The Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney is a small, independent state agency that represents the people of Texas before the state’s highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals. The current staff includes The State Prosecuting Attorney and two assistants.
Stacey M. Soule
The Court of Criminal Appeals appointed Stacey as State Prosecuting Attorney in December 2016, after having served as an Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney.
Stacey is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2001. She began her career in the Post conviction Litigation Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office. In 2003, she joined the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' central staff, where she handled Article 11.07 post conviction writs of habeas corpus, as well as original writs and writs of mandamus and prohibition.
From September 2005 until October 2011, Stacey served as the permanent staff attorney to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' Judge Michael Keasler. In that capacity, she drafted proposed opinions in death penalty cases, petitions for discretionary review, and habeas corpus matters.
With Judge Keasler, Stacey co authored an article published in the Texas Bar Journal on admissibility of scientific evidence. Stacey M. Goldstein & Michael E. Keasler, Bad Science, Bad Law: Judging Science on Appeal in Texas Criminal Cases and Related Ethical Issues, 74 TEX. BAR JOURNAL, 568 73 (July 2011). And in April 2012, she authored an article on jury unanimity issues in Texas criminal cases. Stacey M. Goldstein, Jury Unanimity in Criminal Cases, 75 TEX. BAR JOURNAL, 300-01 (April 2012). From 2005 to 2011, she contributed to Judge Keasler's annual Southern Methodist University Law Review article titled: "Criminal Procedure: Confession, Search and Seizure."
As an Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney, Stacey has served as a presenter at the Texas Center for the Judiciary's Criminal Justice Conference, the University of Texas School of Law's Robert O. Dawson Conference on Criminal Appeals, and the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center's Traffic Safety Initiative Conference. She also written several continuing legal education papers on writs of habeas corpus and ethics. She also served on the Texas District and County Attorney's Publications Committee for three years.
Stacey served four terms as a board member on the Austin chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. On the weekends, Stacey and her husband enjoy participating in high performance driving events held at Texas' various racetracks, including Circuit of the Americas.
John R. Messinger
John hails from New Jersey, where he attended the New Jersey Institute of Technology. After earning a B.S. in Business and an M.S. in Business with a marketing concentration, John came to Texas to attend Baylor Law. After graduation, he joined the McLennan County District Attorney's office, where he handled all direct appeals as well as protective orders and other miscellaneous civil matters.
John has argued in front of the First, Sixth, and Tenth Courts of Appeals, as well as the Court of Criminal Appeals. He represented the State in a few notable cases, including Smith v. State, 286 S.W.3d 333 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009) (holding that a defendant is not entitled to a hearing on his motion for new trial for ineffective assistance unless he alleges facts that show reasonable grounds to believe that he could prevail under both prongs under Strickland), and Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010) (overruling Clewis).
Emily grew up in North Texas and obtained her bachelor's degree in English at Rice. She attended law school at the University of Texas and while in Austin, worked as a law clerk for the Travis County District Attorney's Office. After law school, she clerked for the Chief Justice of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston. In 2002, she joined the Collin County District Attorney's Office, where she served as an appellate prosecutor for fourteen years. She has written a number of articles for the Texas Prosecutor magazine and is board certified in Criminal Appellate Law. She is also active on the State Bar's Criminal Pattern Jury Charge Committee. She, her husband, and children enjoy traveling and sightseeing in Texas.
Former Appointed State Prosecuting Attorneys
Lisa C. McMinn
Lisa was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She earned a degree in Political Science from Baylor University and a law degree from Baylor Law School. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in Tarrant County for four years before moving to Austin to work for thirteen years as a staff attorney at the Court of Criminal Appeals. She became an Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney in 2005, and was appointed State Prosecuting Attorney in December of 2010. Lisa retired in December 2016.
Lisa is a member of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association where she has served on the Publications and Appellate Advisory Committees. She frequently speaks on criminal law topics around the state and was the Course Director for the 2014 State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course. She currently serves on the council of the State Bar Criminal Justice Section.
