A judge has acquitted Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins of a contempt charge.
State District Judge Bob Brotherton ruled there was no cause to bring a contempt charge against Watkins.
The hearing took about an hour Friday morning. The specially appointed judge from Wichita Falls sided with Watkins and agreed there was not enough evidence to bring a case against Watkins in March and said he shouldn’t have been forced to answer any questions.
Watkins had been accused of prosecuting oil fortune heir, Al Hill III, as a favor to his friend and campaign donor, Lisa Blue. Watkins remained silent on the stand and State District Judge Lena Levario held him in contempt of court.
In Friday morning’s hearing, State District Judge Bob Brotherton decided that Watkins was right to refuse to testify.
“The evidentiary hearing that Judge Levario convened should not have taken place, because of the amount of evidence shown by the Hill defense that there had been prosecutorial misconduct,” says special prosecutor, Bob Hinton.
Hinton can appeal the decision, but tells NBC5 that he doesn’t see any reason that he will. Hinton believes it was a fair hearing with a fair outcome.
Watkins said the process won't stop him from taking on tough cases.
"Here at the DAs office, we always make sure, no matter how much money you have, where you come from, if you commit a crime, you're going to have to face justice in Dallas County as long as I'm the district attorney," Watkins said.
"This ruling is very important for prosecutors across Texas," Watkins' attorney, Chad Baruch, said. "I think that was a big part of Mr. Watkins decisions was that he felt it evaded his providence as district attorney and would be a very dangerous precedent for all of the prosecutors, so that was really the reason he was willing to risk being held in contempt."
The case for which Watkins was held in contempt also has attracted the attention of the FBI, which has asked for access to files.