The first black woman to serve as Dallas County District Attorney serves as grand Marshal of the Dallas Martin Luther King Day Parade Monday.
Former State District Judge Faith Johnson said she is proud to be an example of diversity and inclusion in her new position after many years of experience in the Dallas County Criminal Justice system.
Johnson, 66, was sworn in Jan. 2 after Gov. Greg Abbott appointed her to fill the unexpired term of Susan Hawk who resigned last year.
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Johnson said she applied for the position to help restore trust in the District Attorney’s Office in the wake of controversy that surrounded the past two top prosecutors.
“I could make more money too if I wanted to, if it was all about that. But you know, I looked at what was happening in Dallas County. I looked at what was happening with this office and I said ‘God, something needs to happen. You need to put somebody in there that can make a difference,’” she said.
Johnson was the youngest of 13 children growing up with her parents and in Atlanta, Georgia.
She attended Texas Southern University Law School in Houston and wound up working as a young prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in 1982.
Johnson served 17 years as a Republican Judge in the 363rd District Court in Dallas and remains loyal to the Republican Party.
“When I looked at that platform back then, I thought I can relate to that because it lines up with a lot of my Christian values,” Johnson said.
In a Democratic sweep of Dallas County Offices, she was voted off the bench in 2006. She closed her private law practice to accept the job as top prosecutor.
Johnson said she is making a point of knowing all her staff, walking the halls of the courthouse and meeting the young prosecutors who now hold the position she once held.
“They say I’ve been here 10 years, and I never met the DA. And they were so excited about simply meeting me,” Johnson said.
Her predecessor Susan Hawk was frequently absent undergoing mental health treatment in nearly two years as District Attorney.
Republican Hawk defeated Democrat Craig Watkins who completed two controversial terms after being elected in the 2006 Democratic sweep that sent Judge Johnson to private practice.
Johnson said she wants to rebuild the unit that cleared wrongfully convicted defendants and expand community outreach.
Johnson is working with the Dallas City Attorney to put felony prosecutors in satellite offices where City Community Prosecutors work already. She wants to make it easier for victims to file cases for crimes.
“I want to make this office accessible to people,” Johnson said. “We are here representing everybody. We want to make sure that everybody gets justice, everybody gets fairness in this office. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Johnson promises to give the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office 110 percent effort and run as a Republican for election to the post in two years.