DALLAS - A new year means a new district attorney for Dallas County.
Faith Johnson was sworn in amongst great support Monday and became the first African American woman to hold the office.
Attorneys who have practiced in Dallas County for decades and who have worked for previous DAs said the turnout for this ceremony was greater than they’ve ever seen.
"I love to be in places where we have breakthroughs. Today we swear in the first female African American district attorney and it is a great day," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
Johnson, a Republican, calls herself a “servant leader.” She gave animated remarks after her swearing in. She said she plans to help the DA’s office regain public trust by making it more transparent, sharing as much as possible with the media and public and better utilizing satellite offices in the community so there’s a higher likelihood people file cases.
“The officers are already there. They just need some of the people to come in and make that happen,” she said. “We want to make sure that people won’t be deterred from filing cases.”
Johnson is a former state district judge and prosecutor. She lost her re-election bid 10 years ago when the Democrats swept the courthouse and she’s been practicing law in Irving since then.
Retired Judge Mike Snipes, a Democrat, will be her first assistant DA. He’s known for presiding over the trial for Eric Williams, the man who was sent to death row for the Kaufman County DA killings.
The pair actually started working three weeks ago, meeting with commissioners and other elected officials. Johnson said running the DA’s office is a team effort.
Johnson also said she plans on having a strong “conviction integrity unit” to determine who’s innocent and vigorously prosecute others. The person to head up that up has yet to be determined, but she said the position is so important they will report directly to her.
Johnson will finish out the term for fellow Republican Susan Hawk, who resigned earlier this year while battling mental health issues. The next election is in 2018.