The two Republican candidates for Williamson County District Attorney have plenty of ammunition for sustained attacks.
The incumbent, John Bradley, was originally appointed to his position by Gov. Rick Perry more than a decade ago. He has won three elections since and is hoping for a fourth.
“We have maintained the lowest crime rate for a county of that size. I like seeing the quality of life that my own family and children can be in and I want to continue to help develop that,” Bradley said.
Bradley's coming off a busy year defending how he does business in Williamson County. Last spring, he lost his job as head of Texas’ Forensic Science Commission, another position he was appointed to by the governor.
"You saw that liberal Democrats blocked that in the Senate,” Bradley said. “They’re not happy that a conservative Republican is holding people to the standards of the law.”
Then, late last summer, a nearly 25-year-old murder conviction was overturned, based on DNA evidence Bradley refused to have tested. The results led to the exoneration of Michael Morton, who wrongfully spent over two decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.
The Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability filed a grievance against Bradley late last year, claiming Bradley violated the spirit of justice by denying DNA to be tested for six years in the Morton case. Bradley says he obeyed state law and did nothing wrong. The State Bar initially threw out the complaint against Bradley. It now sits on appeal with The Board of Disciplinary Appeals as appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas. The board is expected to take action in April.
"I think what has happened over the last year has helped me take the experiences I have as a prosecutor and the training and put them together with some interesting cases that teach you to keep an open mind all the way through the process,” Bradley said.
For challenger and fellow Republican Jana Duty, she believes Williamson County is ready for a change.
Duty has spent much of her time as Williamson County Attorney fighting with the current commissioner’s court. The court filed a list of grievances against her after she said she questioned the conduct of one of its members.
"This misrepresentation that my office has been fired from commissioner’s court is absolutely wrong. I mean we’re still representing the county on many, many cases,” she said. "That’s the price I paid for going up against the good ole boys. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I’d do it again. I wear that reprimand as a badge of honor.”
Bradley pointed out to YNN that Duty defended him in court regarding the Morton case. Duty says that was true, but it was a matter of jurisdiction not the merits of the case.
"It had nothing to do with fighting DNA testing. It just had to do with, ‘you don’t get two bites of the apple’ to sue in state and federal court,” Duty said. “So the judge agreed with us and said, ‘No you can’t sue in federal court. Go back to state court.’”
Democrat and fellow attorney Ken Crain has also thrown his name in the hat for the Williamson County DA race.