Dallas Voice contributor subpoenaed to testify at hearing on gag order against Joey Dauben

David Webb

A Navarro County district judge has issued a subpoena for Dallas Voice contributor David Webb to testify at a hearing this week on whether to impose a gag order against Ellis County Observer Publisher Joey Dauben, who faces charges of child sex abuse.

Webb has reported extensively on Dauben’s case for Dallas Voice, including a column on our Viewpoints page last week and a follow-up article on Instant Tea on Friday. Webb said he received the subpoena Monday for the hearing at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Corsicana, before Judge James Lagomarsino of the 13th District Court.

According to Webb,  Lagomarsino and District Attorney R. Lowell Thompson conferred Sunday and advised Dauben’s attorney that a hearing on the gag order had been scheduled. In a text message forwarded to Instant Tea by Webb, Dauben lamented that the gag order would prevent him from using “the forum that has aided not just me, but others in their legal and political fights.”

“The gag order won’t apply to readers, fans or supporters,” Dauben added. “I couldn’t say anything about my two criminal cases anyway, so the gag order will be on top of what my lawyers restrict anyway, but one cannot see this as anything other than another way to silence me.”

—  John Wright

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

dauben.joseph

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.”

—  admin

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.”

—  admin

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.

—  admin

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.

—  admin

Dobbs resigns 7 Points mayoral post After being indicted on assault charge

His partner claims charges stem from anti-gay bias, say indictment has left Dobbs ‘disgraced’ and ‘financially destroyed’

HAPPIER TIMES | Joe Dobbs, left, and his partner, Michael Tayem, right, celebrate with a supporter after Dobbs was elected in a landslide as mayor of Seven Points.

David Webb  |  Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

SEVEN POINTS — The pending prosecution of gay former Mayor Joe Dobbs by the Henderson County District Attorney has left the official disgraced and financially destroyed, according to his life partner, Michael Tayem.

Dobbs submitted a letter of resignation to the Seven Points City Council late last week, relinquishing his duties as both mayor and chief of the city’s volunteer fire department. According to Joey Dauben, publisher of the EllisCountyObserver.com, some sources are saying that Dobbs was forced out of the volunteer fire department after news broke about the indictments.

Tayem, a former Seven Points police officer who has lived with Dobbs in a committed relationship for several years, said Dobbs was fired from his job as a juvenile probation officer with the Texas Youth Commission in Rockwall after he was indicted on Aug. 19 by a Henderson County grand jury.

Dobbs was indicted on a felony charge of assault on a public servant and misdemeanor charges of official oppression and interference with public duties.

“It’s been horrible,” Tayem said. “It’s left us in ruin and struggling to make ends meet. He was the primary source of income for us.”

Tayem was also indicted on a misdemeanor charge of interference with public duties in connection with the same alleged incident on Aug. 16.

The district attorney reportedly told the grand jury that Dobbs and Tayem had interfered with an investigator from his office who was attempting to serve a subpoena at Seven Points City Hall in connection with an ongoing investigation of Dobbs’ administration as mayor.

Tayem had been on suspension from the Seven Points Police Department since May when a citizen filed a complaint with the Henderson County District Attorney alleging that he was the victim of police brutality at Tayem’s hands.

Through Tayem, Dobbs has declined to be interviewed in connection with the charges pending against him until his attorney advises him to do so.

In a statement relayed through Tayem, Dobbs said he believes the indictments were an act of retaliation because of his complaint to the district attorney three weeks ago that the same investigator had engaged in official oppression against a member of the Seven Points City Council. That council member submitted a written statement detailing what the investigator had said to her, Tayem said.

Dobbs said in the statement he also believes the initial investigation of his administration and the indictments were motivated by anti-gay bias.

“We can’t think of any other reason for it,” Tayem said.

In a telephone interview this week, Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee denied that his office was motivated by anti-gay bias or retaliation.

He noted his office continues to investigate the city of Seven Points in connection with another law enforcement agency, but he declined to identify the agency, which is widely believed to be the FBI because of the federal agency’s presence in the city during a previous mayoral administration.

“That is a patently false statement by him,” said McKee in regard to Dobbs’ claim. “His sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with the investigation.”

McKee said he believes that the evidence in connection with the alleged incident on Aug. 16 merits the indictments.

City Secretary Dru Haynes said in an interview this week that the City Council had called a meeting for Sept. 2 to accept Dobbs’ resignation and to decide what to do next.

“The day-to-day business of the city is going on without interruption,” Haynes said.

Dobbs’ resignation marks the conclusion of his tumultuous tenure as mayor. Controversy began immediately after he was elected in a landslide  more than a year ago.

For almost a year, three members of the City Council who had supported Dobbs’ opponent in the election boycotted council meetings and refused to resign.

With a failure to establish a quorum each month for the City Council to conduct business, Dobbs said he was forced to run the city on his own with the advice of the city attorney. That apparently led to the investigation of his administration by other law enforcement agencies.

After city elections this past spring, the City Council had begun establishing quorums again and meeting regularly.

Dobbs had ran on a campaign of restoring integrity to the city after the former mayor, a municipal judge and a council member were indicted on corruption charges following an FBI investigation of the city.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens