District Attorneys have the power to pursue justice, but from my personal experience with District Attorneys, they are part of the corruption that infects law enforcement, the judiciary, and government.
Let’s all get behind Charlie Baird. Contact anyone you know in Austin, Texas, and tell them to vote Charlie Baird.
Charlie Baird announced in September 2011 that he is a candidate for Travis County District Attorney. Before a crowd of supporters, former state district judge Charlie Baird formally launched his campaign for Travis County District Attorney with calls for progressive reforms to improve the administration of justice in Travis County.
At the campaign launch, held in the theater of East Austinâ€™s Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, Baird told supporters that the administration of justice in Travis County must change and reflect the values of the community.
â€œProgressive change in the law is not enough if we still administer justice the way we did thirty or forty years ago,â€ Baird said. â€œWe like to think that living in Austin and Travis County, we have the best of everything in the world. And, in many areas, we surely do. But, when it comes to our justice system, there are reforms that can be made to make the system work better for everyone. As your District Attorney, I intend to make those reforms,â€ he continued.
In particular, Baird said Travis County must institute a â€œ24-7â€ case screening system. Baird said such a system would allow quick review of arrests by law enforcement and help foster quick resolutions to many casesâ€”as well as ensure that non-violent and low-level offenders are not costing taxpayers thousands of dollars as they sit in jail awaiting trial.
Baird also said that instituting programs to reduce recidivism and increase rehabilitation opportunities for non-violent offenders would become a priority for the office when he is elected.
In the lead-up to Tuesdayâ€™s announcement, Bairdâ€™s campaign gained significant public attention from a lengthy campaign asking Travis County voters what their ideas were to reform the justice system in Travis County. Baird told the crowd that those ideasâ€”of which more than 100 were collectedâ€”would be part of his first policy roll-out later this month.
Baird, who served on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals before serving on the 299th Criminal District Court in Travis County from 2006 until last year, was introduced to the crowd of supporters by Cory Session of Fort Worth. Session is the brother of the late Tim Cole, who was a Texas Tech University student in 1985 when he was accused of sexual assault. In 2009, Baird presided over a court of inquiry and ultimately exonerated Cole, clearing him of all wrongdoing based upon DNA evidence and a confession by the actual perpetrator of the crime.
In addition to Session, former Court of Criminal Appeals judge Morris Overstreet spoke, noting, â€œCharlie Baird knows what the concept of justice means, what it stands for, and how it should be carried out.â€
Also speaking was Lisa Minjarez Hoyt, a former law school student of Bairdâ€™s at Texas Tech University. Chris Elliott, former County Chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
Charlie Baird is known around the nation as a champion of restorative justice and criminal justice solutions that focus on reducing recidivism and rehabilitation.
Born and raised in Gilmer, Charlie Baird got his first exposure to the law in his parentsâ€™ living roomâ€“listening as a family friend who was an attorney regaled the family with courtroom tales.
After graduating from Gilmer High School in 1973, Charlie attended Kilgore College and transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated in 1976 with a degree in business administration. After going to Washington to work for Congressman Ray Roberts, Charlie returned to Texas and earned his juris doctorate from South Texas College of Law. He passed the bar exam and began practicing law in the Spring of 1980.
After becoming disillusioned by what he viewed as a failure of some of the judges he practiced before to follow the law, read cases, and show the requisite level of care in their decisions, Baird decided to run for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. After being elected to fill an unexpired term in 1990, Charlie served on Texasâ€™ highest criminal court for nearly a decade.
During his two terms on the Court, Baird developed a reputation as an independent-minded jurist.
As the court began a rightward shiftâ€”beginning with the election of now-presiding judge Sharon Keller in 1994, Charlie developed what the Austin Chronicle termed a â€œstrong judicial voiceâ€ which increasingly became a voice of dissent during his latter years on the court.
He consistently wrote more opinions each year than any other judge on the court, and pushed the Republican majority to address specific points of law through the crafting of strong and detailed dissenting opinionsâ€”often doing so when the majority would have preferred to resolve the cases without a written opinion.
