Dallas DA Watkins defies order to appear in court during misconduct hearing

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by JASON TRAHAN

WFAA

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 6:25 PM

DALLAS –– Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins defied a judge's order and failed to show up at a hearing in which he would have had to answer questions under oath about whether he was influenced to bring an indictment to benefit a wealthy friend.

Watkins sent one of his employees into the courtroom to tell Judge Lena Levario that he is sick –– even though he is at work today.

Levario postponed the hearing to let Watkins recover from his illness. 

Earlier in the morning, prominent lawyer Lisa Blue invoked her 5th Amendment right against self incrimination and declined to testify about whether she influenced Watkins to indict oil and gas heir Al Hill III on mortgage fraud.

Blue, who is not accused of wrongdoing, is embroiled in a bitter legal fight with Hill over millions he allegedly owes her in legal fees. 

Hill's attorneys sought Thursday's hearing hoping to convince Levario to drop the mortgage fraud indictment against Hill and find that Watkins committed prosecutorial misconduct.

Both Watkins and Blue have denied in court papers that there was any influence in the indictment of Hill.

Watkins has taken campaign contributions from Blue, who financially supports many local Democratic politicians.

Levario became irate several times during Thursdays hearing as Watkins' prosecutors stalled to keep their boss off the witness stand. 

Earlier Thursday morning, Levario questioned whether the hearing could proceed at all when lawyers raised a question about whether the FBI is investigating Watkins. Levario resumed the hearing without publicly addressing where she got that question answered.

The FBI generally does not confirm or deny whether agents are conducting an investigation.

Email jptrahan@wfaa.com

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