District 60 State Rep. Mike Lang of Granbury has filed legislation to repeal the law that allows a county attorney or commissioners court to accept gifts or grants to finance or assist the operation of the office of county attorney.    
    Lang’s office referenced Brown County Shane Britton’s office in a press release. Lane believes legislation needs to curtail “potential corruption among elected county officials.” Legislation was filed in 2007 that created a “donation” fund allowing for gifts and grants to be given to the county attorney in order to dismiss cases.
    Lang’s office also referenced a December 2016 Texas Observer article about the pretrial diversion donation program operated by Britton’s office. The press release excerpted the article:
    “Most prosecutors in Texas are barred by state law from taking gifts from people in their jurisdiction. Among the ethical questions such arrangements could raise, the most basic is that a defendant could simply buy his way out of punishment for a crime
    “… For nearly a decade, the Brown County Attorney’s Office has arguably done something similar… (making) ‘donations’ from defendants the foundation of a pretrial diversion program that lets people avoid prosecution for drunk driving, driving without a license, shoplifting and other misdemeanors.
    “In this way, hundreds of defendants have paid a combined $250,000 since 2008 to cover travel to conferences, cellphones for…(the county attorney) and his staff, and advertisements in the Brownwood High School cheer calendar, according to county records.”
    Lang has filed HB 2273 to prevent improprieties from happening in the future, the press release states.
    Brown County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4, Jim Cavanaugh endorses the bill, saying in the press release, “It does not pass the smell test when you have the county attorney collecting gifts and donations directly from defendants.”
    Lang said, “When good men and women are put in a position where wrong can be done, temptation can sometimes overcome even the best intentions. The law should be followed. At no time should donations be used to determine a case’s outcome. Contributions and criminal action should not mix at any time.”
    The Justice of the Peace and Constables Association also supports the bill, stating, “As the JPCA, our main concern is to ensure that everyone is following the law. As elected officials, the bar should be set at an even higher standard. Anything less than performance at the expected level, should not be tolerated.
    “ … A recent attorney general opinion concluded that the existing law ‘does not authorize the Brown County Attorney’s office to require an accused to pay an amount to that office as a condition of a pretrial intervention agreement in excess of or in addition to the fee authorized.”