Upshur County Judge’s official oppression trial begins
QUITMAN, TX — Opening arguments and testimony started Tuesday in the trial of Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler, who is charged with official oppression.
Fowler, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree were indicted and charged after resident Jimmy Caughron was removed from a Commissioners court meeting in November. Caughron attended several meetings with duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been removed from meeting agendas.
“Mr. Caughron was at that Commissioners Court meeting doing what any man had a right to do,” prosecuting attorney Rick Hagan said in his opening argument. Hagan is representing the county in the case because District Attorney Billy Byrd recused himself.
Hagan told six jurors and one alternate juror that Caughron sat silently at the commissioners court meetings, “wearing a piece of tape over his mouth.” Hagan noted that Caughron did this three times and was “never told he was violating rules or conduct.” Then on Nov. 30 he was removed from court. Hagan argued that Caughron’s first amendment rights were violated when he was removed.
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