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July 8, 2011

Native Athenian named State Prosecutor of the Year

ATHENS — HOUSTON  — A  former Athens High School graduate is being named Texas Prosecutor of the Year  by the Texas Narcotics Officers Association at its awards dinner on South Padre Island in August.

Brad Hart, 41, a 1989 graduate of Athens High School was notified of the prestigious award last week.

His mother, Linda Raglan still lives in Athens, along with her husband, Robert Ragland.

Hart and his wife, Cary, son Hunter, 8, and his daughter, 5 year-old Savannah, live in Humble near Houston.

"They called me at the end of last week,  and notified me that I had won the award," Hart said when contacted at the district attorney's office in Houston on Thursday afternoon.

Narcotics officers from all over the state get training, attend an awards dinner and pass out Officer of the Year, and Canine of the Year plaques, along with the Prosecutor of the Year award.

Hart said he has been told that he will also get a plaque.

But unlike the Officer of the Year, he will not receive a new Glock handgun, Hart said that since he wasn't a law officer, they were going to give him a clock.

Instead of a Glock.  Who said law officers have no sense of humor?

The banquet is set for Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. on South Padre Island. The exact location hasn't yet been determined, he said.

His day job — and night job — is Assistant District Attorney/Chief of Narcotics — Major Offenders Division in Harris County. Hart said his hours are 24/7, and his workload is always stacked high, but that he likes the work.

“It's an honor," Hart said of the award. "I spend a lot of time trying to help  these officers do the right thing  and be recognized," he said. "They put their lives on llne to make our streets safer, and for them to nominate me, means a lot."

He said he became a candidate for the award when the Houston Police Officers Association nominated him in May.

Hart, who graduated from Baylor University and  South Texas College of Law in  Houston, went to work in 1997 for the District Attorney's office in Harris County, and he's been there ever since.

“I handle multi-kilos cocaine, heroin, meth, and the bigger cases that come through, and I  help with investigations with law enforcement officers," he said.

He was a part of the organized crime unit in Houston, where he says he was more of a junior prosecutor.

"When this position came open two years ago, they needed somebody with experience, and they asked me to do it," he said.

His staff includes two prosecutors who work under him, an investigator and a secretary.

He said  his caseload is consistently 50 to 60 cases at a time.

"Another 100 or so are active investigators," he said.

Narcotics officers look to him for answers in matters of search and seizure, and for advice on how to proceed in a manner that will hold up in court.

Though he's consumed by narcotics cases now, Hart said his proudest moment as an attorney came   when a man who was evacuated during Hurricane Katrina came to a house in Houston to see a 77 year-old woman he had met at a church in Houston.

While there, he killed the woman, and stole her car.

He was eventually captured, and Hart fought for the death penalty for the man, and a jury eventually gave him what he had sought.

His tough law-enforcement stance should help him this year in his election bid to become the 339th District Judge in Houston.

That's a long way from his days as an offensive tackle for the Athens  Hornets.

"That was in a pretty dismal time," he said. "But I do remember we beat Corsicana, and it was a very big win for us."

He said he and his family planned to be in Athens this weekend, so their kids could see their grandmother.

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