Craig Watkins Painted Himself into a Corner in His Contempt Case. Now What?

Categories: Schutze

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So this is easy, isn't it? Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins himself will prove whether he's a crook or not by refiling or not refiling his big case against Al Hill III.

What's it going to be? Either he does follow through on his threat to refile, because he thinks Hill's lawyers and the FBI have nothing good on him. Or after talking big and giving everybody the bad eye all week, Watkins takes a dive because he's afraid going back to court will put him in the same old hot-seat again.

According to his own underlings, our district attorney is supposed to be super pissed off that his mortgage fraud case against a rich guy got killed because a judge was worried the district attorney might have taken a bribe to do it. Watkins himself is in sulk-hiding, but his people have been thumping their chests, saying the rich guy damn well did do a crime and they damn well will refile a case against him.

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Time to put up or shut up, Mr. District Attorney.
Judge Lena Levario tossed out a mortgage fraud case Watkins had brought against Hill after Watkins refused to answer questions about taking money from and doing favors for a lawyer who was suing Hill. Levario cited him for contempt, but she said she couldn't do anything other than toss the case against Hill because Watkins' stubborn silence made it impossible to determine if the case was bogus.

OK. If Watkins refiles this case in pretty much any way, shape or form, the same questions will have to be answered. He'll be right back on the stand with his hand figuratively on the Bible.

Is he filing on Hill again because he sincerely believes Hill committed a crime by faking up a mortgage application? Or is he filing again because powerful Democratic moneybags lawyer Lisa Blue dumped tons of money into his own campaign coffers and/or the coffers of other candidates to whom Watkins' wife has peddled her services as a campaign consultant, and then Blue called Watkins up and told him to turn his office into her own collection agency when she couldn't collect the fees she thought she was owed by Hill?

That question doesn't go away.

Look, Watkins himself set up this next chapter. He could have slunk away and licked his wounds in silence. You know: He issues one of those statements about, "We are disappointed, but we respect the workings of the American justice system and ... blah-blah-blah ... we're not talking about this again."

Oh, no. In fact, Russell Wilson, a lawyer who works for Watkins, is all over the front page of The Dallas Morning News this morning talking large about how Hill committed a crime and Watkins is not about to close his eyes to it:

"I would be offended if another law enforcement agency told us to be like the monkey and hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil," Wilson told the News. "If there was a situation where a prosecutor was going to be prosecuted for prosecuting a crime, it would have to be where no crime occurred and that's not the situation here."

Cool. So bring it.

Speaking of blah-blah-blah, The Morning News story is all about Watkins being the focus of an FBI inquiry, which we already knew, but the Morning News has no idea what it's about, for which we say thanks for keeping us posted. But here's the deal:

If Watkins believes Hill committed a crime, but he fails to bring the Hill case back to court, we will be forced to conclude he's letting Hill skate because Watkins is afraid Watkins will get put on the stand again, and Watkins can't afford that because of the FBI thing.

Again, he set this up. He brought the case against Hill in the first place. I'm not the one to say whether the case was dicey. I know if you lie on a financial document, you can do time. Maybe.

He's the one who defied a judge and refused to talk. There was plenty he could have said, even, "If I erred in personal judgment by talking to Blue, that still shouldn't allow this or any other defendant to escape justice."

Actually, if he was afraid the FBI was watching, he could have done what Blue did: take the Fifth. That would have been painful in terms of his chances for re-election, but it wouldn't have been as bad legally as what he did. He just dummied up. Hey. You can't do that. It's against the law. You can't refuse to talk when a judge tells you to talk, even if you're the district attorney.

He still could have slunk out, taken his meds and dropped the hot potato. But if he doesn't bring the case back, I don't see any other conclusion to draw than that he's chicken to go to court again because he's afraid of the FBI.

Say this: he's done one thing for us. Mr. Watkins has made this whole thing real simple.


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25 comments
gentlemanguyfawkes
gentlemanguyfawkes

Do you understand the reasoning behind the law our legislature passed concerning Criminal Contempt of Court by attorneys? Why should officers of the court have any different system for handling Criminal Contempt of Court charges than a Texas Citizen? Did anyone receive the memo that the legislature intended to create two classes of people in Texas?Can anyone explain why we need one class of people “the citizen” and another class of people “Attorneys”?

