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District Judge addresses criminal probe of Brown County Attorney

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - The judge for the35 th Judicial District spoke at an event on Friday -- and he addressed the criminal investigation into Brown County Attorney Shane Britton's Office.

Judge Steve Ellis told KTXS he asked for the resignation of former County Auditor Nina Cox last May in relation to her poor performance in managing Britton's funds.

"I know that the federal authorities are investigating the county attorney," Ellis said. "I do know there are issues with that."

He added, "Some of the auditor's issues, with why I asked for her termination, was related to that."

The U.S. Attorney in Lubbock is investigating Britton for bribery and corruption charges.

"I don't know the status of that," Ellis said. "I had hoped that it would've long since been cleared up."

Ellis was the keynote speaker for a luncheon the Brown County Republican Women's Club held at the Brownwood Country Club. Elected to the bench in 1996, Ellis presides over felony cases in Brown and Mills counties.

He shared his wisdom of the judicial system to the crowd.

"You don't want to have a trial in the media of a case. And you don't want to have things that will negatively influence a jury before they even come in," Ellis said.

Before becoming district judge, Ellis also served as district attorney for Brown County and as a criminal defense lawyer.

Ellis told KTXS on Friday he supported the decision of County Auditor Jennifer Robison, who he appointed last June, to seek Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's opinion regarding funds operating in Britton's office.

"I was glad to see the attorney general's opinion and I wasn't surprised by that opinion," he said.

Paxton ruled Britton's Brown County Attorney Donation Fund didn't operate within the law.

From 2007 to 2015 Britton operated a donation program inside his office. It allowed defendants in misdemeanor cases to pay him a donation in exchange for a lighter sentence or even dismissal.

As we reported in January and February, Britton used his BCADF to go on vacations.

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