BELL COUNTY, Texas – The Bell County Justice of the Peace who made national headlines in 2017 has died.
Claudia Brown passed away on Tuesday, December 15th in Killeen, according to her obituary at Chisolm’s Family Funeral Home and Florist.
“It’s like having a mother in the church, and that’s what she was to us,” says Killeen Innovation Chamber of Commerce founder Ronnie Russell. “Yes, you can say ‘Judge Brown,’ ‘Dr. Brown,’ but we just called her ‘Mother Brown.'”
Brown was born in Baltimore, Maryland in February of 1939. She caught national attention when she set a $4 billion dollar bail for a Killeen murder suspect in 2017.
“History will see her as a legend,” says friend Aya Fubara-Eneli. “History will see her as the icon for justice reform, because she really put a spotlight on the inequities of our current bail system.”
Two years later she faced a trial of her own, when prosecutors accused her of committing misconduct in her position as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4, Place 1. Her defense said Judge Brown simply made a mistake, and that she made a rookie mistake and has accepted responsibility. Brown was removed from the bench at the end of the trial and replaced by Daryl Peters.
Friends remember Brown as someone who lived life to the fullest extent.
“She just never stopped,” Fubara-Eneli said. “She believed that as long as you had breath, you were supposed to continue to work and you were supposed to continue to serve and that service was really the rent that you paid for still being alive, and Claudia Brown served until her very last day.”
“She lived a full life,” Russell said. “She loved life and she loved people.”