Parker County Today September 2017 - Page 31

our heroes: LEGAL EAGLES Deborah Kernan — The Formidable Advocate BY MARSHA BROWN and MISTY BROWNING K on a leisurely drive through Parker County. “I would tell someone pulled over what I would tell my own kids: nobody searches your car without a warrant. You don’t do anything, like a sobriety test, without a warrant. The more you say yes to, the more evidence they have. They have to get a warrant to even draw blood due to it being a search and seizure to do it. Most people don’t think that they have a choice, and they do. The best case to defend is one who hasn’t blown, given blood, or given a sobri- ety test.”  Kernan also knows the public misconceptions about attorneys and law enforcement being in cahoots with one another in a small town, and is quick to tell people to not always believe what you see on television, especially when it comes to Parker County.  The benefits of having a Parker County lawyer when a client’s case is in Parker County are endless, but Kernan says that it’s a great place to work for her because of the great people she works with on a daily basis. “It’s a benefit to know the ins and outs in Parker County, and everybody respects the job that each has to do. Very few people are offended at you for doing your job here. It’s nice.” A few years ago, Kernan made a run at a judge’s seat. She didn’t get it. She’s not disappointed, not in the least. “I’m where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “I believe I was always supposed to be an advocate. I enjoy fighting for my clients.” tougher here, than in Tarrant or Dallas Counties. It helps tremendous- ly if your attorney knows those things, knows her way around the judicial system here. Parker County is not a cakewalk. People tend to expect it to be. We [have] a small-town mental- ity, with very traditional values. We have a highly competent DA. As tough as they can be, they are equally as fair. “We [Parker County attorneys] know how things work here, and how to get things done. It helps to know who to call to know where the case is, which detectives have it, or to call the jail and ask if they can help with an issue. It is a great benefit to my clients,” she said. It also helps that her office is situ- ated across the street from the Sheriff Larry Fowler Law Enforcement Center (the jail). It’s convenient to be able to pop in and help a client who might be spending some time behind bars before the trial. Even though she loves practicing criminal law, there are still every day challenges she deals with. “The biggest challenge is having someone tell me that they are inno- cent, and having to prove that. Those are way harder than those who are guilty and don’t want to go to jail. Harder, but rare. There is a fine line in caring about the client and fighting for their case. Whether my client did it or not, the law enforcement and DA’s office are doing their job [and] it’s my job to hold them account- able.”  She also has great advice for all potential clients who might see the old red and blue lights in the mirror ernan is not native to Parker County, but she can’t imagine practicing law anywhere else. Born in San Antonio, Deborah Kernan began her career in law in 1993 as a crimi- nal prosecutor and left in 1997 to establish the Kernan Law Firm. “I’m a much better advocate than I was a prosecutor,” Kernan said. “My first job was at the DA’s office in Tarrant County, and I did that for three years. I started in misdemeanor, then I prosecuted in the juvenile court, then went to felony court, and in front of the grand jury, includ- ing capital murders, but no death penalty.” Kernan loves living and working in Parker County, even though there are fewer female attorneys than other counties. “I love Parker County, so I feel like I’m spoiled to be able to practice out here and make a living. It’s been home for a long time and [it’s] nice to practice in my hometown,” she said. With Parker County growing by leaps and bounds, trouble is when people who are new to Parker County are facing a legal issue, they’re inclined to turn to lawyers from their old stomping grounds. “Big mistake,” Kernan said. She’s adamant that if you have legal issues in Parker County it’s important to have a lawyer who has extensive experience practicing in Parker County, instead of going to neighboring Hood, Tarrant and Wise counties or — heaven forbid, Dallas. “We’re tough here in Parker County. The DA’s office is tough here and very different from Tarrant County,” Kernan said. “Juries are Deborah Kernan is a strong defense lawyer who is tougher than Parker County. 29