A Day in the Life of a Public Defender: Met TLC Faculty member Eric Davis
Eric Davis graduated from TLC in 2005 and has served on our faculty for the past several years. He is a Public Defender in Harris County, TX. He is but one of the Public Defenders who proudly serve on our Faculty and lend their experience and compassion to every class they teach. Here’s a chance to get to know him better:
Towards the end of last year I represented a battered spouse in a murder case here in Houston. The jury acquitted my client of all charges. Although I have secured acquittals in other murder cases, this case was the most satisfying.
Our client rejected the States 45 year plea offer and went to trial. The State asserted that the client’s version of events was impossible because the complainant (my clients husband) was shot in the back of the head once and in the back once. The State argued that it could not be self-defense.
They also focused on the client’s inconsistent statements (which came about when she was confronted with cell tower records . the state put on a cell tower expert and introduced a map tracking her movement that showed the client lied about where she went). During her second statement, the client acknowledge that she left out some key details in her first statement. State argued that she lied because she was tired of the complainant cheating on her. She killed him because of his cheating. The CWs 73 year old father testified that the client called him hours before the shooting and told him that she was going to blow the complainants brains out. The state also focused on the fact that on a previous occasion, the client shot at the CW because of him cheating on her with the same woman she discovered that he was with on the day she shot and killed him. The state was very confident in their case. So confident that the Division head in the District Attorneys Office was one of the lawyers that tried the case. They boasted to many that my client did not have a chance. But the jury thought otherwise.
The support staff and a few lawyers from the Public Defenders Office helped me and the client conduct a psychodrama that helped me feel some of what she felt after years of abuse. I was then able to tell her story of abuse that went unaddressed by the criminal justice system. Her husbands abuse of her was well documented. Several police officers testified for the defense about how they responded to calls and saw bruises on the client and that she appeared in distress. They all testified that they filed reports that were never followed up on. Moreover, every employer she had during her marriage testified that she came to work with visible injuries (black eyes, bruises on her face and extremities). She was the real McCoy, truly a victim of spousal abuse. And when she finally stood up for herself and protected herself — she found herself sitting at the table defending herself. The system that refused to prosecute him for years of beating her, was swift to prosecute her when she defended herself. The psychodramas made it so much easier for me to tell her story with conviction because I had, in essence, lived it all.
Today, because of Eric Davis, and psychodrama, and the methods he learned and teaches at TLC and was able to employ in the courtroom, today, his client is free.