Faith Johnson, a former judge and prosecutor in Dallas County, has been appointed the county's new district attorney by fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.[[405044695,R]]
Abbott made the appointment Tuesday to replace Susan Hawk, the former district attorney who held the position until she resigned Sept. 6 to focus on her mental health. During her tenure as district attorney, Hawk, who is also a Republican, took two extended leaves of absence and was hospitalized three times for depression.
“Throughout her career, Faith has proven herself a dedicated public servant, most notably as a criminal prosecutor where she attained the status of Chief Felony Prosecutor during her time in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office,” said Abbott in a prepared statement Tuesday. “As a former prosecutor, district judge, and while serving on the Department of Public Safety Commission, Faith has shown a commitment to law enforcement and the rule of law. She has devoted herself to defending some of our most vulnerable Texans, and I am confident that in her new role as District Attorney, Faith will continue to fight for the people of Dallas County and ensure that justice is served.”
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Johnson's term will expire Dec. 31, 2018, "or until a successor shall be elected and qualified."
According to a statement on the website for her law firm, FaithJohnsonLawFirm.net, Johnson was the first black woman to be named chief felony prosecutor with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and "has handled thousands of felony cases ranging from drug possession and theft to sexual assault, child abuse and capital murder."
With the governor's appointment, she is also the first black woman to be named the Dallas County District Attorney.
"Johnson is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Dallas Bar Association, and the U.S. Christian Chamber of Commerce, among other professional organizations. She is secretary and a board member of The Potter's House of Dallas, and a past board member of several non-profit organizations. In 2014, Ms. Johnson was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Public Safety Commission, where she is one of five Commissioners who oversee homeland security, border patrol, and terrorism in Texas," according to her online biography.
"I think that for the governor, she (Johnson) is the right choice," said criminal defense attorney Heath Harris. "The question is going to be, is she the right choice for the citizens of Dallas County?"
Criminal defense attorney David Finn called the choice wise and pragmatic.
"It signals to me that the governor’s office and the governor want somebody that is a viable candidate in the general election in two years, given the demographics of Dallas County," Finn said.
Elected officials, organizations and community leaders offered the following statements in response to Faith Johnson's appointment as Dallas County District Attorney:
“Governor Abbott has made an exceptional choice with the appointment of Faith Johnson for Dallas County District Attorney. I would like to commend the Governor for his deliberate effort to bring forth the best candidate to serve the great people of Dallas County. Throughout Faith’s career she has exhibited the utmost professionalism and a steadfast commitment to upholding our rule of law. I have no doubt that she will thrive in this new position and dedicate herself to protecting the rights of all citizens in our community. I look forward to working with Faith to make our community safer and stronger.”
– U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
“The Governor’s appointment of Faith Johnson as Dallas District Attorney demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the integrity of the judicial system in Texas. Faith’s hard work and many years of dedicated public service make her the ideal candidate to head the District Attorney’s office. Faith will bring new ideas and fresh leadership, seeing beyond the obvious for a brighter future for Dallas County. I am confident in Faith’s ability to uphold the duties of this office and serve as a tireless advocate on behalf of the people of Dallas.” – Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas)
“Governor Abbott’s decision to appoint Faith Johnson as Dallas District Attorney is a testament to what he values in public service. Throughout her career, Faith has exhibited a strong commitment to the Dallas community and to Dallas law enforcement. The Dallas Police Association could not be more pleased with the Governor’s appointment and we look forward to working with Faith as she assumes this important role.” – Frederick Frazier, President, Dallas Police Association
"Faith Johnson's impressive public service record and commitment to upholding the rule of law makes her an excellent choice to serve on behalf of the people of Dallas County. As a former district judge and prosecutor, she exhibited the utmost integrity and fought to ensure justice was served. I applaud Governor Abbott's appointment and his choice is affirming to women and people of color that there is indeed a place for all Americans in his administration. I believe that Faith will restore stability to the Dallas County District Attorney's office and exact due process of the law in a fair and unbiased method! That is always a win for Dallas County and ultimately for Texas!" – T.D. Jakes, Bishop, The Potter’s House
Offering a contrary opinion to the appointment, Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle released the following statement.
"It’s disappointing that it took Governor Abbott months to do his job and appoint a District Attorney in Dallas County. Predictably, Governor Abbott has chosen a partisan appointee in a county that overwhelmingly rejected every countywide Republican on the ballot in 2016, and overwhelmingly rejected Greg Abbott himself just two years ago. The newly appointed District Attorney was turned out of office herself not too long ago, so she has her work cut out for her. She must bring fair and effective prosecution to a county that consistently rejects the divisive and destructive agenda embraced by her own party leaders in Dallas, in Austin and in Washington." – Matt Angle, director, Lone Star Project
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff, Julie Fine, Ashleigh Barry and Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.