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Dallas County District Attorney

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    Susan Hawk (R) Retired Criminal District Judge/Attorney

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    Craig Watkins (D) Dallas County District Attorney

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Biographical Information

Length of residency in Dallas County:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

Which current or former political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

How does your legal experience distinguish you from your opponent(s) and uniquely qualify you to serve as district attorney?

How will you balance limited resources against an ever-increasing caseload, when county commissioners set your budget but you decide how the money is spent?

Please discuss the role of a district attorney as the head of a county department. Between lead administrator and chief prosecutor, which role is more important and how would you balance the two concerns?

What can the district attorney’s office do to affect crime rates in the county?

How will you entice qualified prosecutors to stay in your office, rather than lose them to private practice?

What will you do to improve the DA office’s relationship with other city and county law enforcement agencies?

Given the district attorney’s unique role in Dallas County law enforcement, should that person steer away from involvement in partisan politics?

Explain your understanding of the Al Hill III controversy, when the district attorney was accused of prosecuting a case as a political favor to a campaign donor. Would you have handled it differently and, if so, how?

How effective has the Conviction Integrity Unit been and would you change the way it has been employed?

Please describe your personal view of the death penalty and discuss how you believe it has been applied in Dallas County.

What demographic barometer, if any, should the district attorney’s office use to determine the composition of juries?

City/Town Dallas, Texas
Age 47
Campaign Phone Number (214) 871-7723
Email Address susan@susanhawk.com
I have lived in Dallas County for 22 years.
Retired Criminal District Judge/Attorney
- Doctorate of Jurisprudence, Texas Wesleyan University, 1995

- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English, Texas Tech University, 1992
- Justinian Award, National Association for Mental Illness, recognized for pioneering an innovative approach to justice, 2013 - P.O.P Criminal Justice Award, Promotion of Positive Justice ,Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2011 - PRISM Award, Mental Health of America, recognizing long-term and exemplary dedication to improving the mental health of the community, - National Recognition Award of Excellence, National Association of Mental Illness, 2009 - Fellow, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, 2008 to present - Honorary Chair, NAMI Walk for Awareness, 2010
- Presiding Judge, Dallas County Jury Services, elected by my peers to voluntarily preside over Dallas County jury system, 2013 - Texas Women’s Hall of Fame Finalists, 2012 - Most Distinguished Alum, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, 2004 - Advisory Board, Jonathan's Place 2003-2005 - Dallas County Juvenile Board, 2003-2005 - Rookie Judge of the Year, The Dallas Observer, 2003 - Advisory Board, Dallas Children Advocacy Center. 2002 - Advisory Board, The Family Place, 2002 - Prosecutor of the Year, North Texas Crime Commission, 2001 - Team Excellence Award, Dallas Children Advocacy Center, 2000

I was elected three times as presiding judge of the 291st Judicial District Court.
As of late August, our campaign has raised over 400,000 in contributions and in pledges.
Bob Dedman, Doug Deason, Trammel S. Crow
no
I led a team of more than 10 stakeholders, including mental health professionals, probation officers, public defenders and mental health advocates, to create the first diversion-type felony mental health court for mentally ill offenders, which is now serves as a model for specialty courts. Our project was successful in reducing the rate of recidivism for mentally ill offenders by 70% and getting them the special care they need. In the process, we saved Texas taxpayers more than $11 million in incarcerations expenses. As District Attorney, I will seek to expand the existing diversion programs and create new programs where there is a need. I will publicize and educate stakeholders—police, judges, and attorneys—about the availability of such programs thereby seeking to expand access for qualifying offenders, reduce the burdens on our courts and save taxpayers money.
I admire Nelson Mandela because he was a true champion of justice who maintained his convictions despite a huge personal sacrifice to himself.

