District Attorney Craig Watkins has escaped from the contempt-of-court allegations that have dogged him for six months like Charlie Brown's personal rain cloud. A specially appointed judge -- a Republican from Wichita Falls who is far removed from Dallas County political intrigue -- ruled that the hearing at which he refused to testify, like the one he feigned sickness to skip, never should have happened. The Dallas Morning News details why here.
With that, the absurd legal cloud hovering over Watkins and his prosecution of Al Hill III for mortgage fraud seemed to dissipate. Except it wasn't a storm cloud; it was, in Watkins' words, a "tornado of injustice" (more on that in a second), and the absurdity is far from over.
The Morning News reported this afternoon that a Dallas appeals court judge rejected one of Watkins' key filings because it was submitted to the wrong court.
This inspired ridicule from the district attorney's first-out-of-the-gate Republican challenger, Tom Nowak. "INCOMPETENCE!" he screamed on Facebook. "Corrupt Craig Watkins can't even file the right paperwork in the right court and gets his objections dismissed!!"
Nowak would be well-advised to stick with standard capitalization and cut down on the exclamation marks for what amounts to a minor and only mildly entertaining administrative mix-up. The more interesting thing to trumpet is Watkins' dare-we-say virtuosic use of classic literary technique. In 11 crisp pages detailing his objection, he manages to work in:
Metaphor: "Tornado of injustice" or, alternately, "path of injustice," in that "No Court in the history of Texas has blazed this path of injustice." Evokes a powerful emotional sense that Watkins has been wronged by the system and provides a handy way to plug Brantley's new storm-chaser cover story.
Bonus: In reference to political benefactor Lisa Blue being called to testify: This has to be near what people mean when they talk about ... "dealing from the bottom of the deck."
Analogy: Watkins says Judge Lena Levario, who found him in contempt, is "quieter than a church mouse" on the issue of prosecutorial privilege.
Bonus: On the claim that members of Watkins' office who agreed to testify at the contempt hearing waived privilege: "This [is] akin to saying that a clerk robbed at gun point participated in the robbery by giving up the money."
Hyperbole: Watkins, arguing that he has been denied the presumption of innocence, writes that "Kim Jong of North Korea may support such a move or even Bashar al-Assad from Syria" but an American judge should not.
Asyndeton: This is the one where the "ands" or "ors" are removed from between clauses. Watkins says Levario wants him to have a "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil approach to crime fighting," which he says in untenable. "We regularly have husbands, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents and more provide information that someone in their family committed a crime."
Allusion: Since no court filing would be complete without a quote from Mark Twain, Watkins goes ahead and throws one in at the beginning: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
Bonus: That phrase was coined not by Twain but by a now-obscure 19th century writer named Josh Billing
Looks like somebody's been studying for their AP English exam.