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Office of Capital and Forensic Writs Oversight Board

In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed legislation to permit the formation of an oversight board for OCFW to ensure continued institutional success, independence, and good governance in alignment with Texas and national public defender governance standards. The oversight board provides strategic guidance in matters of policy and budget with members appointed by the Executive Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and the State Bar of Texas.

Members of the OCFW Oversight Board

James Bethke, Esq., Chair, Executive Director of the Bexar County Managed Assigned Counsel Program (San Antonio, TX)

Jim is the Executive Director of the Bexar County Managed Assigned Counsel Office in San Antonio. The office provides needed support to appointed attorneys and applies evidence-based strategies that are client-centered to enhance outcomes.  Previously, he was the Director of the Harris County Justice Administration Department, where he worked to promote fairness and equality throughout the criminal justice system. Prior to his Harris County service, Jim was the Executive Director and Chief Defender for the Lubbock Private Defender Office, and for the 15 years prior, served as the Executive Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. He serves on the Board of the Indigent Defense Research Association. He is a member of the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA).  He chaired TCDLA’s Indigent Defense Committee in 2013 and 2014 and currently serves its Legislative Committee. He also is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In 2014, he received the Daniel H. Benson Public Service Award from Texas Tech University School of Law. He is a former member American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) and past chair of its Indigent Defense Advisory Group. He is a U.S. Army veteran from the 101st Airborne Division, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler and the Texas Tech University School of Law.  

 

Marcy Greer, Esq., Vice Chair, Managing Partner, Alexander Dubose & Jefferson (Austin, TX)

Marcy Hogan Greer (Vice-Chair) is the Managing Partner of Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP, a nationally recognized appellate boutique firm. After her graduation from University of Houston Law Center, Marcy clerked for the Hon. Carolyn Dineen King, the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1993–94. After her clerkship, Marcy joined the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. (now Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP), where she practiced for almost twenty years and was a partner for ten years. Marcy’s practice includes class action and mass tort cases, including federal multidistrict litigation. Since 1998, her pro bono practice has involved the representation of persons sentenced to death in capital post-conviction proceedings.  Marcy is an elected member of the American Law Institute. She received the 2021 Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award from the Texas Bar Foundation, the 2017 the Louise B. Raggio award given by the State Bar of Texas’s Women and the Law Section, and the State Bar of Texas’s Frank J. Scurlock Award for Outstanding Legal Services to the Poor in 2011. She also served as the Lead Pro Bono Partner with Texas Appleseed on a major project for the Supreme Court of Texas focused on improving the lives of foster children in Texas. The Supreme Court of Texas recently appointed Marcy to its Remote Proceedings Task Force focused on eliminating barriers to participation in remote online court proceedings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been active in the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section—currently serving on its Strategic Planning Committee, as Chair of the Section in 2009-10, and as its Course Director for the 33rd Annual Advanced Appellate Course in 2019.  

Alma Lagarda, Esq., Secretary, Capital Defense Attorney (El Paso, TX)

Alma Lagarda (Secretary) is an attorney in private practice in El Paso, Texas.  She currently works with the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program (MCLAP), where she conducts mitigation investigations in cases of Mexican nationals facing the death penalty.  From 2006 to 2016, Alma was a staff attorney with Texas Defender Service (TDS), where she represented death-sentenced individuals in state and federal post-conviction proceedings.  Prior to the establishment of the OCFW, Alma’s early work as a TDS Reprieve Fellow in 2006-2008 focused primarily on assisting court-appointed state habeas counsel by interviewing recently-sentenced individuals, screening cases for potentially viable issues, and assisting with the development of habeas claims.  Through her work with TDS and MCLAP, Alma has gained extensive experience investigating and litigating Atkins claims.  Alma received her law degree from UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law (2005) and her undergraduate degree from Williams College (1998).  A native of El Paso, Alma returned to her hometown in 2016, where a small portion of her work includes representing children in CPS proceedings. 

 

Hon. Terry Shamsie, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney (Corpus Christi, TX)

Following his 1987 graduation from South Texas College of Law, Terry has devoted his career to criminal defense, the administration of justice, and public service.  Following brief stints as a civil practitioner in Tyler, and as an assistant county attorney in Corpus Christi, Terry embarked on a successful career in criminal defense and civil litigation as a solo practitioner.  In addition, from 2003 to 2006, Terry was Nueces County Judge, serving as the Chief Executive Officer of his home county. In addition, Terry served as the Judge of Nueces County Court #5 from 2008-2010, where he presided over guardianship, juvenile, and CPS cases. Terry presently practices as a criminal defense attorney in state and federal court, and as a mediator.  

Phillip Yates, Esq., Attorney at Law (Houston, TX)

Phillip is a licensed attorney with extensive experience in criminal law, commercial litigation and bankruptcy related matters. A substantial portion of his practice involves providing legal representation to corporate startups and small businesses. Phillip currently represents twenty-five (25) corporations as outside general counsel, and sits on the board for several non-profit organizations, including the following: Lone Star Justice Alliance, League of Women Voters Houston, 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, and serves as General Counsel for the Business Angel Minority Association (baMa), and Chairman of Impact Hub Houston, which connects and empowers people working to solve social problems in our city and around the world. He is also Co-Founder and Managing Director of Diversity Fund Houston, a micro venture fund created to invest in black and brown tech founders. Prior to founding Diversity Fund Houston, Phillip helped establish a pre-venture business incubator for minorities at the Houston Area Urban League. In 2019, Phillip launched EQUILIBERTY INC. Equiliberty is a technology company designed to build diversity in property ownership, support minority businesses and neighborhoods, and link people to information, capital, and markets. In addition, Phillip is the Chairman of the City of Houston Firefighters’ & Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission.  

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