Speaker Biographies

We are pleased to introduce you to the speakers for the 2018 Institute:

DAVID ALEX is an assistant district attorney at the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. He co-founded the DA’s Animal Cruelty Unit (ACU) in 2013 as a first-of-its-kind private and public financing campaign to fight animal cruelty. In 2014, he successfully prosecuted Robert Prichard for drowning a pit bull in a swimming pool: the jury gave Prichard six years in prison for this crime. Also in 2014, David prosecuted three youths who set fire to a stray pit bull puppy named Justice. Each offender went to prison. Last year, David helped convict a habitual offender who received 15 years for throwing his girlfriend’s cat from a 2nd story balcony. To increase the reach of the ACU, David created a “special investigator” position, funded by the SPCA of Texas, another first-of-its-kind venture. Prior to the ACU, Alex took the lead on all cruelty cases filed. His first major case involved Mercy, the pit bull set on fire in 2006. Mercy received international attention and the jury handed down a four year sentence to abuser Deshawn Brown. Prior to this case, probation was the most likely outcome in an animal cruelty case. This case set the stage for David to start enhancing cruelty cases with deadly weapons charges, which significantly enhances sentencing. This is an innovative legal strategy he is now teaching nationwide. He trains and speaks professionally about animal cruelty for organizations such as the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association and the Texas Humane Legislative Network. In his former role as trial bureau chief, he witnessed the link between animal and human violence and enlisted a seasoned death penalty forensic psychologist (who volunteers his services) to evaluate violent animal abusers for risk of future violence. For his outstanding service, David has earned “Prosecutor of the Year” twice for his work in criminal law. He holds a J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and served four years in the U.S. Navy. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. He lives with his wife Bonnie, children Jorden and Jared, and his four-legged kids Bear and Shadow.

JAMEY CANTRELL began his career working with animals as a veterinary technician in 1993. This led to a job as a Kennel Technician for the Humane Society of North Texas in 1995. He learned to perform every service the shelter provided, from adoptions to emergency rescues of injured animals to cruelty investigations, and worked his way up to the position of Staff Coordinator in 1997. After a brief stint as the sole Animal Control Officer for the City of Benbrook, Jamey was lured back to HSNT where he took over the position of Director of Shelter Operations. He held that position for five years, managing the day to day operations of the largest full-service animal shelter in North Texas, until leaving in July of 2003 to become the Animal Services Manager for the City of Lubbock. Despite making huge improvements in that city’s program, he and his family wanted to return to the D/FW area so he accepted the position of Animal Control Supervisor for the City of Bedford in July 2004. He led Bedford to the prestigious Texas Animal Control Association’s Animal Control & Welfare Agency of the Year award for 2005 despite the fact that one third of his staff was laid off due to budget cuts that year. In early 2007, Jamey accepted his current position of Animal Services Manager for the City of Plano where he has expanded the shelter’s outreach, volunteer, and education programs and reduced the city’s euthanasia rate to less than 8% of all domestic animals handled – all of which led to additional recognition from the Texas Animal Control Association when Plano was selected as the Animal Control & Welfare Agency of the Year in 2010. Jamey is a certified Animal Control Officer at the Basic, Advanced, and Administrative levels and is an instructor for the Texas Certified Cruelty Investigator program. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Science in Human Relations and Business from Amberton University. He also is a certified mediator, has disaster response training through the United Animal Nations, has completed multiple NIMS and ICS training courses, and has obtained numerous hours of leadership and management training.

KELLEY DWYER is an attorney and sole member of the Law Office of Kelley J. Dwyer, PLLC, an Austin law firm focusing in the areas of business law (including the formation of entities such as LLCs and corporations, and the drafting and review of business agreements and contracts) and estate planning (including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and declarations of guardian) with a special interest in estate planning for the LGBT community and for those with companion animals. Kelley is a founding chair and is the current chair of the Austin Bar Association Animal Law Section. She is a former board member of the Austin LGBT Bar Association, the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Classic Canines, Inc., and the Central Texas office of the American Diabetes Association.
Kelley has presented and/or organized continuing legal education courses in such evolving areas as How Guide Dogs & Service Dogs Can Assist Veterans, LGBT issues in employment law, the intersection of domestic violence and animal cruelty, LGBT issues in estate planning, the Implications of Ag-Gag Laws in the U.S., and the Texas Large Scale Commercial Breeder Law. Kelley is a longtime volunteer mentor at Austin Animal Center and enjoys working with both the dogs and people there. She lives in Austin with her cat-adoring husband, David, and they are frequent fosters for homeless animals as well as providing a loving home for their permanent fur children, which include a 10 year old 100-pound rescued pittie mix with hypothyroidism, one fourteen pound 13 year old blind rescued chihuahua, and a small army of rescued, yet ultimately ungrateful cats. She is pictured here with Seamus, her geriatric, FIV+ formerly feral cat from a rough neighborhood.

