Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Comings and Goings

A few movement-related personnel matters merit Grits readers' attention:

Scott Henson and Becky Bernhardt
In a particularly unfortunate blow, for this writer, anyway, Becky Bernhardt is leaving the Texas Fair Defense Project and Susanne Pringle is taking over as interim executive director. Susanne's wonderful, but I'll miss Becky at TFDP. She ramped up their advocacy quite a bit and accomplished a great deal during her tenure there. She also gave me a place to volunteer, feel welcome and supported during a recent stretch of unemployment during the months before Just Liberty launched. In fact, Becky's a Grits for Breakfast contributing writer, a board member at Just Liberty and has been supportive of my work for years. If you want to celebrate her on the way out the door, TFDP's annual luncheon/fundraiser on Friday in Austin may still have a few seats available.

At the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Marc Levin was named their new Vice President for Criminal Justice Policy and his #2, Derek Cohen, who as fate would have it is our board chair at Just Liberty, became Director of the Center for Effective Justice and leader of the Right on Crime Campaign. Congrats to both men. It's good to see criminal-justice reform given a full-blown seat at the leadership table at the state's principle right-wing think tank.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission has hired Jody Koehler, DNA section manager at the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab division, as their new Scientific Adviser. That would be a fascinating but tough job. Glad they hired someone who will be familiar with the DNA mixture controversy, as well as Texas crime-lab people and practices.

The Texas Indigent Defense Commission hired Geoffrey Burkhart, a public defender out of Illinois, to replace Jim Bethke as executive director. I don't know Mr. Burkhart but look forward to meeting him; he has big shoes to fill.

Brete Anderson, a long-time staffer for state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, has officially retired, though it's possible we may see him back working for some other legislator in 2019. He's one of those staffers behind the scenes whom the public never hears about but who makes things happen. Good luck, Brete, wherever you land.

Speaking of legislative staffers, Terra Tucker has left Chairman John Whitmire's staff on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to work for the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a national reform group.

Jason Clark, the Public Information Officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, has been named Deputy Chief of Staff, the agency announced on Twitter.

Finally, congrats to Chris Harris on his new gig crunching numbers for Grassroots Leadership. They found themselves a good'un.

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