in Houston, Texas
Take the budget to the ballot: Dallas County DA Craig Watkins wants voters to decide if his budget should be cut
Tuesday, Mar 10, 2009, 03:04PM CST
By Matt Pulle
Since his surprise election in 2006, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has made national headlines for releasing 19 prisoners who were wrongfully convicted under his less-discerning predecessors. While the man he replaced, Republican Bill Hill, made it nearly impossible for inmates to raise innocence claims and order DNA testing for their cases, Watkins offered no such resistance.

In fact, he made it a priority to release wrongfully-convicted inmates, working hand-in-hand with famed defense attorney Barry Scheck, to release innocent inmates as quickly and fairly as possible.

But if there is a recurring criticism of Watkins, it's that he lets his good press (see here and here) inflate his ego. In the midst of the recession, the Dallas County Commissioners Court, like everyone else, is looking to slash expenses. But the first-term Democrat has refused to consider any cuts to his budget and wants to subject any proposed reduction in funding to the district attorney's office to a public referendum. As you might have guessed, this suggestion has not gone over well.

"He’s saying that his budget should go to the voters for approval. Good luck with that," says D Magazine editor and publisher Wick Allison on his mag's blog, Frontburner. A district attorney ought to know the law. And knowing the law, follow it."
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