Margaret Thatcher for being a fearless woman leader ahead of her time. The following quote is one of many that still universally inspire others and my personal favorite.. "Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction."
The safety of our community is too important to tolerate poor leadership in the District Attorney’s office. The current leadership is distant, inaccessible and distracted by politics and scandal. We need a DA with experience, integrity and a focus on the prosecuting criminals and keeping our communities safe. As a former felony prosecutor and criminal court judge, I have nearly two decades of experience in the courtroom. I’ve personally tried more than 150 felony jury trials, and presided over more than 33,000 cases as a judge. As our District Attorney, I’ll bring experience and integrity to the DA’s office – and return the focus of this office to public safety and upholding the law.
Our District Attorney should be an expert in criminal law. As the county’s top prosecutor, we should accept nothing short of expertise. As a former felony prosecutor, and a criminal court judge, I bring decades of hands on experience to the DA’s office. As a felony prosecutor, I tried seven capital cases and more than 150 other serious cases of rape, aggravated assault and murder. And as a criminal court judge, I presided over 33,000 felony cases. In contrast, our current DA has never personally tried a felony case … even after becoming DA he’s never stepped into the courtroom to try a case. And before becoming DA, his primary income was from working as a bail bondsman, which doesn’t even require a law degree. Based on his lack of courtroom and prosecutorial experience, it should be no surprise that this DA’s office is pleading a record number of cases which create a revolving door for dangerous criminals.
Unlike my opponent, I have the tremendous advantage of spending years in Dallas County courtrooms both prosecuting dangerous criminals, and presiding over thousands of felony criminal cases as a district court judge. I was recognized as Prosecutor of the Year Award for successfully prosecuting the worst child sexual offenders, and as a trial judge I sentenced violent and habitual offenders to lengthy prison sentences while developing an innovative program to keep mentally ill defendants from re-offending. This type of hands-on courtroom experience makes me the best-qualified candidate for District Attorney.
To ensure the greatest efficiency and impact, I will focus on two main issues— 1) clearly defining the essential or core mission of the District Attorney office and prioritizing the prosecution of violent and habitual offenders; and 2) developing a close and meaningful working relationship with the Commissioner’s Court to create a budget that maximizes the use of taxpayer dollars. In addition to these key priorities, I will work to secure grant money from non-profits, state and federal agencies that will allow the DA’s office to provide additional services for victims and witness and supplement investigations and prosecutions. I also believe that through more thorough training of young prosecutors, we can get better value and results from the existing prosecutorial budget, and I will make training and mentoring young prosecutors a top priority.
As District Attorney I will strive to be both. I believe it is important for the chief prosecutor to periodically appear in the courtroom to personally try some of the toughest cases in the office. Although running a large office effectively is a full-time job, I believe that by being in the courtroom, I can inspire my assistants, more effectively lead the office and regain the trust of our communities and citizens.
Only effective prosecution at the courthouse will give any substance and meaning to an arrest. Arrest is only half of the equation in taking a criminal off the streets. No matter how effective police policies are in arresting criminals, the crime rate will never decrease if there is a “revolving-door” at the courthouse. The District Attorney must define the core mission of the office by prioritizing prosecution of the violent and habitual offenders in our community. By focusing on and obtaining lengthy sentences for these criminals from judges and juries, the District Attorney can solve the second part of the equation for driving down crime rates.
Salaries alone will never be enough to keep qualified and experienced prosecutors in public service. Prosecutors must believe that they are part of an important and effective team, doing an important public service. This process starts with bringing back a sense morale and esprit de corps. Qualified and motivated young lawyers must be actively recruited to the office, given the proper training, and then entrusted with the awesome responsibility of prosecution. Only then can they feel that they are growing as professionals and trial lawyers. Only then can a District Attorney begin to build an effective team, imbued with a shared sense of sacrifice and mission.
As in any relationship, communication and trust are the essential elements of an effective working relationship with local law enforcement. I will meet regularly with local law enforcement leaders to discuss areas of mutual concern and explain any decisions. I will let them know that I will always have an open-door to listen to their concerns. This type of accessibility and transparency is the only way to repair the strained relationships with local law enforcement.
Yes. For the first time in recent memory we have a District Attorneys office that has been accused of politicizing prosecution and bringing politics to the courthouse. Whether or not there is merit to these charges, the perception of the politicization of prosecution cannot be tolerated. Our criminal justice system must be viewed by citizens as non-partisan and free of any political considerations. Only then will the community have the requisite faith in the system.
Yes. For the first time in recent memory we have a District Attorneys office that has been accused of politicizing prosecution and bringing politics to the courthouse. Whether or not there is merit to these charges, the perception of the politicization of prosecution cannot be tolerated. Our criminal justice system must be viewed by citizens as non-partisan and free of any political considerations. Only then will the community have the requisite faith in the system
The fundamental nature of effective exoneration work has changed. Unlike my opponent, I have a plan to address that change. While the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) has been effective reviewing exonerations based on DNA evidence, future exonerations won’t be so clear cut. Without DNA evidence to rely on, identifying potential exonerations and seeing that justice is done will be exponentially more difficult requiring more investigative effort and expertise, more resources, and more coordination among all the players in the exoneration movement. My plan will bring together all the stakeholders in the exoneration process and achieve a consensus protocol and model to be used in Dallas County to investigate any claim that a person may have been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. By bringing together every stakeholder (prosecutors, police, Innocence Projects, etc.) with their specific expertise and their varied motivation, and letting them participate in the process of developing a protocol, the difficult task of going back through an old non-DNA case (witnesses dying or disappearing, witnesses’ changing motivations, etc.) can be given be reduced to a reliable process that gives every stakeholder a measure of confidence in the ultimate outcome. Only by deeply considering the changing nature of this work and developing such a protocol, can the important work of the CIU change to meet the demands of the new non-DNA challenge.
I firmly believe in the judicious use of the death penalty in the “worst-of-the-worst” cases. The appropriate case is one in which the evidence of the defendant’s guilt is beyond any doubt, the defendant is a continuing threat to the community, and there are no mitigating facts in the defendant’s background such as a history of physical abuse, mental illness, or mental retardation.
I believe that demographic barometers should play no role in jury selection. Jurors should be selected on their legal qualifications, whether they can follow the applicable law, and whether they can be fair. My assistants will rely solely on these factors. Our juries should reflect the diversity of our community.
City/Town DeSoto, TX 75115
Age 50
Campaign Phone Number (214) 295-5715
Email Address info@craigwatkins.org
46 years – basically all my life.
Dallas County District Attorney
David W. Carter High School | Prairie View A&M University – Bachelor of Arts in Political Science | Texas Wesleyan/Texas A&M School Of Law - Juris Doctor
2014 Timeless Service Award - Alpha Kappa Alpha | 2014 Greater Grand Prairie Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Amigo Award | 2014 Speaker, National Workshop for Federal District Judges | 2014 North California Innocence Project Annual Justice Award | 2014 National Black Pre-Law Admissions & Preparation Extraordinary Lawyer Award
2013 Speaker, National Association of Black Prosecutors | 2013 Speaker, National Association of Black Professionals in Law Enforcement | 2013 Recognition for Support in Ending Domestic Violence from Claudia Faye Center | 2013 Recipient of the ‘Justice Policy Innovator’ award from the Law & Public Policy section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) | 2012 Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center Excellence in Justice Award | 2012 Innocence Matters Courageous Truth Award | 2012 Innocence Network Champion of Justice Award | 2011 American Bar Association Norm Maleng Minister of Justice Award | 2011 Alpha Kappa Alpha Image Award | 2010 Selected by Texas Monthly as a Super Lawyer | 2009 Honored by the Texas Senate on the Senate Floor as one of the Best District Attorney’s Office in Texas | 2009 Constitution Project: Constitutional Champions Award | 2008 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year | 2008 Governing Magazine: Elected Official of the Year Award
Dallas County District Attorney
Last filing period: $92,000.00
Peter Krause, Rickey Jones, and Russell Budd
I have never been arrested. As the District Attorney of Dallas County, I am involved in criminal proceedings and civil suits.
You can look at the numerous accomplishments in my nearly eight years in office as leading a team to achieving the ultimate goal: improving criminal justice to further regain public trust. When I took over the DA’s office, my troops described an atmosphere of skepticism by juries towards law enforcement due to the fake drug scandal under previous Republican administrations.

