Representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso), speaker pro tempore of the Texas House of Representatives, is the recipient of this year’s “Light of Justice” award from the Texas Defender Service (TDS).
TDS is a non-partisan organization dedicated to both representation and reform around capital punishment in Texas.
“Speaker Moody worked tirelessly to examine our capital punishment system between the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions and proposed pragmatic solutions to its problems earlier this year,” said TDS Executive Director Amanda Marzullo. “We are extremely grateful for his work.”
TDS’s award follows Speaker Moody’s work during the 85th and 86th Legislative Sessions to make capital punishment in Texas both fairer and rarer.
Judge Elsa Alcala, who formerly sat on Texas’s Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest court for criminal cases) and now serves as TDS’s policy director, echoed that sentiment: “Speaker Moody is a beacon of light for criminal justice reform, and his visionary leadership resulted in the House of Representatives passing multiple positive measures.”
Moody himself focused on the journey that brought him here and what lies ahead.
“My opposition to the death penalty is relatively recent. As someone who was once a prosecutor, I have to admit I used to look at it through the lens of retribution; now, in addition to recognizing the many serious problems that plague our criminal justice system, I’ve also come to appreciate how important mercy is within it,” Moody shared.
“While I’d like to see capital punishment abolished altogether, I know it’s a long road to that goal (especially in Texas),” Moody conceded. “However, the system we do have must be made fair, sensible, and transparent. TDS has been at the forefront of that effort for years, which is why I’m so humbled to receive this recognition.”
The award will be formally presented on October 18, 2019 at the Light of Justice Luncheon in Houston.