The 7th Annual Atticus Finch Day will be held April 24, in the Atrium of the Brazos County Administrative Building at 200 South Texas Avenue in Bryan.
Atticus Finch Day is the creation of local attorneys Shane Phelps and Phil Banks, both of Bryan. The event celebrates the values and professional ethics portrayed by the humble, seersuckerwearing fictional attorney Atticus Finch depicted in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by author Harper Lee.
Speakers in past years have been selected based on their real life representation of the values of Atticus Finch. This year’s speaker Judge Cathy Cochran, former Judge on Texas’s highest criminal court, the 9member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, continues to garner wide respect for her ethical conduct on both a state and national level and is recognized for her vision and leadership role that resulted in organizing a complete rewrite of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
DNA testing across the country that exonerated men who had spent decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, set in motion the idea that Texas’ criminal justice system was fallible and in need of reform. The moderate Cochran was deeply involved in many of these reforms, writing key opinions. She became the court’s de facto leader and the state’s most respected criminal law judge. Cochran was instrumental in passing many progressive criminal justice reforms, including:
-A law that allows convicts to seek DNA testing.
-“Smart on Crime” sentencing reforms to create alternatives to prison for lowrisk offenders.
-The “Tim Cole Act,” which upped compensation for the wrongly convicted to $80,000 for every year of imprisonment, far more than any other state.
-The “Michael Morton Act,” which forces prosecutors to open their files to defense attorneys.
-The “Junk Science Writ,” which grants inmates the right to appeal a conviction based on outmoded forensic science—the first state to do so.
-Changing the way police conducted lineups to reduce the likelihood of an eyewitness identifying the wrong person.
Atticus Finch Day is hosted by The Brazos County Bar Association, Banks and Banks, Attorneys at Law, P.C. and The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. Refreshments will be provided and Seersucker attire is encouraged. For more information, call (979) 775-4100.