Law & Order in Madison County

By Jessica Cuevas

Although it is summer, and we are all working in various jobs, LEAP Ambassadors current and former carpooled to Madison County to witness, first-hand, an attempted murder trial in Madison County. This opportunity came at the invitation of Judge David Moorman, the presiding judge in the case.

As in almost all trials, the defendant was present in the court, along with the victim and her family. Our experience with the Courts has been restricted mostly to witnessing the 10th Court of Appeals, where attendance by defendants or victims is rare, so this was a new experience for us.

Judge Moorman began by reading all the charges–all ten counts–that the jury would have to determine whether the defendant (Alex Carter) was (1) not guilty, (2) guilty of a lesser charge, or (3) not guilty for each count. The key charge was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from incidents allegedly occurring in early May 2021. In sum, the charges could result in imprisonment for more than 20 years.

Following the opening argument from the state, Frank Blazek, a well-known criminal defense lawyer (and former Walker County DA), opened the final arguments for the defense side by disputing the prosecution’s argument and presenting photo evidence to the jury, focusing on the technicalities of the events.

Robin Whitney, an ADA for Madison County, ended the final arguments for the trial. Her deliberation was very different from the rest, probably one of the best, with a compelling rebuttal speech and heartfelt performance. Robin’s main focus was to “redirect” the jury, encouraging them to focus on the most compelling evidence for the prosecution side. These tactics, of course, are staples of our adversarial court system.

After the jury broke for deliberation, we had the ability to speak to Judge Moorman and lawyers Whitney and Blazek. We even had the opportunity to see the photo exhibits as we waited for the jury to decide! All of these experiences help guide us in our path through pre-law, and we are immensely grateful for the attorneys’ willingness to spend time helping undergraduates.

Not knowing how much longer it would take after already being there for six hours, unfortunately, we said our goodbyes and began our trip back to Huntsville, pondering on what we thought the verdict would be–which, as of this writing, is still not decided!

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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