Law School Graduation Year: 2008
Current Employment Status: Community Prosecutor of South Dallas and Pleasant Grove Area
Undergraduate School: Texas Wesleyan University
Undergraduate Major: Government
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Status: Full-Time Day, formerly Part-Time Day
2/1/13 – Broken
I have been a prosecutor for the city of Dallas for three and half years. When I first became a prosecutor, I prosecuted traffic tickets. I later became the juvenile and domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Dallas. I always have tried to have a heart for those I affected. Sometimes you can forget that you are dealing with, at times, defendants who seem truly demented. So many times you are trying to reach out to those that are broken. However, you do come across defendants that are so broken mentally that they become cruel to others. I remember Dean Hurst telling me, “Hurt people hurt people.”
To be a good prosecutor, you have to wear the white hat. To be a good prosecutor, you have to care. Some prosecutors might just think of this job as a stepping stone. In the end, they do not care. They become cynical. Yet, a good prosecutor rises above the muck and mire.
Yes, you might not get paid your true worth. Yes, it is thankless at times. However, you have a choice to be the person in the white hat. You have to choice to have a righteous impact. You never worry about hustling after a dollar. Instead, you concern yourself with justice and liberty.
Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was a man concerned with justice for all man. His death makes me understand that there may be people who may want to stop what I am doing. I can never let fear stop me. In my job as a community prosecutor in South Dallas, I run into drug dealers all the time. I shut down one illegal club on average once a month. I try to improve the condition of tenants who are at the mercy of slumlords. I try to remove the fear from the hearts of senior citizens who have been living behind burglary bars. I know I must make people angry with my work, but I cannot dwell in fear. I must walk in liberty, justice, and hope. I love my job. I hope you follow your passion.
1/4/13 - Throughout time, we as human beings have possessed a desire to look back. People in the corporate environment who are successful are looking back and moving forward. I think about how many times I sat in Dean Hurst office and would just try to pick her brain on how to make all this work. She would always say, “Move forward and be proactive in all things.”
How do you view this year? Each of us must make a personal decision about answering this question. Do you have a desire to do more this year? Do you have a plan to do more? There are several reasons to make the climb up the mountain. First, we should always be in the business of improving. Second, you are leaving a legacy for those who will follow you. It is time that we celebrate our progress. This is a new year, a time to let our good works shine this year. Everything we do matters.
Let us not make resolutions, but steps towards greatness. Without this type of commitment we many times fail. Let us move forward in 2013.
12/14/12 - I hope that with all that has happened recently that we understand how precious life and the moments we have together can be. I think of my own children and wife, an elementary principal, and I held them a little tighter this weekend. We are living in a world that needs our prayers that love will conquer the hate that has filled hearts of so many. The tears that roll down our cheeks are evidence that we as a people will share in the burden of sorrow. Yet, we must also speak love and seek the best for all our brothers and sisters.
The shock and trauma of another senseless crime must stop. How many more times do we have to weep over such tragedy? How many more times will we not address mental health issues, gun and ammunition regulations, and Hollywood-produced graphic violence?
The truth is I never want to imagine a day without my kids and wife. The thought of it brings me to tears. I am the last one to go to sleep to make sure my home is safe. But I have to be inspired to make sure my neighbor is safe, my street is safe, my neighborhood is safe, my city is safe, my state is safe, my country is safe, and this world is safe. What we do will impact the rest of the world. My good works can make a difference.
Let us be inspired to love even those that we deem are not loveable. No matter how good our intentions, we will all make mistakes. We must make the effort to make a positive difference. That is why I became an attorney. Not simple for money or fame, but to create great positive change.
Let us never forget this moment. Let us keep in prayer these families. Obituaries should never be written for lives so young. Hold you family tight and do not take them for granted. May God bless and keep our nation in this season.
11/1/12 - Hats
Well, I am wearing a lot of hats lately. I am now a Pastor. I just started a church, Victory Baptist Church. Remember, I am a community prosecutor, husband, father, and blogger. I am wearing a lot of hats.
I am stressed but not defeated. I am stressed with trying to lose weight, but not defeated. When we get stressed we feel defeated. We feel overwhelmed and our thoughts begin to be negative. I am wearing theses “hats”, but I know that I can do this. To be honest, I am also thinking about going back to school and getting a seminary degree.
