40 under 40 – Judge Finn named one of the top lawyers in the state by Texas Lawyer
Dallas County Criminal Court No. 10
09/10/2001, Texas Lawyer
David Finn grew up in a family of lawyers. Both parents and a brother and sister are lawyers. But Finn was sold on the idea of being a lawyer while still a pre-teen, when he sat through several days of Watergate hearings in Washington, D.C. His father was tending to other business, and Finn watched a piece of history unfold.
“It opened my eyes to the political arena,” Finn says, recalling the spectacle of microphones, cameras and reporters. “Flying back [home to Texas] I was set on being a lawyer and possibly at some point running for office.”
After getting a degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, Finn earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1991, and a master’s from the LBJ School of Public Affairs as part of a joint degree program. Finn signed with the Austin firm then known as Brown Maroney in its Dallas office. Involved in business litigation and insurance cases, usually on the defense side, Finn gained experience but wanted to get into court.
After two years there, Finn joined the Tarrant County DA’s office and got the trial experience he wanted. In 1995, Finn was hired by then-U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins to be a federal prosecutor. While there and handling numerous cases, Finn successfully prosecuted the district’s first federal “three-strikes” case – where repeat offenders could receive life terms – and landed two consecutive life sentences for a convicted armed robber.
Finn entered politics in 1998, successfully challenging incumbent Judge Marshall Gandy for Dallas County’s Criminal Court No. 10. Finn defeated Gandy in the Republican primary and faced no Democratic challenger.
One area where Finn has earned kudos is in the way he deals with those who are convicted of battering wives or girlfriends and are sentenced to counseling. He tells the men he will personally be there for the orientation sessions to make sure they attend or to issue an arrest warrant if they do not.
Finn says only 12 percent of those ordered to take the counseling were previously attending or signing up on a timely basis. He says that has now risen to 80 percent.
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