Smith sworn in as district judge

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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Welcoming a New Judge

WELCOMING A NEW JUDGE – County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Stephen Wren tells a story Monday before swearing in newly appointed District Judge Brock Smith. Messenger photo by Brian Knox

More than 100 people packed the 271st district courtroom at the Wise County Courthouse Monday to see Decatur attorney Brock Smith sworn in as district judge.

Smith was appointed last week by Gov. Greg Abbott to fill the vacancy left when Judge John Fostel died in June. After a months-long process, the last seven days were a whirlwind for the Smith family as they were notified of the appointment and plans were made for him to take office.

“I had all these questions for him,” said his wife, Angela. “Do you want cuffs or no cuffs on your robe?”

Because he couldn’t slow down to be properly measured for a robe, Angela used her computer charging cord to stretch across his shoulders while he was on the phone and then compare that length to her yardstick before placing the online order.

She acknowledged with a laugh that her husband didn’t immediately see the importance of such details, but “these are things that need to be done,” she said.

Smith said last week it wasn’t his goal to be district judge, and he’s stepped up to fill the role at the urging of his colleagues.

“At this point in my life, I didn’t feel like I had something I had not fulfilled,” he said. “I didn’t feel like there was anything missing in my life.

“It was my understanding Fostel planned to run again,” Smith said, “and I wish he was here to do it.”

Following Fostel’s memorial service, Smith said several of his colleagues reached out to him, urging him to apply for the appointment, and although it wasn’t something he had previously considered, with their encouragement he decided it was the right thing to do.

Smith began practicing law in Wise County in 1975. He served as assistant district attorney for the 235th Judicial District, which then included Wise, Jack and Cooke counties, from 1977 to 1979 before becoming district attorney of the 235th in 1979. He was appointed D.A. of the 271st Judicial District when it was first created in the early 1980s and served in that capacity until 1987. He then entered into private practice in Decatur.

He noted every district judge he worked under and in whose courtrooms he tried cases, including Judge W.A. Hughes, Judge Larry Sullivant, Judge John Lindsey and most recently, Fostel.

“I know we’ll always be mindful of the circumstances under which this has taken place, and I know that we will never forget the great judge that we had in Judge John Fostel,” Smith said at the swearing in ceremony Monday.

Smith said he and Fostel met at law school at Texas Tech University. Smith was a first-year student, and Fostel was a second-year. They became fast friends as Smith recalled Fostel’s light-hearted nature and ability to help everyone relax, even in the most stressful situations. They also shared an adoration for their older brothers, both of whom were also in law school. Fostel’s brother Mike had just graduated, and Smith’s brother Mack was in his fourth year.

“We both worshipped our older brothers, like you do,” Smith said. “And John often told me, it’s a good thing Mike didn’t grow up to be a bank robber because I’d probably have been a bank robber, too!”

And Smith agreed, the same was true for him.

Mack Smith spoke at Monday’s ceremony and said their parents would be surprised at Brock’s success, a joke that elicited a raucous laugh from the crowd, but he followed the good natured ribbing by noting without a doubt his younger brother was qualified and would do a good job for Wise and Jack counties.

Brock Smith said last week he wants his constituents to have confidence in him and the district court.

“I want them to have high expectations of me because they deserve that,” he said. “I feel like there’s already a tradition of fairness, impartiality and trying to ensure that good decisions are made. Sometimes they’re tough decisions, but you always have to follow the law.”

Smith was appointed to fill the remainder of Fostel’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018, and he said last week he plans to run for the post in the upcoming election. It’s on the March 6 primary ballot and will be decided in the November general election.

Smith is a member and past president of the Wise County Bar Association, member of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce and a former member and director of the Texas District and Attorneys Association.

Additionally, he is a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America and a member and past president of the Lion’s Club of Decatur. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts in government and a Juris Doctor from Texas Tech University.

Smith Family

SMITH FAMILY – Brock Smith (second from right) was sworn in as district judge of the 271st District Court Monday. He’s pictured with his family – sons Cody and Russell Smith and wife Angela. “I appreciate one and all who have shown up today,” he said Monday. “It truly means a lot to me.” Smith said at the conclusion of Monday’s swearing in ceremony that he hoped to have the 271st courtroom named for the late Judge John Fostel. Submitted photo

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