Wichita Falls District Judge Bob Brotherton followed the law and acquitted Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins of contempt charges, according to WFAA TV News today, Friday, Aug. 23 in a Dallas Courtroom. Brotherton, a Republican judge who normally presides over the 30th District Court in Wichita Falls, Texas, was assigned the case after Dallas Judge Lena Lovario found Watkins was in contempt of court back in March for refusing to answer questions on the witness stand.
This was one of the highest profile cases in the United States as it was covered by a wide range of national news media including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Dallas Morning news and even foreign news outlets including some as far away as India and Australia. Brotherton has presided over many high profile cases before including several capital murder trials but this one might have even outdone them in terms of global interest.
The Dallas District attorney praised Judge Brotherton saying that someone "finally followed the law in this case."
Watkins is a Democrat.
Brotherton said that the hearing itself was improper and should not have taken place. Therefore, "Watkins should not have been held in contempt March 7."
The embattled Dallas DA had been held in contempt by Lovario on March 7 for refusing to answer questions at a hearing where he was accused of prosecutorial misconduct by oil family heir Al Hill III. Watkins had invoked prosecutorial privilege in refusing to answer questions regarding the work product of his office. Three of his office members did testify at the hearing.
Hill alleged he was prosecuted for mortagage fraud as a favor to Lisa Blue, a supporter of Watkins. The DA denied the charges from day one saying his office only prosecuted the case after Hill's own father came forward with evidence against him. Watkins said he heard from district attorneys around the state who appreciated his stand.
Brotherton ruled that Levario never should have put Watkins on the stand and forced him to testify.
Brotherton's reputation as a fair judge will only be enhanced by this decision as he showed he was capable of putting the law above politics.
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