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Another Libertarian who Can WIN: Mark Ash for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

In an irregular series on Libertarians who can win election (and Senator Laura Ebke is one) I spoke with several weeks ago is Texas attorney Mark Ash, who is running for a seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals – and Ash only has one opponent in the way of ascending to the bench:  District (think Circuit) Court Judge Michelle Slaughter, the GOP candidate.  There is no Democrat candidate.

However, Judge Slaughter got into a bit of trouble over FB posts she did (she was ultimately exonerated on appeal of any formal ethical wrongdoing) on a pending case.  Here is the facts as stated by the Special Court of Review of Texas that exonerated her:

The Respondent maintained a public Facebook page which displayed: (1) a
photograph of the Respondent wearing her judicial robe; (2) featured a photograph
of the Galveston County Courthouse; and (3) described the Respondent as a “public
figure” and as “Judge of the 405th Judicial District Court.” After her election to the
bench, the Respondent was very active in posting comments about matters that were
occurring in her court and in utilizing her Facebook page as a means to educate the
public about her court.
On April 28, 2014, a high profile, criminal jury trial was scheduled to begin
in the Respondent’s court. The case involved a man charged with unlawful restraint
of a child for allegedly keeping a nine-year-old boy in a six-foot by eight-foot
wooden enclosure inside the family home.
The case became known in the media as “the Boy in the Box” case.
A couple of days before the trial was set to begin, the Respondent posted the
following on her Facebook page, We have a big criminal trial star
ting Monday! Jury selection Monday and opening statements Tues. morning.
On April 28, 2014, the defendant in the criminal case elected to have the
Respondent determine his punishment in the event of his conviction. The following
day, the Respondent posted the following separate comments on her Facebook page (I italicized the FB page):
Opening statements this morning at 9:30 am in the trial called by the
press “the boy in a box” case.
After we finished Day 1 of the case called the “Boy in the Box” case,
trustees from the jail came in and assembled the actual 6’x8’ “box”
inside the courtroom!
This is the case currently in the 405th!
In the third post listed above, the Respondent included a link to a Reuters article entitled “Texas father on trial for putting son in box as punishment.”
On the third day of trial, defense counsel in the criminal case filed a motion to recuse the Respondent and a motion for mistrial based on the Respondent’s Facebook activities. A visiting judge assigned to hear the motion to recuse granted the motion and removed the Respondent from the case. The case was transferred to another court and that judge granted the defendant’s motion for mistrial, causing the case to be retried. In the subsequent trial, the defendant was acquitted of the charges.
My take on this is:  The judge can say she was exonerated; many Texas voters might feel differently.  Her FB activity caused a disruption in the trial and her disqualification.  Seems at best foolish for a sitting judge to be using social media in such a manner.  (She admonished the jury in this “boy in the box” case not to even TALK about the case and the JUDGE did it anyway ON FACEBOOK!)   Here is her present judge and election FB page.  You be the judge!  I am very leery at best on this issue.  Appellate courts must have absolute security as to deliberations and I cannot imagine how ANY FB posting would be appropriate.  But she is still doing FB posts, admittedly vanilla, while a sitting judge.
Here are more facts from the Special Court I find disturbing (Again, Judge Slaughter’s FB posts are in italics):
After the initial complaint was filed, the Commission examined all of the
Respondent’s Facebook postings and found other postings it believed improper. On
February 5, 2014, the Respondent posted the following comment on her Facebook
page regarding another matter pending in her court:
We have a jury deliberating on punishment for two counts of possession
of child pornography. It is probably one of the most difficult types of
cases for jurors (and the judge and anyone else) to sit through because
of the evidence they have to see.  Bless the jury for their service and
especially bless the poor child victims.
At the time of the post, the jury had heard the evidence on punishment and was
deliberating in the case.
On May 13, 2014, the Respondent posted the following Facebook comment
regarding another case:
We finished up sentencing today with a very challenging defendant.

I have sought a judicial appointment and I can assure you one of the first things to go would be my FB page.  It would be a sad day.  But I think I would have to.

Here is the Mark Ash campaign FB page.  I am advised that judicial candidates can only spend a cool million dollars on their race.  If 40,000 registered Libertarians would give $25 to the Ash campaign (and yes out of state donations are legal) that would be Ash’s $1,000,000.00 right there.  I think with a sizable campaign chest, Ash could run some great ads that would not only highlight his fitness and experience but also the issues surrounding this matter.  Mark Ash is a Libertarian who can win.  There is one and maybe two other statewide LP candidates who can win.  Stay tuned.

And YES you may nominate for me other LP candidates who can win.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “Another Libertarian who Can WIN: Mark Ash for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals”

  1. Texas Crime Prevention Agency says:

    Don’t understand why pointing out to the FB posts. If there were none of them and FB did not exist, everything would be okay


  1. […] for County Attorney (Prosecutor) in Hillsborough County (Manchester/Nashua) New Hampshire. I endorsed Nicholas for Mayor of […]

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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