FELICIA KERNEY is the Chief of the Dallas County District Attorney’s  Animal Cruelty Unit. Felicia started her government career as an Assistant District Attorney with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office where she served as a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor for nine years. During this time, Felicia prosecuted a number of cases including Driving While Intoxicated, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Murder. While working in Galveston, Felicia came into contact with a number of Spanish speaking victims however was unable to communicate with them effectively due to the language barrier. Having the desire to better communicate with the Hispanic community, Felicia moved to Costa Rica to study the Spanish language. Upon her return, Felicia taught English to Spanish speakers and worked with the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2011, Felicia moved to Dallas, Texas and began working as an Assistant District Attorney with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. In 2013, Felicia was placed in a specialized unit where she prosecuted solely domestic violence cases; it was here that she came into contact with her first animal cruelty case. Felicia’s desire to protect our four-legged friends as well as educate the community about animal abuse inspired her to apply for the position of animal cruelty prosecutor and in March 2015, Felicia was transferred to the animal cruelty unit where she has been proudly serving as chief prosecutor ever since. As Felicia began to settle into her new position she began to realize more and more that the abuse of animals was more than just that. There was a link between animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence. Felicia’s mission is twofold: make sure that those who harm animals are appropriately punished and educate the community about animal cruelty by speaking wherever anyone will listen.

Upon graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2004, JESSICA MACKLIN MILLIGAN practiced civil law in San Antonio.  She then began working as an Assistant District Attorney for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2006.  She is currently the chief of the Animal Cruelty Section, which allows her to prosecute felony animal cruelty offenders, investigate and charge felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty cases, and work on special and legislative initiatives relating to animal abuse. A frequent speaker on criminal law and animal cruelty issues, Jessica lectures at different law schools, law enforcement academies, and animal welfare conferences.  She is past-chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Animal Law Section and has also held the position of secretary and treasurer for the HBA Animal Law Section.  Jessica holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management from New Mexico State University, a J.D. from St. Mary’s in San Antonio, and is a licensed attorney in both Texas and Colorado. She and her husband have three wild boys and a three-legged Border Collie rescue named Hope who is the mascot for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Pets through Education) Program.

THE HONORABLE JOE MOODY represents Texas’s District 78, a mixed urban and rural district covering much of northern El Paso County. During the 85th Session of the Texas House of Representatives, his fourth term in office, Joe chaired the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and pushed through much needed reforms, including the S.B. 762, which increased the penalty for violent animal cruelty offenses. His work on the 85th session on criminal justice issues earned him multiple accolades, including the coveted Texas Monthly ten best legislators list. Outside of the Texas Legislature, Joe is an attorney. He served as a prosecutor for many years at the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office before entering private practice, where his focus has been probate and estate planning as well as criminal defense. He is a partner at the Law Offices of Neill & Moody, P.C.

ARTURO “ART” MUNOZ has been the Special Investigator for Dallas County District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Unit since 2013 and also has acted as the Chief Investigator for the SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit since 2004. In these roles, he has participated in the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty, blood sport, and animal hoarding cases; conducted animal cruelty law training for multiple law enforcement agencies throughout Texas; and specialized in creating relationships across law enforcement and animal control agencies throughout Texas. Art has been recognized as and expert witness in animal cruelty cases and crafted and implemented multiple memorandums of understanding with several county agencies for fighting animal cruelty. Since 2005, he has received significant training and animal-related certifications, including more recently, the Animal Investigations Law certification from the Humane Society of the United States; Gang Training from the Texas Office of the Attorney General; and the Equine Investigations Academy Level II certification from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

JAIME OLIN is one of eight attorneys in the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department, which provides legal support to law enforcement and prosecutors in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases across the country; works to win greater legal protections for animals through its civil litigation program; and serves as legislative counsel to the ASPCA’s Government Relations team. In her role as Legal Advocacy Counsel, Jaime has assisted prosecutors in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin on cases involving dog fighting, cockfighting, puppy mills, and rescue-hoarders. Prior to joining the ASPCA, Jaime worked for nine years as a civil litigator, practicing in state and federal court. Jaime graduated from New College of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Tufts University with a master’s degree in Animals and Public Policy, and the University of Michigan Law School. She lives in Dallas, and she’s licensed to practice law in both California and Texas.

CLAIRE SCHWARZ is a seasoned Dallas attorney providing general counsel representation for the nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations that make our communities better places to live and work. Non-profit corporations need legal counsel for the same employment, contract and real estate issues that corporations face, but too many assume they can’t afford the depth of legal experience they really need. Eight years ago, Claire Schwarz resolved to concentrate her legal practice in to the probate matters and legal issues unique to philanthropic organizations. Recognizing that not-for-profits have limited funds for legal services, Claire Schwarz made high-quality representation attainable with sacrificial billing rates.She developed a collaborative practice style, helping clients like SPCA of Texas and Goodwill contain legal costs by sourcing qualified attorneys to work under her supervision at pro bono or reduced rates.

MARK WALTERS is Senior Counsel at Jackson Walker in Austin, Texas. Mark has had two lives as a lawyer. He spent 15 years as a trial lawyer and litigator defending catastrophic personal injuries, class actions, and other complex tort and business cases nationwide. These included jury and bench trials in state and federal court and state and federal appeals, with a focus on drug and medical device litigation and insurance class actions. In 2009, Mark left Jackson Walker and the private practice of law for public service, joining the Environmental Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office. For nearly six years, he represented the State of Texas and its agencies, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Texas General Land Office, the Public Utility Commission, the Railroad Commission, and the Department of Transportation. Mark returned to the litigation team at Jackson Walker in 2015, but still counts his colleagues at the Attorney General’s office and his state-agency clients among his closest friends. His broad practice includes animal law.