Russell Wilson II
Attorney Russell Wilson, II, began his legal career in Dallas after graduating with honors from the University Of Oklahoma College Of Law. He formed his own practice, with a focus on both civil and criminal matters. His early professional goals were to meet the needs of the average member of the community and provide top-notch legal representation to an underserved clientele. While he began as a generalist, his success in criminal cases soon became apparent. Russell was most serious about his mission to help people. He knew that clients facing criminal matters could suffer dire consequences without savvy and knowledgeable representation. Investigative aspects of his legal representation intrigue to him. Often, infractions and procedural mistakes are made by the prosecution: without a thorough and aggressive defense, defendants can easily become another statistic.
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In 2003, Russell became Board Certified in Criminal Law, a distinction received after additional training – an honor few attorneys receive. During the course of his sixteen year practice, Russell successfully argued a variety of State and Federal cases at the trial and appellate levels.
After building a highly successful private practice, in 2011 Russell was handpicked by the Dallas District Attorney (DA) to direct Dallas’ Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), the first of its kind in the country. The DA became aware of Russell’s reputation for proficiency and integrity within the legal community and knew it was important to continue the CIU work with an attorney who is an independent thinker and has the courage to question previous practices and outcomes. His vast experience in appellate and trial court procedures proved immeasurable in his new position which enabled him to provide an independent and unbiased review of the numerous cases pending against the city.
His work directing the CIU marked the most rewarding period of Russell’s career. He seized the opportunity to give back to the community on a larger scale. The work at the CIU not only had the potential to change lives of individuals cleared of wrongful convictions, the unit also provided an opportunity to repair the relationship between the city’s justice department and the community. Because of the work surrounding wrongful convictions, there is universal DNA testing and landmark change in eye-witness identifications. Russell believes it’s powerful when an organization can admit when it’s wrong. With Russell’s leadership, the CIU department acknowledged missteps and actively corrected mistakes thereby strengthening community relations. Although Russell faced many prosecutors and state and federal investigators in his private practice, his service on the prosecutorial side of the law was an eye-opening experience. He gained invaluable knowledge, nuances and practices revealed only after you join the prosecutions’ team. He is now able to utilize these experiences for his clients’ benefit in private practice.
Russell demonstrated additional leadership during his tenure at the DA’s office as he jointly managed a 500 person department and spearheaded the successful exoneration of 13 men. The Dallas CIU was responsible for the highest number of exonerations in the country in 2011 and 2012. Russell was also in charge of civil rights prosecutions against police officers, contempt charges against prosecutors, review of police actions and misconduct. Subsequently, under Russell’s direction, a Civil Rights Unit was established at the DA’s office, which implemented several policies to ensure accuracy in criminal convictions. Additionally, his work at the CIU led him to work with the Innocence Project and consult with other state agencies and nonprofits furthering his skills and experience to successfully review and manage wrongful conviction cases. His time at the DA also propelled his community relations work between the community and law enforcement; with an emphasis on justice and civil rights education as well as promoting citizens’ critical awareness to prevent injustices in all its forms.
After his service at the DA’s office, Russell returned to private practice where he continues to work on a variety of civil and criminal cases. In addition to his legal practice and community work, Russell also serves as an adjunct professor of law at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law where he teaches a course on ethics. Additionally, Russell Wilson holds several board positions and is a frequent guest speaker on criminal law topics; community policing; and the importance of higher education. He is a resource to fellow attorneys, legal associations and Dallas area community groups.
Today, Russell sees his life’s work in the law as a steward of justice for individuals facing all types of legal matters. His goal for each client and case is to provide the most vigorous defense possible and level the playing field against a justice system that often values expediency over accuracy. Russell conveys to clients, young people and community members how one wrong mistake can lead to a lifetime of regret. He believes in an educated citizenry, stressing citizens must know their rights and have a basic understanding of the law: one’s life and continued freedom could depend on it. More importantly, Russell emphasizes the importance of obtaining effective counsel as soon as possible, especially in criminal matters, as the stakes are high. Extensive knowledge in an area of law and your counsel’s ability to navigate all phases of a case could be the difference between winning and losing or even your freedom.
