Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
News that Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown has been nominated for a new job left some wondering who might take his place in Grayson County if he is confirmed for the new position. Friday two of Brown’s assistants threw their hats in the ring for the district attorney job.
Both Brett Smith and Britton Brooks announced their intention to run for the district attorney’s spot in the Republican Primary coming up in March 2018.
Smith’s announcement was sent via email at around 6 a.m. Friday and Brooks’ followed at around 10:30 a.m.
Former Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum, who is serving as Smith’s campaign treasurer, introduced the candidate to the people who attended his announcement at his office on Crockett Street in Sherman.
“One thing that I particularly appreciate about Brett Smith is his willingness to uphold the law,” Bynum said. “There are two sides to the scales of justice and Brett understands that. And Brett will represent the citizens of Grayson County accordingly and fairly.”
Smith said he was excited and humbled by the opportunity to run.
“I am a dedicated public servant and I look forward to continuing in that role as Grayson County District Attorney,” he said. “I think I have the experience and the maturity required to run this office. Grayson County is growing in leaps and bounds. We have nine murder cases pending in our jail right now. We need an experienced prosecutor that’s mature and ready to handle the job.”
Brooks held a press conference Friday on the Grayson County Courthouse steps to formally announce his candidacy.
“Long story short, this is more than a job for me — it’s my life,” Brooks said.
Brooks has been endorsed by Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt, Sherman Mayor David Plyler and Sherman City Council member Charles Brown. The current assistant district attorney first started with the DA’s office in 2007.
Brooks pledged to remain tough in his prosecution of those who commit acts of violence against women, children and the elderly, but he also said he would remain firm in his support of police officers, whom he felt were under attack nationwide.
“Across America, there is a war on law enforcement,” Brooks said. “Criminals attack our police with no consequences. But here in Grayson County, we will always back the blue, as long as I am district attorney and as long as we are a team.”
Smith has been with the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office for 15 years as a special prosecutor. As such, he has worked in each of the three district courts.
“As a part of the Jail Reduction Special Response Prosecution Team, Smith and others were able to reduce to (zero) the number of Grayson County jail inmates being housed out of county, saving taxpayers millions of dollars,” Smith’s press release said.
While the elected Grayson County District Attorney can try cases, the person in that spot is also responsible for developing and running a staff of attorneys who prosecute both misdemeanor and felony cases. The elected district attorney is also responsible for producing a budget for the office.
When asked about his experience with those tasks, Smith said he
"I think the District Attorney’s Office works really well right now,” Smith said when asked about any changes he might like to make in the office. “We have a great staff of attorneys, investigators and support staff. Certainly there’s always changes with any change in administration. But I would like to get in and get my feet wet before speculate as to what things I might change.”
Brooks said that if he was elected as Brown’s successor, he would pursue and prosecute cases much the same his boss has and keep the same team members in place.
“For 16 years, Joe Brown has given us a road map on how to properly fight crime," Brooks said. “I will not change that — I will keep the same people beside me. These are my friends and family.”
When asked whether he felt prepared for the responsibilities of the district attorney position, including managing staff members and balancing a budget specifically, Brooks again referred to his guidance from Brown.
“Joe Brown has given me a ton of insight into the proper ways to be a boss and to manage an office,” Brooks said.
Smith is a graduate of St. Edward’s University and earned his law degree from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly known as Texas Wesleyan School of Law). Smith’s community service includes two terms as the president of the Grayson County Bar Association and Grayson County Young Lawyers Association. He currently serves as the president of the board for the House of Eli and also serves on the Grayson County Substance Abuse Council.
Brooks attended Austin College and received his law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law. He also serves as a municipal judge in the cities of Pottsboro, Whitewright, Bells, Tom Bean and Howe. He also works as a city prosecutor for Denison, Gunter, Van Alstyne, Southmayd and Sherman. He is a board member for the Sherman Independent School District, the Grayson County Crisis Center, Women Rock, the Sherman Chamber of Commerce and the Austin College Alumni Association. He is also the chairman of the Wilson N. Jones Board of Trustees and president of the Sherman Kiwanis Club.