Interview with George Parnham

Video 1 of Interview with George Parnham

Video 2 of Interview with George Parnham

Video 3 of Interview with George Parnham

George Parnham is a criminal defense lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. He has been representing clients in capital cases since 1970 and in 2001 he was retained to represent Andrea Yates as she went on trial for the murder of her five children. As a result of his work in that case, Parnham has worked with the Yates Children Memorial Foundation to spread awareness of the dangers of postpartum mental illness. As of 2011, he and the Yates Foundation have brought case to the Texas Legislature, on three separate occasions, to change the way the mental illness is addressed throughout the judicial process. In Tape 1, Parnham talks of his early life studying in a Catholic seminary, working as a salesman in New Orleans, serving in the Army from 1963-64, and receiving his law degree in 1970. He describes his forty-two year career representing clients from all professions and walks of life as their criminal defense. Throughout the interview he talks about his mindset as a defense attorney, as well as his experience defending Andrea Yates as she faced the death penalty during her first trial. In Tape 2, Parnham picks up in 2006 with his defense of Yates during her second trial for the 2001 murder of her children. He gives anecdotes that illustrate the mental state of Yates and speaks about her history with mental illness and what that meant for his defense. Parnham also gives insights to the use of media in defending a high profile, capital case, what the Yates Foundation is doing to help mothers suffering from postpartum depression get help, and the process of selecting a “death-qualified jury.” In Tape 3, Parnham continues discussing the Yates’ trial, the difference in the way the trial may have proceeded if it had been held in Austin rather than Houston. He segues into a discussion about mental illness in the judicial process and the emotional impact a case like Yates’ has on all involved – from attorneys to media reps. This interview took place on June 28, 2011, at the office of George Parham in Houston, Texas.

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