Free But Dying: The Observer History of Former Councilman Don Hill

Former Dallas City Council member Don Hill.
Former Dallas City Council member Don Hill.
Danny Fulgencio
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Don Hill is getting out of prison more than eight years early. Federal prosecutors moved this week to commute Hill's 18-year sentence on bribery charges, allowing the subject of Dallas' largest successful corruption case to live out what prosecutors say could be the last 18 months of his life in DeSoto. Hill has terminal prostate cancer.

Now that his life is approaching its end, let's take a look at some of the Dallas Observer's voluminous coverage of the former Dallas City Council member in hopes of understanding the man, the corruption case that snared him and the impact it's had on the city.

Don Hill Slides From Mayoral Candidate to Alleged Criminal — Matt Pulle's 2007 feature tells the story of Hill's journey from talented lawyer — albeit one who inexplicably missed deadlines — to powerful operator on the Dallas City Council to federally indicted pariah.

The Night Before Their Trial, Don Hill and Sheila Farrington Talk to God in a Parking Lot — Throughout his public life, Hill was known for his faith and status in South Dallas' religious community. The night before his trial, Hill and his fellow Concord Baptist Church members gathered to pray in front of the Earle Cabell Federal Building downtown.

How City Hall Really Works: Notes from the City Hall Corruption Trial
— Reporting from Hill's trial in 2009, Jim Schutze outlined how the Hill case exposed the way business at Dallas City Hall often resides in the shadow between total honesty and corruption.

How the Feds Convicted Don Hill — After a jury handed Hill and his wife, Sheila Farrington-Hill their guilty verdicts, the Observer's Sam Merten documented the way federal prosecutors successfully navigated the complex case against the couple and their associates. Farrington-Hill, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and dementia, has already been released from her nine-year sentence, and is currently in a nursing home.

What Don Hill's Conviction Means for Dallas — Schutze looks at the aftermath of the downfall of the city of Dallas' most powerful black politician.

Don and Sheila Hill: The Unfair Park Interview — Hill and Farrington-Hill sat down with Merten to debrief after the trial.

Don Hill, After a Lengthy Trial, a Guilty Verdict and an 18-Year Sentence, Still Doesn't Get It. Wonder Why? — Hill received a much harsher sentence than many observers expected. After it was handed out by U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, Schutze took stock of Hill's state of mind.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.