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Kaufman County Judicial System Getting Back To Normal

Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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KAUFMAN (CBS 11 NEWS) – One of Kaufman County’s top prosecutors is making her exit as Brandi Fernandez resigned her position Monday.

She was tapped to lead the District  Attorney’s office on an interim basis after Mike McLelland’s assassination in March. But now that a new DA has stepped in full time, Ms. Fernandez has taken her leave.

“It’s very important to get back to normal.  And we’re getting back to normal,” former Judge and now DA Erleigh Wiley told CBS 11 News.

And in the new normal, Brandi Fernandez has apparently decided to take a different path. “She did resign on Monday and we’re sorry to see her go,” said Wiley adding, “ She said the office was going in another direction, a different administration, and she wanted to do something different.”

CBS 11 News was unable to reach Ms. Fernandez to ask why she left despite repeated attempts.

The murders of McLelland and his wife Cynthia – and the killing of prosecutor Mark Hasse – weighed heavily as a new jurist was sworn into Judge Wiley’s old job.

Dennis Jones became the new County Court of Law Judge.

The one-time Dallas County assistant DA served under the legendary Henry Wade. But even in the invocation of his swearing in, attorney John Hurt said, “We ask for all these things today and especially for peace and recovery.”   The proceedings were muted.   “I do not want this to not be very festive or celebratory because I understand the circumstances and chain of events that put me right here,” the new judge told well-wishers. “But we have to live in the moment.”

Filling the judicial void may be a step towards normalcy.

“The business of the courthouse continues and the sooner we can get into a routine the better we are for ourselves but certainly for serving the public,” County Judge Bruce Wood told CBS 11 News.

But rural Kaufman County resident Chuck Cade says the murders still keep him looking over his shoulder.

“A little bit.  I live in the country a little ways off the highway and I used to not lock our gate, but I do now.”  Cade added, “I don’t ever believe it will ever be normal again, but it will be close.”

County Republic Party member Bill Baker echoed, “It’s going to be awhile.  It’s kind of like closure. Closure is what God gives you, and I think that’s the way we’re going to have to approach this.”

The newly-installed judge wasted no time trying to get things back to normal; he heard his first case at four o’clock Wednesday afternoon.

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