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Contact :
FAX (713)880-3811
2307 Union St.
Houston, Texas 77007


Board Members

Jay Burnett President of the Board
Law Office of Jay Burnett
1419 Franklin St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 227-1770

Jay Burnett graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1973 and subsequently developed an extensive criminal trial and appellate practice as a member of Burnett, Morrow and Burnett.  He was appointed in 1984, by Governor Mark White, to serve as judge of the newly created 351st Criminal District Court.  In 1986 he was elected to the 183rd Criminal District Court where he served for twelve years until retiring, undefeated, on January 1, 1999.  While presiding over the 183rd, Judge Burnett granted relief to Calvin Burdine, reversing his conviction and sentenced after finding that his lawyer at slept through significant portions of his trial.  For years, the state of Texas fought Judge Burnett's ruling in the federal court system, but it was finally upheld by the Fifth Circuit and Calvin was returned to Harris County for retrial on June 7th 2002.  For his courage and integrity in dispensing true justice to Calvin Burdine, Judge Burnett was the first recipient of GRACE's Fragile Gavel Award, a prize that now carries his name.  Jay Burnett is now a practicing criminal defense attorney and serves when needed as a visiting Judge.  He recently represented Anthony Graves on retrial after his conviction and death sentence were reversed, and secured Mr. Graves exoneration and release from prison.

Tanya Greene Vice President of the Board
Advocacy and Policy Counsel 
American Civil Liberties Union 
125 Broad Street, 18th floor 
New York, NY   10004
(212) 284-7325 (phone) 
(212) 549-2580 (fax)

Tanya Greene has worked as a capital defense practitioner for almost 15 years.  She began at the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), representing indigent capital clients throughout Alabama and Georgia who might otherwise have gone without counsel. For three years at SCHR, she also served as the Death Penalty Resource Counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), providing capital defense resources and expertise to any of the more than 10,000 NACDL members in the United States, consulting daily with attorneys brainstorming cases, identifying viable trial and appellate challenges, locating experts, and crafting pleadings.  

Ms. Greene also worked as a Deputy Capital Defender at the New York Capital Defender Office where she represented capitally-charged clients in the New York City area.  The New York Capital Defender Office was instrumental in having the New York death penalty statute declared unconstitutional by the state’s highest court in 2004.  

Ms. Greene then served as the Training and Assistance Counsel for the National Consortium for Capital Defense Training where she initiated, developed and implemented a unique and successful program of hands-on training for capital defense practitioners across the country that continues today and after which numerous other trainings have been modeled. 

Ms. Greene received her J.D. from Harvard Law School after graduating from Wesleyan University with a double major in Sociology and Afro-American Studies.  Ms. Greene is an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Conference of Black Lawyers. 

Tanya Greene currently serves as Advocacy and Policy Counsel at the national ACLU office.  She is affiliated with the Center for Justice and with a focus on criminal justice issues, including the death penalty, solitary confinement, indigent defense and juvenile justice.

David George Treasurer
Connelly · Baker · Wotring LLP
700 JPMorgan Chase Tower
600 Travis Street
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 980-6513
David George is a partner in the appellate section of Connelly · Baker · Wotring LLP.  He is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he focuses his practice on appeals and commercial litigation. In his appellate practice, Mr. George has argued before the United States Fifth Circuit and the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Texas Courts of Appeals, and he recently won a case in the United States Supreme Court. He has tried numerous lawsuits, including breach of contract, fraud, insurance industry professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, insurance coverage, personal injury, and employment law cases. Mr. George has been selected by Texas Monthly Magazine as a Super Lawyer and a Rising Star, and H-Texas Magazine named him one of the top 20 commercial litigators in Houston. He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. He is co-editor of The Appellate Lawyer.
Mr. George graduated with honors from Baylor Law School, where he served as Lead Articles Editor of the Baylor Law Review. Mr. George served as a law clerk to Judge Harold R. DeMoss, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Judge Joe J. Fisher of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Beaumont. Mr. George served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Houston and was on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. Mr. George is licensed to practice law in Texas and Maryland.
Morris Moon Secretary
2109 Decatur St.
Houston, Texas 77007
Morris Moon has been a capital post-conviction attorney since 2001, working in state and federal courts to successfully challenge the convictions and sentences of capital defendants in Texas and elsewhere.
Richard Burr
Attorney at Law
Burr and Welch
2307 Union St.
Houston, TX 77007
Richard “Dick” Burr is in private practice in Houston with the firm of Burr & Welch. He has devoted his practice entirely to death penalty defense work since 1979, first with Southern Prisoners Defense Committee, and then with the Public Defender’s Office in West Palm Beach, Florida, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Texas Resource Center , and finally, his private practice with Mandy Welch. He has argued two cases in the United States Supreme Court, Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), which established the right of incompetent death-sentenced prisoners to be spared from execution, and Selvage v. Lynaugh, 494 U.S. 108 (1990), a case which set the stage for the relaxation of procedural default rules for claims under Penry v. Lynaugh. Dick has testified before U.S. Congressional committees on death penalty legislation on three occasions, has presented CLE programs on capital and appellate litigation in twenty states and in numerous national death penalty training conferences, has taught a death penalty seminar at Yale University’s College of Law, and in 1998 received the Life in the Balance Achievement Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for the work he has done in capital defense over his career. He served as one of the attorneys for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing trial and was the coordinator of the penalty phase defense for Mr. McVeigh. He has served as a Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel since October, 1997.
Robert L. McGlasson
Michael Kennedy McIntyre & Associates
965 Virginia Avenue, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306-3615
(404) 879-0005
Robert McGlasson received his Juris Doctor from the Yale School of Law in 1981. He became a law clerk to the Honorable Elbert P. Tuttle, Circuit Judge of the United States Court Of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Mr. McGlasson worked as a staff attorney at the South Prisoners’ Defense Committee and later founded the Texas Resource Center in Austin, which was the first and only death penalty appeals litigation office in Texas. Mr. McGlasson has served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas Law School and as a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. Mr. McGlasson is a member of the State Bar of Georgia. He practices exclusively in the field of post-conviction representation. Mr. McGlasson has been working with the firm since 2006.
In 1984, Calvin Jerold Burdine was convicted and sentenced to death after a trial in which his attorney slept at counsel table for significant periods of time and the prosecutor urged the jury to kill him because life in prison would not be punishment for a gay man. For almost 20 years, Robert struggled for legal recognition of what should be obvious to anyone: that a sleeping lawyer is no lawyer at all.  Finally, on June 7th of 2002 Calvin was returned to Harris County for his hard-won retrial.
Robert sought appointment to represent him at trial.  Ironically, the Fair Defense Act, which had been passed in response to the revelation that Calvin’s attorney slept through portions of his capital trial, was invoked to remove Robert from Calvin's case.  Calvin was understandably adamant that he would not accept counsel chosen by the court.  McGlasson asked Danalynn Recer, a former post-conviction attorney who had switched to capital trial work several years before, to assist him.  Danalynn stepped in to represent Calvin on a pro bono basis, securing a life plea for him and founding the Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) in the process.
Most recently, Robert was part of the team the defended Brian Nichols, the accused Atlanta courthouse shooter, winning a life sentence in a trial held in the very same courthouse where the shooting occurred after years of fighting to secure a fair trial for one of the most despised people in Georgia.

