One by one, Smith County defense attorneys took turns on Wednesday reading lines the founding fathers wrote hundreds of years ago from the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
"These men all knew that the British could have hung them for treason when they signed their name to this document," Tyler Defense Attorney Reeve Jackson said to the group of onlookers gathered at the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza. Jackson announced plans this week to enter the Smith County District Attorney's race to challenge incumbent Matt Bingham in the Republican March primary.
It was the third annual Declaration reading event for attorneys in Smith County and across the country. Tyler Defense Attorney Bobby Mims, recently elected president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association, has helped organize the event for the past three years.
Mims said it is fitting that Americans take a few minutes to remember and be reminded of the principles that made America unique among nations in 1776.
"The criminal defense lawyers of Texas defend these principles daily in the courts of Texas," he said. "The annual reading of the Declaration is an important reminder to our fellow citizens of these cherished principles."
Robert Fickman, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, first organized the Declaration readings in 2010, according to a press release from the association. That year, a group of 15 criminal defense lawyers gathered at the Harris County courthouse. In 2011, the event had grown to more than 30 readers and more than 100 spectators in attendance, the release stated. By 2012, the readings were organized to occur throughout the state and the nation.