Tarrant County DA announces he will not seek re-election

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by MATT GOODMAN

WFAA

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:16 AM

FORT WORTH — Embattled Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon announced Monday that he will not seek re-election. 

His decision was announced nearly a year after the county reached a no-fault settlement for $375,000 with a former female prosecutor who said she had been repeatedly sexually harassed by Shannon.

The county spent more than $100,000 to keep the allegations quiet, but the state ruled in January that they were public record. 

The district attorney sent a letter announcing his plans to his staff on Monday. It does not mention the controversy.

Shannon has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.

“I have accomplished all of the goals — both in private practice and in public service —  to which I aspired when I began my legal career,” he wrote. “It is now time for me to enjoy pathways which have long been postponed.” 

Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen weighed in on the decision, saying it would help "remove a cloud" from over the DA's office.

"It's now removed, there is a clean slate, and the people of Tarrant County have an opportunity to elect a new district attorney," Nguyen said.

Shannon declined an interview request. His staff said the letter speaks for itself.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Shannon to the county’s top law enforcement position after the death of former District Attorney Tim Curry in 2010. Shannon was formally voted in later that year. 

The harassment allegations incensed some county higher-ups, leading many to think of Shannon’s post as vulnerable. Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright called on the district attorney to resign, calling the complaint "a sledgehammer pounding the pillars of the Tim Curry Justice Center.” 

Perhaps predictably, the Republican primary is crowded.

Deputy District Attorney Bob Gill announced his plans to run for the position in June. Last month, Judge Sharen Wilson said she would vacate the bench after 23 years to run for district attorney.

Veteran lawyer George Mackey –– who worked for former DA Curry until 1983 –– also joined the race, as did private lawyer Wes Ball. Ball worked in the DA’s office from 1980 to 1987. 

In his resignation letter, Shannon thanks his colleagues, saying the county’s 90 percent felony conviction rate is “a testament to your skills and dedication." 

“I intend to complete my term of office,” he wrote in the letter. “For the next 15 months, I look forward to working with each of you and continuing to perform our duties to the public.”

Shannon publicly disagreed with the county's decision to settle with his accuser. The county said it did so because settling would have been cheaper than the litigation. 

News 8's Todd Unger contributed to this report

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