AUSTIN -- A small percentage of the near 200 Texas attorneys who signed an amicus brief, a court document to show support for a defendant, came to the Travis County Civil Courthouse Thursday to say Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg should not step down.
The attorneys spanned all political parties, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.
“I have known her personally for over 35 years. She is an honorable, upstanding, hardworking, dedicated person. I absolutely support her," said an impassioned Austin attorney Betty Blackwell. "Anybody here who has not made one mistake, I'd be happy to stand there and watch you step forward first.”
The brief filed in Travis County calls for her to remain as DA and serve out her term in response to a removal petition.
The brief includes five former State Bar presidents, civil attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
The court brief reads in part:
"Rosemary Lehmberg has had an extraordinary 36-year career as a Travis County prosecutor, an Assistant District Attorney, and since 2009, as District Attorney. Unquestionably she has developed and maintained one of the best district attorney’s offices in the United States. She served as chief prosecutor in Judge Tom Blackwell’s 167th District Court. She also served as chief of other major divisions in the District Attorney’s office—including the Career Criminal Division, the Major Crimes Division, and the Public Integrity Division. She founded the Travis County Children’s Advocacy Center, and for her work on behalf of child abuse victims, she was named Best Lawyer for Children’s Issues. Under her leadership the Public Integrity Unit has successfully prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans who have violated the public trust."
Earlier this month, Lehmberg was arrested and later pleaded guilty to drunk driving. She is currently spending 45-days in jail.
However, it’s Lehmberg’s behavior after her arrest which some like the Austin Police Association are taking issue with.
“I think it was the behavior afterwards, the total lack of respect for the process that she's over,” said Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent.
In response to the brief, the lawyer who filed the petition for Lehmberg's removal, Kerry V. O'Brien said:
"What these lawyers are filing is essentially a community petition signed by 100 people. The Remove Rosemary Lehmberg Facebook page is adding about 130 people per day. However, because this endorsement came from lawyers, I as a lawyer must now do whatever I can to restore the credibility of the legal profession for our local nurses, teachers, software developers, police officers, musicians, cab drivers, plumbers and all others who have the crazy notion that the justice system belongs to them, too."
Attorneys told journalists that Lehmberg wants to serve out the remaining three years of her term as Travis County DA and that she plans to get treatment once she completes her 45-day jail sentence. Blackwell said Lehmberg will not seek another term for re-election.
Blackwell said local journalists created a “media circus” and “dragged Lehmberg through the mud” with recent coverage.
“She has taken the harshest punishment for a first offense DWI. She quickly entered her plea. She has waived all rights of appeal and to probation. She is getting no special treatment for her sentence that she is serving,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell says Lehmberg’s incident was a solitary, one-time ordeal.