Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Introducing TLC TX/OK Regional Seminar Faculty Member, Kurt Kerns

Kurt Kerns first became involved with TLC in 1999 after reading Gerry Spence's first book, "Gunning For Justice."

Kurt shared, “It was clear to me that Gerry felt growing one’s talents and consciousness as a human being was interconnected to growing as a lawyer. TLC became the quest to uncover and unlock the areas within my soul that kept me from real, heartfelt communication.”

Kurt returned to TLC in 2002 as a staff member for a few years before a war-crime case and a divorce took him out of the TLC loop. He reconnected with TLC last year after the genocide case he defended for years was finally dismissed and will now join us in Texas as one of our distinguished faculty members.

Named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by The American Trial Lawyers Association, Kurt has tried to verdict over sixty jury trials and received seven outright acquittals in ten murder trials, with two hung juries. Among his other accolades, he is listed in Best Lawyers in America, has been named the Kansas/Missouri “Superlawyer” from 2007 to today, has the highest legal ability rating by Martindale-Hubbell (A.V.) for over ten years and is the recipient of the 2010 Kansas Bar Association’s “Courageous Attorney Award.”

In addition to receiving numerous awards, Kurt has been involved in many high-profile cases, spoken at many different speaking engagements and has been published in several publications.

When he isn’t working or teaching, Kurt is an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoys traveling with his 21-year-old daughter to explore other countries.

Sign up for the TX/OK Regional Seminar here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Introducing TLC TX/OK Regional Seminar Faculty Member, Colby Vokey

Colby Vokey is a July 2010 graduate of the Trial Lawyers College. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps, having served over 20 years on active duty, to include a combat tour as an artillery officer during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War. During his time in service, Colby was also selected to play for the All Marine Rugby Team.

Colby’s practice is primarily criminal law, with a focus on military law cases; however, he has also jumped into the civil law arena and has handled personal injury, contract disputes and other torts. Colby has worked on many of the most high profile military cases this century. He has defended numerous service members charged with war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, to include the squad leader from the so-called Haditha massacre. Last year, he obtained an acquittal for a Marine lieutenant charged with multiple murders for shootings during combat actions in Helmund Province, Afghanistan. Additionally, Colby was the lead counsel defending a Canadian teenager being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who was facing the military commissions on charges of murder, terrorism and spying. He currently practices in Dallas, Texas with Fitzpatrick Hagood Smith & Uhl LLP.

Colby first became involved with Trial Lawyers College in 2005, while serving as a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel in charge of all the Marine (and some Navy) defense counsel in the West half of the US and in Iraq. His friend, Joey Low, previously helped him with teaching military defense counsel, convinced Colby that he needed something more (for himself and his defense attorneys) and suggested attending a TLC seminar. Without knowing anything about TLC or Gerry Spence, Colby attended a regional seminar at Estes Park, Colorado as the first active duty military lawyer to attend a TLC event. A fire was lit. Colby then attended more seminars, arranged to have many of his junior attorneys attend TLC events, and even sponsored and organized a special TLC event for military defense attorneys at Camp Pendleton, California.  

After retiring from the Marine Corps at the end of 2008, Colby continued to stay active in TLC, attending seminars and working with other TLC attorneys in groups. In July 2010, Colby went to the Thunderhead Ranch in Wyoming to attend the three-week College. Since that time, Colby has fully embraced what he learned at Trial Lawyers College, traveled to more seminars, attended the Graduate Course, and has actively participated in several local TLC groups. In 2012, Colby was invited to join the staff at Trial Lawyers College as an instructor. Besides finding his best friends at TLC, Colby uses his TLC skills every day, both in and out of the courtroom.

Colby has been married to the same wonderful woman, Cindy, for 25 years. He has 3 children, Christina (24), Connor (19) and Camden (13). 

Sign up for the TX/OK Regional Seminar here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Introducing TLC TX/OK Regional Seminar Faculty Member, Greg Westfall

A TLC Faculty Member since 2005, Greg Westfall will join us in May at the TX/OK Regional Seminar, sharing his insightful teachings with seminar attendees. 

After working 100% criminal defense since 1994, Greg joined a medium-sized civil firm in 2010 to start doing both criminal and civil work. From 1995 through 2012, he did death penalty work, trying his first death penalty case to verdict in 1999. Today, Greg focuses on about 50/50 criminal and civil work.

His experience with TLC began as a member of the inaugural class of the Death Penalty Seminar in 2001. In 2002, he returned for the full college and started on staff in 2005.

"What I like most about TLC are the people and the honesty. The method is both very hard and very simple.  The hardest part is taking a risk. The simplicity lies at the heart of what we do – we teach lawyers to just be honest with their juries. Trust that the jurors are real people who down deep generally want to do the right thing for the right reasons," Greg shared.

"When I came to TLC (and for some time thereafter) I always looked at juries with suspicion. They were the ones who did bad things to my clients. I could not empathize with them. I have learned to do that. Still working on it, but I am much farther down the road," he continued. "I spend the time because it makes me a better person and lawyer and some of my best friends are in the organization."

In addition to an active practice, Greg has been an invited speaker at numerous events, has been a Course Moderator/Director several times, taught at many schools and institutions, provided legal commentary on television shows such as CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and has published many legal articles. Greg has also been recognized with many awards, including being AV Rated in the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, "Super Lawyer" from 2003-2013 in Tarrant County by Texas Monthly / Law & Politics, Business Journal "Attorney of Excellence" from 2003-2005 and "Top Attorney" from 2001-2012 by Fort Worth Magazine.

Greg is married to a district judge and has two children, ages 12 and 9. In addition to his many legal accomplishments, he has served as a Sergeant in the United States Army, is a published songwriter and photographer.

Sign up for the TX/OK Regional Seminar here.