Coloring Book

Page 4 of 4

But let's pause and do a basic reality check here. We are asked to believe that the Dallas County district attorney walked into a room full of Morning News reporters and editors--with their tape recorder running on the table--and threatened to use an unrelated criminal probe as a hammer to quash a negative story about him.

Then we are asked to believe that the News never once mentioned this staggering act of official oppression to its readers. But it's coming out now in the pages of a trade journal?

"I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid," Hill told me. He said he assumed the News and its lawyers would have gone straight to the FBI if he really had pulled a stunt like this.

It just does not ring true.

I negotiated with the News all last week and was unable to get anybody there to talk to me about any of this on the record. So I can only come to one entirely personal conclusion: Nothing The Dallas Morning News has reported about racist practices by the current regime in the DA's office has credibility.

As far as those juries are concerned, the numbers to trust are the ones that show the ethnic makeup of juries in Dallas County almost exactly matching the makeup of the jury pool.

The race question in this race is perplexing. Yes, we may change from a long line of white DAs to a line of non-whites. That's something. But what?

Do we need a nonwhite district attorney because of the city's fake-drugs scandal a few years ago? Remember, though, that the scandal was carried out under a black police chief, whom black leaders defended.

The claim that Bill Hill's staff practiced racist jury exclusions is based on a transparently bad series of stories in The Dallas Morning News.

If I were still writing true crime, I'd say the race card in this election is a red herring. Instead, look for the one who reveres the law. --Jim Schutze

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze