By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberty County Pct. 6 Constable John Joslin has been indicted on one count of Official Oppression, a Class A misdemeanor. Joslin surrendered to the Liberty County Jail Tuesday morning and has since been released on a $500 bond.
There have been rumblings and talk about the indictment among people close to the courthouse for weeks after Joslin was indicted by a previous grand jury. That indictment was later thrown out by a district judge because it failed to meet certain criteria to prosecute him.
The grand jury reheard the case, with the witness – a former female employee of the Pct. 6 Constable’s Office – retelling her version of events to the grand jurors. The grand jury re-indicted Joslin for Official Oppression.
Joslin’s attorney, former district judge Layne Walker of Jefferson County, alleges that the witness was coached before the case was presented a second time and believes the process was handled poorly.
“Most times when you have a case, law enforcement takes a statement and presents the case to the grand jury. Either that works and they indict, or it doesn’t and the person is not indicted,” Walker said.
Walker alleges that the timing of the indictment is curious as it comes while Joslin is facing an opposed reelection bid.
In 2016, while facing another political race, Joslin was indicted on two third-degree felonies for Tampering With a Government Record, which were in addition to a misdemeanor perjury charge against him in Jefferson County. The charges were related to Joslin’s acquaintance with a fake cop in Beaumont, Mickey Gelagotis, who performed some vehicle work for the constable’s office and represented himself as a peace officer at an official event with Joslin. His trial in Beaumont for perjury ended in a hung jury in September 2018. He was set to go to trial again for the perjury charge in January 2020, but the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office declined to continue prosecuting the case.
“This is the new style of politics. If you don’t like a person and can’t beat them at the polls, indict them,” Walker said. “Every time he gets indicted in Liberty County, it’s in the middle of an election process.”
According to the Texas Penal Code 39.03, an elected official can commit official oppression by 1.) intentionally subjecting a person to unlawful mistreatment, arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment or lien; 2.) denying or impeding a person in lawfully exercising or enjoying any right, privilege, power or immunity; 3.) sexual harassment; or 4.) using their office or employment to act or purport to take advantage of a person.
Class A misdemeanors are punishable in Texas by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
“In order for there to be an offense of official oppression, there has to be quid pro quo, meaning doing X in return for Y,” Walker said.
The claims against Joslin suggest he used his position as constable to try to coerce an employee into a sexual relationship. He denies any wrongdoing, a sentiment backed up by his attorney.
“John hasn’t done anything wrong. This lady has given so many statements. I’ve never, in my 29 years as an attorney, seen anything like it,” Walker said.
Walker says he is ready to fight for his client when the case comes to court, though it will not be resolved before the March 3 primary elections.
“We are going to get ready for trial. John is going to continue getting up and serving the people in his precinct as constable, and hope and pray the voters favor him,” his attorney said.
Bluebonnet News reached out to the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office for more information, including a copy of the indictment. However, due to pending litigation, the DA’s office cannot comment.