DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and DA-Elect John Creuzot pledged a smooth transition after their first meeting Wednesday since last week’s midterm election.
Creuzot, a Democrat, defeated Johnson, a Republican, who was appointed to the post by Governor Greg Abbott about two years ago.
They both discussed what’s next during separate interviews Thursday morning.
Creuzot said, “It went well. We talked, spent an hour and a half together and plan to spend some time together.”
Johnson said, “I want his term to be a successful term. We talked about staff and all the different projects we had going. Obviously, we had a lot of initiatives we started these last two years and I gave him an update on those.”
Creuzot said he will likely realign some of the office’s positions and responsibilities. “There will be some changes, but I don’t think there will be radical changes. Obviously, you have to look at people and if they’re doing a good job, you have to give them credit for that.
But you also have to look at the direction that you want the office to go and whether they fit that direction.”
The DA’s office faces some major cases, including the prosecution of former Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger, who’s charged with manslaughter in the shooting death Botham Jean after she said she mistook his apartment for her own.
Johnson said her office will present the case to the grand jury. “The law doesn’t allow us to tell you the exact date we’re going to the grand jury but we are going to be going to the grand jury very soon.”
Creuzot said, “She’s the District Attorney until she’s not. I’m going to support her decision on that. If she wants to take it to the grand jury between now and the first of the year, I support her decision on that.”
Another high-profile case involves former Mesquite police officer Derick Wiley, who was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting an unarmed man.
A deadlocked jury forced a mistrial, and once Creuzot enters office, his team will have to decide whether to retry the case.
There’s no time for the case to be tried again before the end of the year.
As for other changes, Creuzot said he wants to make improvements to the mental health unit and expand the conviction integrity unit.
But he said he must figure out how to do so because the conviction integrity unit is understaffed. “Maybe if we stop prosecuting extremely low-level offenders, a prosecutor, or two, or three, and rather than try to ask for more money, we can try to shift them into that area.”
Creuzot said he also wants to reduce the number of non-violent people being sent to prison. “One of the things on my agenda is to not ask judges to send people to the penitentiary for technical violations or probation, not doing community service, not paying their fees.
If it’s something more serious and it threatens public safety and they threaten public safety, then we would go forward on that.”
Johnson said she will remain in the DA’s office through December 31.
Creuzot will be sworn in January 1.
While Johnson is thinking about her future, she said she believes being a Republican in Democrat-leaning Dallas County hurt her. “Yeah, obviously that was part of it, a big part of it.”
But she said she still wants to serve the public in some way. “I’m not about to pack up my bag and go hide somewhere in a corner. I’m still going to be available to serve the people of Dallas, to serve the people of this state, and even serve the people of this country. I’m available for that.”
When asked if she’s going to run for office, Johnson said she has nothing specific to announce, but stay tuned.