Since 1996, the Silver Gavel Award has been presented by the Tarrant County Bar Association to a current or former member of the Tarrant County judiciary who served Tarrant County for at least ten years while exemplifying three qualities: ability, integrity, and courage. This award is reserved for those rare individuals who never settle for good enough, but instead seek excellence in each these categories. On May 8, 2014, Judge Brent Carr received the Silver Gavel Award.
After serving as an artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps from 1976 through 1980, Judge Carr graduated from South Texas College of Law and served as a prosecutor with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office until 1991. In 1991, the Tarrant County judiciary welcomed a new court to the foray, County Criminal Court No. 9, and with it a new colleague, Judge Brent Carr. Since he first donned his black rob and took the bench, Judge Carr has presided over 55,000 cases and 700 jury trials. Over the years, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys alike have lauded Judge Carr for his character. In the words of local defense attorney, Mark Daniel:
“Judge Brent Carr is a very special person, a very special judge. He possesses an incredible work ethic. He is patient with everyone who appears before him. He is more than competent. He is fair to a fault. He is beholden to no political influence. He simply goes to work every day and does the right thing. He is what a judge should be. He is why the Tarrant County Bar Association honors an outstanding judge each year with the Silver Gavel Award. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient.’
Judge Carr has been instrumental in bringing several specialty court diversion programs to Tarrant County. Diversion programs are judicially monitored treatment programs that seek to address the underlying problems leading to the commission of crimes. Judge Carr’s efforts have led to the creation of the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program, the Mental Health Diversion Program, and the Reaching Independence Through Self-Empowerment (RISE) High Risk Women’s Intervention Program.
“Judge Carr is a hero,” said then-Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Anna Summersett, who is now a partner at Varghese Summersett. “His judicial robe serves more like a cape as his diversion programs continue to rescue people from the clutches of addiction and disability. His example shows us there is more to our field than practicing law, we should also practice service.”
When Judge Carr is not serving in the courtroom or spending time with this wife and three children, he volunteers with the Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County, Mental Health Connection, Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, Santa Fe Youth Services, and Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
Judge Carr has maintained the same staff since 1991. A 23-year-old photograph showing him standing with his court coordinator, Lori McEndree, and court reporter, Toni Freeman, still hangs in the hallway as a reminder of their journey. Though much has changed over the past two decades, one thing remains unaffected by the passage of time: Judge Carr’s integrity.
“His integrity is one thing I have never questioned in the over 23 years that I have worked with him” said Toni Freeman, when asked about the one thing that stands out about the judge.
Lori McEndree, Judge Brent Carr, Toni Freeman in 1991
We are grateful to have Judge Brent Carr as a member of our judiciary. Please join us in congratulating him as this year’s Silver Gavel Award Recipient.
Past Silver Gavel Recipients
1996 Honorable Clyde R. Ashworth
1997 Honorable L. Clifford Davis
1998 Honorable Eldon B. Mahon
1999 Honorable George A. Crowley
2000 Honorable C. Randy Catterton
2001 Honorable William H. Brigham
2002 Honorable Joe Drago and Honorable Don Leonard
2003 Honorable Dixon W. Holman
2004 Honorable Sidney C. Farrar, Jr.
2005 Honorable Billy D. Mills
2006 Honorable Terry R. Means
2007 Honorable R. Jeff Walker
2008 Honorable Fred W. Davis
2009 Honorable Brian A. Carper
2010 Honorable Charles Bleil
2011 Honorable Jean Boyd
2012 Honorable William L. Hughes
2013 Honorable Louis E. Sturns