Wednesday, February 16, 2011

District Judge Shoos All But Attorneys, Clients From Court

Gilmer – Constitutional principles flew out the window again when an Upshur County judge closed her courtroom to all but clients and their attorneys.

Judge Lauren Parish said the room cannot accommodate spectators and defendants in the unusually large docket calls caused by the County Judge being suspended from hearing all court cases pending his indictment for official oppression and abuse of official capacity.

The judge ordered a man removed from the Commissioners' Court meeting because he put duct tape over his mouth in protest to an end to public comment portion of the Court's meetings.

He and the Sheriff and a County Commissioner were indicted for the incident, causing the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct to suspend Judge Dean Fowler.

The number of defendants called before the District Court rose to 153 for the day, leaving family and friends of defendants outside in the cold.

Judge Parish couldn't comment specifically on that case, but said, "Once these cases were called and the court was able to determine which cases are able to be heard everyone involved in these cases is allowed to be in the courtroom."

Though state laws allow for people to be called into the court individually or informed of the outcome of the docket call in the cases in which they have an interest, bailiffs made no such attempt to accommodate the public. Family and friends were very disappointed.

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