Brown County’s newest prosecutor believes every defendant is someone with a history and a problem, and deserves a day in court.

But don’t assume Elisha Nix, who began work April 1 as assistant Brown County attorney, is soft on crime. She is passionate about protecting the community; she said she’ll hold defendants accountable, and if someone is a threat to the community, Nix said, she wants to see the person go to jail for as long as possible.

The Brown County job is her first as a prosecutor. She is responsible for helping prosecute misdemeanor cases and eventually hopes to be come a felony prosecutor.

“I love it. I really enjoy it. When I go home at the end of the day, I hope I’ve made the community safer and a better place to live,” the 27-year-old Nix said. “For the protection of society, some bad things cannot be tolerated.”

Nix recently graduated from Baylor Law School, where her professors “instilled the idea that justice is for everybody — victims, defendants, the whole community.”

Nix initially rejected the idea of becoming a lawyer but realized a law career would be a way to help people. As a law school student, she realized she preferred criminal law, and she knew by her first quarter of law school she wanted to be a prosecutor.

“I just knew that lawyers have an opportunity to help people,” Nix said. As for being a prosecutor, “there is an element of punishment to it but it’s more about protecting society and protecting innocent people.

“It’s the whole community — anybody who could be a victim of crime.”

Nix frequently uses the terms “sir” and “mister” when addressing people — the result of being raised in the South, she said.

Nix is originally from Texas but grew up in central Florida, where her father, Jackie, was a Baptist minister. He later pastored a church in a small rural town in coastal South Carolina, and that’s where Nix graduated from high school in 1999. Jackie and Harriett Nix, Elisha’s parents, are now retired.

After high school, Nix attended the Word of Life Bible Institute in New York for a year. She said she had no plans for vocational ministry but just wanted to learn. She transferred to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., a Christian liberal arts school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, as a communications major.

Falwell, she said, was a generous, approachable man with a great sense of humor. He genuinely cared about other people, even those with whom he disagreed, Nix said.

She thought she was headed for a career such as advertising or graphic design, but she also knew she’d be getting a graduate degree. She wanted a degree that would be “beneficial for the community. I didn’t want the degree I got to be just for myself,” Nix said.

Her father urged her to consider law. She wasn’t interested. Nix said she pictured lawyers at that time as “an unsavory group of individuals” who spent their time “always arguing over nit-picky stuff.”

But her former college debate partner went to law school, and he told Nix it would be a great place for her. She began considering the idea, and was accepted into the Waco school in 2004.

Before getting the Brown County job, Nix did some defense work in misdemeanor cases, and briefly considered staying on the defense side.

“It’s service to the community as well. It’s just from a different prospective,” Nix said. She said she learned that “every defendant with a history and a problem, and everybody deserves the chance to get their day in court.”

If a defendant is guilty, she said, the person deserves “a fair deal and not just (getting) hammered.” A defendant needs someone “to make sure the state didn’t just run them over,” she said.

Nix recently tried her first case, involving a defendant accused of selling alcoholic beverages without a license. She won a conviction.

That first trial, she said “was terrifying but fun.”