President Donald Trump nominated Texans from two well-connected political families as top law enforcement officers in the state in Ryan Patrick for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas and Joseph D. Brown for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
Patrick, a former Harris County prosecutor who served a judge of the 177th District Court in Houston from 2012 to 2016, is the son of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Brown, who has served as Grayson County District Attorney since 2000, is the son of late state District Judge David Brown of Sherman and the nephew of the late U.S. District Judge Paul Brown of Sherman.
“Ryan Patrick and Joe Brown will be excellent United States Attorneys,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “They have both already had distinguished careers in public service—Ryan as an assistant district attorney and state district court judge in Houston, and Joe as the elected district attorney of Grayson County—and I know they will continue to serve the people of Texas honorably in their new roles. I commend the President for these excellent nominations and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will move quickly to confirm them.”
While both Patrick and Brown are known as staunch political conservatives, they’ve also won the respect of Texas criminal defense lawyers for their fair approach to the law.
“When he was a judge, I was impressed with how hard he worked to be fair,” Houston criminal defense attorney Stan Schneider said of Patrick. “And by that I mean, if an issue came up, he didn’t trust the lawyer to look up the law and tell him what it was — he researched it himself.”
“If you had to pick a young Republican to be U.S. attorney, he’s not a bad choice,” Schneider added. “You want someone like him who’s willing to put in the work to do a good job. He’ll be there early in the morning and late at night to get the job done.’’
And while Patrick’s father has drawn attention to himself for his hard-right politics, lawyers who’ve appeared before Patrick have seen nothing political in the way he conducted himself as a judge.
“I can’t say any of his rulings were any different. I never heard anyone say anything bad about him,’’ said Houston criminal defense attorney Seth Kretzer. “I think he’ll do a pretty good job.’’ Brown also is also well-known and well-liked by attorneys in his home town of Sherman. “He’s a reasonable man and is someone you can talk to and will listen. It doesn’t mean that he’ll agree with you but I’ve always been impressed with the way he’s run his office,’’ said Sherman criminal defense attorney John Hunter Smith.
It’s also meaningful that Brown is from Sherman, which is one of the busiest districts in the Eastern District, Smith said.
“It’s nice to have someone that is from this area and not someone who is from the outside. They know the lawyers and the communities,’’ Smith said.
Brown previously served as an associate at Dallas’ Cowles & Thompson in the 1990s before returning to his home in Sherman to become a prosecutor. While at the civil firm, Brown made a great impression on the firm founder, Jim Cowles, who wrote a recommendation letter to the American Bar Association on Brown’s behalf for the U.S. Attorney position.
“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the guy, I don’t know anybody that doesn’t respect him. He’s a quiet guy but he’s very good at the practice of law,” Cowles said. “He’s a quiet, good, solid American guy. And I can’t think of anybody better for the Eastern District.”