Too many times we get involved with experiences or people who take up your time and stress you out. I know law school and a legal career can be stressful. I am trying to find a place in my life where I can have a sanctuary of relaxation. I used to escape stress by eating, which in the end wasn’t good for me. Now I see I need to find healthy ways to escape stress. What do you do when you stress?
10/12/12 - Busy and Pressure
I have been very busy lately. I have started two crime watches in South Dallas and I have lobbied my boss for me to move my office to one of the worst crime areas in Dallas. My boss is worried that I could be endangering myself, but I believe that I can help change this area. I am also doing research into what dilapidated homes in my area should be torn down with owner consent. Many of these homes become “smokehouses” (A home that is occupied by drug users for the solely purpose to use drug at that location). I am also still dealing with the aftermath of the shooting what happened in Dixon circle.
I have also started a church. We opened our doors in August. We are located at 2011 N. Washington Ave, Dallas, TX. We have a good core group. We are having a preview service this Sunday. However, there is a lot of pressure being a new Pastor. I am still trying to be a good husband and father too. Life has become very busy.
With all of this, I am still struggling to lose weight. Pray for me. LOL
Yet, I love what I am doing. I may be busy, but I enjoy my life.
9/6/12 – DA’s Office
For the last eight weeks, I had the pleasure and opportunity to be first City of Dallas Assistant-City Attorney to have a cross designation with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office. I conducted two voir dires for the DA’s office and had two jury trials.
The DA’s office is different from the City Attorney’s office, yet both are committed and dedicated to excellence and making a positive change in the community. Because of my experience as a municipal prosecutor for two and half years, I was not nervous. However, the trials were more intense than I have experienced before. I had my first multi-day trial while being at the DA’s office.
Besides achieving more trial experience, I had a chance to learn and understand the County system. The County system includes everything from what cases over which they have jurisdiction, to the process of a case going from intake to trial. The tools that I gained from being at the DA’ office are immeasurable. I am grateful for my bosses for having confidence in me to be the first Community Prosecutor in this program. We all need to have experiences in which we can be pruned and grow. This not an easy program, yet it was necessary for me to grow in my profession.
7/13/12 - Waiting For Victory
There is a scripture that states the following:
“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
I know there are times in our life that we are just tired of waiting. We are tired of being patient. However, if you can wait, the victory that you will have will be great. Too many times we want the “microwave successes”. You know, you put a TV dinner in the microwave and two minutes later it is done. However, there is a big difference between microwave dinners and dinners that take all day to cook. The all-day dinners are more savory, can make the whole house smell inviting, and tend to be healthier.
I look back at what I thought I would be doing in my career and what I am truly doing in my life. I look back and I find myself having joy in being a Community Prosecutor for the city of Dallas. It has opened so many doors for me.
Wait on your victory – it will have impact upon your entire life. You will appreciate it more than you know.
6/8/12 – Birthday
Another birthday has passed for me. I took time and reflected on where my career is at this point in my life. I spent the last three years working for the City of Dallas, during which I have had different roles. One of these positions has been the Domestic Violence Prosecutor for the city. In this role, I would hear the tragic testimonies of many victims, how love has “left the building” in these marriages and anger and hate had entered in to fill the void. However, there were times when the victim would admit that the spouse had hit them, but nevertheless they wanted to drop the charges. You started to see the cycle of tragedy. I would say this was the most difficult job I have had for the city.
I have also been the Juvenile Prosecutor for the city. In this role, I heard parents and kids express frustration that they weren’t who they should be as people. We would try to find solutions to correct behavior. The truth is that you need so many resources to help change a child’s behavior. I just spoke to a gentleman yesterday that stated, “We need help.” But that help can’t solely come from the government. We need a mentality to have “all hands on deck”. We need you.
5/4/12 - Thank You
I am writing this blog entry to say thank you. I want to thank Dean Hurst and her staff for this opportunity. I want to thank Emily for her patience with me. I want to thank you for reading my posts. I hope that they encouraged you. I want to thank my wife and family for encouraging me to write about my thoughts. I want to thank my job for giving me the motivation to write about the need for hope.
Writing this blog has given me a lot of time to reflect. We are so busy at times we forget to slow down and smell the roses. When you look at life, it is not that bad. When you smell the roses, you can focus on the thorn or the beauty of the rose. With every rose there are thorns, but the thorns help you to truly hold and admire the rose. I am thankful for the roses in my life. Yes, sometimes I touched the thorns and feel pain, but that was only momentarily. The rose will last on its own until it wilts, but a good rose lays seeds to birth another season of roses. The blessing that you are experiencing will birth a new season of hope and growth. Take care and always stay hopeful.
4/13/12 - Your works
It is an honor to be an attorney. So many times I get pulled aside and asked, “Can you help me?” We forget that, as attorneys, it is not always about the salary. Many times we will also allow our position of power to breed arrogance. You can see this in law school students at times, and sometimes in the profession. The arrogance does not benefit anyone. Let us all live up to what our profession can bring to the hopeless. Let us walk humbly within our communities. Let us be a blessing to others with our work and life.
There is a scripture that states:
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Let us try to live by these words in the course of our work. I became an attorney to help my community. I wanted to be a social engineer to a broken community. I wanted to plant seeds of change that would one day bring forth fruits of hope. I can see the hopelessness in peoples’ eyes at times, and that is when I want to offer the hope that was given to me.
We as a profession must reach out to these hopeless people. Reaching out to our community requires a strong response. We must be proactive in our activities. In the end, it is an honor to be an attorney. Let us never forget that. There is a song that my father loves, it states:
“May the works I've done speak for me.
When I'm resting in my grave,
there's nothing more to be said;
may the works, the works I've done let it speak for me.
The works we have done,
sometimes it seems so small,
it seems like I've done nothing at all,
but they are worth something.
May the works I've done speak for me.”
What is your work saying for you?
3/23/12 – Reaching
How many of us have heard that sky is the limit? This statement is not true. We are the limit to our dreams. Too many times we say we want to become the best. But are we willing to make the sacrifice?
I have mentioned before how I am trying to lose weight. Well, last night I had a conversation with a friend who simply told me the truth, “What are you going to give up so that you can accomplish your dream?” They were not talking about my plan of action on how to lose weight. No, they were talking about my reality of action. I have a dream of being in shape, but in reality, I am not committed fully to losing weight. Some us sat in our seats and said, “I want an ‘A’,” but many of us did not commit and sacrifice our way to that grade. Many of us are in the legal field right now, and some of us choose the easy way instead of the path that is filled with hard work, but has the greatest reward.
What are we reaching towards? We let so many things stop us from being the best. We make excuses for why we have not tried, and sometimes justify where we are in life. I am not saying it is easy; I know it is hard. Yet, we can conquer this if we put all our energy into the task before us.
It is our time to become conquerors. Let us let go of the victim mentality and embrace our moment. We are in a new season, spring. So let us do the necessary “spring cleaning” to win this race of life.
2/24/12 - Enjoy the Season
When I was a child my grandmother made a quilt. I asked her, “Why does the quilt contain all of these patches?” She said, "The patches are the seasons in your life. Without the patches, you cannot have the quilt, and without the seasons, you cannot live a full life." That stayed with me.
Each area of life has these seasons, I believe. The art of great living has to do with having an understanding of the seasons of your life and the purpose for each season. The season can be truly enjoyable or miserable, but we have to align equally our attitude.
Our attitudes shape our words, which shape our actions. Those actions become habits that form our character. Our character determines our destiny—a destiny that can be filled with blessings or curses, based on our choices. - a proverb
If we embrace our seasons, we can find joy. Too many times we fall victim to the attitude of despair. We have to continue planting, watering, fertilizing, and harvesting. What we do will bear fruit. What we do in this life is not for nothing. To everything there is a season and a purpose. As we accept this truth and learn to embrace where we are, we grow in grace and truly can walk in excellence. Thrive in your moment, rejoice in your season, and love those who are around you during this time. Embrace your season and grow in your purpose.
2/3/12 - Halftime
Hello all! Well, today I wanted to discuss “halftime.” Clint Eastwood just did a commercial in which he states that it is halftime in America. Halftime is an intermission between halves of a game or contest.
