How a Prosecutor Should Act

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins should be the DA in every county, or at least someone like him. Not only did he establish the first Conviction Integrity Unit in the country to look at wrongful convictions by his office, he’s now asking that an execution be delayed so they can get the results of DNA testing back:

The execution of a man early next month for the slaying of a Dallas woman at her apartment more than 20 years ago has been delayed.

Dallas County prosecutors asked a judge to withdraw the June 6 execution date for 39-year-old Bobby Lee Hines because results of additional DNA testing in his case won’t be available by then. District Court Judge Don Adams in Dallas approved the request Friday.

Far too often, prosecutors fight against any attempt to exonerate someone their office got convicted because they want everyone to believe that the system is infallible and always gets it right. Watkins actually gives a damn about justice. Wish more would.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • roggg

    It makes me sad that these small obvious steps in support of actual justice are so rare in today’s society that they are lauded when they occur. But yeah, every DA should be doing this.

  • d cwilson

    Delaying an execution in Texas?

    I see a prosecutor who will soon be looking for a new job.

  • harold

    Tomorrow’s headline – “Dallas County District Attorney Fired by Rick Perry; Public Outrage Over Inadequate Enthusiasm For Executions Cited as Key Reason”.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I know someone close to this — a family member had spent years (ten?) in prison and Watkins’ office cleared him.

    Dude is normally out to the right of 90% of the Texas Republican party, but not on the infallibility of the criminal “justice” system. On the other hand Watkins walks on water as far as he’s concerned.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    Not pushing for a guilty verdict regardless of the facts in the case? He will be up for prosecutorial malfeasance before too long if he keeps acting like this.

  • ewanmacdonald

    Delaying an execution in Texas?

    I see a prosecutor who will soon be looking for a new job.

    Watkins is in his second term, having won (very) narrowly in 2010 against an experienced GOPer.

    Dallas County has some very conservative areas but it’s actually quite balanced politically. There are a lot of elected Democrats and some are very progressive.

  • d cwilson

    Watkins is in his second term, having won (very) narrowly in 2010 against an experienced GOPer.

    And when he tries to run for a third term, he’ll be facing a crazy (but well-financed by ALEC and the Kochs) teabagger republican who will promise to flip the switch himself.

  • marcus

    Wait…what? A prosecutor delaying an execution in Texas? You guys must have gotten ahold of an “Onion” by mistake.

    Seriously, a prosecutor anywhere showing this much interest in justice has become too rare a thing.

  • Trickster Goddess

    Every time a prosecutor pushes for conviction despite exonerating evidence, he is knowingly letting the real perpetrator get away scott free and remain at large to to offend again.

    Why isn’t this point being made during DA elections?