Judge Ben Woodward swore John Best in as the 119th District Attorney Thursday morning at the Tom Green County Courthouse while Best’s family, friends, colleagues and supporters looked on.
Woodward opened the ceremony saying that Best is taking on a role of leadership in the community and state setting an example for his family, especially his two sons.
“Today he becomes not from being a student anymore but he becomes a mentor,” Woodward said.
The new DA thanked his predecessors, especially 51st District Attorney Allison Palmer. He said being a prosecutor takes commitment and time, he gave special thanks to his family for being alongside him throughout his journey.
Best described his new title as a great responsibility and said he respects the undertaking and all of the responsibility associated with it. He and Palmer will co-manage the office and are working on ideas to improve efficiency. Different procedures and changes he said he is looking forward to are working with law enforcement in Tom Green and Runnels counties, to find a more efficient way to handle problems and have a more positive impact on the communities.
“The oath that a prosecutor takes is to seek justice, not just to obtain convictions,” Best said.
He explained this might mean someone needs to go to jail or be removed from the community; and some instances it may not. He further explained options that prosecutors take for determining the appropriate punishment for someone by giving the example of a first-time drug offender. The individual might need drug treatment or to be enrolled in penitentiary drug treatment. Best wants to determine who needs treatment and who needs punishment or be sent to a penitentiary.
He explained violent offenders are high in the community right now and feels proper determination and evaluation of each case determine the appropriate punishment for someone.
Child crimes are another area he would like to find the best way to try and deal with these problems and defendants. He is looking forward to continuing the hard work that needs to be done to get this job done.
Best attended St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio; prior to that, he attended the University of Texas in Austin as an undergraduate. He has worked as a misdemeanor prosecutor for Williamson County and for a state agency in Austin.
In 2001, he and his wife moved to San Angelo, where he began working in the district attorney’s office as a juvenile prosecutor. He has worked 14 years in every area of the D.A.’s office, such as both juvenile and adult prosecution, as well as felony criminal prosecution.