Craig Watkins Wins Late Victory in Al Hill Case

Going out with a victorious whimper.
Going out with a victorious whimper.
Sam Merten

It's hollow succor, to be sure, but 5th Texas Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a judge made an improper ruling in the case that ended in outgoing Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins being charged with contempt of court.

Watkins secured an indictment in 2011 that accused Al Hill III and his wife of making a false statement to obtain property or credit -- in this case a $500,000 home-equity loan. Before the case went to trial, the charges against Hill's wife were dropped. Soon after, Hill sought to have his charges dismissed as well, claiming that his prosecution by Watkins was politically motivated.

Hill alleged that the district attorney prosecuted him as a favor to Hill's father and Lisa Blue, both friends of Watkins. The trial judge in the original cases gave Hill a hearing for him to lay out his allegations and eventually agreed to dismiss the charges against Hill with prejudice. Watkins was charged with contempt of court by state District Judge Lena Levario for refusing to testify at the hearing. He was found not guilty at his contempt trial because, state District Judge Bob Brotherton ruled, the hearing should never have happened.

Monday's ruling agreed, and in doing so reinstated the charges against Hill. According to The Associated Press, incoming District Attorney Susan Hawk has not decided whether she will pursue the now reinstated indictment against Hill.

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