Pre-Law Society Meeting: The Walker County DA Presents

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Nine out of the twelve jurors have to say yes for the case to go to court.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

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.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Pre-Law Society, Will Durham, Stuart Hughes, Walker County District Attorney

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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