TYLA Officers


Rebekah Steely Brooker, President


Dustin M. Howell, Chair


Sam Houston, Vice President


Baili B. Rhodes, Secretary


John W. Shaw, Treasurer


C. Barrett Thomas, President-elect


Priscilla D. Camacho, Chair-elect


Kristy Blanchard, Immediate Past President

TYLA Directors


Amanda A. Abraham, District 1


Sharesa Y. Alexander, Minority At-Large Director


Raymond J. Baeza, District 14

    Aaron J. Burke, District 5, Place 1

Aaron T. Capps, District 5, Place 2


D. Lance Currie, District 5, Place 3


Laura W. Docker, District 10, Place 1

    Andrew Dornburg, District 21
    John W. Ellis, District 8, Place 2
    Zeke Fortenberry, District 4

Bill Gardner, District 5, Place 4


Morgan L. Gaskin, District 6, Place 5

    Nick Guinn, District 18, Place 1

Adam C. Harden, District 6, Place 6


Amber L. James, District 17


Curtis W. Lucas, District 9

    Rudolph K. Metayer, District 8, Palce 1

Laura Pratt, District 3

    Sally Pretorius, District 8, Place 2

Baili B. Rhodes, District 2


Alex B. Roberts, District 6, Place 3

    Eduardo Romero, District 19
    Michelle P. Scheffler, District 6, Place 2

John W. Shaw, District 10, Place 2

    Nicole Soussan, District 6, Place 4
    L. Brook Stuntebeck, District 11

C. Barrett Thomas, District 15

    Judge Amanda N. Torres, Minority At-Large Director

Shannon Steel White, District 12

    Brandy Wingate Voss, District 13
    Veronica S. Wolfe, District 18, Place 2

Baylor Wortham, District 7

    Alex Yarbrough, District 16


Justice Paul W. Green, Supreme Court Liaison


Jenny Smith, Access To Justice Liaison


Brandon Crisp, ABA YLD District 25 Representative


Travis Patterson, ABA/YLD District 26 Representative


Assistant Dean Jill Nikirk, Law School Liaison


Belashia Wallace, Law Student Liaison


TYLA Office

Tracy Brown, Director of Administration
Bree Trevino, Project Coordinator

Michelle Palacios, Office Manager
General Questions: tyla@texasbar.com

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 12487, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711-2487
(800) 204-2222 ext. 1529
FAX: (512) 427-4117

Street Address

1414 Colorado, 4th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 427-1529


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.





























































Top Story

Top Story

The Unconscious Truth
TYLA Initiative Addresses Underage Binge Drinking

By: Ellen Carnes 

In February, the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) unveiled The Unconscious Truth: Physical and Legal Effects of Underage Binge Drinking. The new initiative is designed to educate adults and teenagers about the consequences —both physical and legal — of underage binge drinking.

“We wanted to make young adults and their parents aware of the liabilities,” said TYLA Executive Committee Chair Brooke Ulrickson Allen. “Not only the legal liabilities involved with underage binge drinking, but also the more tragic physical consequences, like death or permanent brain damage, that can result from alcohol poisoning.”

TYLA President Natalie Cobb Koehler first became interested in the issue of underage binge drinking last year, when she read about the 2008 death of Shelby Allen. Allen was a vivacious and articulate 17-year old — an athlete and an honor student whose personal motto was “Dig life.” On the first night of winter break, Allen attended a party at a friend’s house where she drank 15 shots of vodka. When she became ill and passed out, her friends let her “sleep it off.” In the morning, Allen was pronounced dead. The cause was acute alcohol poisoning.
Binge drinking is generally defined consuming five or more drinks for males and four drinks or more for females during a two-hour time window. A standard measurement for a drink is 14 grams of pure alcohol — a 12-ounce beer contains one standard drink; a bottle of wine contains five.

According to a January 2012 report by Centers for Disease Control, more than 38 million American adults binge drink regularly. Binge drinking is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for more than half of the 79,000 excessive drinking-related deaths each year.

Teenagers are following the example set by adults. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2008, 2.3 million youth from 12–20 years old engaged in binge drinking five or more times per month. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has called out colleges and universities for cultivating a “culture of drinking.”

Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person’s blood alcohol concentration becomes dangerously elevated, which can slow — or stop — involuntary actions like breathing, heart beat, and gag reflex. “Death by alcohol poisoning is very preventable,” said Steven L. Smith, M.D., F.A.C.P., of the Medical Center of North Texas. “If a friend calls 911 in time, the person can be intubated and given intravenous fluids. As long as the hospital can keep them breathing through the night, they’re usually fine. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs of alcohol poisoning.”

After learning about the devastating impact of alcohol poisoning on the Allens’ life, Koehler decided that TYLA could help educate communities about the consequences of binge drinking. She reached out to Allen’s parents, Steve and Debbie Allen, who now run Shelby’s Rules, an alcohol poisoning education foundation. The Allens worked with Cobb, Ulrickson Allen, and the rest of the TYLA Community Education Committee to create The Unconscious Truth. “They have been a huge help with this endeavor and we are very thankful for their guidance,” Koehler said.

The project consists of a 15-minute video loosely based on the circumstances of Allen’s death and a discussion portion, where TYLA members can engage teenagers in a debate about the laws and consequences related to underage binge drinking. Also included in the program is information about Texas Senate Bill 1331, the “911 lifeline” law that grants protection from prosecution to 911-callers who suspect someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Kirk Watson, a former TYLA president.
The video follows “Hannah”, a high school student who is throwing a party. With her parent’s permission, beer is being served. “We just don’t want you drinking and then getting into a car and hurting yourself and/or someone else,” Hannah’s father says. “We’d rather have you be here, in a controlled environment where nobody can get hurt.”

After Hannah’s parents go to bed, Hannah breaks into their liquor cabinet. Eventually, Hannah’s friend “Shelby” has too much to drink, falls unconscious, and is found dead in the morning. The video ends with possible criminal charges for Hannah and her parents.
The Unconscious Truth not only takes pains to point out the signs of alcohol poisoning — stupor, vomiting, seizure, slow or irregular breathing, pale skin, low body temperature, and unconsciousness — but to raise questions about responsibility. After the video, students are posed questions like, “If you were a criminal prosecutor, what criminal offenses, if any, would you charge Hannah and her parents with?” TYLA has partnered with the VITALS program at Texas Christian University, a campaign to promote alcohol poisoning awareness. Together, they hope to take The Unconscious Truth nationwide, with specific guided-discussions relating to each state’s statutes. TYLA presented the The Unconscious Truth at the Law-Related Education conference in February.

“We walked a fine line with this project,” Ulrickson Allen said. “We obviously don’t want to condone or endorse underage drinking, but at the same time, we know this happens and we want people to be aware of the potential dangers. Our hope is that this project could save the life of someone like Shelby Allen.”

The Unconscious Truth will be available online at ww.tyla.org and on DVD. If you would like a copy for your school, contact the TYLA office at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1529.

This article was republished with permission from the Texas Bar Journal.