In one of Charlieâ€™s most famous dissents, he argued that Roy Criner, convicted of sexual assault in 1990, should be granted a new trial. The majority refused to grant a new trial despite the fact that DNA testingâ€”newly available at the timeâ€”showed Criner was not a match for the semen found in the victim. Kellerâ€™s majority opinion downplayed the DNA evidence by claiming the victim may have been promiscuous and that Criner may have used a condom. Keller was forced to issue the majority opinion only because of Bairdâ€™s written dissent; the majority would have preferred to resolve the case without a written opinion.
After concluding his service on Texasâ€™ highest criminal court, Charlie served as a visiting justice on the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals and as a judge on the criminal trial benches in Travis County. Additionally, he was a visiting professor at Texas Tech University School of Law, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, and his alma mater, South Texas College of Law where he received the Student Bar Associationâ€™s Professor Excellence Award for 2004â€“2005 and 1999-2000. Judge Baird taught criminal law and procedure, criminal trial advocacy, capital punishment, and appellate and post-conviction remedies. And, while at Texas Tech, he supervised students in the West Texas Innocence Project.
Charlie earned his Master of Laws in Judicial Process from The University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. In 1993, he was named the distinguished alumnus of South Texas College of Law.
In 2005, Charlie was approached by a group of Travis County attorneys and encouraged to run for the seat being vacated by Judge Jon Wisser. Baird entered the race and won the 2006 Democratic Party Primary and General Election in Travis County and was sworn in January 1, 2007.
As a judge, he gained high marks from the press and the public for his efforts at working to rehabilitate non-violent offendersâ€”a practice which sparked ire from the Travis County District Attorneyâ€™s Office and former DA Ronnie Earle.
Charlie became the first felony district judge in Travis County to use GPS tracking devices to monitor defendants released on bond while awaiting trial, and took the lead in using alcohol-monitoring equipment for felony probationers. He worked diligently to establish relationships with businesses and job training programs to help defendants obtain employment.
In February 2009, Charlie presided over hearings related to the case of Tim Cole, a Texas Tech University student convicted of raping a fellow student in 1985. The hearings in Bairdâ€™s court were held after a Lubbock County judge rejected previous similar petitions in August, 2008.
Coleâ€™s conviction was based on the testimony of the victim, Michele Mallin. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. While incarcerated, Cole was offered parole if he would admit guilt, but he refused. Another man, Jerry Wayne Johnson, confessed to the rape in 1995. Mallin later admitted that she was mistaken as to the identity of her attacker. She stated that investigators botched the gathering of evidence and withheld information from her, causing her to believe that Cole was the perpetrator. Mallin told police that the rapist smoked during the rape. However, Cole never smoked because of his severe asthma. He died in prison on December 2, 1999, during an asthma attack.
DNA evidence later proved Cole was innocent. His family and the victim sought to clear his name.
In April 2009, Charlie issued an exoneration order, finding â€œto a 100 percent moral, factual and legal certaintyâ€ that Timothy Cole did not commit the rape. Baird ordered Coleâ€™s exoneration, the first posthumous exoneration in the history of Texas. Coleâ€™s exoneration led to a gubernatorial pardon and numerous changes in Texas law.
On December 31, 2010, Charlie retired from the 299th Criminal District Court and established the Criminal Law Section of The Fowler Law Firm, PC.
Watch a video about Charlie by visiting http://vimeo.com/29283882
Charlie Baird is a Democrat, but if you aren’t, support him anyway. We need to support honest people who will do the right thing without regard for their party.
William M. Windsor
I, William M. Windsor, am not an attorney. This website expresses my OPINIONS. The comments of visitors to the website are their opinions and do not therefore reflect my opinions. This website does not provide legal advice. I do not give legal advice. I do not practice law. This website is to expose corruption in government, law enforcement, and the judiciary. Whatever this website says about the law is presented in the context of how I or others perceive the applicability of the law to a set of circumstances if I (or some other author) was in the circumstances under the conditions discussed. Despite of my concerns about lawyers in general, I suggest that anyone with legal questions consult an attorney for an answer, particularly after reading anything on this website. The law is a gray area at best. Please read our Legal Notice and Terms.