Venue changes, judge remains in Upshur County trial
Longview, TX — As Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler heads to a pre-trial hearing Friday, a new order filed in his case states that despite a change of venue, the original judge and other officials will continue to hear the case.
Visiting Judge Richard Davis signed an order moving Fowler’s jury trial to Wood County, citing that a “fair and impartial” trial could not be held in Upshur County. With the change of venue, the case could have been heard by a district judge in Wood County, but prosecuting and defense attorneys agreed Davis should retain the case.
Davis was appointed to hear the cases against Fowler, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree after 115th District Court Judge Lauren Parish recused herself.
The three elected officials were charged with official oppression and abuse of official capacity after a man was removed from a commissioners court meeting when he wore duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been removed from meeting agendas.
In addition to Davis being retained as the judge, the original court reporter, court coordinator and clerk of the court also will provide services during the trial, according to the order.
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