News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Texas News

Contempt Case Against Dallas D.A. Watkins On Hold

The contempt hearing for Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins is on hold after an attorney from the D.A.’s office asked Judge Lena Levario to take herself off the case. Attorneys for Watkins say she’s biased, and found a county jail worker who said Levario made anti-Watkins comments to her over lunch a few months ago. 

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

So Levario referred the case to administrative law judge John Ovard who hasn’t yet ruled. Throughout these legal machinations, lawyers for Watkins have also said the case should be dismissed.

Heath Harris, with the D.A.’s office, explained why.

“If you hold someone in contempt, where there’s a punitive punishment,  you have to tell the person, number one, what action was contemptuous, then. number two, what that punishment is and what you can do to cure the problem. That wasn’t done in this case,“ said Harris.

In her courtroom Monday afternoon, Levario said she would not voluntarily recuse herself because she “gave Watkins a fair trial.”

The contempt charge stems from the original mortgage fraud case in which an oil heir, Al Hill III, said Watkins was biased against him. Hill said Watkins was friends with attorney and campaign contributor Lisa Blue, who stood to gain millions of Hill’s dollars if Hill lost the case. 

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.:

A state district judge ordered this morning that a contempt order against Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins must be redone.

Watkins' attorney, Scottie Allen, argued before  State District Judge Bob Brotherton that Judge Lena Levario's contempt-of-court finding in March needed more specifics.

"The order that confers upon this court is deficient of any punishment. It is unclear whether this is a civil contempt or criminal contempt ... and therefore  the order is defective,"  Allen said.

After a brief recess, Brotherton stayed the proceedings, sending the case back to Judge Levario's court for more specifics. 

She is expected to re-issue her contempt order today at 1:30 p.m. 

Watkins was originally held in contempt for refusing to testify at a hearing where he was accused of prosecutorial misconduct.