Dear Voters of Shelby County,
November 25, 2019 - It has been an honor and a privilege to represent and serve my community for the last 35 months as the Republican 123rd Judicial District Attorney of Shelby County. I have worked very hard to offer tough – but fair and ethical – representation of the State of Texas in Shelby County. We have accomplished a lot, but there is still so much left to do. As such, I am announcing my intent to seek re-election to the office of District Attorney.
Every case that I handle in Shelby County, no matter how big or how small, is extremely important to me. During the past 35 months, I have secured prison time for dozens upon dozens of drug dealers, serial burglars, home invaders, child abusers, and habitual criminals. It has on occasion been a surprise to me to discover numerous individuals with decades-long RAP sheets with no (or few) criminal convictions, who continue to commit crimes in Shelby County. I have put a stop to them and sent them away.
When I came into office, I inherited a significant backlog of cases – well in excess of 1,000 files. With the hard work of my office, the District Clerk’s office, and the District Judges’ offices, we rolled up our sleeves and have worked through the majority of those cases. For a while, Shelby County had two separate grand juries that were working at the same time; there have been several months where 70-100+ cases were reviewed by grand juries in Shelby County in a single month. At the same time, however, we worked on current cases as we went, so that the new cases did not languish in the “waiting for grand jury” filing cabinet. As a result, I am confident that in the next few months, we will be completely caught up. Now, as a general rule, cases go to grand jury within 30 days of being brought to my office (or 30 days from when lab results come in).
I have spent considerable time and energy addressing the trafficking of illegal narcotics in Shelby County. Shelby County has had the reputation over the past several decades as being a safe-haven for that sort of illegal activity. In the past 35 months we have made a huge dent in this perception. Shelby County’s reputation is beginning to change. But we still have much to do.
My plan is simple. If you sell drugs, you go to prison. We have been steadily removing those individuals from Shelby County over the past 35 months. If you suffer from substance abuse or addiction, we will help you, so long as you are willing to help yourself. Working with our Probation Department, Judges, and local defense attorney, Deck Jones, we have maintained a hugely successful local intensive program for probationers with substance abuse issues – the Shelby County Drug Court Program. The Drug Court program provides counseling and support for those individuals allowed in the program that are seeking sobriety. The program is largely self-sufficient, not relying on tax dollars to support it. It is something of which we should be very proud.
In addition to handling all felony prosecutions in Shelby County, I also handle all matters involving children who have broken the law. I also seek and obtain protective orders for victims of certain crimes in Shelby County. I handle a great number of the mental health cases in Shelby County. Finally, several months ago, I was asked by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to take over the representation of that agency in cases where children have been removed from their family because of abuse or neglect.
As a dad as well as the DA, the safety and welfare of our children is of the highest importance to me. For that reason, I have worked very closely with the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center. I proudly serve on the board of the SCCAC; in addition, I have assisted the Center in developing current protocols and worked to improve all aspects of its functioning. Through the hard work of many people, we have seen the SCCAC develop into one of the premiere child advocacy centers in the State of Texas over the last several years.
Further, I fully support our law enforcement officers in Shelby County, consistent with the rights of our citizenry. I am here for each and every officer – from our Police Departments, to the Sheriff’s Office, to our Constables, to our DPS Troopers, to our School Resource Officers. I prosecute their cases, and I am available 24-7 to advise them when need be.
As the District Attorney I have to carefully pick and prioritize the cases for which I invest our county’s limited resources. The law requires that the trial of individuals remaining in jail have priority over others. Also, relying on the advice of our law enforcement officers, I have targeted individuals who pose a present threat (or a continued danger) to our citizens, or who are a constant problem in our community, and those individuals have been dealt with. Because of this, there remain a few cases that have yet to be tried. Each and every one of them is important to me. In the coming weeks and months, we will be bringing those cases to a conclusion.
Other goals that I intend to pursue or continue in a second term would include:
• Continue to strengthen the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center—continue to shorten the time from initial outcry of the child to trial; continue to improve the investigative and trial techniques in these cases; and to become more proactive by forming an “ICAC” (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force to hunt down predators before they can hurt a child.
• Continue working with Juvenile Probation Officers Veronica Berry and Tracy Bolton (and local school officials) to identify children at risk of becoming delinquent and intervening in their situation before they actually commit an offense.
• Working with our Probation Department, local churches, and other interested groups to implement a felon retraining program to assist individuals who, after being released from prison, can receive education and training so that they may become productive citizens of Shelby County.
• Increase and expand the effort exerted in the deterrence, investigation, and prosecution of the trafficking of illegal narcotics—prison for dealers, help for addicts who want to help themselves.
• Continue to upgrade law enforcement’s technology.
• Prepare for the eventual onslaught of the Opioid Crisis, which has not truly manifested itself here in Shelby County yet.
• Increase and expand the effort exerted in the deterrence, investigation, and prosecution of the trafficking of persons in Shelby County – an ugly but largely unknown quantity in our community.
• Focus on several “cold cases” that remain unsolved. With some additional work, we can bring several of them to a conclusion and get closure for the families of the victims.
In conclusion, I look forward to serving the citizens of Shelby County as the 123rd Judicial District Attorney for four more years. I have the strength, energy, and temperament for the job. I promise to continue to work as hard as I can; I promise to provide tough, but fair and ethical, prosecution of felony criminal cases and representation of the State of Texas; I promise to continue to support our law enforcement officers, who risk their lives on a daily basis. Finally, above all, I promise to always remember that I serve the people of Shelby County, to always ask for wisdom and guidance from the Lord above, and to always seek justice in all the matters that come to my desk.