The candidates for the Dallas County District Attorney’s office participated in a candidate forum Oct. 19 at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Republican incumbent Faith Johnson and Democratic challenger John Creuzot, an attorney and former judge, went one-on-one in front of full house just weeks before the crucial midterm elections.
The candidates have been vigorously campaigning in the weeks before the Nov. 6 election. The debate stayed on issues concerning the county; what the candidates have done and what they are proposing to do should they win the election.
The forum was moderated by District 11 City Councilman Lee Kleinman. Questions covered topics ranging from how to address the problem of domestic violence, victim’s rights, the plea bargaining system, budgeting and the handling of police misconduct.
On the issue tackling domestic violence, Johnson said it was one of her first initiatives when she was appointed to office.
“Before I even took my oath, one of my focuses was what do we do for families of domestic violence and the answer I came up with was to start my satellite offices,” Johnson said. “That was the main focus of the satellite offices [was] for victims of family violence [so they] can come there to start the process for a protective order. What we found is that women, when they finally get out of that abusive relationship, and even men, they go somewhere and they don’t want to leave.”
Creuzot said domestic violence starts at home and winds its way into the criminal justice system. He said the agencies need to do a better job of getting cases processed.
“Unfortunately in domestic violence, there is often a lot of confusion on both parties’ parts as to how to proceed. I know that as a prosecutor and as a judge, I’ve had situations where cases are filed but then the complaining witness refuses to cooperate and show up,” Creuzot said. “That becomes a big problem. But we need
to have training to motivate people and we need to have safe havens for them to feel that it’s a safe place to go; that they can’t be tracked down if they wind up at the courthouse,” he said.
As the debate progressed, the candidates discussed victim’s rights and how they should be treated in an appropriate manner.
“First of all, we have a Victims’ Rights Act and we have a Victims’ Rights Fund that can be accessed sometimes, depending on the circumstances, for collateral services for a victim of crime. That is available through the law and through the legislature and it’s fairly well funded,” Creuzot said. He also emphasized following best practices to contact witnesses and keep them informed about the progress of the case.
Johnson said she has prosecuted cases as district attorney. She supports victims’ rights and encourages her prosecutors to make contact with victims at the beginning of the case.
“We represent the State of Texas and the victim is one of the key witnesses in our case. They are so pleased when they know that we care and we don’t want to let them know that we care, we want to be able to show them that we care,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Creuzot both tackled the topic of police misconduct, saying there are processes in place that should be followed.
“I think that the Public Integrity Unit does a good job,” Creuzot said. “We do need to hold police accountable, and 99.9 percent of our officers are great. They do a great job. They treat people with respect, especially now with body cameras and cameras on cars.”
“As you all know, based on my record, we want to hold everyone responsible for their actions. I am not afraid to prosecute police officers who have done something bad; who’ve committed a crime. Remember, I support police. I love them. But I will not tolerate a bad officer,” Johnson said.
The debate can be seen in its entirety at: