By Holding Craig Watkins in Contempt, Judge Lena Levario Shows She's a Good Democrat. Some Dallas Democrats May Disagree.

Categories: Schutze

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So who is this Democrat judge, Lena Levario, who not only stands up to Democratic Party golden boy Craig Watkins, our embattled district attorney, but holds him in contempt of court? Does she not understand the most basic tenet of Dallas County Democratic Party philosophy -- that Dr. King died so that we might all have the right to suck money out of rich white people?

That's really the core allegation against Watkins, who just got his head handed to him in Levario's court on a charge of prosecutorial misconduct. By agreeing to bring criminal charges against a guy as a favor to lawyer Lisa Blue, widow of the late Democratic moneybags Fred Baron, Watkins was just doing what Dallas County Democrats are supposed to do -- kiss up to the money and hope some of it will fall their way. What else was the civil rights movement for?

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Judge Lena Levario
But Levario, lifelong Democrat, stalwart of the League of United Latin American Citizens, defender of immigrant rights, affirmative action and gender equality -- all that other Democrat stuff besides the money from the rich white peopl-- slammed Watkins in court yesterday, telling him, "All of this evidence makes it smell really bad."

She said in court that Watkins' staff and former staff are probably liars. And as for Watkins himself, whose professional rassling name would be "The Nose Thumber" for his previous treatment of her and her court, she held him in contempt for refusing to answer questions on the basis that he didn't want to. That was some pretty bold nose-thumbing even for The Nose Thumber, but let me tell you something about the county courthouse: No matter what happens, Democrats do not hold Democrats in contempt, nor do Republicans hold Republicans in contempt. But not many Democrats or Republicans are Lena Levario.

Born in Pecos in 1961, daughter of a proud and devoted father who was also a drunk, Levario grew up knowing every coin has two sides. As a child she was a victim of overt racism in Pecos. But in 2003 when Mayor Laura Miller was accused of racism by Hispanic activists over her conflict with former City Manager Ted Benavides, Levario spoke against her own posse:

"I don't think it's right just to go and get somebody because they, she's trying to get rid of people that she thinks are, are lousy people and shouldn't be there," she told an interviewer. "But the question is, yeah, does that mean that she is necessarily racist? I mean, should we keep someone in power that's lousy just because they are a minority? And so, you know. I, I don't know whether LULAC should be, I mean, they basically came out and called her a racist and I don't know if there's enough evidence there to say that she's a racist."

Here's what impresses me even more about that particular interview and maybe this is inside baseball, but one of the people doing the interview was Jose Angel Gutierrez, the patron saint of Latino activism in Texas. I don't think you say that kind of stuff to Jose Angel unless you've got a very stiff backbone.

She cut her lawyer teeth in Dallas as a public defender; read a great profile of her in those years by Rod Davis in D Magazine.

Then she did private practice, then got a judicial appointment by Texas Governor Ann Richards (now dead but eerily alive on Broadway as we see in today's New York Times), then more private practice, and then she was elected to the bench in 2006.

In between there, in 2004, she and former federal prosecutor Terry Hart were appointed as a special panel to investigate the city's unbelievably reprehensible "fake drugs" scandal, in which Dallas cops were deliberately framing Mexican immigrants whom they knew to be totally innocent and sending them to prison in a scam involving large sums of money budgeted for informants. As we saw only a week ago, the Dallas Police Department still has not learned its lesson about lying in court, but you can hardly blame that on Levario and Hart, whose report on fake drugs was a searing indictment of the department and of former Chief Terrell Bolton.

Bolton, the city's first black chief, was ferociously defended by the county's black Democratic establishment, who argued that Martin Luther King Jr. also died so that all Americans, not just privileged white people, would have the right to make money sending innocent Mexicans to prison. The Democratic effort to defend Bolton didn't work, and Bolton was banished, thanks largely to the brave and intelligent work of Hart and Levario.

We could get all psychological here, I guess. Maybe you learn early that life is complicated, if your dad is a tough smart good-looking guy who pushes you to be brave in the face of bigotry, to study hard and make something of yourself, but he also comes home drunk a lot. Or we could not get all psychological and just say this: guys like me, who rag on local Democrats all the time for being feckless and selling their own people down the river need to remember that Lena Levario is a Democrat, too. She's the same kind of Democrats as former Judge John Creuzot and Dallas County Treasurer Joe Wells. The good kind. They do exist. They just get lost in the mayhem sometimes.


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35 comments
mrscrissey
mrscrissey

This story demonstrates the way Dems really are. Well written.

robh5000
robh5000

she's a racist. she should be disbarred, and thrown off the bench and as far away from a courthouse as one can be.

BettyC1
BettyC1

Dr. King must be turning in his grave this is not what his death was suppose to produce. None of the people in Office were involved in movement they are benefactors of movement. I will be happy when the remainder of them go to jail so people like Erick Johnson ,Joe and other can work for the people.

rain392
rain392

WE drove by the park on our way to the matinee of "Anything Goes".   I was bowled over by the number of kids, food trucks, dogs on leashes and adults enjoying a slightly chilly day.  Obviously, this park was needed and appreciated by the people of Dallas.   Thanks to all who made it possible and will continue to nurture it.   We live in McKinney but used to live on Lovers and Inwood so Dallas still feels like home to us.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Interesting to read those voices who come to the story to label Levario a "nut job". Not that they offer any substantiation or validation mind you, just hurling the euphemism as if it tarnishes the work Levario is doing. Levario the Judge is clearly not a "nut job" in dealing with Watkins, she is performing her duties well.

