She won the Democrat Party primary election for criminal district attorney in Victoria County last month and faces a Republican incumbent in November.
Branch signed on to work with District Attorney Martha Warner back in January 2007 and has prosecuted all kinds of felony cases since then.
Much of her focus, however, has been on juvenile offenders.
“I’m just absolutely devastated I’m going to lose her,” Warner said. “She’s an amazing woman.”
Warner mentioned Branch’s 34-year career in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve. She retired from the reserve at the end of last year with the rank of commander. She had started out as an enlisted woman.
Warner said Branch is a staunch conservative who has done an excellent job as a prosecutor here.
“But I couldn’t be happier for her because this is something she’s wanted for a long time,” Warner said. If Branch wins in November, her election will attract national attention because she will be the first African-American woman ever elected to a district attorney position in Texas.
“She’ll make history,” Warner said.
Whether or not Branch makes history in November, she has been making an impact on communities for decades.
She was born in New York but her life changed when she married.
“I married a Texan,” she said. “That’s what brought me this way.”
She earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science at the University of Houston in 1989 and then finished UH’s School of Law in 1991.
Branch cut her teeth as a prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston.
“It’s a good place to learn,” Branch said of the largest district attorney’s office in the state.
In 1996 she went into private practice in Houston and kept her doors open until 1999, when she hired on with the DA’s office in Victoria.
During her years in private practice, Branch dabbled in all types of law, from tax cases to criminal defense. “I did a little bit of everything. It was during that time that I was board certified.”
“When I got the invitation to go to Victoria, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Putting bad guys away has been somewhat of a calling for the mother of a daughter and grandmother of three young girls.
The superintendent of her church’s Sunday school, Branch is philosophical about crime and punishment.
“I believe all of us are God’s children,” she said. “God was real clear that you deserve punishment if you do wrong. I don’t have to hate people because they violated the law, but I do have to see that justice is done.”
Warner said she is fortunate to still have former Nueces County Assistant Dictrict Attorney James Sales on her staff.
Sales works as Warner’s border prosecutor and has an extensive history prosecuting drug dealers and gang members.
Warner said it looks as though Sales will remain at the job here longer than originally planned.
“I’ve been hoping he’d stay here and work drug and gang cases,” Warner said.
“He’s a huge asset because he’s such a good prosecutor,” Warner said. “He knows the rule of law.”