Outcome of District Attorney Craig Watkins' Contempt Case Still Up in the Air

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Today was supposed to be the day when we found out whether District Attorney Craig Watkins' contempt of court citation would be upheld. State District Judge Bob Brotherton traveled here from Wichita Falls just to make the decision. What he decided instead was that the original contempt charge hadn't been properly written and must be redone.

Before we delve into the details, a bit of a refresher: A while back, Watkins brought not-terribly-strong mortgage fraud charges against Hunt family scion Al Hill III. Hill, in turn, accused Watkins of bringing the charges at the behest of high-profile lawyer and Democratic donor Lisa Blue, who was then engaged in a multimillion dollar fee dispute with Hill. Lena Levario, the state district judge hearing the case, determined Hill's claims had merit and ordered Watkins to testify, which caused the district attorney to suddenly fall ill. When he finally did take the stand, he sat in stony silence. Hence, the contempt charge.

A couple of additional wrinkles have developed since then. Levario was subpoenaed last week to answer questions about this:

Which, if true, raises obvious questions about Levario's objectivity. Also, Watkins' only formidable potential opponent in the district attorney's race, retired Judge John Creuzot, decided not to run, leaving Watkins' opponents focused almost entirely on the contempt case.

Levario did end up testifying today, but she didn't really say much before Brotherton decided she'd botched her contempt order by failing to specify what type of punishment Watkins might face. Levario turned around and had a hearing to remedy the omission but was derailed when Watkins' attorneys asked that she be removed from the case, which will be decided by an administrative judge.

So, once that judge makes his ruling, Watkins may or may not be re-cited for contempt, at which point Brotherton may or may not decide that the ruling was justified. No telling how long that might take.

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9 comments
lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Watkins is such a lowlife that he through his supporters, will probably be re-elected again. Shades of John Wiley Price, Al Lipscomb & Diane Ragsdale. Is there not someone who can come in and do a good job without wrecking the system?? Watkins has made the District Attorney's office into a joke and it has the same success rate as the Florida and California justice systems! Only locally can you have Price and Watkins in the news for potential crimes and they continue to operate as if nothing happened! 

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

The wheels of justice...

MikeyLikesIt
MikeyLikesIt

Gotta love us Democrats.  We eat our own.  Obviously longing for Bill Hill, Henry Wade and the days of old.  Someone needs to pull their ego swollen head out of their ass.

WylieH
WylieH

You omitted the interesting fact that Watkins didn't bother to file this objection until after 5 p.m, last Friday (he could have done so at any time prior to the hearing), resulting in both the judge and the prosecutor having to make an unnecessary, wasted trip to Dallas.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

First, I think Watkins is in fact in contempt.  However, I think Brotherton made the right call.

Contempt isn't just "I said it you take it."  It's to remedy a specific problem, so you have to have a specific punishment that ends when you do a specific thing.  A good example is the reporters trying to protect a source.  The judge says, "tell me who the source is."  The reporter says no.

Then, the judge says, "I'm holding you in contempt and putting you in jail until you decide to testify."  The punishment is tied to not testifying -- as soon as you comply, the contempt is cured, and the punishment ends.

I suspect that the order will simply be changed to something like "Watkins is fined $1 a day until he decides to testify about the decision to prosecute Hill" and then the appeal can go forward.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@MikeyLikesIt  

I respect the fact that a Democrat judge called bullshit on a popular Democrat District Attorney when she saw abuse of office. Texas politics is full of whores who look the other way when fellow party members abuse their office and I'm sick of it.

Isn't there a reasonable alternative somewhere between Henry Wade and Craig Watkins? Would you really prefer a incompetent, corrupt Democrat to an experience, honest Republican? That's why I vote a split ticket, I won't vote for a crook or an incompetent merely because I want their party in power.


unclescrappy
unclescrappy

@WylieH Typical demorat watkins style. Doesnt care about anyone or anybody other than his pompous self.

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