- Bar Admissions
- Professional Associations
- Professional Accomplishments
- Academic Assignments
- J.D. – 1995
- Order of Barristers – 1995
- Law Review: American Indian Law Review, Articles Editor, 1994 – 1995
University Of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
- B.A. – 1992
- Texas, 1995
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
- Board Certified in Criminal Law, State Bar of Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 2003
- Texas Association of District and Criminal County Attorneys 2011-Present
- Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers, Board of Directors, 2005 -2011
- State Bar of Texas, Vice-Chair, District 6A Grievance Committee, 2004
- J.L. Turner Criminal Law Section, Chair, 2004 – 2006
- State Bar of Texas, Member, District 6A Grievance Committee, 2000 – 2004
- J.L. Turner Legal Association, Member, 1995 – Present
- Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Member, 2000 – 2011
- Dallas County Criminal Defense lawyers Association, Member, 2000 – 2011
- Dallas Bar Association, Member, 2001 – Present
- William “Mac” Taylor Inn of Court, Member, 2003 – Present
- Patrick E. Higginbotham Inn of Court, Barrister, 2006 – 2009
- Speaker, Advance Trial Seminar – Tyler, Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), 2007
- Speaker, Advance Trial Seminar – Abilene, Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), 2008
- Speaker, Rusty Duncan Seminar – San Antonio, Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), 2008, 2009
- Speaker, Advance Trial Seminar – Padre Island, Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), 2008
- Speaker, Criminal Defense Trial Skills and Trial Law College – Plano, Texas, 2008, 2009, 2010
- Speaker, Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyers “All that Jazz Seminar” 2009
- Speaker, Dallas Black Criminal Defense Lawyers 2009, 2010
- Guest Commentator, Inside Texas Politics, “ Don Hill Trial”
- Course Director, Cross-Examination Seminar TCDLA 2011
- Speaker, State Bar of Texas Summer School 2011
- Speaker, State Bar of Texas, Advanced Criminal Law 2012, “Ethics for the Prosecution and Defense”
- Speaker, Dallas Bar Association, Appellate Section ‘Ethics for Appellate Lawyers”, 2011
- Speaker, Dallas Bar Association, Government Section 2012
- Speaker, Center for American and International Law, Conviction Integrity Unit Update, 2012
- Speaker, Crimes Against Children Conference, “Catching the North Dallas Rapist”, 2012
- Speaker, Establishing Innocence or Guilt Seminar “Causes of and Solutions to Wrongful Convictions”, 2013
- Speaker, Garland Independent School District, “Career Exploration Day”, 2013
- Speaker, State and Local Government Law Midyear Meeting, 2013
- Speaker, American Bar Association, Indigent Defense Summit, 2013
- Speaker, Wake Forest University – Innocence and Justice Clinic, 2013
- Speaker, Crimes Against Women Conference, 2013, 2014
- Speaker, Baltimore Law School, 2013
- Speaker, ABA Conference on Ethics, San Antonio, 2013
- Speaker, Criminal Law at the Crossroads, USC, 2013
- Speaker, Journalism Conference, San Antonio, 2013
- Speaker, Crimes Against Children Conference, 2013
- Speaker, Actual Innocence – The Center of American & International Law Seminar, 2013
- Speaker, Cape Cod Conference, Boston, 2013
- Speaker, The 8th Annual Community Prosecution Summit, Philadelphia, 2013
- Seminar, North Texas Crime Commission, 2013
- Seminar, 4th Annual Legislative Mission, 2013
- Seminar, Texas District and County Attorney Association – Elected Prosecutor Conference, 2013
- Speaker 2014, Dallas Bar Association Criminal Law Section, MMA CLE
- Speaker 2014, J.L. Turner Criminal Law Section, MMA CLE
- Speaker 2014, Center for American and International Law, Actual Innocence CLE
- Speaker 2014, Dallas District Attorney, Law Summit
- Speaker 2014, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, CLE
- Speaker 2014, Richardson Police Department, Michael Morton/Brady
- Speaker 2014, Crimes Against Children Conference
Special Fields Bureau Chief, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office- 2011 – 2014
Supervise the first ever Conviction Integrity Unit- duties include the review of cases where defendants claim of actual innocence, review cases for DNA testing, implement policies regarding criminal discovery. Personally supervised four (4) Non-DNA exonerations and (2) DNA exonerations. Personally prosecuted true offenders in four (5) exoneration related prosecutions. Oversaw numerous other writs that resulted in release of individuals from incarceration or penalities associated with convictions. Direct advisor to the elected District Attorney on a variety of legal issues addressed in the office. Third highest ranking position in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Criminal Jury Trials and Grand Jury Proceedings – 1995-Present
Worked as a criminal defense attorney and prosecutor successfully defended and prosecuted cases numerous cases in State Court and Federal Court. Has extensive experience in Federal Courts.
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law – 2013 – Present
Presently teaching an Ethics course, “Ethical Problems in the Practice of Law”.
Recipient of the 38th Annual Elite News Pearl C. Anderson Award 2013