Publisher of Big Bend Times Targeted by Jeff Davis County Law Enforcement

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In an unsettling development in Jeff Davis County, the publisher of the Big Bend Times has become the target of what appears to be a concerted effort by local law enforcement to intimidate and silence our press. This concerning episode unfolded when Deputy King Merritt pulled over our publisher under the pretext of delivering a warning against approaching the courthouse, a directive that should have been communicated through official channels like certified mail.

During the stop, which occurred about 10 miles from the courthouse near our live/work space in rural Fort Davis, our publisher challenged the legality of the stop, as there was no reasonable suspicion of a crime. Initially, Deputy Merritt did not request identification, but after a tense exchange, he abruptly demanded it, accusing our publisher of non-compliance as he searched for his license. This interaction culminated in a ticket for failing to maintain a single lane, a charge our publisher notes was ironically committed by Merritt himself. This incident has escalated to legal proceedings, with our publication seeking injunctive relief to prevent further interference with our operations.

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The backdrop to this traffic stop is a larger narrative of harassment that includes a baseless and extensive investigation into our publisher by Jeff Davis County officials. After filing a public information request, our publisher uncovered that the county had conducted a deep and unwarranted probe into his activities. The investigation, detailed across hundreds of pages, turned up no evidence of criminal activity, raising serious questions about the motivations behind such scrutiny.

Despite the lack of findings, the county has expended significant resources on this vendetta. For instance, Jeff Davis County paid over $14,000 to the Austin law firm Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP to obscure their investigatory records, an act that starkly contradicts principles of transparency and public accountability.

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This series of events not only challenges the personal safety and professional stability of our publisher but also represents a broader threat to press freedom and justice. The misuse of government power to pursue baseless legal actions against a member of the media undermines the trust of the public in local governance and highlights the need for vigilance and accountability.

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As a newspaper, the Big Bend Times remains committed to upholding the truth and ensuring our community receives unbiased news, free from the influence of corrupt practices. We continue to stand firm in our mission to expose such abuses of power and to support our publisher against these unfounded charges. Our resolve in these challenging times is unshaken, and we will maintain our course of responsible journalism, despite the obstacles we face from those who should be upholding the law, not manipulating it for retaliatory purposes.

Source: Big Bend Times

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