Judge orders Ellis County Observer Publisher Joey Dauben to forfeit domain name

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Joey Dauben

Judge Bob Carroll of the 40th Judicial District Court ordered former Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben during a hearing Friday, April 20 to forfeit his website to the state.

The muckraker said in a telephone interview he is consulting with an attorney and plans to continue fighting what he views as Ellis County prosecutors’ and theRed Oak Police Department’s efforts to silence him by keeping his Freedom of the Press LLC operation shut down.

“I have 30 days to request a new trial,” said Dauben, who represented himself during the hearing. “If that doesn’t happen — if the judge doesn’t allow it — then I’m going to file an appeal.”

Dauben accused Ellis County prosecutors of “criminalizing a civil case.” The Red Oak man should be suing him for libel rather than his being prosecuted on criminal charges, the publisher said.

“If this is allowed to happen, it will start a dangerous precedent,” Dauben said. “No newspaper or other media outlet will be safe from police action.”

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Jailed Ellis County Observer publisher continues activism behind bars, faces new indictment

A copy of Joey Dauben's inmate grievance against Navarro County Justice of the Peace Vicki Gray. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

It appears Joesph “Joey” G. Dauben, publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer website, is becoming almost as big of a headache for public officials from behind bars as he was when he was loose on the streets muckraking. Dauben, 31, who is in the Navarro County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bond on three charges related to alleged sexual activity with a 15-year-old male teenager four years ago, mailed us a copy of an inmate grievance he filed with the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office this week.

In the grievance, Dauben takes Navarro County Justice of the Peace Vicki Gray to task for allegedly threatening inmates with throwing away their requests for court-appointed attorneys if they dared to send her second or third requests. In the complaint, Dauben, who went for almost two months without legal representation after he declared he was indigent during his arraignment on Dec. 19 and requested a court-appointed attorney, claims he felt like her remarks were directed specifically at him, although she was addressing several inmates at once.

Dauben writes in the complaint, “Since one does not need to be a lawyer to be Justice of the Peace, and Gray was elected in 2010 for four years, she may think she is not going to be watched. However, not every inmate she arraigns, talks to or appoints counsel for is a newspaper publisher. Her comments are clearly unacceptable, and anything she or other public officials say can and will be used against them. It’s to correct, not punish. I am not filing this to exact revenge, but to teach public officials proper conduct.”

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Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

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Ellis County Observer Publisher Joey Dauben sits in jail with no attorney for almost two months

Joey Dauben

It’s apparently pretty unpopular in Navarro County to be Ellis County Observer Publisher Joseph Glen “Joey” Dauben, judging from his difficulty in getting a court-appointed lawyer assigned to his sexual assault of a child case.

Dauben, whom the Dallas Observer and D Magazine featured in stories last year about his gonzo style of journalism in coverage of small-town issues and missing child cases, has been sitting in the Navarro County Jail under $200,000 bond since Dec. 19. In a story dated Dec. 20 about Dauben’s arrest and high bond being set in Judge James Lagomarsino’s court, the Corsicana Daily Sun noted that Dauben had declared himself indigent and filled out paperwork requesting a court-appointed attorney.

Dauben, 30, is accused of molesting a 15-year-old male during a church trip four years ago in 2007. The Texas Rangers investigated the allegations of the youth, who is now 19, and filed the charges against Dauben.

In a handwritten letter Dauben sent to me on Feb. 9 from the Navarro County Jail in response to a letter requesting an interview, Dauben said he still had not had the benefit of legal counsel. “As of this letter, on Feb. 9, I have yet to see a lawyer on this case,” Dauben said in the letter.

Dauben goes on to say he filed a request on Dec. 20, as was reported by the Corsicana Daily Sun, and that he refiled it recently after continuing to languish in jail without seeing a lawyer.

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