Charges dismissed against East Texas judge

Oct 13, 2011

QUITMAN - A county judge in East Texas has been cleared of official oppression over removal of a protester who wore duct tape on his mouth to protest a ban on public comment.

The Associated Press reports that a visiting judge in Quitman on Wednesday decided prosecutors had not proved their case against Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler. An indictment alleging abuse of official capacity has been quashed. Fowler tells the AP he's relieved.

Commissioners in Upshur County decided in September 2010 to stop hearing public comment. A vocal critic of commissioners, who began showing up with his mouth taped, was removed from a November meeting.

A grand jury Dec. 29 indicted Fowler and two other county officials, who still face trial. Commissioners the next day lifted the public comment ban.