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Political Fallout Over DA’s Contempt Charge Could Be Lasting

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Steve Pickett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has said little publicly Friday, following a stinging court defeat, including being held in contempt of court.

Now, many wonder how all this will impact Watkins politically.

Mr. Watkins isn’t talking. But already in the political ether of Dallas is talk that this case may be a small headache before a huge migraine for Craig Watkins.

A dismissed criminal charge against an heir to billions was directly tied to DA Craig Watkins on thursday, when he refused to testify in a hearing alleging Watkins was selective in prosecuting Al Hill III.

Hill claimed Watkins targeted him because the DA receives political donations from a high-profile Dallas lawyer  who is fighting Hill for millions.

Judge Lena Levario cited Watkins for contempt of court.  And now, watchers of the political waters of Dallas say the DA may have dug himself political trench he can’t escape without scrapes.

“In the end he’s an elected official, every four years he has to run, so he has think about the politics,” says SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson.

But Assistant DA Russell Wilson is quick to come to the defense of his boss.  “Anybody who thinks this is bad is unrealistic. Most don’t have the gumption to hold privilege, knowing it could get you a charge of contempt.”

Wilson said the DA stood on principle in his refusal to testify.

Watkins has not faced sanction or penalty.  He has denied any misconduct.

State law indicates that as an officer of the court, Watkins has the right to be released on his own recognizance until it is determined if he is guilty of contempt of court or not.

His office filed a motion to fight the contempt charge Friday.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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