Officers and Council Members

The Animal Law Section Officers serve one-year terms. Elections are held at the section’s annual meeting in conjunction with the State Bar of Texas annual meeting in June. A nominating committee is formed and nominees are solicited approximately 60 days before the election. Anyone interested in running for office or a council member position may contact the Chair of the Animal Law Section.

Due to the 2020 Covid pandemic the Animal Law section is making adjustments and elections have been delayed

There are eight council members who serve two-year terms. The council is the governing body of the section.

Officers 2019-2020

Chair-Eric Torberson
Vice Chair-Open
Secretary-Fran Ortiz
Treasurer-Kelle Jones

Council Members 2018-2020

Place 1 Lara Tomlin
Place 2 Ashley Morgan
Place 3 Richard Thompson
The Woodlands
Place 4 Gina Joaquin

Council Members 2019-2021

Place 5 Open
Place 6 Open
San Antonio
Place 7 Amy Ganci
Place 8 Cynthia Smiley


Board Advisor Kathryn Murphy 05/31/2020
Board Advisor Kate Bihm 2020-2021
Board Advisor Emily Miller 2020-2021
Alt Board Advisor Yolanda Cortes Mares 05/31/2020




Chair Eric Torberson

Personal injury and criminal defense lawyer Eric TorbersonERIC TORBERSON is a private practice personal injury and criminal defense attorney in the Austin area. He began developing a passion for animal law several years ago beginning mainly in defending dogs in dangerous dog hearings. His practice then expanded into filing lawsuits for ownership rights and personal injury litigation involving animals on the plaintiff and defense side. Eric believes animals deserve due process in court. Many times courts make a life or death decision based on little evidence. Eric received the Animal Advocacy Award for the Animal Law section of the State Bar of Texas in 2018. Eric graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2001. For more about Eric visit

Vice Chair Open

Secretary Fran Ortiz

Treasurer Kelle Jones



LARA TOMLIN is an assistant district attorney in Denton County, Texas. She has been with the office since 2010, works in the appellate division, and handles animal-related cases, including all the seizure hearings for cruelly treated animals. Lara is board certified in Criminal Appellate Law. She graduated from the University of North Texas with her bachelor’s degree, and from Texas Tech University School of Law with her juris doctor. She is a former director and former chairman of the board of directors for the Denton Animal Support Foundation, an organization that supports the Denton Animal Shelter and raised funds for the Linda McNatt Animal Adoption Center. She lives with her two rescue dogs, four hens, barn cat, human children, and partner Daniel.

Cynthia Smiley

Gina Joaquin

Amy Ganci

Ashley Morgan

Richard Thompson