Greenville Life Spring 2020 - Page 26

Deborah Mason, right, serves the court as coordinator for County Court At Law Judge F. Duncan Thomas, after having served in a similar capacity for Thomas when he was the Hunt County District Attorney. F. Duncan Thomas, judge of the Hunt County Court At Law No. 2 since it began in 2009, intends to lay down his gavel at the end of this year. He did land a job with a lawyer in Greenville and started working even before he took the bar exam. He was licensed in November 1976 and landed his first prosecutor job, as an assistant county attorney for Hunt County, starting on Jan. 1, 1978. He didn’t stay in the position for long. He ran for district attorney in 1980 and won, then kept on winning seven straight times, holding the job for 28 years. In 1986, Thomas became certified as a Specialist in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction of which he is especially proud. “Only about 1 percent of the lawyers in Texas are certified in criminal law,” he said. Thomas has been recertified every five years since then. Walker said Thomas has been a close friend and a mentor, both on the job and in life. “Duncan was far and away the best boss I ever worked for,” Walker said. “Not only was he always available and an incredible teacher at the office, but he would always be the first to show up if you needed him outside of work. I was working for Duncan when Kelly and I got married and I came into work one day and out of no-where he gave me a socket set, some channel lock pliers, and an assortment of household tools. He then advised me that as a married man I would be needing them. As fate would have it, he was absolutely right and with the exception of the half-inch socket, I still have that whole set.” G.W. Wofford began working with Thomas when he became the first Hunt County Attorney’s investigator in 1979. When Thomas took over as district attorney in 1981, Wofford went with him and stayed until he retired in June 2006. “Duncan always told everyone that he fired me four times, but I just wouldn’t leave,” Wofford said. During his tenure as district attorney, Thomas prosecuted hundreds of major cases, ranging from drug possession to capital murder. Among his most memorable cases was the trial of Adam Kelly Ward, who in 2007 was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 2005 death of Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker. Thomas was among the witnesses at Ward’s execution in March 2016. “That was something I had promised to Dick Walker, Michael’s father,” Thomas said. “I just felt that was something I had to do.” But Thomas has been involved with far more than the law, as he has been active with the Greenville Rotary, Lions and Optimist clubs and has served on the boards of multiple organizations, including 26 Greenville Life SPRING 2020