D.A. Face-Off

Charlie Baird vs. Rosemary Lehmberg

D.A. Face-Off
Illustration by Jason Stout

If the federal courts ever resolve the redistricting disputes delaying the Texas primaries, Travis County Democratic voters will be nominating a district attorney (no Republicans have filed). Retired District Judge Charlie Baird is challenging incumbent Rosemary Lehmberg, seeking her second four-year term, in what already has the makings of a fiery contest. Both candidates are richly experienced and qualified, and neither one minces words on the campaign trail. In his career, Baird has been a district judge, a visiting justice on state appeals courts, and a professor of law. Beginning in 1990, most importantly, he served two terms on the Court of Criminal Appeals, where he was a strong and independent voice for both reason and justice. Lehmberg joined the District Attorney's Office in 1976, where she has served as director of the career criminal, major crimes, public integrity, and family justice divisions, and was a founder of the county's Center for Child Protection. She became first assistant D.A. in 1997 and was elected to her current position in 2008, assuming the office in January 2009.

Baird says that Lehmberg's long experience has made her an institutional defender of an office needing fundamental change; Lehmberg responds that most of Baird's proposals are both impractical and misdirected.

In December, we sat down with Baird and then Lehm­berg for lengthy conversations about criminal justice, their records, the District Attorney's Office and their competing perspectives about its future, and how each would approach the job going forward. The conversations addressed arrest intake review, diversion programs, conviction integrity matters, racial imbalance in the criminal justice system, the death penalty, and much more. Published here is the full versions of the interviews, where they provide a more complete picture of the major issues facing the D.A.'s Office. (For more on the race, see "Point Austin.")

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More district attorney
Travis County Races
Travis County Races
A big day for the Democrats locally, as usual

Chase Hoffberger, Nov. 11, 2016

D.A.: Lehmberg and Baird Have Issues
DA: Lehmberg and Baird Have Issues
Rosemary Lehmberg and Charlie Baird go a few rounds

Monica Riese, May 11, 2012

More 2012 election
Point Austin: Unrepresentative Government
Point Austin: Unrepresentative Government
Council takes its stand with as few voters as possible

Michael King, Oct. 14, 2011

More by Michael King
Two New Music Documentaries About New Orleans Merge Genres and Generations
Two New Music Documentaries About New Orleans Merge Genres and Generations
A river runs through it

May 20, 2022

How the Filibuster Has Already Undermined Democracy
How the Filibuster Has Already Undermined Democracy
The recent attacks on reproductive rights reveal another reason to let the filibuster burn

May 6, 2022

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


district attorney, 2012 election, Charlie Baird, Rosemary Lehmberg, 2012 primaries

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle