DALLAS — A judge accused of bias against Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins will not be removed from the contempt case facing Watkins.
On Monday, a judge determined Judge Lena Levario was not biased against Watkins.
The contempt charge stems from a case where there was an allegation of prosecutorial misconduct against Watkins. When he was called to the stand, Watkins refused to testify in that case.
In response, Levario held Watkins in contempt of court.
Overshadowing the ruling, though, were racially insensitive comments made by Special Prosecutor Bob Hinton, who was appointed to represent Levario.
Speaking to reporters, Hinton said Watkins was in trouble and attacking Levario to get his "head out of the noose." Watkins is the first black DA in Texas history.
Hinton is a prominent Dallas lawyer who successfully argued to keep Levario on the case. He was asked why Watkins was trying to discredit the judge.
"Well, the DA has a core interest here to try to get Craig Watkins head out of the noose. And they think if they can disqualify Judge Levario, then that's the end of contempt matter,” Hinton said.
Assistant District Attorney Russell Wilson reviewed Hinton's statement and reacted quickly.
"It's grossly inappropriate," Wilson said. "It's the poorest choice of words among poor choices of words."
Hinton later offered this apology: "I'm sorry I said that. I didn't mean anything by it."
But in the DA's office, the damage appears to be done.
"We didn't ask for an apology, so don't send us one," Russell said.
Watkins' office says Hinton's statements have no legal implication on the contempt case.
That case will now go forward. Watkins could face a fine or jail time, or no punishment at all.