Less than a month ago, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office dropped a small bomb shell amongst those who follow courthouse doings: Terri Moore, Craig Watkins's first assistant, and Mike Ware, head of the Conviction Integrity Unit, would be stepping down July 1. At which point, Watkins promised, he'd announce a new second-in-command "in coming weeks." Well, those weeks have come and gone: A missive from Watkins's office just landed in the inbox naming former gang unit chief Heath Harris as the DA's new first assistant.
Harris has a long history with the DA's office, dating back to his first stint there beginning in '96 in the misdemeanor and felony trial divisions; first I heard of him was in 2000, when we ran "the untold story of Dallas' biggest-ever police corruption scandal," in which Harris played an integral role. After that he went back into private practice, only to return to the DA's office in '07 in myriad roles before taking over the gang unit and then moving to the felony division.
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"We have been preparing for this transition for quite some time by grooming a number of experienced prosecutors who have demonstrated the necessary skills to resume leadership roles within the office as needed," says Watkins, who also launched a new website this morning. "I took several factors into consideration in making my decision and ultimately selected Heath Harris because of my confidence in his abilities to take over the administrative reigns and continue moving our office forward."