Dallas DA presses court to remove judge in contempt charge

Print
Email
|

by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 20 at 12:49 AM

DALLAS -  It's rare for a sitting District Attorney to face a hearing for contempt. Rarer still is when the judge in the case is asked to recuse herself.

But, that’s where it stands between Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and Judge Lena Levario, who Watkins says is biased against him.

During a hearing Friday about the possible recusal of Levario, the star witness was Jill Reese, a recently fired county employee who says the judge ripped into Watkins during a lunch together.

Reese testified Levario made negative comments about Watkins over a lunch in May. In particular, she claims Levario said she would, "Serve Craig Watkins up on a silver platter to the FBI," and that he would see the inside of a jail cell.

However, a special prosecutor representing Levario brought in two other people who were at that same lunch. They both said there was a lunchtime conversation but they never heard Levario say anything negative about Watkins.

"It wasn't said," said Bob Hinton, Levario's attorney. "You bet your life she's making it up. It's not credible at all."

Watkins’ attorneys worked to discredit the story that Levario never said a disparaging word.

"Neither of them could give a full account," said Russell Wilson, the assistant district attorney under Watkins. "The length of the conversation ranged anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes and nobody said that the judge stopped the conversation."

Watkins’ side says that's important because the presiding judge should never talk about a case in his or her court.

The heart of the matter goes back to a case in March that the Dallas County District Attorney's Office was prosecuting. There was an allegation of misconduct against Watkins and when called to the stand, he refused to testify. In response, Levario held Watkins in contempt of court.

On Monday, a judge will decide if Levario should be removed from the case because she is biased.

Email dschechter@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|