Through my leadership and progressive initiatives, we now face jurors who have confidence in our prosecutions. Unprecedented programs for our success include: the first Conviction Integrity Unit in the United States, which frees the wrongfully convicted; the Memo Agreement (first program in Dallas County) designed to help young first time offenders avoid a “record” if they’ve committed misdemeanor offenses; and the DA office’s first ever Digital Forensics Lab, which is a joint collaboration with the Secret Service to train Dallas prosecutors and investigators in computer, video, cell phone, and social media forensic investigations. We realize crime has evolved in the digital era and are now better equipped to prosecute those cases.

Last but not least, we formed the first ever Civil Rights Unit to independently investigate police shootings. This will add an extra layer of oversight in hopes of regaining the public’s trust.
The Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, is who I admire most. I admire AG Holder because we have had similar experiences and have handled them with grace and professionalism. He, through the Obama Administration, advocates for criminal justice reform as do I -- including smart sentencing practices. Holder is boldly moving the country forward despite the difficulties; I admire Holder because we see the possibilities of a better country and a better Dallas County.
There are few times in your life you have an opportunity to console the family of a murder victim, listen to the voice of a man who society has deemed voiceless, and intervene with youth before they get on a path of self-destruction. I know that my children must live in tomorrow’s society. I know that tomorrow’s society must be better for them and everyone else. I have spent eight years consistently and methodically replacing bricks of injustice with pillars of hope and opportunity. However, my work in the District Attorney’s Office is not done.

I must continue to spread awareness of injustice to ensure our citizens receive justice. You cannot arrest your way out of crime, so I’ve developed several preventive programs. The Community Prosecution Unit is partners with DISD to steer youth down the right path, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Task Force was recently formed to address the concerns of all communities.
I have successfully served as DA for nearly eight years. Our conviction rate is higher than it has ever been, the crime rate is lower than ever, and we free the innocent. The voters' choice is either to go back to the failed policies of the past or to embrace progressive, effective solutions that are smart on crime (as set forth in my answer to questions 10 and 12). It’s important to note that my opponent was steeped in the injustice and scandal of past administrations. Voters should vote for me because we have given Dallas County a great reputation as it relates to justice. When Dallas County experienced the fake drug scandal, my opponent was a part of the DA’s office at that time. When Dallas County had an unprecedented number of wrongful convictions, my opponent was a part of the office at that time. Do you really think she would change this time?

