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Watkins To Learn If Contempt Charge Will Stand

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Elizabeth Dinh
Elizabeth joined CBS 11 News from Seattle's KOMO-TV in December 2...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas County’s top prosecutor will appear in front of a judge on Friday, but this time he will be on the other side of the courtroom. District Attorney Craig Watkins will find out if the criminal contempt case against him will stand. For months now, Watkins has been fighting to have the charge against him dropped. A judge ruled for the case to continue last month.

Also last month, attorneys for Watkins accused the judge in this case of being biased against the Dallas County district attorney, and argued to have her removed from overseeing the hearings.

That judge — State District Judge Lena Levario — is the same one who had originally held Watkins in contempt of court. She did so after the district attorney refused to answer questions in March about why he and his office prosecuted oil heir Al Hill III on mortgage fraud. Watkins has been accused of prosecuting the case as a favor to a friend and campaign donor. The case attracted attention from the FBI, but Levario threw it out.

Attorneys for Watkins maintain that his not having to testify is a central part of the issue here. District attorneys throughout the nation have the right to uphold that privilege.

Another judge — State District Judge Bob Brotherton of Wichita Falls — is expected to decide on Friday whether the contempt charge should stand. If he upholds the charge, Watkins could face a $500 fine.

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