FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2018
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706
Municipal judge tapped to help educate judiciary on mental health matters
AUSTIN — The State Bar of Texas’ Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program has taken the innovative step of adding a sitting judge to its staff of experts to reach out to fellow jurists about issues such as stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, and other mental health matters.
The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) has always served judges as well as lawyers and law students, but TLAP Director Bree Buchanan notes that less than 1 percent of the annual calls received by the program come from judges.
Buchanan is confident that the addition of Judge Edward J. Spillane III, a former member of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and frequent speaker at judicial education conferences, can help TLAP reach out to the judiciary about behavioral health issues. Judge Spillane will work with TLAP as an independent contractor.
“We’re excited to have Judge Spillane’s help in carrying the message to our Texas judiciary that TLAP is available for them, whether to provide confidential assistance for themselves or to assist an impaired lawyer in their court,” Buchanan said.
Judge Spillane has been the presiding municipal judge for College Station since 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.
He has written several articles on the plight of indigent defendants and the benefits of mindfulness in the courtroom. In his position with TLAP, he will focus on outreach to the judiciary on topics such as prevention of substance use, mental health disorders, cognitive impairment, burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as strategies for the promotion of well-being.
Judge Spillane has twice served as president of the Texas Municipal Courts Association, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center (TMCA/TMCEC) Board of Directors.
He represents municipal courts on the Texas Judicial Council and also serves on the National Research Advisory Board for the Misdemeanor Justice Project and the Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He is a member of the National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices.
TLAP’s confidential hotline, 1-800-343-8527(TLAP), provides assistance to judges, lawyers, law students, and even legal employers who are personally struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues or know of someone who needs assistance. Additional wellness resources can be found on TLAP’s website — TLAPHelps.org.
TLAP also operates the American Bar Association's National Helpline for Judges Helping Judges at 1-800-219-6474 for jurists who are seeking help for themselves or other judges. All communications are confidential by statute.
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The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/statebaroftexas, or visit texasbar.com.