Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 12, 2013

‘I solemnly swear’

Athens native sworn in as 230th district judge

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

ATHENS — It’s been a hectic couple of months for Bradley Hart. Hectic, but rewarding.

Last Nov-ember, the 1989 Athens High School graduate lost his bid to unseat a Democratic incumbent sitting on the 339th District Court bench. That loss — which left him slightly more than one percentage point behind when the final votes were tallied — ended two years of hard campaigning for the Republican who had worked as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office since passing the bar exam in 1997.

After the loss, Hart — buoyed by a swell of encouragement — opted to throw his name in the ring for a number of judicial appointments being considered by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. On Monday, Perry’s office announced it had selected Hart to fill the unexpired term as judge of Harris County’s 230th Judicial District Court.

Funny how things work out.

“It’s been kind of hectic going from the DA’s office to the bench in two days,” said Hart, who lives in Humble. “It’s so humbling, and it’s an incredible honor.”

Though Hart has strong roots in East Texas (including a stint as an intern in the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office, where he also served as Teen Court administrator), he’s been very active in Harris County. He’s a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association and the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. He’s also an administrative board member of First Methodist Houston Downtown and a volunteer for the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America.

“He’s been outstanding all his life,” said Hart’s mother, Linda Ragland, who still lives in Athens. “Of course, this is his mom talking — but you can ask anybody.”

Hart graduated from Baylor University in 1993, and the next year, moved to Houston to begin law school at the South Texas College of Law. While there, he worked with the Houston Bar Association Juvenile Justice Mock Trial Program and was a volunteer with Child Advocates, Inc.

Hart has prosecuted thousands of cases at the Harris County DA’s Office and served in various capacities during his tenure. In April 2006, he was promoted to felony district court chief after securing a conviction for a man who shot a Houston police officer in the face.

In 2011, Hart was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Texas Narcotics Officers Association for his work related to major narcotics investigations.

After last fall’s election, Hart said he was ready to take a break until being approached by a large number of people who encouraged him to apply for an appointment to several judicial positions that were coming open.

“I thought about it and prayed about it and talked with my family and came to the conclusion that I’d kick myself if I didn’t at least try,” Hart said.

Upon being selected to interview before Perry’s appointment staff, that body informed him that it had received a flood of letters in his support. He interviewed for about an hour with Perry’s staff last month and learned of Perry’s appointment three weeks later.

“Campaigning for that long, I got to know a lot of the citizens of Harris County you typically don’t get to know,” Hart said. “Of course, I was disappointed with the (election) loss, but it paid off incredibly.”