Do not misunderstand; I think Craig Watkins has accomplished a lot of good.He has done some wonderful things, especially his work with the innocence project. What could be more wonderful than allowing evidence into court that shows prosecutors abused their positions and wrongfully placed over 10 innocent people in prison? I think Craig Watkins should be afforded all the protections allowed by our Constitution and Texas Law. I just do not think he should be afforded special protections just because he is an attorney.

If Craig did prosecute this man for his own personal political reasons, then he should be punished according to law.And the people of Dallas County should vote people out of office who abuse their political office. If he is guilty of a crime, he should be convicted and sent to jail. But while in jail he should be placed with jailed citizens and not put into a special room for another class “attorneys”.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

the Royce West machine has to be brought down.  His ability to strongarm TABC to concoct a case where none existed is the most egregious example of our pending doom.

mcdallas
mcdallas

What is the link between Watkins and Price?  Is there potential for FBI overlap here?

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Watkins has been putting himself above the law - and voters since coming into office. The voters deserved him in his second term even though he came in, got rid of good city attorneys and put in many unqualified cronies! He has come in and as a Democrat - embarrassed the party! Not only time to go - but if they can prosecute Watkins and John Wiley - they can share a cell!

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

If people are in fact out to get you, that is the time when you should not do bad things.  Nor should you get all pissed off when they bring it up.  Yes, the DA has pissed people off with the DNA exonerations.  Yes some people don't like him simply because he is black.  Yes white people do bad things as well.  The point of the matter is, if people don't like you they will be watching to see if you mess up.  If you do, they will tell on you. 

True it may be racial bias that caused them to watch you, but you probably still in fact did the bad deed.  This is similar to conversations I have had to have when my kids mess up, we should not have to have it with our elected officials.

Some posters have been telling him to stand strong and don't back down.  They forget to add that the man is watching him, so he might want to keep his shit in line.

casiepierce
casiepierce

"That would have been painful in terms of his chances for re-election..." Not likely. You're talking about Democrats in Dallas, these same ones you've been writing about lately.

halldecker
halldecker

a trial judge in the Crowley Courthouse observes,  what Craig is accused of is nothing more than what Henry Wade,  John Vance and Bill Hill did for their supporters and friends.

As a very young lawyer I tried a hot check case,  Defendant cashed a hundred or two $25 checks at Mr. Buddy Minyard's fine stores.  Buddy absolute best friends with Henry.  The DA's office assigned three Felony prosecutors to a Class B check case.  One DA literally ran out of the courtroom to grab a phone and let Mr. Buddy know they'd nailed her.  

A Court clerk recalled Henry Wade coming in,  asking for the drunk driving case file of the Dallas News Editorial Director,  ripped it up,  threw the pieces in the garbage,  "Case Dismissed."  And walked out.

It looks like Craig stepped in a Big 'Un.    

 Appears he's the first to not get away with it.



oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Now paint a door open it and walk away .....Its that simple !

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

Try to stay out of jail. Never seen someone with so much potential fall so quickly.

Edward
Edward

And soon the postings will begin by Watkin's relatives/hangers-on about how "picked on" he is because he stands up to "the man". 

Hogwash.

I would have a lot more respect for Watkins if he was man enough to actually speak for himself. But he never has and probably never will. 

Hopefully Dallas will come to its senses and elect someone better for District Attorney.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@mcdallas I believe that the link is Senator Royce West.  He has his finger in every little pie in southern Dallas County.  If you look at some of West's clients (i.e. Dez and his mentor) along with the Inland Port group and start to make a buddies chart, you will start to see the links.  Add in Kathy Neely and you can connect Watkins, West, JWP and Don Hill.  Why do you think that Terri Hodge was at the hearing?  Also, West is Watkins's neighbor in DeSoto.

