Longtime Travis County DA Ronnie Earle dies at 78

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Longtime Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle died Sunday, according to friend and current Travis County DA Margaret Moore. He was 78 years old.

Earle worked as Travis County’s DA for more than 30 years from 1977 to 2008, serving eight terms.

Photo of Ronnie Earle with current Travis County DA Margaret Moore

Moore said Earle’s “legacy will probably not ever be matched.” Moore worked for Earle during his first term as Travis County DA, calling his vision for Travis County’s prosecution an “inspiration.”

“He was an early proponent of criminal justice reforms. His leadership in a non-traditional view of prosecution that embraced innovations like community justice and victim advocacy won him national recognition. He set the standard for Travis County prosecutors that endures today: Above all else, see that justice is done,” Moore said in a statement.

Earle founded Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit which led to the prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay resigned his seat in Congress following a 2005 indictment by a Travis County Grand Jury on criminal charges of conspiracy and money laundering.

The Travis County DA building was named in honor of Earle in September 2018.

Full statement from Margaret Moore:

I met Ronnie in 1973, when he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives. I worked for him in 1974 as counsel to a special House subcommittee that he chaired. When he ran for DA in 1976, I supported him. When he won, I asked him for a job. I worked for him his first term, until I was sworn in as Travis County Attorney in 1981. I was inspired by his vision of prosecution for Travis County.

Ronnie went on to serve eight terms as District Attorney, a legacy that will probably not ever be matched. He was an early proponent of criminal justice reforms. His leadership in a non-traditional view of prosecution that embraced innovations like community justice and victim advocacy won him national recognition. He set the standard for Travis County prosecutors that endures today: Above all else, see that justice is done.

I am very glad that I was able to be with him in September of 2018 at the dedication of the building we work in that bears his name. Under his picture on a plaque in our building, is this quote from Ronnie, which we pass by every day:

“This building is where justice is to be done. That makes it a sacred place. Justice is the highest expression of the human spirit. It calls us to be better than we are. We may all hope that we honor that call.”  Former Travis County DA Ronnie Earle

My heart goes out to his wife Twila, and to his children. We in the DA family will be mourning his passing with them.

Travis County DA Margaret Moore
Moore and Earle at the Ronald Earle Building dedication in September 2018.

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