Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blogger's bond revoked pending trial on Internet posting charges involving use of private information


WAXAHACHIE, TX -- A district judge ordered former Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben's bail revoked on Tuesday, jailing the blogger until his trial on charges he fraudulently used private identifying information on an Internet posting last year.

The judge also ordered Dauben to undergo a mental competency evaluation to determine if he is fit to go to trial on Nov. 14. District Attorney Patrick Wilson sought the bond revocation and the competency evaluation order during a hearing to determine if the blogger had violated the terms of his release on $5,000 bond.

Dauben's court-appointed attorney Damon Fehler said the judge found that the blogger had violated the terms of his release, which prohibited him from "directly or indirectly" accessing the Internet. The judge heard evidence that Dauben had contact with an Internet radio show and several websites, the lawyer said.

Fehler said it is common for a judge to order a mental evaluation if one is suggested for a defendant in an effort to "err on the side of caution."

In an interview prior to his bond being revoked, Dauben denied that he had engaged in any Internet access. He said that he had published hard copies of newspapers, and that "friends and enemies" had published those on the Internet.

Dauben said in the interview that he expected to be jailed until he goes to trial. He acknowledged that he had erred last year by posting the name and other identifying information of a Red Oak man whose ex-wife had claimed he had molested their children.

The ex-wife later was arrested on charges of filing a false police report, according to the blogger, and Dauben was indicted on criminal charges in connection with the story he posted on the Internet. Dauben said he believes it should be a civil libel matter rather than a criminal prosecution.

"I concede that I constructed the environment that my enemies now use to silence me, but I know that what I do is the right thing to do," Dauben said in a telephone text message. "I will apologize for making mistakes, but I won't for doing my job."

Shelby Dauben, the blogger's sister, said she attended the hearing, and she accused those who testified against her brother of lying.

"They're all ignorant," she said. "It's the people who are against him making the rulings."

Dauben said that he has mailed numerous press releases and copies of the newspapers he has published while free on bond to media outlets.

He noted that when he published the names this year of the grand jurors in Ellis County who indicted him after obtaining the information through an open records request it infuriated the prosecutor. One of the grand jurors is his long-standing arch-enemy, he said.

The prosecutor accused him of contacting grand jurors, Dauben said.

"I didn't contact anyone," Dauben said. "I just published their names."

Earlier in the year Dauben was ordered by Judge Carroll to forfeit the website domain name EllisCountyObserver.com. Dauben said he dropped an appeal of that decision because he was unable to prove that he was indigent in the civil case and secure a court-appointed attorney.

Dauben claims that Ellis County officials want to silence him, and that his legal problems are part of an official conspiracy against him. He said he has long written critical stories about the county's politicians that have angered them, but prosecutors claim he crossed the line and broke the law when he falsely accused the Red Oak man of child molestation and published his name, address and phone number.

Two years ago Dauben received a $10,000 settlement in connection with his false arrest by Combine police officers in connection with his posting of a mug shot of a policeman.

In addition to the Ellis County case, Dauben faces trial in Navarro County on charges he engaged in sexual activity with a 15-year-old male five years ago. That trial is scheduled for Oct. 29.

Dauben said he is innocent of those charges as well, and that Navarro County officials are also engaged in a conspiracy against him.

The Navarro County charges are based on an investigation by the Texas Rangers.

Navarro County prosecutors also complained this year that Dauben was trying to circumvent the terms of his bond release in that county by contacting the media. They asked for an order banning the defendant or his lawyer Ed Jendrzey from discussing the case with the media, but Judge James Lagomarsino of the 13th District Court denied the request.

Prior to the appointment of Jendrzey as his court-appointed lawyer, Dauben spent two months in jail in Navarro County in lieu of $200,000 bond. The judge lowered Dauben's bond to $50,000, and was released pending trial.

Dauben is pictured above in Ennis. He was prohibited by the terms of his release on bond from leaving the counties of Ellis and Navarro. He also wore a monitoring device and was required to report to a probation officer weekly in both counties.


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