Dallas DA Back After 3rd Mental Health Leave

     DALLAS (CN) — Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk returned to work Thursday after taking leave for the third time in a year to treat a mental illness.
     “While I have made it a priority to be completely transparent about my fight with this disease, my mental health team and I felt it was important to minimize my exposure to the media while I undergo treatment and refrain from announcing or even setting an official return date,” Hawk said in a statement.
     Hawk said she had “constant contact” with her office and doctors, and that they decided she is now ready to return to work. She said that although mental illness is a “lifelong disease,” she is looking forward to working with her staff again.
     Hawk’s announcement comes two months after she returned to work from a second stint of depression treatment at the Menninger Clinic in Houston. She first disappeared from work last summer after taking office in January 2015. Both absences led to calls for Hawk to resign.
     When Hawk returned to work last October after her first leave, she spoke publicly about her mental health struggles. She appeared at town hall meetings and second-chaired in a murder trial to show she was still up to the job.
     Within days of her return, however, a former prosecutor filed an ouster suit against Hawk in county court. Cindy Stormer said that Hawk’s absence, several firings of longtime staffers and her allegedly erratic and paranoid behavior indicated a “complete break with reality.” A judge dismissed the lawsuit three months later.
     Stormer claimed that Hawk’s former second-in-command Bill Wirskye was fired after being accused of breaking into Hawk’s home and stealing a “blow job shot” photograph. Wirskye denied the accusation and said Hawk’s paranoia paralyzed the office, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
     Hawk’s attorney, Douglas W. Alexander with Alexander Dubose in Austin, argued during the ouster proceedings that the state law used to try and oust Hawk from office is from the 19th century and should not apply to this circumstance. Drawing a comparison with wheelchair-bound Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Alexander said someone like Abbott would have been considered unfit for office at the time.
     “The governor of Texas is paralyzed from the waist down,” he said at the time. “No one would ever suggest he suffers from a physical defect.”

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