Sixty-ninth Judicial District Judge Ron Enns administered the oath of office to new district attorney (DA) Erin Lands Friday, January 1 in the district courtroom in the Moore County Courthouse. Lands takes over from current DA David Green, who declined to seek reelection. As DA she will be responsible for prosecuting criminal cases throughout the 69th Judicial District, which includes Moore, Hartley, Sherman, and Dallam counties. Morgan Howard, who will serve as an assistant district attorney, was also sworn in, as was Brandon Brown, the new DA's investigator. "Remember who you work for," said Enns in a few words of advice before administering the oaths.
The swearing in was supposed to take place via Zoom with other county and district officials, who were also sworn in January 1. But technical difficulties caused a change in plans, and the ceremony took place in person, with plenty of social distancing in light of the recent COVID surge in the county, state, and world.
Lands defeated fellow Dumas attorney Tim Salley in the Republican primary last year to become the Republican candidate in the November general election. Because there was no Democratic candidate in the general election, Lands won by default.
Lands is a former assistant district attorney in Hutchinson and Hansford counties.
Land's main campaign themes were repairing the strained relations that she said existed between the DA's office and law enforcement and dealing with what she called a backlog of unresolved cases in the DA's office.
On Friday, she said, "I am very excited to get started. … We have a great team put together. We are ready to hit the ground running."
Asked what her top priorities would be, she responded, "Getting the case load caught up, getting the cases reviewed. I know there has been a lag with grand juries -- trying to get those going once we are able to do some things again (COVID has stopped most in-person judicial activities.), looking at the jail population, making sure we are moving cases efficiently, and then just making sure everything is running as smoothly as possible."
In addition to the district attorney's office, several other officials were sworn in January 1 in person, through Zoom, and, in one case, over the phone, as county officials tried to limit the amount of physical contact with others that people were subjected to.
Morgan Hightower was sworn in as Moore County Sheriff, Myra Rivero as 69th Judicial District Clerk, Chris Rivera as Moore County Tax Assessor-Collector, Scott Higginbotham as Moore County Attorney, Dee Vaughan as Moore County Commissioner Precinct 3, Daniel Garcia as Moore County Commissioner Precinct 1. In addition, the deputies of the Sheriff's Office, and the offices of the District Clerk and Tax Assessor-Collector took the oath of office.