Border Patrol: Bob Brady '97 on the Front Lines in West Texas
For as long as he can remember, Bob Brady ’97 wanted to become a lawyer. At the suggestion of one of his Political Science professors, he applied to Ohio State and was accepted. Ten years after leaving law school, Bob is far from Columbus, working as an assistant U.S. attorney along the U.S./Mexico border in Texas.
Bob credits classes in criminal law, taught by Professor Larry Herman, and criminal procedure, taught by Professor Sharon Davies, with giving him a solid academic foundation for his professional career. “Professors Herman and Davies are outstanding professors by any measure – including intellect, knowledge and experience,” he says. Bob clerked at the criminal defense offices of Bill Meeks and Sam Shamansky during law school, which he says “gave me valuable practical insights into the practice of criminal law.” At graduation, he was ultimately open to any career, provided constitutional law—another favorite subject area—had a significant role. He found his fit in the Judge Advocate General Corps, and was assigned to bases in Japan and Texas. Initially, he served as trial counsel, then moved to the defense side during his last two years of active duty.
In law school, inspiration came from reading about legendary lawyers. Once Bob began practicing law, his inspiration came from talented colleagues, “both prosecutors and defense counsel – who possess undoubted ethics, incredible trial skills, a keen insight and a extensive knowledge of the law,” he says.
Bob left active duty in 2003 upon receipt of an offer from U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton to become an assistant U.S. attorney in the Del Rio Division of the Western District of Texas. The Del Rio Division covers 13,000 square miles along the U.S./Mexico border and includes seven west Texas counties. In August 2006, Mr. Sutton chose Bob to lead the Del Rio Division. When asked to describe the major challenges posed by the current state of border security, he explains, “The border is witness to vast and thriving criminal enterprises involved in narcotics and human smuggling. We do our best to stop it, but many of the high-level targets are located beyond our jurisdiction in Mexico.”
As the immigration debate continues, Bob’s perspective on the issue comes from being on the front lines. “We primarily prosecute the mules or coyotes, i.e., the people directly involved in the smuggling of contraband or people. Occasionally, we get lucky and are able to successfully prosecute leaders and organizers. This has an impact until someone rises to replace the old leader and the cycle begins anew,” he says.“To complicate matters, we must contend with corruption on both sides of the border. A way to address this problem is with additional resources, like more agents, sophisticated equipment, prosecutors, and judges. At the same time, we should closely scrutinize the reasons underlying the problems and consider options beyond just beefing up the border with more law-enforcement resources. This is what Congress and the president were attempting to do.”
Bob’s office is constantly growing and he expects that they will soon have eleven prosecutors to combat each new challenge that the border brings. “These attorneys come from diverse backgrounds – firms, DA’s offices, JAG Corps – and we have developed a genuine espirit de corps,” Bob says. He notes, “They have taught me the importance of listening to others, as no individual has all the answers. Also, my direct supervisor, Richard Durbin, the Criminal Division chief, has been an incredible and patient mentor. He has a brilliant legal mind and an uncanny understanding of human nature. His advice has been invaluable.”
Though born in Illinois and raised in Ohio, he has enjoyed his time in Texas—especially sampling Tex-Mex food. “Popular notions of Texas-- images of oil derricks, cowboy hats, and longhorns -- are not incorrect; but the state has so much more to offer. Texas’s culture is as diverse as its geography ... the state is so big that we still have many interesting and beautiful places [my family has yet] to see.
At the end of the day, Bob’s greatest inspiration comes from his family. “Of course, I want to win, but as a prosecutor I am in a position of trust, and must constantly ask myself, ‘am I doing the right thing?’I want my family to feel proud in knowing I did what is right, which to me means accepting whatever outcome merited by the facts and the law, even if it requires having to decline or dismiss a case.”
Friends wishing to get in touch with Bob can email him at Robert.Brady@usdoj.gov.