Judge West asserts innocence during candidate forum

County Judge Ray West vehemently defended himself against allegations of corruption during a candidates forum hosted by the Early Chamber of Commerce at the Howard Payne Mabee Center, Friday.

West, who shouted down moderator Rick Phelps in asserting his innocence, said that he had not engaged the discussion for fear of compromising the integrity of the court.

“Eight years ago, and four years ago respectively, I was accused of wrong-doing in two separate matters,” West said. “One case was referred to the Texas Attorney Generals Office, the other was a civil suit in federal court in San Angelo. By 2014, the Attorney General’s office had absolved me of any wrong doing, and the lawsuit was decided in my favor in San Angelo. That judgment was affirmed on appeal by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015.”

Judge West then questioned the motives of those bringing the accusations back up.

“Now on the eve of the primary elections, the complainants are reasserting their accusations through two mass media outlets desperate for a sensational story, not to mention social media. I am tempted to take issue with the complaints with those social media participants.”

In the debate over qualifications for office, West said that the majority of his work was hearing cases brought to the Brown County Court, and that the administrative side of the job was a small part of being county judge.

Challenger Paul Lilly countered, saying that Texas law did not require one to have a legal license to hear many of those cases, and that those cases that did require a legal license could be referred to the county court at law.