It’s official: Judge Birmingham is unopposed for re-election thus securing his third term. “Thank you for allowing me to continue to serve as the Presiding Judge of the 292nd. It is an honor of a lifetime, and I have each of you to thank. I also want to thank my amazing staff: Jessica Esparza, Kelly Simmons, Deputy Martin, Deputy Crumb, Carol Sanders, and Melissa Burke. I also want to thank the talented and hard-working lawyers I get to practice with and learn from each day.” Judge Birmingham’s third term begins January 1st, 2023.
In the meantime, we’ll share a few highlights from 2021: 1) An in-depth study of Judge Birmingham’s AIM Court, 2) a statistical breakdown of the 98 jury trials over which he has presided, and 3) three of his academic projects.
168th AIM Court Graduate
Since beginning the program upon taking the bench in 2015, nearly 170 youthful offenders have successfully completed AIM Court. According to a recently released study by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (A PDF of the full study is below), AIM Court Reduces Recidivism by 95%. The benefits of AIM outweigh the costs to the tune of $6.86 to $1. In short, AIM Works.
Judge Birmingham is also very excited to announce that Judge Audra Riley, Criminal District Court Number 3, will be taking over AIM Court beginning January 1, 2022: “Judge Riley has an impeccable reputation, unique experience, and a passion for helping youthful offenders avoid the pitfalls of a felony record. AIM Court will be in better hands, and I can’t wait to see the positive changes she will bring.”
98th Jury Trial
Judge Birmingham has now presided over 98 jury trials since taking the bench 1/1/2015, none of which have been reversed on appeal. 25 were child sex abuse cases, 20 were homicides including murder, capital murder and manslaughter, 18 were aggravated assault including intimate partner family violence, and 14 were aggravated robberies. Juries returned guilty verdicts in 85.7% of the cases, 65.3% as charged, 20.4% of lesser included offenses; juries returned not guilty verdicts in 9.2% of the trials; hung juries or court-declared mistrials account for the remaining 5.1%. You can view an Interactive Trial Visualization Report Judge Birmingham created using Google DataStudio here.
First, Judge Birmingham is in the process of writing “A Practitioner’s Guide to the Identification, Analysis, and Introduction of Criminative Evidence in Criminal Cases” with co-author and Former South Carolina Judge Daniel Coble. The three-part book is set to be available in 2022. Judge Birmingham also released his “Landmark Tool,” a freely accessible database of criminal cases and holdings designed to give the trial lawyer the most commonly used rules at their fingertips. Download your free copy here!
Second, the data collection process has concluded for “Dallas Deselection” a jury selection project Judge Birmingham began in the Summer of 2021 to identify trends related to race, gender, age and zip code for jurors seated in his court. The project spans 50 trials between 2015 and 2021; over 3,500 jurors were anonymously catagorized. The Judge enlisted the help of 5 law students from Texas A&M University Law School in Fort Worth. The students were given Pro Bono Hours for their efforts and learned quite a bit about the jury selection process. The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board called Dallas Deselection, “a worthy project that could make the process more transparent for the public.” Judge Birmingham said, “my primary goal is to create a publicly accessible database of jury practices in Dallas to be used by policy-makers, academics and practitioners for future study and as an objective means for improvement recommendations.”
Finally, Judge Birmingham is preparing to teach his 4th semester of “Circumstantial Evidence in Murder Trials,” an upper level law school course at SMU’s Dedman School of Law. The course trains students how to revaluate types of evidence by gleaning analytical principles from a treatise by Alexander M. Burrill called “A Treatise on the Nature, Principles and Rules of Circumstantial Evidence,” and some of the case studies the Judge has done for his documentary podcast, A Murderous Design: Timothy McVeigh, Jack Ruby, Charles “Tex” Watson, Charles “The Eyeball Killer” Albright, and The Trinity River Massacre. “Teaching has deepened my understanding of criminal law and the procedural rules. I have learned as much from the law students as I hope they’ve learned from me. I am very excited to get back to class.”