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State lifts suspension on Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler

By Christina Lane
Oct. 13, 2011 at 10 p.m.

After 10 months of suspension, Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler has been reinstated and will preside over the Commissioners Court meeting this morning.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct met Thursday to reinstate Fowler after a judge on Wednesday dropped charges of official oppression and abuse of official capacity brought against him by Upshur District Attorney Billy Byrd. The commission suspended Fowler, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and trial, Executive Director Seana Willing said in January.

Fowler confirmed late Thursday night that he will preside over the Commissioners Court meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

The Commissioners Court appointed Jim Bowling to oversee meetings until Fowler returned to office. With Fowler being reinstated, Bowling legally is no longer the county judge, Fowler confirmed.

Fowler, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree were charged with official oppression and abuse of official capacity after Jimmy Caughron was removed from a commissioners court meeting when he repeatedly wore duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been removed from agendas.

Judge Richard Davis on Wednesday granted a motion for directed verdict of not guilty filed by Fowler's attorneys after the prosecution rested, citing that attorneys Rick Hagan and Lew Dunn had failed to prove Fowler knowingly violated Jimmy Caughron's rights or even that Fowler was involved in Caughron being removed from a Commissioners Court meeting.

"My family and I are relieved," Fowler said following the trial.

"We appreciate the judge's decision. I would like to thank all of my supporters and the people who have been concerned about me in Upshur County."



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