Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill's public corruption case finally heads into an Earle Cabell Federal Building courtroom tomorrow morning, shortly before the Dallas City Council is sworn in at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center one mile away. But tonight, just outside the building on Commerce Street downtown, he got a jump on the proceedings. As expected, he and wife Sheila Farrington, also indicted by the feds in October 2007 for her alleged involvement in the pay-to-pay scheme involving low-income housing developments, appeared with some 40 supporters, many of them members of Hill's Concord Church who gathered in a parking lot to pray for justice.
Hill mingled with congregants about 20 feet in front of large speakers, which blared gospel music. Hill, who will appear in court at 8 a.m. in the morning for contempt of court proceedings, said he would not speak to the media until after the hearing is over Monday morning. "So I can't talk to anybody," Hill said. He gestured toward the other church members. "You can visit with everybody else here, but I can't talk to anybody."
Sylvia Clark, 51, a church member for 30 years, remembered when the scandal broke in 2005, after authorities raided Hill's City Hall office. "For me, it was just unbelievable," she told Unfair Park. "I was shocked, and I was prayerful for them. Basically that's been what I've been doing the whole time -- just praying that the truth will be found, that justice will be served."
Clark, a deaconess at the church, is not willing to say whether she thinks Hill may be found guilty. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. I'm here to support him as a sister in the Lord. We've been praying that the Lord's will be done and that justice will be served. That's the way he asked us to pray." Fellow parishioners described the Hills as strong believers -- as "very spiritual" and "definitely people who love the Lord."
Other members felt more comfortable expressing their faith in Hill's innocence. "We're waiting on his victory," said Larry Hall, 47, a church member for 13 years. "I feel he's innocent."
"For one, he said he is, so I believe him," said Hall.
The group surrounded Hill and Farrington in a semi-circle to pray for them -- and for the jury expected to be selected this week. Specifically, they're hoping God picks "people who will love justice."