Dallas DA Asks for Exoneration Because of Prosecutorial Misconduct

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Wish they could all be a little more like Craig Watkins.

On April 30, 1992, Dale Lincoln Duke was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on the charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Four months later, according to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and its Conviction Integrity Unit, Duke waived his right to a jury trial and entered a plea of no contest. But throughout, he refused to confess to the crime — in court, then again during sex offender treatment, a stipulation of his deferred adjudication. And so, in 1997, Duke was sent to prison for 20 years.

But, according to the DA’s office today, one year after Duke went to prison, the county learned that the complaining witness had recanted…

In 2010, says Watkins’s office, Duke came back to the district attorney with further evidence showing that “the person initially reporting the incident did not believe the complaining witness was truthful.”…

All of which leads to this: Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in Judge Susan Hawk’s courtroom at the George Allen, Watkins’s office will ask the judge to find Duke innocent and release him from prison. Says Watkins, “The original prosecutor’s failure to provide critical information to the defendant coupled with overwhelming evidence that the initial allegations were false, convinced me that Mr. Duke was wrongfully convicted. After a thorough review of the case, I approved a recommendation to ask the court to exonerate Mr. Duke.”

That Watkins and Lynn Switzer hold the same position in government and take such completely different approaches to their jobs shows just how arbitrary the justice system can be.

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10 Responses to “Dallas DA Asks for Exoneration Because of Prosecutorial Misconduct”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    When the govt is responsible for its mistakes, they will start to value Watkins more.

  2. #2 |  NAME REDACTED | 

    “When the govt is responsible for its mistakes, they will start to value Watkins more.”

    So never? The entire purpose of the state is to insulate certain individuals from responsibility.

  3. #3 |  Steve Verdon | 

    So never? The entire purpose of the state is to insulate certain individuals from responsibility.

    Pretty much.

  4. #4 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Policing as though people are sane and conscious.

    Part of the point is that people (both drug dealers and police) frequently behave badly because they can’t imagine anything better, not because they have a strong desire to behave badly.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    TIL “arbitrary” is a polite way of saying “fucked up”.

  6. #6 |  David in Balt | 

    Everytime I hear about this guy I am baffled that a DA exists who actually gives a damn about justice.

  7. #7 |  Deoxy | 

    In what way could you make a system less arbitrary short of complete tyranny? Any compulsion to prosecute would be highly vulnerable to abuse and gaming, leading to a system perhaps even MORE abusable (if that’s possible) than the one we have now.

    Actions in good faith are really what we’re after; correcting our horrendous bad incentives problems would help a good bit, but even then, there will always be a level of arbitrariness.

  8. #8 |  M in Dallas | 

    My wife is an attorney in Dallas who is on a first name basis with Craig. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to him on several occasions and pick his brain on a few topics regularly discussed here. Let me assure you, the guy is the real deal.

  9. #9 |  Homeboy | 

    @ #8,

    That is very good to know. Then again, it makes me wonder, what the Hell kind of political climate exists in Dallas that allows such a man to be the DA there. It is so incongruous with everything else I hear about that town that it simply leaves me baffled.

  10. #10 |  jcalton | 

    The system would be so much better if checks and balances applied to the prosecutor’s office.
    “Prosecutorial misconduct” is such a ridiculous phrase because it has no legal meaning. For every 100,000 times it happens, maybe one guy gets a tiny mark on his record.