Clive Stafford Smith
Legal Director
P.O. Box 52742
London EC4P 4WS
020 7353 4640

Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of defendants facing the death penalty in the USA.  After graduating from Columbia Law School in New York, Clive spent nine years as a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights working on death penalty cases and other civil rights issues. In 1993, Clive moved to New Orleans and launched the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center, a non-profit law office specializing in representation of poor people in death penalty cases.

In 1999 Clive founded Reprieve and, the following year, he was awarded an OBE for “humanitarian services”. Since 2004, he has focused on achieving due process for the prisoners being held by the US in Guantanamo Bay, as well as continuing his work on death penalty cases. Clive was made a Rowntree Visionary and Echoing Green Fellow in 2005 and was previously a Soros Senior Fellow. As director, Clive is responsible for overseeing Reprieve’s Casework Program, as well as the direct representation of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and on death row as a Louisiana licensed attorney at law.  Clive recently wrote a book about his experiences at Guantanamo, Bad Men (2007), shortlisted for the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing.

Clive has also written The Eight O'Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Fighting the Lawless World of Guantanamo Bay


Welcome To Hell: Letters and Writings from Death Row by Helen Prejean, Clive Stafford Smith, and Jan Arriens

Liz Vartkessian worked as a mitigation specialist with GRACE from December of 2004 to August 2007.  In 2007 Ms. Vartkessian began her PhD in Law at Oxford University.  She is also a researcher with the Capital Jury Project - a nationally sponsored program of research on how capital jurors make sentencing decisions. Currently, Ms. Vartkessian’s research investigates the influence of the Texas capital sentencing scheme in jurors’ consideration of mitigating evidence and in their punishment deliberations.

Kica Matos

Kica Matos is currently the Director at Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC where she works to empower grassroots organizations working towards equal justice for immigrant and people of color.  Ms. Matos has a rich background working with communities of color and marginalized groups including serving as an Assistant Federal Defender representing death row inmates in state and federal courts.  She also worked as an organizer and advocate for the NAACP Legal Defense, focusing on criminal justice and the death penalty in the United States.  She previously served as the Executive Director for Progressive Action working with the low-income Latino community in New Haven and as the Deputy Mayor and Administrator of Community Services in New Haven, CT.  Ms. Matos also headed the U.S. Reconciliation & Human Rights Programme at The Atlantic Philanthropies, focusing on issues of national security, immigration reform, civil liberties and death penalty abolition.

Ms. Matos earned a B.A. from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand; an M.A. in political science from The New School in New York; and a J.D. from Cornell Law School.  She has received many awards, including the 2005 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, the New Haven Register's "Person of the Year" and the Cornell Law School Exemplary Public Service Award.

Scharlette Holdman

Scharlette Holdman Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Center for Capital Assistance (CCA), a nonprofit community organization in San Francisco that provides assistance to counsel in capital trials and post conviction proceedings. CCA is appointed by state and federal courts in jurisdictions across the country to investigate facts related to both phases of capital trials as well as mental health related claims.

Scharlette has been a leader and innovator in capital defense since she launched the idea of mitigation specialists soon after reinstatement of the death penalty in the 1970s.  She's also been a long time supporter and friend of GRACE, advocating on our behalf within the capital defense community, promoting our work to defenders seeking services, and donating many hours of her time to training and mentoring GRACE staff.



Director's Corner