Case Against Al Hill Dismissed; Dallas County D.A. Held in Contempt

Criminal mortgage fraud charges were dismissed against Albert Hill III due to prosecutorial misconduct, after Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins repeatedly refused to testify as to whether Hill was targeted for prosecution by Watkins to help a prominent Dallas benefactor who was engaged in a civil dispute with Hill. At the March 7 hearing on prosecutorial misconduct, Watkins was held in contempt of court by State District Judge Lena Levario, who said Watkins' refusal to testify denied Hill's due process, which forced the dismissal.

"This dismissal brings a gratifying end to a long and difficult defense investigation into prosecutorial misconduct and official corruption," said John Hueston, attorney for Albert Hill III. "We praise the judge for her courage in affirming that District Attorney Watkins is not above the law."

In 2009, Watkins charged Hill with committing mortgage fraud by submitting false documentation when applying for a $500,000 home-equity loan. A team led by Hueston alleged the prosecution was a favor to Watkins' friend and benefactor, Lisa Blue, and other attorneys. Blue had represented Hill, the great-grandson of legendary oilman H.L. Hunt, in a battle over the family fortune and then sued Hill for attorneys' fees.

After losing his appellate court bid to halt the hearing, Watkins took the stand and refused to testify, claiming attorney-client privilege and that the matter was covered under attorney work product. Judge Levario ordered him to answer, and when he refused, held him in contempt.

Levario ruled that Watkins' refusal to testify prevented Hill from having a meaningful hearing on his motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct, and subsequently dismissed all charges.

In addition to John Hueston, the team included Marshall Camp and Alison Plessman.