The Appellate Division handles all post-conviction criminal matters for the Collin County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.  Its responsibilities include appeals in misdemeanor, felony, and death penalty cases, motions for rehearing, petitions for discretionary review, and state and some federal writs of habeas corpus in misdemeanor, felony, and death penalty cases.  The Appellate Division also handles petitions for expunction and nondisclosure.

Typically, the Appellate Division attorneys research the law and apply it to the facts in preparing written documents.  The greatest part of the work involves responses to documents prepared by the defense, but on occasion, the staff will initiate an appeal challenging the ruling of a trial court or a motion for rehearing and a petition for review challenging the decision of an appellate court.  The attorneys also prepare and present oral arguments before the state’s fifteen criminal appellate courts and, sometimes, in hearings before Collin County’s fifteen trial courts.  On a daily basis, the Appellate Division staff provides support to the sixty-plus trial attorneys of the Office both before and during trial. In addition, the staff prepares and presents continuing legal education programs both for the Office and for criminal law practitioners across the state.

Presently, five attorneys and two secretaries use computers, electronic research tools, and written materials to accomplish their tasks.  The staff frequently coordinates with the staffs of other appellate divisions around the state, the State Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Post-Conviction Litigation Division of the Attorney General’s Office, and various law enforcement agencies.  The attorneys are licensed to appear in all the state courts, the northern and eastern districts of Texas’s federal courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

John Rolater, Chief of the Appellate Division since 2007, received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989 and his Juris Doctorate from the Texas Tech University School of Law in 1994.  At Texas Tech, he was an editor of the Law Review and elected to the Order of the Coif.  He served for one year as briefing attorney to the Honorable Paul McCollum and the Honorable Ann Crawford McClure at the Eighth District Court of Appeals in El Paso. He then spent over eleven years at the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, serving three years as Deputy Chief of the Appellate Division.  Mr. Rolater has served as a legislative liaison for both the Collin and Dallas County Criminal District Attorneys.  He has also co-authored a book on confessions and taught continuing legal education courses for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, the Texas Center for the Judiciary, the State Bar of Texas, the Center for American and International Law, and UT-CLE.  In 2003, he was recognized as the Henry Wade Prosecutor of the Year by the Greater Dallas Crime Commission. In 2015, he was recognized as a Lone Star Prosecutor by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association as a member of the team who prosecuted Eric Williams. He is Board Certified in Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

John Rolater, Chief of the Appellate Division – Ext. 4715; jrolater@co.collin.tx.us

Andrea Westerfeld, Felony Prosecutor – Ext. 3652; awesterfeld@co.collin.tx.us

Libby Lange, Felony Prosecutor – Ext. 4373; llange@co.collin.tx.us

Amy Murphy, Felony Prosecutor – Ext. 4353; asmurphy@co.collin.tx.us

Lisa Smith, Felony Prosecutor – Ext. 4331; lsmith@co.collin.tx.us

Crissy Hinojosa, Legal Secretary II – Ext. 4750; chinojosa@co.collin.tx.us

Lara Jaramillo, Legal Secretary II – Ext. 3622; ljaramillo@co.collin.tx.us