Lisa is a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels.
Jeff Van Horn
Jeff Van Horn was raised in Caldwell County, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in psychology in 1969. Van Horn received his J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1973. He was admitted to the Texas Bar that same year and, prior to his work as a prosecutor, was engaged in private practice in Jasper and Luling.
He served as Criminal District Attorney of Caldwell County from 1981 to 1990, after serving as Assistant District Attorney for Caldwell and Comal Counties and as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 2 of Caldwell County.
He has served as a Director of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Revise the Code of Criminal Procedure, and as President of the Caldwell County Bar Association. He was an organizer of the Caldwell County Crimestoppers program, an organizer of the Lockhart Against Drugs program, and the Director of the Hays-Blanco-Caldwell Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse.
Van Horn joined the office as an Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney in 1991 and was appointed as State Prosecuting Attorney in 2007 through his retirement in December 2010. That same year, he was honored by the Criminal Justice Division of the State Bar of Texas as the Texas Prosecutor of the Year.
Van Horn has had a number of notable successes while representing the State before the Court of Criminal Appeals. In Standefer v. State, 59 S.W.3d 177 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001), the Court clarified the law relating to the definition and propriety of commitment questions during voir dire examination, and in Hernandez v. State, 988 S.W.2d 770 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), the Court abandoned the Duffy standard in favor of the Strickland standard for evaluation of ineffective assistance of counsel claims at noncapital sentencing proceedings.
Van Horn led the successful effort in Ex parte Lewis, 219 S.W.3d 335 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007), to persuade the Court of Criminal Appeals to overrule its decision in Bauder v. State, 921 S.W.2d 696 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996). He was also instrumental in the Court's decision not to apply the Bauder principle to appellate reversals due to prosecutorial misconduct after full trial on the merits, in a pair of decisions, Ex parte Davis, 957 S.W.2d 9 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997), and Ex parte Mitchell, 977 S.W.2d 575 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). And in Ex parte Edone, 740 S.W.2d 446 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987), the Court of Criminal Appeals overruled its previous decision in Ex parte Port and held that the violation of a court order requiring a witness to answer before a grand jury constitutes contempt of court.
Van Horn died May 6, 2023, in San Marcos, Texas. See Jeffrey L. Van Horn's Obituary.
Matthew was born in Victoria, Texas in 1955. He grew up in Lubbock and later attended Abilene Christian University, where he earned his B.S. in biology. Before law school, Matthew spent 3 years in medical school, where he notably helped his father deliver babies in Africa.
Matthew Paul graduated first in his class from the University of Texas School of Law in 1985. While at the law school, he was awarded the Chancellors Award, and the Carrington, Coleman, Sloman and Blumenthal Academic Excellence Award. He was also a faculty member at the College of Advanced Judicial Studies from 1995-1997 and presented papers and lectures before the State Bar of Texas' Advance Criminal Law Course, the Elected Prosecutors' Course, the Prosecutors' Appellate Conference, the Career Prosecutor Course, and the Annual Conference sponsored by the Texas District & County Attorneys Association. In 2005, the Texas District & County Attorneys Association presented to Matthew the C. Chris Marshall Distinguished Faculty Award for outstanding contributions to the education of Texas prosecutors.
He was an Assistant County Attorney in Kerrville from 1985 to 1987. He was an Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney in 1987, and was appointed as the State Prosecuting Attorney in 1996.
Matthew Paul passed away in March 2007. See The Texas Prosecutor, Remembering Matthew Paul, May-June 2007.
- Robert Hattash, 1979-1996
- Jim Vollers, 1969-1977
- Leon Douglas, 1956-1969
- Wesley Dice, 1953-1954
- George Blackburn, 1950 – 1953
- Ernest Gorns, 1944-1949
- Spurgeon Bell, 1941-1943
- Lloyd Davidson, 1931-1940
- AA Dawson, 1927-1930
- Sam Stinson, 1926-1927
- Tom Garrard, 1924-1926