Group reads Declaration of Independence outside courthouse

Brownwood Bulletin
From left, attorney Jud Woodley, attorney Patrick Howard and District Judge Mike Smith hold their copies of the Declaration of Independence outside the Brown County Courthouse Friday as Smith takes a turn reading from the document.

Members of the Brown County legal community and other citizens gathered outside the Brown County Courthouse Friday to read the Declaration of Independence, a statewide tradition that started in Harris County in 2010.

The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association sponsors the event as an commemoration of Independence Day.

About three dozen citizens spread across the courthouse’s south porch, steps and lawn as lawyers, District Judge Mike Smith and other citizens took turns reading aloud the 1,320-word document.

“It’s really different when you read it again and when you listen to it read by someone else,” attorney Todd Steele said. Steele and attorney Jud Woodley organized the Brown County reading.

Attorneys John Lee Blagg (left) and Chris Brown look at their copies of the Declaration of Independence outside the Brown County Courthouse.

“Especially in the world we live in today, it really brings on a whole new meaning,” Steele said. “As of now, there’s a public reading at every courthouse in the state of Texas. Some of these took place (Thursday). Most of them take place (Friday).”

The Declaration of Independence is the nation's most revered symbol of its stand against the illegal and immoral depredations of the crown against its citizens, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association said in an earlier press release.

“It is only fitting that in Texas, which leads the country in the exoneration of those wrongfully accused and imprisoned, criminal defense attorneys serve in the forefront of the battle against the encroachment on our rights today,” the association said. “These readings are our reminder to all in the criminal justice system that abuses of power will be exposed and fought by members of the defense bar.”