US attorney Erin Nealy Cox is leaving the Justice Department.
The DOJ released a statement Thursday morning saying Cox had resigned from her position after three years in the Northern Texas District but had given no explanation as to why or what she was up to next.
“Working as the United States attorney has been the privilege of a lifetime. Representing our nation is a tremendous responsibility – one I have tried to assume with integrity and accountability to the rule of law. I am grateful to President Trump and Senators Cornyn and Cruz for giving me this opportunity to lead and the Attorney General for trusting me, ”said Nealy Cox.
Nealy Cox was named a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas by President Donald Trump in September 2017. Two months later, she was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate and sworn into office on November 17, 2017.
I was a law student 26 years ago and worked as an outside attorney general in the US.
21 years ago I had the privilege of fulfilling my dream of becoming a federal prosecutor.
3 years ago today, I was honored to be sworn in as a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. pic.twitter.com/FJdvHB1ayi
– US attorney Erin Nealy Cox (@USAttyNealyCox) on November 17, 2020
The DOJ said in a statement Thursday that “under her leadership, the Northern District of Texas has prospered, prosecuting more cases and prosecuting more defendants than any other extra-large non-cross-border district in the nation.
“Of course, I was never the key to the success of this great office. Northern District Texas attorneys and staff have never wavered in their commitment to justice through a court shooting, government shutdown, global pandemic, and unprecedented unrest. We have seen similar determination from our law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local levels. I am grateful for their passion and inspired by their dedication, “said Nealy Cox.
Nealy Cox’s last day in the office is January 8, 2021. Upon her departure, first US assistant attorney Prerak Shah will take over the role of acting US attorney until a permanent replacement is named and confirmed.
DOJ statement on the resignation of Erin Nealy Cox
In addition to her duties here at the Lone Star State, Nealy Cox led the national level as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Attorney General, a group of federal attorneys who advised the AG on political and operational issues. Tasked with articulating Justice Department initiatives to lawmakers and the public, she testified twice before the US Senate. She was named co-chair of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Violent Anti-Government Extremism, was a member of the DOJ’s Religious Freedom Task Force, and one of five U.S. lawyers advising the DOJ’s China Initiative, a group of senior officials who taking action against state-sponsored industrial espionage.
“Erin Nealy Cox is a world class leader and attorney – one of the many reasons I selected her to chair the Attorney General’s Advisory Board,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “As a fierce advocate of human trafficking, public corruption, domestic violence and violent crime, she has shown an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice in North Texas and across the country. I thank her for her dedicated service to the department and wish her every success in the future. “
In the northern district of Texas, Nealy Cox has an impressive list of priorities. It focused on reducing the district’s soaring violent crime rates by aggressively enforcing gun possession laws and accusing the country’s second highest number of gun crimes defendants. In February 2019, she launched the district’s domestic violence initiative to keep guns away from armed abusers. These groundbreaking efforts, based on research showing domestic violent abusers with access to a gun, were five times more likely to kill their partner, led the Attorney General to appoint Nealy Cox to chair a newly created working group on domestic violence. On her instructions, the district also targeted the illicit firearms trafficking at gun displays, illegal possession of 3D printed guns, and private vendors “engaged” in the gun trade, including the man who owned an AR-15 -Odessa Schütze sold to the Mittelland.
A passionate human trafficking advocate, Nealy Cox attacked sexual exploitation from all angles and worked with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to renew the North Texas Trafficking Taskforce. In June 2020, the Human Trafficking Task Force shut down CityXGuide, a leading source of online sex trafficking ads, and used the newly-passed FOSTA Act to accuse its owner of reckless disregard for human trafficking – a move approved by lawmakers across the country was praised. It also attacked the demand side of human trafficking by incriminating both sellers and buyers, and put in place a system to claim reimbursement for victims.
Nealy Cox’s all-angle approach extended to public corruption, where her team aggressively pursued all facets of public corruption: bribe payers, recipients, and intermediaries. In August 2018, she announced charges against former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem and the Louisiana businessman who paid him nearly half a million dollars in bribes for the Dallas County Schools’ bus stop program. Prosecutors also overthrew an intermediary who was helping manage the money. Six months later, Nealy Cox announced charges against another Dallas councilwoman who pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a local real estate developer.
An avowed data nerd, Nealy Cox used a data-driven model to launch the award-winning Project Safe Neighborhoods programs in Dallas, Lubbock, and Amarillo. Working with a senior criminologist, she and the various PSN task forces analyzed district-wide violent crime data to identify violent crime hotspots that could benefit from collaboration between federal law enforcement and police agencies. In Dallas, the PSN Task Force also implemented a community engagement strategy that uses Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to revitalize the troubled areas. Even as North Texas communities struggled with rising crime rates, all three PSN hotspots in Amarillo, Lubbock, and Dallas saw sharp decreases in violent crime.
A prosecutor at heart, Nealy Cox did not shy away from the courtroom. In September 2019, she worked with an AUSA colleague to personally try Michael Webb, the man who kidnapped an 8-year-old girl from the streets of Fort Worth in broad daylight. After emotional testimony from the mother and the agents who rescued the child in the defendant’s hotel room, a jury only considered eight minutes before pronouncing a guilty verdict. Nealy Cox also argued the stage of sentencing which resulted in life imprisonment.
US attorney Erin Nealy Cox talks about the life sentence for kidnapping that was given to Michael Webb on November 14, 2019.