Texas Politics Gets Dirty, Ex-Judge Says

     HOUSTON (CN) – A former state judge claims in court that a Republican activist defamed him by calling him “a disgraced judge who was removed from the bench,” because the former judge wouldn’t back the activist’s pick for the Texas Supreme Court.
     Scott Link sued David J. Welch Sr. and the U.S. Pastor Council in Harris County Court.
     Link was elected three times as judge on the 80th Harris County District Court. He served for 11 years before returning to private practice, according to the complaint.
     “The events that are the subject of this petition occur against the backdrop of the hotly contested runoff campaign for the Republican nomination to Place 4 of the Supreme Court of Texas,” the complaint states.
     “Justice David Medina, the incumbent who has served on the Court for 6 years, is facing a primary challenge from John Devine, a former Harris County District Court Judge who has run for office unsuccessfully 4 times since leaving the bench.”
     Neither Medina nor Devine are parties to Link’s lawsuit.
     Link says he invited Devine to a luncheon when he heard that Devine was running for the state Supreme Court.
     “During this lunch, Devine was asked why he chose to run for the Texas Supreme Court,” according to the complaint. “His response was, ‘I need a job.’ Later in the conversation he was asked why he chose to run against Justice David Medina, who was appointed by Governor Perry, to which Devine responded, ‘I can beat a guy with a Mexican name.’ Devine then accused Medina of adultery.
     “During an interview with Bob Price, a Republican blogger with the website Texas GOP Vote, Judge Link revealed that, when asked during the lunch described above why he chose to challenge Justice Medina in the Republican primary, Devine told Link that Devine ‘needs a job’ and that he chose to run against Medina specifically because he ‘can beat someone with a Mexican name.’
     “Judge Link explained that this was why he could not support Devine’s candidacy for the Supreme Court.”
     Link says his comments angered Devine’s backers, including Welch, a “political activist who styles himself as a religious leader and who is president of defendant U.S. Pastor Council.”
     Link claims Welch is known for his “vociferous, but ultimately unsuccessful, opposition to Annise Parker’s mayoral campaign” because of her lesbian sexual orientation.
     “Welch, no stranger to inflammatory political rhetoric, emailed a furious screed to Bob Price and a number of other Republican activists and commentators, framed as a ‘response’ to Link’s comments,” according to the complaint. “Welch’s missive, sent from his U.S. Pastor Council email address, contained a number a blatantly false and defamatory statements concerning Judge Link, including:
     “a. ‘Scott Link is a disgraced judge who was removed from the bench’;
     “b. That Judge Link is ‘now also proven a bald faced liar’;
     “c. That ‘it was Link who defended Medina’s adultery as being typical of ‘Mexicans’
     “d. Naming Link ‘an unethical former judge.’
     “Some time after publishing this defamatory email, Welch sent a ‘correction’ to the same recipients in which he admitted that Judge Link was not actually removed from the bench.
     “However, he then replaced that false and defamatory statement with another one: ‘He did resign, however [sic] under the cloud of a large number of complaints to and either pending or likely [sic] investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.'” (Brackets in original.)
     Link says each of those statements is false and designed to destroy his reputation.
     The former judge seeks damages for libel, and a temporary restraining order to stop Welch from making defamatory comments about him to any third party, and from going within 1,000 feet of his family, house or office.
     Link is represented by Randall Sorrels with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, of Houston.

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