Colleagues call retiring DA ‘a true public servant’

By Crystal Burns

 

When Garry Brown, district attorney general of the 28th Judicial District, walked out of the Teapot Museum in Trenton on Friday afternoon, he did so with an armload of gifts.

Several of Brown’s former employees presented him with a personalized Heirloom Henry .22LR rifle. Members of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference gave him a personalized Orvis rifle case. His assistant district attorneys gifted him with a framed staff photo and Tennessee flag hanging, and many friends presented him with plaques to commemorate his 20 years as DA.

Perhaps more meaningful for Brown and his family were the countless plaudits bestowed on him. Brown, who announced his retirement in July, will officially leave office on Sept. 9.

U.S. Congressman David Kustoff lauded Brown as “a true public servant,” a sentiment later echoed by one of Brown’s fellow district attorneys.

“Nobody can say anything about you, and nobody does say anything bad about you,” he told Brown. “I’m very proud of you. We’re all very proud of you.”

U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant, who represents the Western District of Tennessee, said when he was elected as a district attorney in 2006, Brown was one of the first to welcome him to the state conference. Dunavant said he enjoyed learning from Brown.

“Garry Brown is what we like to call a five-tool prosecutor,” Dunavant said. “He’s ethical. He’s hard working. He’s smart. He’s thoughtful, and he’s not afraid to make the tough decision and the right decision even when it’s tough.”

Guy Jones, deputy executive director of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, and District Attorney General Amy Weirich of Shelby County who currently serves as conference president, spoke of Brown’s professionalism, leadership, and friendship.

“When I think of Garry Brown, and when my office thinks of Garry Brown, we think of that prosecutor who has never said no to the horrible cases that our office has asked him to handle over the course of his career as a district attorney here,” Weirich said. “He is a true public servant.”

Assistant District Attorney Jason Scott served as emcee said personnel in Brown’s criminal offices and child support offices in Trenton and Brownsville hate to see their friend and mentor go.

“Garry’s a good boss and a good friend,” Scott said.

Assistant District Attorney Marc Murdaugh thanked Brown for his mentorship.

“You’ve mentored a lot of young lawyers like me in the office, and we greatly appreciate you,” he said. “It’s good to work for a man that always does what’s right.”

Brown joked that Friday’s reception was like a preview of his funeral but thanked guests for braving the foul weather and COVID-19 to attend.

He remembered being sworn in as district attorney on a Monday and appearing before the grand jury in Humboldt that Wednesday before driving to Milan to speak to the Rotary Club. Brown said he found his notes from that meeting, recalling that some of his remarks that day were naïve and ill informed.

But Brown said he got one thing right – the honor of representing the people of the 28th Judicial District comprised of Crockett, Gibson, and Haywood counties.

“It was an honor that day,” Brown said. “It’s an honor today.”

Brown said his success as district attorney was the result of the people who supported, encouraged, and helped him throughout his 20-year career.

“They’ve all made it possible for me to do the things I’ve done as district attorney,” he said. “You can’t do it by yourself. You have to have help.”

Brown and his wife Stephanie have three daughters, Kylie, Caitlyn, and Sydney, and six grandchildren. He said he doesn’t know what retirement will look like for him, but he looks forward to being more involved in their lives, First Baptist Church in Alamo, and the Alamo community. He also hopes to work in some hunting and fishing.

Four attorneys, Frederick Agee, Jennifer McEwen, Marc Murdaugh, and Hillary Lawler Parham, applied to complete Brown’s term, which expires in August of 2022. The office of the governor’s deputy and chief counsel conducted interviews with the candidates last week. The governor is expected to announce his appointee soon.

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