The Ellis County Courts building was the site of the second annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, sponsored by the Ellis County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Local defense attorneys, judges, local officials as well as residents joined in unison as they read aloud from the document in its entirety.

Defense attorney Julissa Martinez said what they, as defense lawyers, do everyday is to promote justice and fairness for everybody, which she added is the foundation of the Declaration of Independence.

“We are defenders of the Constitution,” Martinez said. “With us today are two who served time in prison for crimes they did not commit. Having them with us is only telling of how the documents our forefathers drafted years ago are still alive and well more than 200 years later.”

Martinez said this is a fight they continue to have in the courts and they continue to see the fruits of their hard work.

“This job is not an easy job,” she expressed. “Sometimes I have sleepless nights, but I wake up rejuvenated because of people like Christopher (Scott), Johnnie (Lindsay) and the defense attorneys that serve here in our county.”

Scott, who resides in Dallas, said today holds a very special meaning to him.

“I didn't know they celebrated like this down here in Waxahachie,” Scott said. “I'm thankful to say that I'm a free man today and I'm able to be here for this celebration.”

Due to his unfortunate incarceration, Scott began a nonprofit organization to help other men who have been wrongly accused. He said it's his desire to see those men become free just as he is today.

“Every day that I spent in prison was a struggle,” he said. “I wish that on nobody.”

His organization, which is called House of Renewed Hope, is used to investigate cases and see that men are exonerated for crimes they weren't guilty of.

“We go into the prisons and investigate the cases, right down to the witnesses who played a role in seeing that these men were put into prison,” Scott said

He said he grew up with great parents and had a very fulfilling childhood, and never thought anything like that would have happened to him. However, he said he doesn't spend my time wallowing in self-pity, but puts all of his energy into helping see that others are set free.

Lindsay, who lives in Dallas, spent 26 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He said he never thought he would be a part of an event like today.

“The people here have been overwhelmingly nice,” Lindsay said. “That is why I spend my time now fighting for the freedom of others, without documents like the Constitution and the Declaration I would not be able to be here today. I am truly grateful for this moment in my life.”

At the end of the reading Martinez pointed a particular section of the Declaration.

“I'm not sure if y'all could understand the last line of the Declaration,” she said. “It reads 'And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance and protection of divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortune and our sacred honor.' It is good to be an American and it's good to have the privileges that we have in our country.”

Martinez said she is glad to be free and proud to be an American. She said if it hadn't been for her mother fighting her way to become a naturalized American citizen in the 1980s, she wouldn't be here today.

Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@waxahachietx.com.