Shortly after spring break, the PLS met up for our second meeting of the Spring semester. This meeting was special because this was the first meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic that darkened the world back in 2020 that we had our first in-person guest speakers.
We had the great honor to have Walker County District Attorney Will Durham and his first assistant Stuart Hughes come and visit our organization and give us insight on what it is like to work in the DA’s office and what kind of cases they encounter.
Will Durham graduated in 1989 from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in management. After that, he went to law school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 1992. Former D.A. David Weeks hired Durham out of law school as a misdemeanor and juvenile prosecutor. Soon after, he was promoted to felony prosecutor, where he handled many types of felony cases in district courts.
Durham practiced private law for many years with attorney Mance Michael Park in a firm called Park & Durham (now known as Park Law Firm) located in Huntsville, TX. Durham was sworn in January 2019, after the previous DA was in office for almost twenty-five years.
Durham explained that the D.A.’s office gets about 2,000 cases per year, which the office goes through to determine which cases to take to a grand jury, which then determines which cases should be prosecuted.
Nine out of the twelve jurors have to say yes for the case to go to court.
After he explained the process of how cases get an indictment, he went through his staff and the positions that exist in a District Attorney’s office, which range from positions that require a law degree, to others that require nothing but a good work ethic.
They then answered some questions about jobs and how we might work our way up in positions, and gave us more knowledge of everything each position does. When they were done with their portion of the information about the office, they showed us a slide show with the “10 Commandments of Cross-Examination” as well as clips from films featuring cross examination.
When they wrapped up their presentation, they watched two groups go through a cross-examination scenario and they gave us great feedback.
We are very appreciative of their spending an evening talking to us.
To end the meeting, our president, Quinn, did some housekeeping alongside with our VP of Finance Leslie Canchola Rangel, who discussed our finances. Quinn discussed our last meeting of the semester, the mock trial, which will be held on April 21st.