The Exonerator


A profile of Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins in the Wall Street Journal this weekend examined his role in exonerating innocent prisoners from Dallas County. More wrongful convictions have been overturned since 2001 in Dallas County than anywhere else in the U.S. during that time, and Watkins has taken an active role in reviewing questionable convictions through his new Conviction Integrity Unit.

Of course, Watkins’ approach has its critics as well, who call him "a criminal-loving DA, a hug-a-thug DA." But Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck told the Journal that Watkins’ openness to pursue claims of innocence often helps find the real perpetrator in these cases and create leads in other cold cases.

"Many times, you bring these cases to district attorneys and they say, 'You can't go see my file. I won't do anything.' There's a knee-jerk reluctance to revisit anything," says Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project. He thinks this will eventually change, and that Dallas County's aggressive approach will serve as a model for others. "Watkins takes the view that if he can correct a wrongful conviction, that's a good thing."

Read the full story here

. (Watt Street Journal, 11/15/08)

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