My Advice to Craig Watkins? Double Down! Or Get Under a Desk!
For about three months I was a pre-law student in college -- a fact, I have always felt, that should give me the right to dispense partial legal advice. Partial legal advice, in my view, is legal advice that you should rely on only partially. So with that in mind, here goes. Here is my partial legal advice for Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins.
Sir, you are currently involved in a situation that I, as your partial attorney, would describe as a pickle. Somehow you got yourself into a cross-fire between a bunch of super-rich people seeking immense gobs of money from each other, and you were just a county district attorney, so that, in my partial legal opinion, was bad.
One of the Richie Riches says you brought phony criminal charges against him to keep him from testifying on his own behalf in some kind of hearing or something, which, frankly, in my partial legal opinion, is just a bunch of blah-blah-blah that I don't really get. One of the other Richie Riches has a history of steering you tons of campaign money, to which I say, "Go for it."
Here's the thing. You were supposed to testify in some kind of blah-blah hearing about it. You hid in your office for a while when they were trying to get you to come down to the courtroom and testify, which, frankly, I thought was brilliant. Why didn't you stick with that, guy? So they peeked in the window. So what? You ever hear of under your desk?
Anyway, I'm not here to find fault. I want to help.
Eventually you did go down to the courtroom, but when you got on the stand you refused to say anything. I don't get what's wrong with that. But the judge charged you with contempt of court, which I guess is a crime or something. They can put you in the slammer for it, so it must bad.
If memory serves, I already advised you once when this happened to try to get the charge knocked down to something more like disdain of court or unimpressed by court -- the same idea as contempt but no slammer. You ignored my advice. Fine. We in the partial practice of law actually get that a lot.
Instead you had a lady who was being fired from the county come forward to say that the judge who found you in contempt had bragged at lunch she was going to chop your head off and serve it up on a silver platter. Gross! I loved it! It's like one of those really scary scenes in the Bible. It was way better than my disdain of court idea, because of three things.
1) It made the judge look biased.
2) It made the judge look insane.
3) It made the judge look really really scary.
Now, very tragically and as a total shock to me, the other judge who was in charge of some kind of blah-blah-blah thing about this apparently has ruled that the scene-from-the-Bible lady was not fully persuasive. I do not get that at all. She said it. So in my book, it's true. But you lost that one. Now you are still in a pickle. Let's deal with that.
The question before us is this: In my partial legal opinion, what is your next best move? And as I have said, most of your moves already have been things that were way better than what I would have advised, so take that under partial advisement.
Here is what I think you do. Have another lady who is about to be fired by the county come forward and testify that the judge who found you in contempt is a cannibal. No, listen to me, man. Don't walk away like that. I'm very serious.
This is based on a legal principle that goes way back into what's called comma law. I partially remember this from the University of Michigan. Comma law is like where you have one thing, and then you have a comma, and then you have another thing. So the comma law principle here is called, "In for a penny, in for a pound."
If you're going to hide in your office, and then you come out of your office and show up in court but refuse to testify, and then you have an about-to-be-fired lady say the judge is going to chop your head off, and none of that works, what, may I ask, have you got to lose? It's not like you're Judge Learned Hand anyway.
By the way, Judge Learned Hand is the one who said, famously, "How long shall we blunder along without the aid of unpartisan and authoritative scientific assistance in the administration of justice, no one knows; but all fair persons not conventionalized by provincial legal habits of mind ought, I should think, unite to effect some change."
See what I mean? No one had any idea what the dude was even talking about. It's like somebody hit him on the back of the head with a frying pan, and that's what came out. And he's a famous legal guy. So just loosen up and go balls-to-the-wall on this.
Have the lady say the judge is a cannibal. Then you can say you're afraid to leave your office again. They'll have to have about 10 blah-blah hearings about it, which will take about 10 years, and then who cares? Ten years is so far away, it's like never.
I'm trying to say, I think you have been on the right partially legal path with this most of the time. I am still troubled by your failure to hide under your desk back at the beginning, but I know it's tough to think straight when you're under all this pressure.
Let me know about the cannibal thing. I wrote a book about some cannibals way back in the day, and I think I know what kind of evidence might be, shall we say, "arranged" in the judge's backyard. I think that would be only very partially against the law, and, like I say, who cares? Not me.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.