Governor Abbott Appoints Six To Governing Board Of The Texas Indigent Defense Commission

May 16, 2024 | Austin, Texas | Appointment

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed James “Jim” Bethke and J.R. Woolley to the Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for terms set to expire on February 1, 2026 and February 1, 2025, respectively. Additionally, the Governor reappointed Valerie Covey, Richard Evans, and Missy Medary for terms set to expire on February 1, 2026 and designated April Farris to serve as an ex-officio member to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Commission provides financial and technical support to counties to develop and maintain quality and cost-effective indigent defense systems.

James “Jim” Bethke of Austin is the executive director of the Bexar County Managed Assigned Counsel Office. He is the former executive director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Harris County Justice Administration, Harris County Pretrial Services, and Lubbock Private Defender Office and a former adjunct professor at Texas Tech University (TTU) School of Law. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Additionally, he is a former board member of the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative Federal Advisory Committee, Indigent Defense Research Association, National Association of Public Defense Fund for Justice, Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. He is the former presiding officer of the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions, former consultant for ABA International Criminal Justice Consortium, and former member of the Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council. He served in the U.S. Army and U.S Army Reserves until 2005. Bethke received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from The University of Texas (UT) at Tyler and Juris Doctor from TTU School of Law.

 J.R. Woolley of Waller is a justice of the peace for Waller County. Previously, he served as the chief investigator for the Waller County District Attorney’s Office and as an investigator for the Waller County Sheriff’s Office. He is the legislative chair of the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association, member of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, and a non-attorney member of the State Bar of Texas Justice of the Peace Section. Additionally, he is a member of the Heroes on the Water Matagorda Chapter Executive Team, assistant chief for the Whitehall Community Volunteer Fire Department, and former fire chief and former board president of the Tri-County Fire Department. He served in the U.S. Air Force.

Valerie Covey of Georgetown is the county commissioner for Precinct 3 of Williamson County. Previously, she worked as a certified public accountant for S. Thomas McDaniel and Ernst & Young. She is chair of the National Habitat Conservation Plan Coalition, former member of the Advisory Council for Georgetown Assistance League, and former chair of the Local Authority Network Advisory Committee. Covey received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from UT Austin.

Richard Evans of Bandera is the county judge for Bandera County, where he is in his 28th year of service. He is a member and former chair of the Committee of Six and the Alamo Area Council of Governments. Additionally, he is an Eagle Scout. Evans received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southwest Texas State University.

Missy Medary of Corpus Christi is judge of the 347th District Court and has served as the presiding judge of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region since 2015. She is a former board member of the Corpus Christi Bar Association, lifetime member of the Texas Bar Foundation, and an appointed member by the Supreme Court to the Judicial Council. Additionally, she is the current chair of the grants and reporting committee for the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Medary received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Missouri and Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law.

April Farris of Houston is a justice on the first court of appeals, where she has served since January 2021. Previously, she was an appellate litigation partner at Yetter Coleman LLP and served as an assistant solicitor general for the Texas Solicitor General’s Office. She is an editorial board member for The Advocate, executive committee member for the Garland R. Walker Inn of Court, and an honorary board member for Houston's Christian Legal Society. Additionally, she is a member of the American Law Institute, Texas State Bar Appellate Section, Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Texas Pattern Jury Charge Oversight Committee, life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and volunteer as a National Association of Women Judges mentor judge for female Afghan refugee judges. Farris received a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Abilene Christian University and Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.