Dannnye K. Holley, Dean and Professor of Law

ECI Centers

Center for Civil Advocacy

Formerly known as the Institute for Trial Advocacy, The Center for Civil Advocacy (CCA) was established in November 2001 and provides Thurgood Marshall Law students an opportunity to gain practical experience by working with clients, witnesses, lawyers and courts. Sources for cases include the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Lone Star Legal Aid, Texas Appleseed, TMSL Clinics, Disability Rights Texas, other legal services organizations, community based organizations and churches. The Center for Civil Advocacy receives on average 6 requests for assistance each week. Last fiscal year the CCA opened 210 cases and saved or obtained more than 1.2 million dollars in property assets for our Property clients and over $3,500 in reduced fees and costs to our juvenile client families.

ECI Programs operating under this center include: The Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project, the ECI Juvenile Justice Project and the TMSL Street Law Program.

Current research projects involving disproportionate minority involvement include: Homelessness, teen dating violence, pretrial diversion, human sex trafficking, incarceration versus education, and issues involving disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile system.

TMSL Street Law Program

TMSL Street Law ProgramThe TMSL STREET LAW Program is an educational, legal outreach program that trains current law students to teach law at schools throughout Houston-Harris County. The mission of the Program is to empower youth through interactive education about law, democracy, and human rights while furthering the professional development of law students. It is ECI’s hope that through accurate and current knowledge, juveniles will avoid becoming involved in situations that may lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.

Specifically, TMSL law students who participate in this program are provided with a curriculum on various aspects of criminal law. The law students participate in “train the trainer” classes with the ECI Associate Director. The law students then train high school students, on a weekly basis, through the use of interactive teaching strategies including mock trials, moot courts and simulated negotiations that allow students to hone their communication and analytical skills while gaining exposure to other professionals and the community. Law students learn from their juvenile students about how laws impact people and the “real life” strengths and weaknesses of the legal system. This insight sensitizes the law students to crucial public policy issues and concerns, which can encourage law students to pursue a career path aimed at combating social injustices.
TMSL Street Law Program

To learn more about the Street Law Program or to establish a program in your school or for your community organization, contact Lucinda Daniels, Associate Director, at 713.313.1156 or by email atlrdaniels@tmslaw.tsu.edu.

To Donate to the Center for Civil Advocacy

Please make checks payable to Earl Carl Institute, and mail to: 3100 Cleburne St., Houston, TX 77004. Please specify which program you wish to donate to on your check.

Center for Criminal Justice

The Center for Criminal Justice seeks to fosters a fair and accountable justice system through research, analysis, collaboration, and actual innocence litigation. The center uses an interdisciplinary approach to address problems in the criminal justice system that impact the urban community disproportionately. The goals of the center are to (1) research criminal justice reform issues and recommend more effective policies, and (2) provide students with an opportunity to hone their advocacy skills. The Thurgood Marshall School of Law Innocence Project (TMSLIP) is operated under the auspices of the CCJ. The TMSLIP welcomes attorneys, students, and varying experts to volunteer their services with the program.

CCJ uses continuing legal education programs (CLEs) to train and educate attorneys and practitioners in the practical application of the law and thereby raising the standard of representation. Ideally, these educational events will provide direct reduction of the disparate impacts of the criminal justice system on African Americans.

Indigent DefenseTo promoting best practices in indigent defense through educational programming, the CCJ produces the Annual Honorable Craig Washington & Senator Rodney Ellis Excellence in Indigent Defense Series. Named after the Honorable Craig Washington and Senator Rodney Ellis, because of their instrumental and ongoing efforts in the fight for fair trials and effective representation for the indigent, this annual 2 day continuing legal education program is presented by Academics and practitioners. The 2013 program centered on a discussion and evaluation of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel. The 2014 program is tentatively titled When Race Matters - - Guilty until Proven Innocent: An Evaluation of Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System. This event will explore the root causes of these disparities, including the question of police and prosecutorial discretion, the impact of general racial biases, the effect of cognitive bias, the use of statistics to examine the area, and looking at why exposure of the disparate impacts have had little impact on slowing the system’s effect on African American men.


To Donate to the Center for Criminal Justice

Please make checks payable to Earl Carl Institute, and mail to: 3100 Cleburne St., Houston, TX 77004. Please specify which program you wish to donate to on your check.

Center for Government Law

The Center for Government Law was established to provide integrated academic and practical skills training in government administration and regulation to law students. Preparing students for the practice of law in the public sector is a primary goal of the Center. The Center works with numerous governmental organizations on the local, state and federal level and serves as law school liaison for the Texas Legislative Internship Program (TLIP) which provides practical experience to students who assist government leaders in advancing research in a multitude of law and public policy arenas. In addition, the Center is responsible for a report following each Legislative session on the impact of new legislation on TSU and the urban community. In addition, the Center maintains the ECI Organizations Resource List. It is the goal of the center to become an authority and resource on urban issues for legislators and other policy organizations.

Texas Legislative Internship Program (TLIP), started in 1990, is sponsored by Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis. TLIP is administered by the Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace at Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan/Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. The program provides opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and law students to serve as interns in the Texas Legislature, state agencies, local and federal government, and nonprofit organizations.


Thurgood Marshall School of Law students receive twelve academic credit hours for participating in TLIP, which combines academic study and research with supervised practical training. The internship lasts for one academic semester, and interns are responsible for their academic admissions and enrollment in the necessary courses. The Associate Director of ECI’s Government Law Center serves as advisor to the interns, while Senator Ellis’ staff assists in coordinating on-site activities.

The TLIP serves as an important link to the mission statements of the University and Law School by enhancing student development, through practical student experiences and enhanced learning experiences. During legislative sessions, TLIP interns are placed in the offices of Texas Legislatures’ as well as the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Supreme Court of Texas just to name a few. Between legislative sessions, interns serve in the offices of elected and appointed officials at the municipal, county and state levels, and have been placed in the offices of several U.S. Congressional offices in Washington, DC. Students have also served in the national office of The Innocence Project in New York City.


The ECI Center for Government Law published the THE EARL CARL INSTITUTE’S REPORT ON THE 83RD LEGISLATIVE SESSION: AN URBAN PERSPECTIVE in August 2013. This comprehensive report distinguishes itself by focusing on legislative actions that directly impact the urban community. This legislative update is organized by the Institute’s key focus areas: Education, Criminal Justice, Housing and Environment, Family and Gender, Legislative, Student Development, and Wealth and Taxation.


The CGL is also responsible for maintaining the ECI ORGANIZATIONS RESOURCE LIST, a compilation of organizations having an interest in issues affecting the urban community. The list was initially compiled from the witness lists for various bills during the 2011 Texas legislative session. The list contains a hyperlink to the included organizations along with a description of the organization and their contact information. Students help to ensure this information stays current and is routinely updated.



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