Wanderings of a West Texas Criminal Lawyer

West Texas is a vast, sparsely populated area west of Fort Worth to the north and San Antonio to the south. The region’s major cities are Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, San Angelo, and Abilene; only the first two have populations over 100,000 people. The further west one goes, the more the population thins out.

Many counties out west have populations of less than ten thousand, and some have fewer than that. Mentone, the county seat of Loving county, has fewer than a hundred souls, making this the least populated county in the state.

I have offices in Snyder, which is an hour and a half drive from Lubbock, Abilene, San Angelo, and Midland. Interstate 20 passes through 30 miles to the south, on its way from El Paso to Shreveport, La, a distance of over 650 miles.

Further south, Interstate 10 crosses the state from its intersection with I 20 east of Van Horn and passes through Pecos, Crockett and Sutton counties, all the way east to the Texas/Louisiana border near Beaumont, a distance of well over 800 miles. I once served as an assistant District Attorney for a sprawling Judicial District extending from Fort Stockton in Pecos County to Sonora, in Sutton County, over 150 miles to the east.

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While I avoid appearances in the major cities, it is quite common for me to travel 300 miles to represent someone charged with a crime in Dalhart to the northwest or Sierra Blanca to the southwest. It is often an advantage to be from out of the area, and yet still be quite familiar with the judges and courtroom staff. I have never found myself or my client to be at a disadvantage, and rarely charge the client extra just because I’m not as “close” as a local lawyer. Sometimes local lawyers are too close.

For instance, I have a docket of about 30 cases in San Angelo, in Tom Green county. Recently San Angelo became known for the Eldorado polygamist cases, a chain of events that eventually threatened to swamp the entire court system. After the Texas Supreme Court overturned the trial judge’s decision allowing the removal of the children from the Eldorado compound, things began to move again for us Criminal Defense attorneys.

I also appear often in Crockett and Pecos counties along I-10, whose dockets are swollen with drug cases arising from highway stops by Texas DPS troopers and local police.

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