Criminal Law: The Changes and Complications

Patrick McCann has been working in Houston for nearly 25 years.

“I hung out my shingle as soon as I passed the bar, and I have enjoyed this work tremendously.  I would up in post-conviction and appeals because that way I got paid to learn the law. Once older trial lawyers knew I was a “book kid” they either hired or offered to have me sit with them for trial experience, for me to work on thirty major felony trials in my first four years in practice.

“It was exciting as hell, and I have loved this practice ever since.”

Speaking to us this month, Patrick touches on how technology has impacted him as a lawyer and the frustrations often felt when working in criminal law.

 I also love the use of AI to help solos.

In what ways has technology impacted the criminal law sector, and what further adoptions are expected to develop criminal law proceedings in the next few years?

Well, there are some great ways from the point of view of a solo. I remember having to actually drive to Austin to ensure I met a filing deadline in the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Now, with the click of a button, I am able to e-file from anywhere, literally.  I can be at my favorite coffee shop, at home, or visiting family back in New England.  It is wonderful.

I also love the use of AI to help solos.  Products like Casetext are a marvelous way to help small firms like mine stay competitive and offer cutting edge research while keeping costs down.

I think in the future the difficulty will be that, first, we as lawyers are going to have to begin to use encryption routinely for all office docs, including encrypted email services in order to protect client information. I also think we will likely have to demonstrate technical proficiency in certain things like document security to the Bar to stay relevant, but that is a small price to pay for the convenience technology offers.

 Most of the clients we deal with in the criminal defense arena are damaged.

As an expert in criminal defence, can you share any aspects of the law which can cause frustrations, either with legal experts or with your clients?

Well, in Texas, the State Bar has been mixed when it comes to dealing with the criminal bar.  There are some fundamental disconnects between the way we as criminal lawyers operate, and the way civil attorneys do.  There is nothing wrong with that – we do different things.  However, I am really looking forward to our incoming President, Larry McDougal, who is a criminal lawyer. I think he will open up those lines of communication and help both sides understand the other.

The other area is on our side of the fence.  Most of the clients we deal with in the criminal defense arena are damaged.  They have mental illness, intellectual disability, brain injuries, trauma and other problems in their life.  They suffer from addictions that are often crippling. Dealing with clients like that can be challenging, and patience is a job requirement.  I think all of us, myself included, can do better about trying to communicate regularly with clients and to help them understand the complicated system that exists here in Texas.

 I think one has to weigh the difficulty in discussing, for instance, the tragic background of one’s client with the good it can do to help achieve the right result in their case.

What could be done to change this?

Well, in terms of the Bar, I think I mentioned that we are about to change regimes and that will be a good eye opener for many civil folks. Plus, we need to get out and mix more with our colleagues so they know how our thinking goes. As to the clients, I recently had a tough experience that made me realize how important regular written communication is to let the clients know you care and that you are on top of their case.  Nothing replaces it, and it has changed how I do things in my practice.

A lot of cases can be quite sensitive, how should lawyers approach these cases?

I think one has to weigh the difficulty in discussing, for instance, the tragic background of one’s client with the good it can do to help achieve the right result in their case.  We had a fellow who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in one case, and it helped work out a much better and juster sentence because we were able to document it and prove it to the prosecutor, who changed from looking at the client as a violent person to viewing them as someone who needed medication, support, and supervision to avoid recidivism. A true win-win.


You have nothing to lose but your chains.

In what instances is hiring a lawyer post-conviction necessary?

If you have a loved one whom you think did not receive a fair trial, then you need to contact someone who can help.  Appeals and post-conviction writs are the way to help those loved ones, and sometimes it is their only chance to get back to their families.  You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Patrick F. McCann

Law Offices of Patrick F. McCann

700 Louisiana, Ste 3950

Houston, Texas 77002


Mr McCann has been practicing in criminal law since 1995 after earning his JD from the University of Houston. A former Navy Intelligence officer, Mr McCann has written hundreds of appellate briefs, argued before the Fifth Circuit and the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas, and has tried major felonies, including death penalty cases, in both state and federal court. He has extensive experience in habeas and post-conviction practice in both state and federal courts.


The Law Offices of Patrick F. McCann provide a full range of legal assistance to anyone charged with a crime, state or federal, at trial, appeal, or on post-conviction.

For more than 20 years we have dedicated our efforts to helping those charged with serious crimes, including death penalty matters, to obtaining the best results possible.

If you need a lawyer for trial, our investigation and preparation are outstanding; if you have already been convicted and are facing appeal or post-conviction, then we will do everything possible to obtain relief for you and your family, which suffers your incarceration with you.

Contact: or call 713-223-3805 or write to us at 700 Louisiana, Ste 3950 in Houston, Texas 77002.





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