San Jacinto County District Attorney Todd Dillon was sworn in Monday morning, May 23, by County Judge Fritz Faulkner in the 258th State District Courtroom. Dillon will finish the unexpired term of Robert Trapp, who was appointed last week by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to be the presiding judge of the Second Administrative Judicial Region.
Dillon’s ascension to district attorney originally was planned for June 30 of this year as Trapp, a former district judge, had announced his retirement. However, with Trapp’s appointment as the presiding judge, his retirement plans were put on hold, forcing the date of Dillon’s swearing-in as DA to be bumped up.
Dillon was already on track to be the county’s new district attorney in January 2023. He was the sole candidate for district attorney in the March Republican primary and has no Democratic challenger in the upcoming general election in November 2022.
“This had been a planned, phased-in situation with Judge Trapp after he announced his retirement. I am prepared for it. We have been planning and working toward this the entire time,” Dillon said.
Prior to Monday, Dillon served the residents of San Jacinto County as the First Assistant District Attorney, and earned his prosecutorial experience over the last 12 years working for district attorneys in Polk, Harris and Angelina counties. In 2018, he joined the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office.
“I was hired back here by Judge Trapp with the understanding that he knew I wanted to run for district attorney,” Dillon said. “I was born and raised in Shepherd, and this has been a lifelong dream of mine to work as district attorney and serve the residents of my county.”
Dillon is the son of former Shepherd Mayor Glen Dillon and retired Shepherd ISD educator Cindy Dillon, and grandson of former Shepherd Mayor Pat Killion. Dillon, his wife, Amy, who works as a probation officer, and their daughter, Kate, make their home in Camilla.
After high school graduation, Dillon earned a bachelor of science degree in social work at the University of Texas. He went on to earn his law degree from the Thurgood Marshall Law School in Houston, graduating in 2010.
In anticipation of Dillon’s appointment as district attorney and to avoid any interruption in service by the district attorney’s office, two months ago Trapp hired on Rob Freer, a Montgomery County prosecutor, who is now the first assistant district attorney. The DA’s office has three attorneys on staff, including the elected district attorney. Anthony Dodson is the other assistant criminal district attorney.
San Jacinto County, unlike many of its neighboring counties, has a combined county and criminal district attorney’s office, which means that the prosecutors must try both criminal and civil cases, as well as advise county commissioners on legal matters, including the review of contracts.
“Another thing that is unique about San Jacinto County compared to other counties is that we are part of a judicial district for the 411th and 258th state district courts. We share these two courts with Trinity and Polk counties,” Dillon said. “I have worked in big and small counties, and those in between, and one thing I have learned about the small counties is that you have to be creative in directing your resources. We are lucky to have assistant district attorneys who are flexible and dynamic, and are willing to take on a challenge.”
Historically, there are about 1,500 cases filed in the SJC Criminal District Attorney’s Office each year. In the last three years, the DA’s office has seen a steady increase.
Dillon believes the rise in cases is the result of the growth in population and crime that is taking place in neighboring counties, particularly Liberty and Montgomery counties.
“We get big city issues in a small-town office. That includes problems with narcotics, organized crime, human trafficking and sexual assault of children. We see a lot of these cases,” he said. “I specialize in cases that involve crimes against children. One of my big goals is to protect the most vulnerable citizens among us.”
To assist young victims in sexual assault cases, the San Jacinto County DA’s office has partnered with Children’s Safe Harbor in Conroe, which assists by interviewing the victims and providing therapy.
“We are also partnered with the Texas Forensic Centers of Excellence and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division on human trafficking cases. Our goal is to prosecute people who prey on children. That’s a #1 priority in our office,” Dillon said.
Victims of sexual abuse no longer have to suffer in silence.
“We are getting more people to report child abuse and have gotten better at investigating these cases in San Jacinto County. I credit that to Sheriff Greg Capers and the investigators at the sheriff’s office. They have made it possible to go after these people more aggressively because of the quality of their investigations,” Dillon said. “We also work with DPS, Children’s Protective Services and the Texas Rangers. We are very fortunate to have the people we have. I believe we all do the best we can with the resources we have.”