentations. This may be the lawyer’s only way to represent his client before the Board panel.
The written parole presentation is also valuable in making a presentation to a Board panel that welcomes attorney presentations. Parole Board panels consist of three Board Members, but only in the most rare circumstances will an attorney make the parole presentation to more than one Board Member. Board procedure designates the first Board Member to vote the case as responsible for taking the lead in gathering information for the panel. During the oral presentation, that member will ask questions and take notes, or have the Board Assistant take notes, for the file. Those notes will be available to the second and any subsequent voters on the case. However, notes taken during a presentation may not include all the details the attorney believes are necessary to provide subsequent voters a complete picture of the client.
The written presentation is the ideal place to put copies of the certificates, transcripts, awards and diplomas that the client earned. Sometimes excerpts of trial testimony or news reports are helpful in providing background and giving context to the inmates behavior. Also, psychological evaluations and polygraph results can be used to the client’s benefit.
The written presentation should parallel the information provided in the oral presentation – if the client is to be reviewed in an office that allows oral presentations. Much of the material that will be discussed in the section concerning the oral presentation should be in the written presentation, as well. One of the purposes common to both is to establish the image the attorney and family wish to project for the offender. Both oral and written presentation have roles in humanizing the inmate and presenting him in a way that will persuade the Texas Parole Board panel members to consider why the person before them should be among the 25% that are granted parole. The attorney must provide honest and accurate information that shows why his client is no longer a threat to Texans and their property and that he is equipped to be function in society as a productive and responsible citizen.