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Larry King, At Least, Salutes Craig Watkins

As mentioned yesterday, several of the Dallas County exonerees appeared on CNN's Larry King Live last night, where they were joined by the stars of the movie Conviction, The Innocence Project's Barry Sheck and Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins. On the other side you'll find King's interviews with several of the wrongly imprisoned, as well as a short CNN feature on Stephen Brodie, who was finally freed last week after the deaf man confessed in 1991 to a sexual assault he didn't commit.

At the moment, though, there's no video of Watkins's appearance, so instead we'll rely on the transcript.

LARRY KING: Craig Watkins, Dallas County district attorney, what led you to hold on to this, as opposed to other DAs who didn't?

CRAIG WATKINS, DALLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I was elected as a new DA in Dallas County in 2006 and took office in 2007. And upon my first week of entering office, I was requested by a long-time assistant DA to sign a form to allow all the evidence to be destroyed. And I had practiced law for a while in Dallas County. And I thought that that was not going to be a wise decision. So I refused to sign the motion to have that evidence destroyed.

It was probably for the last three years, as a district attorney for Dallas County, one of the best decisions that I've made. My first week in office there was an exoneration of a man who had been trying to have his name cleared for five years. And fortunately I got the opportunity to go downstairs and apologize to that individual for his wrongful conviction.

And I didn't think anything of it, I thought it's the responsibility of the elected district attorney to restore credibility to the criminal justice system, to at least give an apology to an individual who had been wrongfully convicted. And so I did that. And after that, it became a big media storm as to the fact that I just went down and apologized.

Soon after that, we had someone from the Innocence Project contact us and said, well, you know, Dallas County has been a haven of wrongful convictions for years. And this is the opportunity for you ...

KING: Wow.

WATKINS: ... Mr. DA, to look at these cases and make sure it never happens again.

KING: I salute you.


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