DALLAS (CN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed former prosecutor and former state judge Faith Johnson as Dallas County district attorney on Tuesday, three months after Susan Hawk stepped down to seek treatment for mental illness.
Abbott lauded Johnson's experience as a former chief felony prosecutor in the district attorney's office. Johnson, 66, of Cedar Hill, was the first African-American woman appointed to the job. She was recently in private practice.
“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," Abbott said in a statement. "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.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes, with The Potter's House in Dallas, called Johnson an "excellent choice.”
“I applaud Gov. 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," Jakes said in a statement. "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."
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, said Abbott made an "exceptional" choice in Johnson, calling her the "best candidate" to serve Dallas County.
In her resignation letter to Abbott, Hawk said she believed her office was "making a difference" and she wanted to continue her work. She had faced growing calls for her resignation after she took three medical leaves in the course of a year for mental health.
When Hawk returned to work after her first medical leave in August 2015, former prosecutor and administrative chief Cindy Stormer sued and sought Hawk's ouster.
Stormer claimed Hawk showed "escalating mental illness and incompetence," with "bouts of paranoia and mistrust" and questionable firings of employees.
A trial judge dismissed Stormer’s lawsuit in January.
Johnson will serve out Hawk's term, through Dec. 31, 2018.
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