Well, I believe many of us are at a halftime in life. This moment is a brief pause to collect ourselves for the journey ahead. You may be far behind, maybe it’s looking like you are getting blown out and destroyed in this game of life. What you did in the first two quarters more than likely will not win you the game. What you do now, as you step back on the field of life, will take you to victory. You may say to yourself, “I have a big lead, so now I can coast the rest of the way.” That would be nice, but that is not life. Life will fight with you until you get knocked down. You will have to prepare yourself for the fight, for the journey. You will have to position yourself for the victory.
The halftime that you are in now gives you a moment to look back clearly in hindsight, to figure out what isn’t working for you. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Let us stop the insane plays; too many times we look like the Dallas Cowboys, LOL. Let us start developing the plays of life that are successful. Let us not waste the moment. This is our time. Whatever you are struggling with, do not give in to your issues. Victory is ours.
1/13/12 - Do Not Depend on Luck
I hope all is well. Well, I lost eight pounds so far. Hurrah! However, I had a physical that led to me having a sleep study. I found out Monday I have severe sleep apnea. Later that day, the truck that I have had for ten years died. RIP. Many would say that I had an unlucky Monday. I really do not believe in luck. I think opportunity is met with preparation or the lack thereof. I also believe that there are blessings that can overcome our lack of preparation.
When looking at opportunity, you can truly be unprepared for the open door. Yet, I guess I look at all situations as an open door. Take for instance my sleep apnea - I can say “poor little me” or seek a solution to my condition. I can look at this situation as an open door to improve my health. I have to play with the cards I am dealt. You simply do not win at poker with so-called luck. No, you need the right strategy, attitude, and hope. What are your strategy, attitude, and hope for your life?
Some of you law students just got your grades back, and you do not know if you are going to make it through law school. Let me tell you, this is not the time to give in to the pressure. Maybe you took the exam and hoped you would get lucky. Now you know you have to prepare. Now you know you might have to change your strategy and attitude towards law school. Now is the time for your greatness. Now is time for you to succeed. So please prepare for your moment.
For some of us who are alumni, staff, and etc., the holiday season may have been bleak and depressing. You may have received some bad news. Now is your time to rest on your blessings and walk in your hope. We may sink down in the sea of despair, but we all need to know that weeping may last a night, but joy comes in the morning. We all have a morning that is coming soon, so stay hopeful. I may have had a tough Monday, but I will have a great year - that is my choice and not my luck.
12/14/11 - Looking Forward
As 2011 closes, I think about what a year it has been for me. New job, new son, and new challenges all waited for me in 2011. So what about a new year? I have always felt a new year can be a new dawn.
I had a trainer and tried to lose weight. In 3 months I lost 6 pounds. I blame myself for such a low figure, but I have to make changes. My new job is kicking my butt, but I have to make changes. Trying to balance family, work and life has become so hard, but I have to make changes.
So what are these changes going to look like? Well, I am simply going to look forward. When we look back, we sometimes look at our past in the negative. We can always talk about how many times we fell down. I believe 2012 is a time where we can learn how to get up and walk strong. 2012 will be a year that I master my job, balance my life, and finally lose some substantial weight. This will not happen overnight, but by the end of the year I will conquer these things.
What do you hope to do in 2012?
11/22/11 - Thanks
This is always the time of year to say “thanks.” I look at 2011 and say, “What a tough year.” In my family there has been a lot of change. We now have a 19-month old and a 7-month old. When my wife was pregnant with our 7-month old, she could not walk. She was totally bedridden. She sat in the same place from February 5th to the end of March. It was such a hard, discouraging time for her. She also could not go to work, so our two incomes went down to one. We had to use our savings to help pay the bills. There were other situations throughout the year that have made these 12 months tough.
Yet, throughout this year, I learned that even when you fall on your knees, you still have the ability to get up. Even when you cannot walk, you can get up because there are people who are there willing to help you. I am thankful that today my wife can walk, but I am also thankful for the process of maturing even more. I became a better dad - I had to get up in the middle of the night and change diapers, soothe children back to sleep, and do whatever else my wife was doing prior to not walking. Do not let the tough times in life become wasted lessons; let them become a time of pruning so that later you can grow. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
11/4/11 - Time
Well, I have been at my new job for about two weeks now. I like it, but I realized something last Saturday. No matter what we do, we must make time for family. Last Saturday, I was running errands for the wife and I ran into a friend from law school. The person is very successful in their area of law. This person’s car is a top luxury brand. However, what I did not see was a wedding band any longer or the same spouse I had met in law school. The person was divorced.
