Criminal Procedure

Judge tosses case, holds DA in contempt for refusing to testify

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A judge in Dallas County held the district attorney there in contempt of court and threw out a high-profile mortgage fraud case his office brought.

Judge Lena Levario has wanted to hear District Attorney Craig Watkins answer questions about allegations that his office was prosecuting oil heir Al Hill III as a favor for a friend and a campaign donor, according to the Associated Press and CBS.

Watkins reportedly briefly took the witness stand, but only to decline to answer questions on attorney-client privilege and work product grounds. Levario then tossed the charges against Hill and found Watkins in contempt. On Friday, Levario agreed to allow another judge to determine how to handle the contempt finding, the AP reports in a separate story.

Lawyers for Hill maintain the case was a political favor by Watkins for campaign contributor Lisa Blue. Blue, who is involved in a federal investigation, refused to testify in the Hill case last month, asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Also see:

Dallas Morning News: “Ties between Dallas DA Craig Watkins and Democratic donor Lisa Blue go back several years”

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