Harris County DA remembered for wisdom, warmth

Memorial service for Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson
September 6, 2013 4:44:19 PM PDT
Friends and family of Houston's top prosecutor said Friday his legacy will not be defined by his time as district attorney, a prosecutor or as a judge, but by his wisdom and warmth.

Nearly 2,000 people packed a memorial service at a Houston church to pay tribute to Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, who died last week after battling cancer.

Anderson had been a longtime prosecutor and judge. He had been in office as district attorney only since January.

In May, he revealed that he was being treated for an undisclosed type of cancer. He died Aug. 30 at age 57.

At the service, Anderson was remembered as a generous man who made positive impacts on people's lives through his work in the justice system as well as through his faith and charity work.

Paul Schiffer, a Houston attorney and friend, said Anderson's philosophy of the legal system was not an "us versus them" mentality but one that asked, "What can we do for justice in Harris County?"

"He thought he was ordinary. We, on the other hand, realized he was extraordinary," Schiffer said.

Anderson, a Republican, had a long career in law enforcement. He spent 17 years as a prosecutor in Harris County and also served 12 years as an elected state district judge.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office, which has about 240 attorneys, is the largest office of its kind in Texas. Harris County has been noted as sending more inmates to the lethal-injection gurney than any other county in the nation.

Anderson was born and raised in the Houston suburb of Pasadena. He earned his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.

Mike Massey, a lifelong friend and former police chief of Pasadena, said even as Anderson battled cancer, his goal was to regain his strength so he could go back to work.

"This was a fighter. This was a warrior," Massey said.

Belinda Hill, the district attorney's office first assistant and a former judge, recalled getting to know Anderson when the two were prosecutors in the 1980s. She said Anderson had a keen legal mind but was not pretentious. Hill said when Anderson was elected to the bench, he didn't want anyone to call him judge.

"Mike's legacy is not about a building. It's not about a courtroom or a monument. ... Mike's legacy is about a great mind and a great heart who made life better for every person he touched," she said.

Hill will take over Anderson's role until Gov. Rick Perry appoints an interim replacement. An election to choose a new district attorney would be held in 2014.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Devon Anderson, and two children.

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