As we go into law school and our legal careers, let us be careful to protect the relationships that help keep us sane. We can easily spend more time with people in our law school class or at work than with family. However, we cannot neglect these relationships. We all have to find a balance. You cannot spend your entire day doing one thing or you might go crazy. I remember in law school telling my girlfriend, who is my now wife, “You do not understand.” This was a true statement, but I still needed to give her time. I have two small children, and my greatest fear is that they will say that Daddy was never home. I know our jobs are demanding, but we must have balance. We must also make the time we have with our loved ones special, purposeful, and caring. I hope we do not lose the one who is closest to our heart as we climb this mountain.
See you all next time…
10/14/11 - Leaving and Starting
Well, today is my last day with the Prosecution Division of the City of Dallas. I am moving on to Community Prosecution. I will be the Community Prosecutor of South Dallas and Pleasant Grove area.
It is bittersweet to leave. I have been with the Prosecution Division for two years. I have grown as attorney and as a man. This job made me become a better listener, counselor, and advocate. I have a great boss that truly became a mentor to me. I have so many reasons why I will miss my old job.
I am nervous about leaving and starting a new job. However, we all get nervous when we leave a place of comfort. It is how we respond that will determine how far we go in this career. There is a speech on YouTube that asks, “Who am I?” and the response is, “I am a champion.” That is good question to ask as you start something new, or when you are in a moment of adversity - “Who are you?” My hope in this new job is that I am a servant to the people. My hope in this moment of change is that I can be a social engineer in a broken community. I have learned this in the last two years: do not be afraid of failure. We need to embrace the moments that are like a genesis in our life and run full steam ahead.
Until next time…
9/23/11 - Hello all! Since we last talked, I have lost 4 pounds. I am exercising at least three times a week. I still need to work on my eating habits. It is hard to pass up a good burger, LOL. When you're in law school, you tend to forget to take care of yourself physically. You have so much on your mind that you can get caught in a bubble. We all need to spend some time outside that bubble. If you don’t take that time to relax, your bubble could burst under all that stress.
The second thing that has happened is that I have a new job. I am working for the City of Dallas as a community prosecutor. A community prosecutor tries to proactively improve public safety and the quality of life within the city. As a community prosecutor, you are the point person in engaging the community in identifying and solving nuisance-related and criminal problems that are plaguing that neighborhood. So this is a big promotion... just please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
I will see you next time.
9/2/11 - Making a Commitment to Change
Hello, everyone. Many of you who read this blog are thinking about going to law school, are in law school, or are graduates of law school. The law school experience unites the participants through common experiences. The greatest thing we have in common is the need to find a stress release. My stress release in law school was, quite simply, food. During my time in law school, I gained a large amount of weight. I ate Domino’s Pizza for lunch anytime any organization was having a meeting. I lived in Dallas and took the train or drove to school each day. Therefore, every day I ate on the train or in my truck. I truly used food as a crutch to deal with the stress of law school, the bar, trying find a job, etc.
Well, today I have decided to let go of my crutch and finally walk a healthy life. I look at my wife and my two small kids and think, “I have lose this weight.” I never want my family to bury me just because of my weight. You see being an attorney as such a legacy maker. When you become a lawyer, you are helping to create a legacy for future generations. But being heavy also is a legacy maker. I do not want to teach my kids about my crutch – FOOD. I want my children to learn from me a lifestyle that is healthy and rewarding.
Well, I have a trainer to help on this journey. I hope I do not pass out somewhere, LOL. Thanks for reading…
8/24/11 - Hello all, my name is Mark J. Murrell. I am a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. At Texas Wesleyan Law, I was the president of the Black Law Student Association and a part of our mock-trial traveling team. I also worked as a student attorney in Texas Wesleyan’s law clinic.
I am currently employed as an assistant-city attorney for the City of Dallas. Currently, I am the lead domestic violence & juvenile prosecutor. Through our juvenile court system, I use new approaches (along with the standard monetary fine) in an attempt to help juveniles see the potential within themselves, should they chose to follow path of being contributors to society.
Besides being an attorney, I am a husband and father to two beautiful children, whom are a year and a day a part in age (too much love in the house, LOL). I am also a Youth Pastor at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in South Dallas.
Well, I will see you all soon…