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Grand jury subpoena issued  
By shuibei on May 26, 2014 03:15 AM
<P>Grand jury subpoena issued for judge who held Dallas County DA Craig Watkins in contempt</P>
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<P>The judge who held Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court has been subpoenaed by a grand jury looking into whether her ruling was improperly influenced by other judges.</P>
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<P>Despite the grand jury summons, state District Judge Lena Levario is fighting any attempt by prosecutors to question her. Levario's attorney, Tom Mills, has filed a motion to quash the subpoena, which was served last week as Levario sat on the bench in piratesproshop.com/Authentic-Andrew-Mccutchen-Jersey her courtroom.</P>
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<P>Levario is at least the second judge subpoenaed in the matter at Women's Neil Walker Jersey Watkins' behest. He is seeking to determine whether criminal court judges Julia Hayes and Angela King tried to improperly influence Levario's decision in a case in which Watkins was accused of prosecutorial misconduct by an oil family millionaire. King has also been subpoenaed, as has Hayes' attorney, George Milner III. They, too, are fighting the subpoenas.</P>
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<P>Neither Milner nor King has appeared before the grand jury. But what will happen in the battle over the subpoenas is unclear because grand jury subpoenas and investigations are secret.</P>
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<P>Those involved in the case have been ordered by state District Judge Mike Snipes not to discuss it. Snipes is the judge who will decide whether Levario, Youth Neil Walker Jersey Milner and King must testify or produce documents to the grand jury.</P>
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<P>The three judges or their attorneys declined to comment Tuesday. Debbie Denmon, a Watkins spokeswoman, said the office does not comment on grand jury proceedings.</P>
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<P>Pete Schulte, who represents Milner, said that the investigation is ill advised.</P>
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<P>"It's unfortunate the DA's office is continuing this type of investigation when the evidence is clear that nothing illegal happened," said Schulte, who has been a Watkins supporter. "Craig Watkins is in control of his own destiny, and Mr. Watkins is the only person who can put a stop to this and move forward."</P>
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<P>Milner represented Hayes when she publicly feuded with Watkins last year after she held one of his prosecutors in contempt of court and then withdrew her ruling.</P>
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<P>He is also an attorney for oil heir Al Hill III, who accused Watkins of misconduct when Hill was accused of lying to get a $500,000 loan and charged with mortgage fraud. Hill alleges Watkins indicted him on mortgage fraud charges as a favor to Lisa Blue, an attorney who was feuding with Hill over legal fees and who is also a political benefactor of Watkins.</P>
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<P>Levario held Watkins in contempt March 7 when he refused to testify about the allegations. She also dismissed the charges against Hill, partly because Watkins wouldn't testify.</P>
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<P>In August, another judge acquitted Watkins of contempt, saying the hearings should have never been held because Hill needed evidence of wrongdoing by Watkins for Levario to grant the hearing but instead was using the hearing to seek evidence.</P>
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<P>No ruling was made on the merits of holding Watkins in contempt or the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.</P>
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<P>Intentions not clear</P>
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<P>It is not clear whether the DA's office is investigating Levario. Prosecutors could be seeking to interview Levario as a witness.</P>
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<P>Watkins unsuccessfully tried to recuse Levario from his contempt case after accusations from a former county employee who said Levario made disparaging comments about Watkins at lunch. Two other county employees at the same lunch did not hear the remarks.</P>
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<P>The investigation by the DA's office was prompted by emails between Levario and the attorneys in the Hill case, including Wilson.</P>
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<P>On Feb. 8 a month before Watkins was held in contempt Levario sent an email to prosecutors and defense attorneys informing them that she'd discussed the case with other judges. While judges are mostly forbidden from having conversations outside the courtroom about cases, they are allowed to discuss the matters before them with other judges.</P>
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<P>"Most were just casual conversations regarding the stress associated with the cases and not the legal issues or outcome," Levario wrote. "However, 2 judges did leave me with the impression that they are not on Mr. Watkins' side in this matter."</P>
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<P>Levario also said of the two judges: "Their opinion regarding the DA's office is irrelevant to me or to this hearing. I informed them at the time that I was not going to and I did not comment on their statements to me."</P>
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<P>"As all of you know, ex parte communications, with certain narrow exceptions, are prohibited under the Code of Judicial Conduct and the ethics rules governing all lawyers," Levario wrote. "The Hill cases are on appeal. These cases may return to my court. I will no more sit down with Mr. Wilson to discuss these cases in his Authentic Andrew McCutchen Jersey office than I would with the defense attorneys."</P>
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<P>"Improper influence" is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. But if Watkins believes that there were at least three people conspiring to influence Levario, prosecutors could seek indictments for "engaging in organized criminal activity," a felony punishable by up to two years in a state jail.</P>
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