Hon Finds Career as District Attorney

Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon returns to SHSU to teach a class in child abuse and neglect.
Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon returns to SHSU to teach a class in child abuse and neglect.

William Lee Hon turned a degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University into a career in prosecuting offenders as the District Attorney in Polk County.

When Hon graduated from the College of Criminal Justice in 1987, the economy was faltering and law enforcement jobs were tough to come by, especially his dream of working for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He decided to go to law school and, after four years in private civil practice, he returned to his first love of law and order.

"My heart has always been in criminal justice," said Hon. "I have an overall fascination with why people do bad things, especially to other people. With my degree in criminal justice, I feel I have a better understanding of how to investigate, prosecute and punish criminal offenders. I have a more informed perspective. It is more analytical with stepping back and objectively looking at how to solve crime and fashion punishment."

Hon has returned to his alma mater for several years to teach a class on child abuse and neglect, both to share his practical knowledge and to keep students motivated and involved in the issue.

“I am always so proud to introduce one of our graduates,” said Dr. Raymond Teske, who teaches the course.

Following two years at the Texas Attorney General Civil Rights Division, Hon returned to Polk County as an assistant felony prosecutor in 1996. He was elected the Polk County District Attorney in 2007. With a staff of five assistant prosecutors, four investigators, two crime victim coordinators and six support staff, his office handles about 1,000 felonies, 1,300 misdemeanors, and 300 juvenile cases a year. In addition, the Polk County District Attorney represents the county on civil matters.

During his tenure in office, Hon’s policy initiatives targeted drunken drivers, crimes against children and crimes against persons. With a busy schedule split between court and administrative duties, he doesn’t get to try cases often. But six to seven times a years, he personally prosecutes cases, usually involving homicides, felony child abuse, or public officials.

"I don’t think there is anything more important to do than to protect our children," Hon said.

Before becoming District Attorney, Hon prosecuted a wide variety of cases for his office, including drug dealers, burglaries, drunken drivers and sexual assaults. He successfully handled two capital murder cases.

As an attorney in the Civil Rights division, Hon handled violations of the 1983 Civil Rights Act for such departments Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the Alcohol and Beverage Commission; and Texas Parks and Wildlife. These included such complaints as the use of excessive force on suspects, offenders, and inmates or inadequate health care for inmates.

“I tried cases in every federal courthouse in Texas,” Hon said.

Hon said he has many fond memories of Sam Houston and often returns to the campus for business and pleasure. His office has a contract with the Sam Houston Regional Crime Lab in The Woodland, which offers laboratory analysis of controlled substances and toxicology.

“I am very impressed with the new lab,” said Hon. “It is going to be a real benefit. The DPS lab is so busy; this will be a great resource for us.”

Hon also comes back to watch sporting events, where he sometimes runs into one of his mentors, Dr. Rolando del Carmen. He credits Dr. del Carmen with preparing him for law school.

"He teaches the legal aspects of law enforcement and corrections much like they do in law school," Hon said.

Next year, Hon will add another notch to his belt as president of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, an organization that provides training and technical assistance to Texas prosecutors, their staff and related professions.

Member of The Texas State University System