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Upshur County court might appoint interim judge

Upshur County court might appoint interim judge
Longview News-Journal
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POSTED: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 9:59am

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 10:55am

On the day that Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler is scheduled to go back to court, commissioners plan to discuss appointing a replacement.

“It’s the biggest bunch of nonsense I have ever heard of,” county resident Robert Stracener said.

“It’s costing the county money to no end. We’ve almost given a blank check to a special prosecutor, and what he has done has nothing to do with the initial charges.

“And it all started from that one man making a mockery out of the county court by wearing duct tape over his mouth.”

Stracener echoed the sentiments of a multitude of others in the county Monday when he said he just wants to see the charges against Fowler, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree settled so the county can get back to business. The three men were charged with official oppression and abuse of official capacity after they removed a man from a Commissioners Court meeting when he repeatedly wore duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been removed from agendas.

“I think the county judge did exactly the right thing,” Stracener said. “I don’t think the man’s rights were interfered with. They need to stop wasting taxpayers money and get back to letting these three elected officials get back to doing the job they were elected to do.”

District Attorney Billy Byrd recused himself after filing the initial charges against his fellow elected officials. Special prosecutor Rick Hagan was appointed to replace Byrd.

Hagan has brought more charges against the men. He filed a conflict of interest/failure to file an affidavit charge against Fowler in April, but dropped it about a week later. A subsequent charge was filed against Fowler earlier this month. Hagan also filed a charge of gift to a public servant by a person in his jurisdiction against Betterton and Crabtree.

The men are scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday where Visiting Judge Richard Davis is expected to set a trial date and venue. Meanwhile, the Commissioners Court is going to consider appointing an interim judge at a 9 a.m. meeting Thursday.

Read the full story here.

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