Richard Burr is the veteran Houston attorney who devoted his intellect and emotions to fighting the death penalty long before Governor George Bush's run for president made the issue a hot-button topic with the national media. Burr started his career as a public defender in Florida and became director of the Capital Punishment Project of the NAACP. After moving to Houston, Burr joined the defense team for accused killer Gary Graham in 1993 and waged a determined, if unsuccessful, fight that ended with the recent execution of the man later known as Shaka Sankofa. Burr served as litigation director for the Texas Resource Center, a clearinghouse agency that secures representation for death row inmates, until leaving in 1995 to represent Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh. After the resource center died for lack of funding, Burr and his wife, Mandy Welch, organized the Texas Defenders Service, which carries on the mission to represent death row prisoners. Houston attorney Mike Charlton, a death penalty opponent recently named attorney of the year by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, offers this tribute to Burr: "Absolutely the smartest lawyer I know. His thought processes and ideas [in capital cases] carry more weight than any other lawyer in the state of Texas."