Dallas County is rated D-63% by The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index, indicating Democrats have a strong advantage in terms of electoral history.
However, Johnson outraised Creuzot in the first half of this year. In Creuzot’s campaign finance documents filed last month, he recorded about $87,000 in contributions compared to Johnson’s total fundraising of $158,000.
Abbott appointed Johnson to the office in 2017 to replace Republican District Attorney Susan Hawk, who resigned after facing personal difficulties.
This year, Johnson was unopposed in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, Creuzot defeated Elizabeth Frizell, the same opponent he bested in the 2018 contest.
Among other disagreements, Creuzot and Johnson have philosophical differences over prosecutorial discretion. Johnson believes it is improper for a prosecutor to pick and choose which types of crime to prosecute, while Creuzot has applied broader policies he contends are cost-effective and conducive to rehabilitation.
Creuzot is also pushing back against abortion restrictions enacted by the state lawmakers.
In a statement issued after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Creuzot expressed his support for abortion rights and signaled that he intends to stifle enforcement of laws against abortion in Dallas County.
“I want women to know that my office will not stand in the way of them seeking the health care they need. Abortion bans disproportionately impact women of color, the poor, and other vulnerable populations,” Creuzot said. “These bans also endanger public safety and go against the very core of policies I was elected to put in place. My office will continue to use discretion to pursue justice on behalf of all people in Dallas County.”
When asked about abortion in an interview with The Texan last week, Johnson did not explicitly say that she would prosecute doctors, but broadly promised to enforce criminal statutes.
“As a prosecutor, I am committed to upholding that law whatever it is. I’m committed to that. And that’s what we do as prosecutors,” Johnson said. “We don’t decide which law ought to be prosecuted in which law ought not to be prosecuted. That’s not our job.”
While the enforcement mechanism in the Texas Heartbeat Act is based on private causes of action, another law taking effect August 25 called the Human Life Protection Act, colloquially known as the “trigger ban,” will make it a first-degree felony for a health care provider to cause the death of an unborn child except in rare cases such as to save the life of the mother.
In Texas, first-degree felonies are punishable by 5 to 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The law also provides for a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for each violation.
Johnson also disagrees with Cruezot’s policy that thefts of items worth less than $750 will not be prosecuted unless the crime was committed for “economic gain.”
The district attorney has implemented similar policies that limit the prosecution of marijuana possession in small amounts as well as criminal trespass cases that do not involve “physical intrusion into property.”
Creuzot asserted that these measures are designed to avoid “criminalizing poverty” and focus resources where enforcement is most needed.
On the other hand, Johnson contended that business owners and others are hurt by “blanket policies.”
“I’m saying to you, yes, there are people who need second chances. But you’ve got to be able to bring it all together and put it all in perspective and make certain that you’re not hurting one over the other,” Johnson said.
She referenced a policy implemented during her administration that allowed offenders to complete an eight-week program to help them understand the consequences of criminal activity.
In an interview with The Texan earlier this year, Creuzot dismissed Johnson’s concerns as hyperbole.
“Judge Johnson tells stories about things. For example, she tells the story that the theft policy has caused fear and created more crime in the community,” Creuzot said.
“Had she been paying attention when she was here to numbers instead of telling stories, she would have noticed that every category of crime for the last five or six years has gone down consistently every year.”
Johnson suggested that the district attorney’s office declining to prosecute “thousands” of theft cases and other offenses is giving the false impression that crime is going down.
Johnson was district attorney when former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of Jordan Edwards.
During his first year in office, Creuzot’s office prosecuted Amber Guyger, a fired Dallas police officer who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the murder of Botham Jean.
Creuzot’s office filed criminal charges against three current and former police officers on suspicion of committing assaults and other crimes during the summer 2020 riots in downtown Dallas.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."