U.S. Court of Appeals Rules That Watkins Didn't Dismiss Prosecutor Because of Race

Back in '07, during his brief break from the paper version of Unfair Park, Out Fearless Leader Mark Donald profiled Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins -- "

Impact Player of the Year

" -- for

Texas Lawyer

. In that piece, Mark mentioned that two prosecutors fired by Watkins during the early days of his administration filed suits claiming wrongful termination -- one, Rick Jackson, division chief of the Organized Crime Division, alleging his was booted because he's white. As Mark wrote at the time, "Jackson alleges Watkins replaced him with a less-experienced African-American prosecutor."

Last year, the district court granted Watkins and Dallas County's motion for summary judgment. Watkins, see, provided four reasons for Jackson's dismissal, none of them having to do with race. From court docs:

(1) It was important to Watkins to bring a new image and sense of purpose to the OCD following the "fake drug scandal" that occurred in that division under the previous administration;  (2) he believed he could not trust Jackson to follow his policies and practices;  (3) Watkins' own experience with Jackson was overwhelmingly negative;  and (4) Jackson's reputation within the District Attorney's Office and within the legal community practicing in the felony courts in Dallas was that Jackson was disrespectful, unnecessarily confrontational, and uncooperative.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit agreed with the earlier ruling: Since Jackson failed to address Watkins's actual issues with his on-the-job performance, therefore "we need not address Watkins's remaining reasons for terminating Jackson."

Which reminds me: Watkins and Danny Clancy will debate Thursday at noon at the Pavilion at the Belo Mansion. The event's free. If yer interested, shoot an RSVP in this general direction.

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