Margaret Moore sworn in as Travis County's new District Attorney

New Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has been a Precinct 3 County Commissioner and an Assistant Texas Attorney General. 

And this isn't her first time taking an oath in the courthouse -- she was sworn in as County Attorney way back in 1981 by Judge Tom Blackwell.

"Even then I had the dream that I would one day follow in his footsteps from County Attorney to District Attorney.  Didn't know it would take 36 years," she said.

The 238-employee DA's office looks much different than it did under Rosemary Lehmberg.  She let more than 30 people go and brought in her own crew.

During her inaugural speech on Tuesday Moore spoke of the conflicts between law enforcement and citizens.  She's creating a civil rights division that will report directly to her and will be dedicated to "use-of-force" investigations and prosecutions.

"These measures are designed to address the fear that prosecutors and grand juries and the system as a whole that work regularly with law enforcement can be fair when it comes to investigating law enforcement, I do not believe that to be true.  But I do believe this community deserves a system that demonstrates it," Moore said.

She's also starting a family violence unit.  Something District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar was pleased to hear.

"In my own north central District 4 when I've gone on ride-alongs with police officers, very often violent crime calls are domestic disturbances and family violence calls and being able to address that at the city level through the police department...but also through the DA's office is very important," Casar said.

And of course there's the backlog of DNA cases: a major crisis Moore will have to deal with.  The Austin Police Department's DNA lab shut down last summer and Police Chief Brian Manley recently announced they've stopped efforts to re-open it.

APD even had to fire the new lab chief because he didn't have the qualifications they thought he did.

"We're going to be working on where we go from here.  Now that the DNA lab will not be at Austin Police Department we've got to figure out where it will be and the governance structure for it.  It's a challenge but I think we're up for the task," Moore said.  "We've got to work with council and the commissioners court...have to work together to figure out how to pay for it too which is a big deal," Moore said.

The DA's office has said they'll outsource any DNA they need tested for critical cases.

Police Chief Manley says they're waiting on two independent studies: one study looking at how the problem got so bad and another study looking at the best way to move forward.

A number of Travis County judges are hoping for a completely independent forensic lab.

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