Michael Heiskell

Michael Heiskell is a candidate for First Vice President in NACDL's 2021 election.

My name is Michael P. Heiskell and I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association a/Criminal Defense Lawyers ("NACDL") and was selected to serve on NACDL's Executive Committee. I am in my second separate term on NACDL's Board of Directors and am a Life Member of this esteemed body. I have been a criminal defense lawyer for over 37 years and have been in the forefront of leadership of criminal defense lawyers organizations for years.

In that vein, I am a Past President of the Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association ("TCDLA") becoming the first African American to separately hold both posts. I am also twice the recipient of the "Lawyer of the Year" award from the Tarrant County Black Bar Association in, 1995 and 2000. I was awarded the "Presidential Award of Excellence" by TCDLA in 1994, 1995 and 2003. I was named co-chair for the Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course sponsored by TCDLA, on 3 separate occasions, as well as a course director for the State Bar a/Texas' Advanced Criminal Law Course. I am currently the co-chair of the "Federal Breakout Session" for said course and have been so for the past seven (7) years. I have presented on numerous topics over the years at the local, state and national levels to a variety of specialty bar associations. I am also a former Chair of the Court Advisory Committee for the Northern District of Texas. I have represented defendants at all levels-from misdemeanors to death penalty trials. I have defended 6 death penalty cases in trial and was able to salvage the life of 3 of those individuals. I am also experienced in trial work at the federal level, having been a former federal prosecutor. I was elected to the TCDLA 's Hall of Fame in 2015 based upon my extensive proven trial skills, legal acumen, and service to our profession. I am also the 2020 recipient of the Blackstone Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the Tarrant County Bar Association. My service to TCDLA continues as I currently serve on its Legislative Committee as we just completed our lobbying efforts in pushing back against proposed harsh reforms of our bail system and discovery process.

My NACDL activism led to my service on governance committees such as its Audit Committee, for which I am still a member, and our Budget Committee. I previously served on NACDL's Task Force Committee on Familial DNA and its Indigent Defense Committee. I also actively participated in the formulation of NACDL's current Strategic Plan where one of the goals is to increase minority representation in our membership rolls, and in leadership roles within NACDL. I have also served as cochair of NACDL's Annual Race Matters conference in Los Angeles.

As your First Vice President I plan to meet and exceed the expectations of this leadership post through my passion and dedication to defense work, my communication skills developed over many years of practice, and my experience as having previously led TCDLA, one of the nation's largest criminal defense organizations.

Finally, as criminal reform measures are at the forefront in our nation's capital, and many of our state capitals, rest assured that I have been, and will continue to be, a leader in this effort to end systemic racism and correct the inequalities in our legal system. I have grown into this leadership role with the proven skills and hard work necessary to continue to improve our august body by mobilizing our members towards our mission and goal to make our legal system a true justice system. For the above reasons, I have been nominated by NACDL' s Nominating Committee to be your next First Vice President.

Thank you.

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