As a concerned citizen, as someone who wants our justice system to work, and someone who plans on voting in the next election I want to take a non-lawyer’s view of the most important local race that will be on Liberty County voter’s ballot in November. For the next few weeks, I will be offering information I don’t think most voters are aware of. Information that might affect their view of the way justice is dispensed in our local courthouse and how they intend to direct their energy between now and election day 2010. I intend on offering my opinion, but I also hope to include information that will hopefully cause readers to believe my analysis is fair and balanced – even if they disagree.
Of course all of our elective offices are important, but as far as the order of importance of local offices that are on the ballot in November, most people would agree that the two most important are the race for the District Judge of the 75th and the race for County Judge. I believe the race for 75th is more important, but even if it is not, the race for County Judge seems to be a great deal less competitive with the Democrats choosing to run a candidate who has never even lived here until this year. So I will be looking at the 75th District Court and Judge C.T. “Rusty” Hight.
Rumors about Judge Hight’s business dealings and possible quid pro quo’s have caused us to apply the old “follow the money” tactic in trying to separate fact from political spin. Before delving into the trail of money discovered connected with Judge Hight, let’s make sure we define the term we will be using as our standard. Some define the term quid pro quo as a "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" situation. It is a Latin term and that definition, as opposed to a legal one, will be fine for giving the voters a fair and balanced view of what kind of person Judge Hight is.
For the sake of brevity this article will just cover part one of “following the money” or some might say it just talks about the “quid”. First let me point out that if you have heard a rumor that Judge Hight rents property to lawyers that appear before him that again I hope to answer such questions in a fair and balanced way. Please continue to tune in for future articles that help to complete this story.
I suppose a clever lawyer would say the answer is “no, of course the Honorable Judge is not renting nor does he have any undisclosed business dealings with lawyers who appear before him.” I am no lawyer, but I have a hunch a slick attorney would then read the law chapter and verse and declare the Judge is in no way in violation of the words just read.
But most of us are not only lawyers, we are not jurors in a case against Judge Hight. We are voters. We are the people who cast votes to hire judges etc. We are the protectors of liberty and fairness and justice. So let’s skip the courthouse jargon and the way some that have been jaded by law school have come to judge what is right and what is wrong. In fact to conclude this first look at this race let me just clearly state what some are calling a “quid” and some are denying.
According to documents obtained by Liberty Dispatch on February 25th 2003 “The Trust Agreement For The C.T. Hight Trust” was executed. The document list C.T. Hight as the “settlor” and his two sons, Bryan Luke Hight and Christopher Ladd Hight as the beneficiaries. Liberty Dispatch has confirmed that at a minimum some of the assets in this trust include property near the courthouse. Liberty Dispatch has also confirmed that several of the people leasing those properties from the C.T. Hight Trust appear before 75th District Court Judge C.T. “Rusty” Hight.
A defense lawyer would possibly lean heavily on the fact that these two adult children of Judge Hight no longer live under his roof and therefore their view is that Judge Hight receives no benefit as the trust names his boys as the beneficiaries. Case closed they may argue.
But I am not asking you to judge the Judge simply on the merits of the law – though that is worthy of debate. In fact, I am asking you to withhold judgment for now until the rest of the story is told in the near future. For now just note that Judge C. T. “Rusty” Hight has people appear before him in the 75th District Court who pay a significant amount of money on a monthly basis to the C.T. Hight Trust.
Please continue to follow the money (and the interesting court decisions) with me as we take a look at the most important local race in the November election.
Liberty Dispatch Contributor