WASHINGTON, August 2 -
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the remarkable career and outstanding community involvement of a great Texan, devoted public servant and my good friend, Robert Pelton. It is an honor for me to recognize Robert, not only for his numerous professional accomplishments and many contributions to our Houston community and the great state of Texas, but also for his service to our country.
Robert and I met many years ago while I was working in the Harris County District Attorney's Office as a prosecutor. Our friendship may have seemed unlikely as Robert, a criminal defense attorney, was more often than not defending the people I was prosecuting. Even though we were on opposing sides, there was a mutual admiration among us that to this day, has not wavered. I am grateful to call Robert a friend.
Robert's humble nature comes from his small town roots and strong patriotic upbringing in Abilene, Texas. As a child growing up in West Texas, Robert had a passion for reading. The books Robert read made Texas history come alive and his fascination with Texas legends and lawyers took root. He began to notice how folks less fortunate were mistreated and taken advantage of in his small town. So, at the young age of 14, he made up his mind to become a great lawyer, like the heroes he read about in his books. Robert still likes classic old west movies about good guys and outlaws.
His West Texas roots taught him that his word was his bond. He lives by that character trait.
Like many honorable men, Robert wanted to serve our nation and enlisted with the Texas Army National Guard. He trained as a combat infantryman, a job that is not for the weak of heart, with the 36th Infantry Division. After honorably serving from 1966 to 1972, Robert was discharged with the rank of Sergeant (E-5). Still determined to become a lawyer, Robert enrolled with South Texas College of Law after graduating from McMurry College in Abilene. During law school, he served as Chief Prosecutor of the Honor Court and as a Justice on the Honor Court. And the rest is history.
During his internship with the famous attorney Jim Skelton, Robert worked on a case where Mr. Skelton represented David Owen Brooks--a defendant in the largest mass murder case in the United States at the time. After helping with this case, Robert realized that his calling was to defend those accused of crimes.
Since May 1975, Robert has represented numerous people during his legal career. Of all of his clients, a highlight in Robert's legal career was representing the late Marvin Zindler, as his personal lawyer for over 30 years. Marvin Zindler was known for his consumer reporting--on ABC News on channel 13--one of the first in the business to do so--letting the unsuspecting public in on the down and dirty dealings of local businesses throughout Southeast Texas. Marvin was a fighter for the little man and defended those who were swindled or scammed--seeking retribution the best way he knew how, with a bright light, an all-seeing camera lens, and a television audience. It makes sense that Robert represented this local legend.
Robert's extensive knowledge of the justice system and his incredible work ethic earned the respect of his colleagues in the law profession. Over 50 of Robert's felony criminal cases have resulted in no-bills due to the Grand Jury Defense presentations that his team worked on. In 2012, he helped prove a wrong man had been arrested, which resulted in another capital murder case being dismissed. The impact of Robert's work is far reaching.
Over his career, Robert has maintained a strong focus on ethics and has received numerous accolades. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Ethics Committee for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. In 2011, he recognized a need for criminal defense attorneys to have access to an ethics hotline and urged the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association to create one. In addition, Robert has been named by H-Texas Magazine as one of Houston's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers each year from 2004 to 2010 and as well as one of Houston's ``Top Lawyers for the People'' each year from 2004 to 2010. In 2012 and 2013, Robert received the President's Award from the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in recognition of his excellent work during those years. In addition to these honors, Robert has recently been named by the College of the State Bar of Texas as the recipient of the Jim D. Bowmer Professionalism Award for 2012. This high honor is awarded annually to an outstanding College member based on achievement or contribution to professionalism. Robert continues to contribute to the legal profession by authoring monthly columns in The Defender and The Voice for Defense Magazines. He also serves on the faculty of the Center for American and International Law.
In addition, there are books written about several of his high profile cases, including Ashes to Ashes and another book about Pam Perillo, who was eight hours away from execution, but because of a writ hearing in Federal Court that Robert filed, her life was spared. Several of his well-known cases, were documented on national TV specials: ``Women on Death Row'' and ``Caught on Camera''.
As a former prosecutor and then judge, I know how consuming this career can be. But, I also know how meaningful and rewarding it can be. Robert's innovation, determination and compassion for helping others makes him one of the best attorneys in the nation. I am truly blessed to consider him one of my dearest friends and am honored to give him the recognition that he deserves. And that's just the way it is.