James080
James080

@Rumpunch1  

Who is pissed off over exoneration?  People I talk to are pissed off that Watkin's predecessors seemed to care more about winning convictions than putting guilty criminals in prison.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@halldecker 

Back 100 years ago when I was young, there was a notorious drunk good-old-boy judge getting himself in a  lot of trouble by misbehaving with women. A white-shoe lawyer who had a locker near mine at the downtown Y told me he was sorry to see this hew and cry because the judge in question was "a good liberal judge." I said, "Define 'liberal.'" He said, "If a young lady from a good family in the Park Cities were to run off to Oklahoma and get married to some hoodlum motorcycle mechanic, this is the kind of judge you got to to get the whole thing annulled whether the bride liked it or not, and that motorcycle fellow would wind up in a  jail so far far away that nobody in Dallas would ever hear his name again." I said, "OK, I need to go home and scratch that in the margin of my dictionary under liberal.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@halldecker True the white guys pulled a lot of shit and got away with it.  Are we saying that because of that, should Watkins get a free pass so we can be fair?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@halldecker But the good ol' boys network only works if you're a good ol' boy.

Tom434
Tom434

@Chuck_Schick He was elected in 2006 and is now starting his 7th year in office.  It's not like he doesn't know the ropes.

James080
James080

@Chuck_Schick  

Perhaps the "potential" was just a mirage.

Watkins had an incredibly thin resume for the job of District Attorney. He benefited tremendously by widespread mistrust of the previous DA, demographic changes in Dallas County and Democrats who vote straight ticket.

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@Rumpunch1 @mcdallas Ding ding ding. Interestingly, I don't think the DMN has written much about ol' Royce's connection in the Southern Dallas political machine. Let's say hypothetically that Royce West's law firm was a kind of clearing house for payments to Watkins, Price and others. You know, for "legal services." I wonder what that would mean for the FBI investigation?

halldecker
halldecker

@James080 @Rumpunch1  In the late 70's scattered around the prosecutor's desks upstairs,  there were signs:   IT'S EASY TO CONVICT THE GUILTY.  IT'S THE INNOCENT WHO MAKE US STAY UP NIGHTS.  

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@James080 @Rumpunch1 OK I wasnt clear.  People are pissed off that the exonerations are proving that they didn't actually win.  I apoligize for the confusion in my attempt at being brief.

halldecker
halldecker

@Rumpunch1 @halldecker    No.  I'm simply saying there is over a half-century  history of DA's in Dallas County doing huge favors for contributors and good friends. And friends of friends.  My post was to add perspective.   It didn't start with Craig Watkins.

 If you were around for the Pastor Walker Railey case,  the First Methodist preacher who strangled his wife into a coma,  you saw the Dallas DA throw the case.   The two prosecutors didn't talk to each other,  neither had an idea what the other would say in closing arguments.  Story around town,  Walker had counseled some of the very rich and very powerful.  And sent word,  if he went down,  he'd take 'em with him.

We've all seen pols,  preachers,  football players,  etc.,  who thought the rules didn't apply.  This is merely the most recent. 


James080
James080

@Tom434 @Chuck_Schick  

He certainly has not grown into the job. He's in his 7th year in office due to voter ignorance or apathy.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@RobertStinson @Rumpunch1 @mcdallas The RICO-like case is evidenced by Agent Sherman's JWP affidavit. Bob, if you haven't read it, it is definently worth the time.  They already have a great money trail on JWP.  The affidavit is basically porn for us CPA's.

As far who will snitch, my money is evenly on Don Hill or Kathy Neely (who has snitched before).  I am also putting money on the former constables and Terri Hodge.  Other than them, one must decide if Ross Jr. is the victim or a co-conspirator. 

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@Rumpunch1 @RobertStinson @mcdallas This has proven to be a by-the-book, RICO-like intestigation by the FBI. There have been few, if any missteps. It's clear that they are getting closer to handing out indictments, and the noose is clearly tightening around the primary actors. 


Right now, I'm most interested in who will snitch and whether the Dallas families will help the prosecution or be prosecuted themselves. And will the upcoming trials and prosecutions be the beginning of the end of The Accommodation and business and politics as we know it?

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@RobertStinson @Rumpunch1 @mcdallas  Bob, if nothing else, he is the person who brings everyone together. If he isn't dirty, he at least knows who is. As far as the FBI investigation(s) are going, does anyone else think that Don Hill is starting to get sick of prison and might be motivated to share his story?

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