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With more than 20 years government experience, Johnny Sutton has acquired expertise as a front line trial prosecutor and a top policy advisor to a Governor and a President.

Today, Former United States Attorney Johnny Sutton specializes in helping companies to comply with federal and state regulations. He also practices in the area of white-collar criminal defense and government investigations.

From 2001 to 2009, Sutton led one of the largest and busiest U.S. Attorney's Offices. The Western District of Texas covers 93,000 square miles, 68 counties and 660 miles of U.S.-Mexico border. Sutton managed more than 300 employees, a $28 million annual budget and directed 43,000 federal prosecutions and thousands of civil cases.

In 1983, Sutton was the starting left fielder for the University of Texas National Championship baseball team and was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Central Regional Baseball Tournament.

Sutton is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese.

Public Service

Harris County

From 1988 to 1995, Sutton served as a criminal trial prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston, where he tried more than 60 first chair felony jury trials. In 1994, Sutton obtained the death penalty against Raul Villareal in the rape and murder of two teenage girls, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena. Four other death penalty verdicts were rendered in the case.

Bush administration

In 1995, Sutton accepted a position as criminal justice policy director for then-Governor George W. Bush, providing analysis and recommendations for proposed criminal justice laws for Bush to support or veto.

Upon Bush's election as president in 2000, Sutton became coordinator for the Bush-Cheney transition team assigned to the Department of Justice where he served as Associate Deputy Attorney General, initially advising on U.S.-Mexico border issues.

United States Attorney

On October 25, 2001, Bush nominated Sutton for U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, one of the nation's busiest criminal dockets, known for its high percentage of drug and immigration crimes and covering 68 counties including Austin, San Antonio, El Paso and 660 miles of border. Sutton returned to Austin, where he oversaw a staff of 140 lawyers and a changing mission. Traditionally focused on border-related crimes, the U.S. Attorney's office increasingly focused on fighting terrorism.

As U.S. attorney, Sutton prosecuted more than 400 prison gang members, including 19 members of the Texas Syndicate in 2004, and more than 100 public officials, including former Texas Attorney General Dan Morales in 2003 on mail and tax fraud charges. Sutton also supported the buildup of federal resources, from 9,000 to 20,000 border patrol agents, on the Mexico border, and pushed for prosecution of illegal immigrants previously deported, instead of just those who had committed a serious felony.

Sutton was appointed vice chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys on May 27, 2005. On March 28, 2006, Gonzales elevated Sutton to chair of the committee. In this role, Sutton frequently traveled to Washington to advise the Department of Justice on border-related issues and testify before Congress.


Sutton attended UT on a baseball scholarship and played for the Texas Longhorns, where he was a two-year letterman under coach Cliff Gustafson. His teammates at UT included future Major League pitchers Roger Clemens and Calvin Schiraldi. Sutton spent three years as a backup second baseman, with just 50 at-bats in his career prior to the 1983 playoffs. On a hunch, Gustafson put Sutton in the post-season line-up as a left fielder; Sutton hit .454 in the six-game tournament and was named regional MVP as the Longhorns went on to win the College World Series. The 1983 team finished with a 66-14 record.

In various interviews, Gustafson has named Sutton his all-time favorite player. "He sparked us to a regional win and continued to spark us through the national championship," Gustafson said in 1994. "Clemens and Schiraldi got all the hype, but Sutton was the key to the national championship run."

The Ashcroft Firm

Sutton resigned as the U.S. Attorney effective April 19, 2009. He announced on April 24, 2009 that he had joined The Ashcroft Firm, chaired by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, to be known in Texas as Ashcroft Sutton Ratcliffe, LLC. Sutton's focus at The Ashcroft Group is corporate representation and compliance, strategic planning and risk management.


Wide-ranging Internal Review and Recommendations

The University of Texas has hired former federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton to conduct an extensive review of administrative and managerial issues.

From The Texas Tribune
May 21, 2018

What Classifies Domestic Terrorism?

FOX 7 Austin’s Rebecca Thomas talks to former Federal Prosecutor, Johnny Sutton, about what classifies domestic terrorism.

From Fox 7 Austin
March 27, 2018

Johnny Sutton talks about Austin bombings case

Johnny Sutton, the former U.S. Attorney for Western District of Texas, talks about the investigation.

From Fox 7 Austin
March 22, 2018

FOX 7 Discussion: Prosecuting NYC bombing suspect

FOX 7’s Mike Warren and Rebecca Thomas talk to former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, Johnny Sutton about the suspect confessing to officials that he was inspired by ISIS propaganda.

From Fox 7 Austin
December 11, 2017

FBI investigators Trying to Access Gunman's Phone

FOX 7’s Mike Warren talks to former U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who is now a partner at Ashcroft, Sutton Reyes, about the importance of authorities being able to access cell phones during investigations and how the FBI need access to cell phones of assailants and terrorist. 

From Fox 7 Austin
November 7, 2017

Vascular Solutions, Inc. Acquitted

On February 26, 2016, a federal jury in San Antonio found Ashcroft Law Firm client Vascular Solutions, Inc. (VSI) and VSI’s CEO and co-defendant Howard Root not guilty on all charges after a four week trial in which federal prosecutors charged VSI and Mr. Root with criminal off-label marketing of VSI’s Vari-Lase device. As local counsel to the trial team, Partner Johnny Sutton drew upon his prior experience as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas to help guide the trial team to this impressive result. We congratulate VSI and co-defendant Howard Root for their perseverance in the face of the government’s immense pressure, and we commend the firms of King & Spalding and Fredrikson & Byron for their excellent advocacy in this high-stakes trial. This result was not only crucial to our client’s business existence, but it is also an important milestone in the ongoing pushback against the FDA’s constitutionally questionable approach to the regulation of medical device marketing.

From Ashcroft Law Firm
March 3, 2016

Seeking death penalty in Boston case? A long road

‘‘There’s going to be a lot of push in that U.S. attorney’s office in Boston to seek the death penalty in this case,’’ predicts former prosecutor Johnny Sutton, who chaired a panel of 17 U.S. attorneys advising the attorney general on law enforcement issues during the George W. Bush administration. Sutton was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas from 2001 to 2009.


From Boston.com - Boston, MA news, breaking news, sports, video
Pete Yost
Associated Press
July 9, 2013

Most Underrated UT Baseball Player

Q: Most underrated UT athlete ever?

Bohls: I would say A.J. Abrams in hoops, Robert Brewer maybe in football, Johnny Sutton in baseball.


From Austin American-Statesman
Kirk Bohls
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Section C10

Gustafson Worthy of Stadium Honor

Two of Gus' former players - Clemens and outfielder Johnny Sutton, the surprise regional MVP of the '83 team who until recently served as a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas - have approached Dodds about the idea.

"Coach Gus exemplified class, a winning attitude and championships," said Sutton, who along with Hodo and Clemens has been instrumental in pushing the project. "He had a steel-minded will to win and a very humble attitude. Losing to him was completely unacceptable."


From Austin American-Statesman
Kirk Bohls
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Section C1, C3-4

Gun forum elicits mixed feelings

But Sutton said because many people selling at gun shows will not run background checks, this will create a new class of criminal since they will simply go outside to the parking lot to sell. He also said that common knowledge regarding gun control is often wrong.

“The murder rate in Texas is as low as it’s been in recorded Texas history ... since the ‘50s,” Sutton said. “The ownership of gun rate has never been higher.”


The Daily Texan
January 29, 2013


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