My opponent is indecisive and opportunistic. The funds she raised while she was a Democrat, she spent to run as a Republican candidate in the DA’s race. My opponent is content to be a tool of division versus an instrument of change to improve the criminal justice system. We are the “go-to” office for district attorneys who want to start up Conviction Integrity Units to free the innocent. We have redefined what it means to be a prosecutor, and I am proud of that. It’s not about winning convictions, but seeking the truth.
My legal experience clearly qualifies and distinguishes me as the best candidate. I have successfully and innovatively managed one of the largest law firms, if you will, of 500 people and a budget of $40 million dollars. My opponent’s budget of less than $1 million and a staff of less than three became so burdensome, she quit. Do you really think my opponent can handle the eighth largest DA’s office in the country?

Furthermore, my experience exceeds my opponent by leaps and bounds, as I have testified before the United States Senate on wrongful convictions. For the most part, my opponent has been left to follow my recommendations. Delegations from Mexico, Uganda, Japan, and Vietnam have visited the Dallas DA’s office to seek our expertise regarding many of our initiatives.

Finally, I have worked hand in hand with more than two dozen police chiefs in Dallas County to bring justice to all citizens. We have revolutionized law enforcement in numerous ways; chief among our initiatives is revamping witness identification of suspects in Texas to prevent wrongful convictions. Our input leads to greater justice for all: locally, nationally, and internationally.
In conjunction with educating commissioners, the Dallas DA’s office has successfully applied for and received numerous grants to supplement our staff and equipment. We have brought in newly licensed attorneys on a Lawyer on Loan program. This unique program provides guided experience to attorneys on loan from private firms, or fresh out of law school, who in exchange obtain desired trial experience while providing additional assistance to DA staff at no cost to the county.

We have worked with community leaders and private citizens to create and fund the start-up costs of the Dallas DA office’s first-ever Animal Cruelty Unit. We recognize the need to prosecute people to the full extent of the law who torture and kill animals. The Animal Abuse Unit is also no cost to the county.
Neither function is more important than the other, because you must be capable of doing both simultaneously in order to hold the office. You balance the entire functions of the office by surrounding yourself with qualified, experienced people who assist you in addressing the variety of issues that arise on a daily basis.
The district attorney’s office can affect crime rates by ensuring that we partner with law enforcement agencies to be smart on crime. For instance, we are taking special interest in improving the investigations of digital evidence by establishing our newly created Digital Forensics Lab, which will make for stronger cases and lead to more just outcomes. This will deter criminals from committing digitally-related crimes that are on the rise. We are currently supporting numerous specialty courts designed to effect crime rates through intervention: Mental Health Court, DWI Court, as well as PRIDE and STAR Court to deal with curtailing prostitution.
My philosophy is simple: we hire prosecutors who want to work for one of the most progressive district attorney’s offices in the country. We are innovative with our policy and programs. We promote diversity among our administrative staff, and allow the rank and file to offer ideas on how to improve the office. We recently approved such a presentation by an assistant district attorney on how to help officers better identify stolen property. The new program is in the process of being implemented.

When prosecutors see their ideas come to fruition to help the justice system, it fosters a teamwork environment. Dallas County prosecutors realize they are public servants who advocate for victims, and they are instrumental in making communities safer.
We always make sure to keep our lines of communication open. When the Dallas DA’s office implemented the first ever Civil Rights Unit to independently investigate police shootings, I received the support of Police Chief David Brown and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Both say they support an extra layer of oversight to gain the public’s trust. When the DA’s office called for a town hall meeting, both Brown and Valdez participated to address concerns the community has with officer-involved shootings.

At the end of the day, we have great officers doing their jobs correctly, but law enforcement offices are working together to make a concerted effort to be transparent to regain trust. I was honored to start the dialogue with the community.
No. The District Attorney is an elected position, so politics will always play a part in holding that office. The same is true for every elected office. The goal is to not allow the political climate to affect your decisions, as it relates to applying the law.
An independent Dallas County grand jury indicted Al Hill III, not me. Furthermore, Mr. Hill’s own father brought the case to our office accusing his son of mortgage fraud. My views on the case are set forth in the documents filed in the Courts. Four judges have reviewed the matter and found no wrong doing on my part or the Dallas District Attorney’s office.
It has been an overwhelming success and a model for offices worldwide, so we would not change anything. We recently made news worldwide for having the first-of-its-kind exoneration involving a man who did not ask for his case to be reviewed, yet we have a program to test un-tested rape kits that meet certain criteria.
As a Christian, I struggle with taking another person’s life; however, as the elected District Attorney, I follow the law.
If you can follow the law and the constitution, and you meet the legal requirements to serve on a jury, then you should be eligible.