DALLAS — Susan Hawk is once again seeking inpatient treatment, according to a statement released Monday afternoon from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.
This treatment is Hawk's third hospital stay since she took office back in January of 2015.
“Under the guidance of my doctors, today I’m entering a treatment facility in Arizona that specializes in mood disorders," Hawk said in the statement.
The district attorney's office said the Arizona facility is different from the one located in the same state where Hawk sought treatment for prescription drug use during her campaign.
Hawk, whose salary is in the range of $218,000, also disclosed her pledge to continue her role as the city's district attorney.
"I’m committed to making my health the top priority so I can honor my commitment of service to Dallas County," Hawk said. "I’m blessed to have the continued and steadfast support of my leadership team and colleagues at the DA’s office, and I thank them for their hard work in serving our citizens in my absence.”
In May, the office announced Hawk voluntarily checked herself into a psychiatric hospital in Houston. The announcement came after Hawk was notably absent from several speaking engagements.
Since Hawk was sworn into office more than 17 months ago, she's struggled with her mental health.
The disclosure in May came more than four months after Hawk won a court battle to stay in office. The battle was spurred by a lawsuit filed by Cindy Stormer, a former employee who called Hawk mentally incompetent and unfit to serve as the city's district attorney.
"She’s severely mentally ill,” said Stormer, the former high-ranking prosecutor. “It’s never going to change. The only time she can be normal is when she’s heavily medicated. Relapses are to be expected."
Stormer filed the lawsuit last November after she was fired from her job with the district attorney's office.
However, Stormer hasn't been alone in her criticism.
Former state Judge John Creuzot questioned whether Hawk should continue on in her role.
“I think she probably needs to ask herself the question can she continue to go on?” he said.
“I think an argument can be made that the district attorney of Dallas is a mental job,” said Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson, who represented the state in its effort to remove Hawk. “It’s a stressful job and if someone has an illness that impacts their ability to handle that stress and their ability to mentally process that job, then perhaps there should be a serious look at whether or not that person should remain in that position.”
And some of Hawk's biggest supporters have also come forward expressing concerns.
"I hope that she recovers from whatever it is that she’s suffering from," said Dallas attorney Deandra Grant. "But the office cannot be run with a district attorney who is in a mental institution."
After news of her most recent inpatient treatment, D Magazine editor Zac Crain announced he too is among those urging Hawk's resignation.
"Messina Madson, Hawk’s first assistant, who’s been running the DA’s office in her stead, may be doing fine," Crain wrote in an online piece published shortly after the announcement. "I don’t know. But I do know she wasn’t elected."
Dallas Democratic Party Precinct Chair Jonathan Maples agrees.
“The first time it is understandable," he said. "We all have ups and downs and that’s a part of life. The second time brings up a red flag. The third time the red flag gets even higher. So, it is time… It’s time to step away and let someone we can depend on do that job.”
Maples insists his stance has nothing to do with the fact that Hawk is a Republican. He says, simply, that it’s time for Hawk to take care of herself and for the county to do the same.
“If she is sick, let’s replace her," he said. "Let’s not play games. The city doesn’t need games. We need a D.A. who is in there and can do the job.”
Hawk has insisted all along she is up to the task. But some wonder not whether she's wrong for the job but whether the job is wrong for her.
“I think most of us worry about whether this job is harmful to her, psychologically and emotionally harmful," said Creuzot, former assistant district attorney and state district judge. "Whatever the outcome we want her to be well. That’s why I say pushing her to resign and making those kinds of comments is not helpful at all."
Creuzot says Hawk’s health is the priority right now and he believes the decision of whether to stay or go is hers alone.
But he says Hawk’s prolonged absences are certainly not good for the office, even though her staff has been repeatedly filling the void.
“If anybody says she doesn’t need to be there then that begs the question why don’t you abolish the office?" Creuzot said. "Because actually someone does need to be there. You’re talking about 200 to 300 employees, lawyers who need guidance. And if that person is not there, that is not happening.”
FULL STATEMENT FROM HAWK:
In a proactive effort to address her mental health, District Attorney Susan Hawk is seeking treatment in Arizona.
“Under the guidance of my doctors, today I’m entering a treatment facility in Arizona that specializes in mood disorders. Mental illness is a fluid and dynamic disease that calls for unexpected and prolonged treatment. Like the tens of millions of Americans that suffer from mental illness, I did not choose this disease, but I am choosing to treat it aggressively and openly in an effort to provide transparency from our office, and to encourage others living with similar struggles to be proactive in treatment and not live in shame.” said Judge Hawk. “I’m committed to making my health the top priority so I can honor my commitment of service to Dallas County. I’m blessed to have the continued and steadfast support of my leadership team and colleagues at the DA’s office, and I thank them for their hard work in serving our citizens in my absence.” Hawk continued.
She has remained under the care of mental health professionals and will continue to do so as they collaborate to determine an effective treatment plan, which will include a timeline for her return back to the District Attorney’s Office.
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