On The View, One of Dallas's Exonerated and Those Who Helped to Free Him

On The View this morning, when Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said Dallas County has exonerated 19 wrongly imprisoned men using DNA evidence, he received an enormous round of applause. But the appearance was less about Watkins than it was his office's Conviction Integrity Unit and Johnnie Lindsey, who, with the CIU's assistance, was released from prison last September after serving 26 years for an aggravated sexual assault he didn't commit. Interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters, and joined by Watkins and Dallas County public defender Michelle Moore, Lindsey said he still doesn't have a job seven months after his release. Why? Because as soon as would-be employers see his prison term on his résumé, they refuse to hire him

Goldberg was appalled and asked Moore and Watkins why someone from the district attorney's office can't step in and say, "This is a real ugly mistake ... hire this man." At which point Watkins blamed it on the system -- and one man, in particular. "You would think in the state of Texas, where we take crime so seriously, when we do make a mistake you'd think the governor would quickly sign those pardons," Watkins said. "It's been seven months ... we imagined this would have been rectified by now."

The trio were on to promote, of course, Dallas DNA. We should have video of the entire appearance later today.

Update at 12:23 p.m.: Watkins, an Unfair Park reader, just phoned to correct himself. The district attorney says that Governor Rick Perry did indeed sign Lindsey's pardon -- and that Moore actually brought it to The View with the intention of presenting it to Lindsey on the air. Only, Watkins says he didn't know anything about it that, because it was going to be a surprise to both men. And they ran out of time before Moore got to present Lindsey with the document.

"We'd been going back and forth to get him to sign it, and he did," Watkins tells Unfair Park. "I was throwing out a challenge the governor," but he'd already signed it. He also says Lindsey hasn't been waiting for his parole for seven months, only two: "Michelle said she filed the paperwork two months ago. I thought it had been filed immediately after the exoneration."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky