We are going to be very active in the race for Travis County District Attorney, as we attempt to ensure that the voters of Travis County elect a district attorney who will pledge not to seek the death penalty at least during the initial four-year term in office. So far, two people have officially filed for district attorney, Gary Cobb and Rick Reed. We haven’t yet seen if they have put up websites yet, but they provided contact information when they filed. We also don’t yet know any of their positions, but we will post more information as we learn it. We encourage people to send in any information they have on any announced or possible candidates in the race.

Here is Gary Cobb’s contact information:

P.O. Box 142416, Austin, TX 78714
512-854-9400 (O) 512-899-1765 (H)

Here is Rick Reed’s contact information:

512-854-9400 (O) 512-292-0313 (H)
11614 Anatole Court, Austin, TX 78748

Here is what the Austin American-Statesman said about the two in a recent profile on possible candidates in the race.

Rick Reed, 52

The first candidate to file for district attorney, submitting the paperwork Friday after Earle’s announcement.

Reed grew up in Dallas and attended UT before graduating from the Southern Methodist University School of Law. Reed worked as a Dallas County felony prosecutor from 1986 until 1998, when he ran for district attorney. After losing that race, Reed went to work for Earle.

He is one of the lawyers who has worked on the money-laundering case against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

If elected district attorney, Reed said, he wants to expand the use of drug courts to divert more people charged with possession charges into treatment, freeing up more prosecutors for other crimes. He also wants to decentralize decision-making in the office, giving front-line prosecutors more discretion over their cases.

The Austin Political Report says that Reed “once served under legendary Dallas DAs Henry Wade and John Vance.” Dallas County has been exonerating people regularly who were wrongfully prosecuted under Wade and Vance, so one question with his candidacy was what did he learn up there in Dallas under those two former DA’s and did he have a role in any cases where the person was wrongfully convicted.

Gary Cobb, 46

Grew up in Mississippi before attending the University of Texas School of Law from 1983 to 1986. He’s been a prosecutor at the Travis County district attorney’s office since 1990.

Among his many prosecutions, Cobb got a life sentence against George Weldon Smith, a Del Valle youth coach, for sexually abusing a young boy for four years. He also prosecuted Celeste Beard, who was sentenced to life for plotting to have her wealthy husband killed for his money.

Cobb said he would encourage prosecutors to get involved in the community to build trust.

“Ronnie Earle has established a tradition of responding to the community,” Cobb said. “We need to be more pro-active.”

Over on the Austin Political Report, a commenter said that Cobb “was the chief prosecutor against Lacresha Murray, an 11 year old girl charged with murder. Cobb used a coerced confession to convict. The case was later thrown out by a Republican appeals court. Murray is now suing in federal court. You can read Bob Herbert’s article in 11.22.98 NYT. My bet is Travis County voters aren’t going to forget that case. We insist that our elected officials be fair, especially when kids are involved.”

We don’t know if that commenter had it right about Cobb’s role in the Murray case, but when we meet him we will ask him what his role in that case was.

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2 Responses to Info on First Two Travis County DA Candidates to File

  1. Rick Reed says:

    I believe that I can answer the questions posed by your blog regarding my tenure with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. First, I learned very early in my career – long before I ever prosecuted a single felony – that it was the primary duty of all prosecutors, not to simply seek convictions, but to see that justice is done. I have never lost sight of that fundamental duty.

    Second, I learned to take personal responsibility for every case that I prosecuted. If I was not personally convinced of a defendant’s guilt based upon the evidence that had been presented to me, I dismissed the case. I have never wanted the thought of having convicted an innocent person on my conscience.

    Third, none of the exonerations to which your blog makes reference bear any of my fingerprints. I had no role in any case in which a person was “wrongly convicted.” Why? Because, I have always taken very seriously the most fundamental legal, moral, and ethical duty of a prosecutor: to see that justice is done.

  2. Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Attorney - David Finn says:

    Travis County would be fortunate to have Rick as DA, in my opinion.
    I hardly know him, but everything I’ve heard about Rick is that he did the right thing, without being asked. He was not part of the problem that has plagued Dallas County for many years.

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