New Judge Takes 115th District Bench

By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute New Editor
01
Nan and Dean Fowler
When the 115th Judicial Court convenes for the first time this year in Marion County Jan. 31, a new judge will wield the gavel, pledging to keep himself available for Marion County cases. Last year, voters selected former Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler to replace retiring Judge Lauren Parish.

In a recent interview Judge Fowler said he knew where he stood on the ancient legal conundrum of whether a judge should follow the law or make sure justice is done.

“I think a judge has to follow the law, whether it is the Constitution or a law our legislature has adopted,” Fowler said. “If we feel that a law is unfair, we have a responsibility as citizens to ask the legislature to change the law. But as a judge, I have to follow what the law currently is.”

Fowler said the 115th District is a court of “general jurisdiction.” He will hear criminal cases, civil cases and family law. The district clerk allocates cases to either Fowler or 276th District Court Judge Robert Rolston. “The biggest change for me from being a county judge is the amount of time people are sentenced to,” Fowler said of his opening weeks on the district bench.

“The crimes are much more serious than what I saw in county court. Rather than 90 days in the county jail people are sentenced to 10 years in prison.” A judge can only do so much to reduce the amount of cases pending on a docket, Fowler explained.

“The judge can set a hearing, but if the lawyers are not ready to go forward it is difficult for the judge to force that,” Fowler said. “It is important for the judge to be available when the lawyers are ready. “My biggest goal is to make myself available when they need me in Marion County.”

A 1992 graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law, Fowler practiced law in Upshur County until successfully running for county judge in 2002. He served as county judge for 16 years. Dean and Nan Fowler have been married 36 years and have two children, ages 33 and 29.

“We frequently go out an eat with friends in the evening and spend time with each other,” Fowler said of his recreational pursuits. “I also spend a lot of time with church,” Fowler said. The Fowlers attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “I am currently reading ‘American Lion’ by Jon Meacham, a history book on the life of Andrew Jackson,” Fowler revealed.

The Fowlers are also not strangers to Marion County. “Ray and Christine Settles are good friends and we spend time over there,” Fowler said. “I just enjoy Jefferson.” Fowler said he has no stories of college pranks to share.

“I did my first year in college at BYU (Brigham Young University),” Fowler said. “That’s not a very wild place.” He married his childhood sweetheart and completed his degree at UT Tyler, commuting from Gilmer to Tyler. After graduation, Fowler spent 18 months as a missionary in Australia.

 

 

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