Texas Top Prosecutors In Trouble: Dallas DA Craig Watkins, Austin DA Rosemary Lehmberg, Corpus Christi ex DA Anna Jimenez, Williamson County ex DA Ken Anderson – How Big is Prosecutorial Misconduct Problem in Texas?
In the past couple of months, top prosecutors from Texas counties all over the Lone Star State (both presently serving as head prosecutor as well as former top D.A.s) have made the national news after being accused of doing assorted bad things while acting as head district attorney for their respective counties.
What is the lesson to be learned here, when so many head prosecutors of prominent Texas counties are facing or have already been found guilty of serious bad acts? Consider these pending actions:
1. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins
Currently the head prosecutor for the Dallas area, Craig Watkins has been running the Office of the District Attorney for Dallas County in the State of Texas since 2006. Mr. Watkins has been facing charges of prosecutorial misconduct for several months, read our prior coverage for the backstory.
The Dallas District Attorney has been found in contempt of court for not giving testimony at a hearing into his possible prosecutorial misconduct, and that contempt ruling has been scheduled for review prior to Mr. Watkins having to face the consequences of being found in contempt of a Texas trial court judge.
Right now, it’s expected that Wichita Falls District Court Judge Bob Brotherton will set a hearing sometime this month to review the ruling made on March 7, 2013, by Dallas District Court Judge Lena Levario that the Dallas County District Attorney, Craig Watkins, was in contempt of court because he refused to testify in her courtroom at a hearing on possible prosecutorial misconduct in the filing of mortgage fraud criminal charges against Al Hill III.
2. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg
Currently the head prosecutor for the Austin area, Rosemary Lehmberg has been running the Office of the District Attorney for Travis County in the State of Texas since 2009 and is presently up for re-election. Today, Ms. Lehmberg was released after serving 20 days of a 45 day jail sentence after being arrested for Driving While Intoxicated on April 12, 2013 and sending a letter on April 14, 2013, where Ms. Lehmberg graciously took responsibility for her actions (read her letter here) and entered an unconditional plea of guilt.
Rosemary Lehmberg was also punished by being fined $4000 and having her Texas Drivers’ License suspended for six months. However, it does not appear that the Travis County DA will suffer the loss of her office: while there are those seeking her removal, she is not resigning after being arrested for DWI, and there are many local attorneys among others who are publicly supporting her remaining in office as the head prosecutor for Travis County.
3. Nueces County District Attorney Anna Jimenez
Serving as the head prosecutor for the Corpus Christi area after being appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2010, Anna Jimenez ran the Office of the District Attorney for Nueces County in the State of Texas until she failed to retain the position in a full election.
Last week, ex-District Attorney Anna Jimenez, who served in the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office for over 15 years prior to her appointment as top prosecutor, was indicted by a Jackson County Grand Jury on aggravated perjury charges.
The indictment alleges that Ms. Jimenez made false statements about witnesses in the pending case of Christian Blair Robinson, who will be tried in September 2013 for the murder of his 5 month old infant son. While acting as prosecutor, Anna Jimenez is alleged to have sworn in an affidavit that three witnesses were not available because they refused to be interviewed and one witness could not be found, when the three witnesses had been interviewed by others and the fourth witness was not contacted.
4. Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson
Serving as the head prosecutor for the Georgetown area for several years and later as a Texas District Court Judge, Ken Anderson ran the Office of the District Attorney for Williamson County in the State of Texas. Right now, Mr. Anderson has been found guilty of violating Texas law as well as being in contempt of court by Judge Louis Sturns who presided over a Court of Inquiry ordered by the Texas Supreme Court to investigate and rule over charges of prosecutorial misconduct by then-prosecutor Ken Anderson in the homicide trial of Michael Morton, a man later shown to be innocent of the charges for which he was convicted.
Specifically, the former prosecutor was found to have done two bad things: withholding (1) the transcript of an interview local police had with Michael Morton’s little boy where the child told them that his dad was not home when his mother was killed and that he had seen the murder as it happened; and (2) evidence that there was a green van parked near the Morton’s house that day, and that a stranger was seen parking the green van and walking not once, but several times, into the woods behind the Morton home during the pertinent time period.
Judge Sturns issued his ruling in late April 2013 (read his ruling here) and for a short time, ex-DA Ken Anderson was behind bars after being arrested in accordance with that ruling. Currently, Anderson is out on bail and appealing the ruling on statute of limitations grounds: his argument, the Court of Inquiry proceedings are time barred by Texas law.
(Note: The Austin American Statesman has made Ken Anderson’s deposition transcript available to those interested in reading his testimony here.)
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