Dallas DA Makes Waves by Overturning Convictions

DA makes waves with quest to root out wrongful convictions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2008 6:34 AM CST
Dallas DA Makes Waves by Overturning Convictions
Dallas County DA Craig Watkins points towards historical documents connected to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy during a press conference in Dallas, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Craig Watkins is becoming famous for something rather unusual for a district attorney: getting people out of jail, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Dallas County prosecutor is painstakingly going through hundreds of convictions secured by his predecessors, using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions. His Conviction Integrity Unit has freed six convicts in the last year alone. One had served 27 years for a murder he didn't commit.

The exonerations have put Watkins in the national spotlight and made waves in the legal world. Critics accuse Watkins of being a "hug-a-thug" DA, and some prosecutors say he is giving the justice system a bad name. Watkins says his quest to correct the wrongs of the past—in a county notorious for slipshod, convict-at-all-costs prosecutions—isn't about publicity, but simply about doing the right thing. "We have the constitutional obligation to seek justice," he said.
(More Dallas stories.)

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