Frankly, being a "nut job" isn't in itself an insult nor does it cast negative connotations on the subject. Many of the people who have been held as icons are very much guilty of such a trait, Steve Jobs comes to mind. Perhaps Watkins himself with his actions recently?

Most important, if Levario is actually a "nut job" that has zero bearing on the specific case being focused on. The case of course regarding Watkins, and Watkins' conduct both in regard to the Hill/Blue conflict and his disregard for the directives of the court in which Levario presides.

justwatchinthepaint
justwatchinthepaint

Lol, Been reading for awhile but Jim seems like you got Levario love on the mind, word is did this to help her long time republican turned democrat friend, she is a nut job,

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

So she has the requisite street cred to criticize other Democrats of differing flavors.

However in your view TEA Partiers are racist, Voter ID intentionally disenfranchises, and Mona Lisa was a man.

You DO have a predilection flick the racism invective with shotgun effect, but in this case you have dedicated an entire piece on her qualifications to criticize those of other races.

But nobody brought up the racism charge, yet you defend.  Maybe the Goddess of Justice is blind, but you peek.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

She is just being a judge. Whether are the DA, Cousin Vinnie or Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, you do not tell a judge to pound sand. You make legal arguments, file briefs, and respond respectfully. You can't tell a judge I am the boss and you do not matter. The good lawyers understand their power flows from the judge and never do anything that be perceived as disrespect for the court. If you do not respect a court, why would need a lawyer.

That thinking confirms that District Attorney Watkins at his core is not a very good lawyer. He is also not a good politician since he does not seem to understand the system. Do Democrats actually ask him for advice? If I had a complex problem that required deep thinking and multiple lines of action, he would not be on my list.

rbeezlee
rbeezlee

I really would be interested if you could ever break through the bubble, Jim. I think you'd be terrific. 

rbeezlee
rbeezlee

Why not just say that by holding Watkins in contempt, she's a good judge, period?  The day you stop viewing everything through an ideological prism within an ideological bubble, Jim, you might actually get people to think and go out and make a difference. Until then, enjoy the echo chamber.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Dallas needs more Lena Levario Democrats and fewer Craig Watkins Democrats.

A suggestion to change the headline from "Judge Lena Levario shows she is a good Democrat" to "Judge Lena Levario shows she is a good Democrat as well as a good Judge".

ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Jim, I like this judge more and more. People like Craig Watkins make dems of all races, creeds, colors, ect.. look bad, with major dismissals of two cases in two days, plus a contempt charge. I hate saying this, but craig could lose it for the dems come next election..Heres hoping John Creuzot runs against him next primary season..

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

This is a good one Jim.  Great reminder of how complex things are both politically and personally.  The dividing line between the good guys and bad guys is not party affiliation. Nor can an individual human being  be labeled as "good" or "bad".  We all have some of both inside us.

You_suck
You_suck

" all Americans, not just privileged white people, would have the right to make money sending innocent Mexicans to prison"

Except that it was latino cops doing that, not "privileged" whites.

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

Silence from black community is deafening.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

If both sides put honesty, duty, and integrity over party and naked power, quite a few of our Pressing Issues of the Day would disappear.

mrscrissey
mrscrissey

And democrats don't want to admit that MLK, Jr. was a republican.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@rain392 

The fat content of chicken pot pies is shocking.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@mavdog 

Maybe if Watkins has his political "consultant" wife in the front row staring bullets at you, like, "Watch your ass, bitch, or you know we'll run somebody against you next time," and you don;t do what they want you to do, which is cave for Craig, then they all think you must be a nut-job.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@rbeezlee

If you think American life can be understood withut reference to racial and ideological matrices, then you're just retarded.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@heart_and_soul

Thanks. Now we know how Mr. Watkins' numerous cousins feel about it.

robh5000
robh5000

SHE'S A RACIST! she needs to be kicked off the bench and disbarred!

JSSS
JSSS

That's why I always take my dry cleaning to the local Asian establishment -- they value honesty, duty, and integrity and always take care of my Pressing Issues of the Day.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@JimSX And you are doing a whole lot to keep it that way, intentionally or not.

rbeezlee
rbeezlee

@JimSX Who said anything about race? There's a difference between ideological "matrices" and being trapped in a bubble/echo chamber.  "Retarded."  How silly. How sad.  Sorry, Jim, you're not going to elicit from me the reaction you desire. By your reaction, I must've pressed a button; hit a little too close to home.

observist
observist topcommenter

@JimSX  MYRNA!!!!   MMMMMMYYYYYYRRRRNAAAAAAA!   Jim said "retarded"!!!!!!!!!

You_suck
You_suck

@CornyDoggy No, Schutze was subtly implying that it was white cops who did it.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

@Guesty @You_suck @CornyDoggy  the evil color in all those cases was BLUE.  And the brain dead system that swallows their word on anything.  Wade's legacy - and under whom most of the crap convictions that show up now as flashy exonerations happened.

It's too bad about Watkins.  He was doing some good work.  Just got too 'insider'.

Guesty
Guesty

@You_suck @CornyDoggy Actually, he was stating exactly the opposite.  Jim was pointing out that some Democrats would have turned a blind eye because it was not privileged white people making money by sending innocent Mexicans to prison, but that Judge Levario is not one of those Democrats.  

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