Dallas Co. DA to Commissioners: Find Me $3.6 Million

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009  |  Updated 11:15 PM CDT
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Dallas Co. DA to Commissioners: Find Me $3.6 Million

NBCDFW.com

Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins says he doesn't want to make any cuts to his budget.

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Dallas Co. DA to Commissioners: Find Me $3.6 Million

Dallas County's district attorney says cuts to his budget would force him to lay off prosecutors.
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Justice may be blind, but it doesn't come cheap.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins doesn't want to make any cuts, even though the county is facing a $36 million hole. County commissioners want all county offices to trim their budgets by 10 percent.

"Some parts of Dallas County can cut 10 percent, but some of us can't," Watkins said at a townhall meeting at Friendship West Baptist Church. "They can't find $3.6 million out of half a billion dollars to just make sure that we're at least funded to where we were last year? That's all we're asking."

Commissioner John Wiley Price was invited to the meeting, but Watkins' office said the commissioner sent a letter saying he wasn't attending.

Price has been sparring with Watkins about the budget. Price has told several media outlets the county doesn't have any money, and everyone has to tighten their belts.

But Watkins isn't giving up.

He told the crowd, which included some of the men who have been exonerated by DNA evidence brought to light by Watkins' office, that cutting funding will mean he'll have to lay off prosecutors.

Watkins said he could use those prosecutors to try rape, assault and murder cases.He said his staff is a vital part of keeping Dallas County streets safe.

"I'm not a county commissioner," he said. "I'm not suppose to talk to you about how to pay for certain things. I'm suppose to talk to you about how we're going to prosecute folks who commit certain crimes. But in light of their failure to do their jobs, I have decided to do it for them."

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