Susan D. Reed is the first woman to be elected Criminal District Attorney of Bexar County. Prior to her election as District Attorney in November of 1998, she served as the Judge of the 144th District Court for 12 years. For this reason, she is often referred to as Judge Reed.
District Attorney Reed was raised in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated from Alamo Heights High School and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Economics. She was awarded the Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University Of Texas School Of Law. In addition to being licensed to practice law in Texas, she is also licensed in Federal court in the Western District of Texas and in the United States Supreme Court. She is board certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Beginning her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney for Bexar County, she served (in that position) for eight years and was chief prosecutor in the 144th and 187th District Courts. Her civil law experience stems from four years in private practice concentrating in business litigation at the firm of Soules and Reed.
As the Judge responsible for creating the Gang unit in the Adult Probation department, she naturally gives emphasis to gang issues as District Attorney. Her office is now a State leader in establishing gang injunctions. She has also worked in the legislative arena to implement laws enjoining gang members from soliciting or threatening young people to join gangs as well as supporting the creation of gang free zones in those areas troubled by gang activity.
District Attorney Reed has established an Elder Fraud Unit recognizing that elderly citizens deserve extra protection because of the vulnerabilities that come with growing older. She successfully pushed for the enhancement of six different fraud offenses when the crimes are perpetrated against an elderly victim. She was also responsible for the securing of a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women under the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative in an amount exceeding one million dollars to establish a Family Justice Center in Bexar County. Ultimately, Bexar County was one of fifteen counties to receive this grant.
Serving Texas in numerous capacities throughout her career, District Attorney Reed was appointed to the Criminal Justice Policy Council by Governor Bill Clements. Later, Governor George Bush appointed her, and she was reappointed by Governor Perry, to serve on the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. She also serves on the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and has been at the forefront of proposing significant legislative changes to deal with this ever present problem in our State.
Nationally, District Attorney Reed has served twice as a member of the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women. She is a member of the national working group of the International Association of Chiefs of Police on sexual offenses by police officers.
She was chosen by the State's elected district and county attorneys to serve as President of the Texas District and County Attorney's Association in 2005 and presently serves on its Board. She is also a member of the National District Attorneys Association. She has testified both before the United States Congress and the Texas Legislature on issues related to crime. In 2009 she received the Speaker's Gavel award from the Texas House of Representatives for her hard work in the pursuit of justice.
In her commitment as a Judge and District Attorney, enhancing awareness of victims' rights and sensitivity to those falling victim to offenders are top priorities. She remains an outspoken advocate both within and outside her office for those who find themselves a victim of crime.
Because of her strong belief that truth and justice prevail, she worked with the legislature to pass procedures for post conviction testing of evidence when the accused has been convicted of a crime and raises legitimate questions about the possibility of a wrongful conviction. This was necessary to establish a uniform, fair process for ensuring that only the guilty be punished and strengthen confidence in our criminal justice system.
District Attorney Reed has been honored by induction into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame, presented the Eastside Community “Honors Award,” and has been recognized by School Districts, Family Violence Prevention Services, and the San Antonio Children's Shelter for her many community contributions. She has also been recognized by the National Association of Social Workers-San Antonio Branch as the Elected Official of the Year for 2010.
The original Constitution for the Republic of Texas divided the Republic into counties. It also set up a District Court, which at the time had jurisdiction over more than one county. There was to be a County Attorney in each county and District Attorney for each district. A District Attorney would handle felony cases, and the County Attorney usually handled misdemeanor cases.
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas in Art. IV, Section 5. states: There shall be a District Attorney appointed for each district, whose duties, salaries, pre-requisites and term of service shall be fixed by law.
Later, in the 1930s the law allowed the offices of the County Attorney and District Attorney to be combined. This office is actually called a Criminal District Attorney, to distinguish the officeholder from an ordinary District Attorney or County Attorney.
Some counties in Texas still have a District Attorney and a County Attorney. Bexar County opted to go with the combination of the two into a Criminal District Attorney’s Office; the office that exists today.
In the early days, a District Attorney could hold office for the term of court which was sometimes less than a year. Later, the Constitution of Texas established a two-year term. Even later, the term was extended to four years, as it stands now.1
1 James E. Barlow, Judge 186th Judicial District; Assisted by Ted Butler, Judge 226th Judicial District, History Of The Bexar County District Attorney's Office.