For twenty-six years, Matt Powell has been an attorney. He has spent the last thirteen of those years as the Lubbock County District Attorney. This Friday, he will serve his last day before handing over the reigns. Terri Furman sits down with Powell to reflect on his time as DA.
In doing the job, Matt says, “it’s not about wins or losses or anything like that, it’s about getting justice for some of these victims.” If you have every seen Matt Powell on TV, you have heard him talk about justice. Growing up in the Panhandle, he learned about justice from his parents. He says, “my dad told me many, many years ago; don’t ever do anything that your mom will be embarrassed to read in the Amarillo Globe News.”
Being the District Attorney that has tried multiple high profile cases and then the thousands of cases that most of us will never know about…Matt has little mementos all throughout his office that mean the world to him…and reflect both the high and low points of his work. “I think the low points are probably when you don’t…aren’t able to get what you perceive to be justice for a particular victim. The high points are every time that you are able to stand up for a victim that didn’t have a voice. I always talk about little kids that have more courage in their little finger than I have in my whole body.” Powell is not afraid to show his feelings, and kids are his soft spot. Telling me, “it was a miracle that we were able to find Joanna. I still get emotional about that, sorry. It’s hard enough when you lose a child – much less not knowing where that child is. It’s unimaginable. When I became a dad, those became worse and worse. Because you know, you can’t help but trying not to see your own kids in those crimes.”
When you are listening to Matt Powell, there is always a strong feeling of passion for justice, and he can get fired up about cases he wasn’t able to get justice in. Saying, “I hate, I hate that they’re not solved – that they are not solved during my tenure. That I’m not able to at lease put those in front of a jury and let them decide guilt or innocence on a particular case.”
Spending thirteen years as the Lubbock County DA, we asked him about crime in Lubbock and the root of it from his point of view. He says, “I’ve always said meth and synthetic marijuana are probably the two biggest problems that we have – because it changes personalities and it changes people’s behavior drastically. Like night and day.”
In talking with him, Matt thinks it takes a certain type of support system to see the things he’s seen and do the work he’s done. “The men and women that serve the community in Lubbock in Iaw enforcement do it for the right reasons. They want to help folks, they want to serve their community. And that has been my experience and I’ve met some unbelievable officers during my time and have close friends with lots of officers. I don’t know know how anybody can do this job without faith. To know that there is a better hope for this world than what we see on a day to day basis. My wife is my number one, my best friend, my number one supporter, my number one critic, my number one whatever. And my number one sounding board. I ran a lot of ideas past her and lots of closing arguments past her.
As he packs up his office and says good bye to people he considers family, he is looking forward to the new adventure and leaves us with these two thoughts. “I think Lubbock is a tremendously safe place to live. If you look at how they justify numbers, and everything else, counties our size – we’re the safest county in the State of Texas. What drives Lubbock so much is it’s people in this community that will do anything for you. You know, that are as hard working and down-to-earth good folks that you’re ever going to meet.”
Powell begins his new job as general council for Midland ISD on Monday, November fifth. From all of us at KLBK, we thank him for always being so kind and easy to work with…we wish him well on his new journey. Sunshine Stanek will be the new Lubbock County District Attorney as she is running unopposed in the election.
To see the full interview with Powell, click here.