County Judge takes aim at Constable over his support of the 2nd Amendment

Photo courtesy Mike Jones.
Ellis County Precinct 4 Constable Mike Jones.

ELLIS COUNTY — Ellis County Judge Carol Bush has taken issue with and set her sights on Ellis County Precinct 4 Constable Mike Jones during Tuesday's Commissioners' Court meeting.

"Last week Mike Jones, a county employee, made various posts on his Facebook page in what appears to be his official capacity as Constable of Precinct 4. His various comments were disturbing on many levels. Among them were comments advocating that individuals flagrantly violate state or federal laws by carrying firearms in designated gun free zones," Bush stated while reading from a nearly five-minute pre-written speech.

Jones was present at the meeting, but did not have an opportunity to address the court.

"Ellis County Judge Carol Bush spent several minutes in commissioners court this afternoon reading a long statement of me and my use of social media. Mainly she was trying to bash me for my stance on Gun Free Zones," Jones said.

On October 5, Jones posted a meme on his Constable Mike Jones Facebook page that read, "The only way to stop this gun violence is for everyone to start carrying at all times regardless of what your state or local gun laws may dictate. Violence must be met with violence. You are an American, start acting like it."

Along with the meme, he wrote, "I know this will not be politically correct, but I really could care less. I would rather attend your trial than your funeral."

Jones stated in another post clarifying that he does not believe felons or violent criminals should carry.

"If you have committed a crime of Aggravated (weapon) robbery, assault or any other crimes against persons, then we should not allow you any more freedoms to walk among us armed!! you already proved you will use a weapon in the commission of a felony," Jones wrote.

Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown posted a reply to Jones' post taking a very similar position.

"I will make the same statement I have made a 1000 times already and I do not speak for other agencies when I say this 1) if your not a criminal then you should be armed 2) I don't care about a CHL YOU ARE EITHER THE SHEEP DOG OR THE SHEEP by choice if you choose to carry and commit a crime and that does include anything except class C citation type offenses then you can deal with the legal system at that point," Brown wrote.

"I can't dismiss a charge if another agency were to arrest someone for carrying their gun. I can tell you it won't be me or my people unless a crime is committed. Contrary to some people's belief. I do not oversee or tell city police departments how or when to do their jobs. I can only speak for my office and WE LOVE GUNS!!"

Bush did not mention the Sheriff's comments on the concealed carry issue but continued voicing her opinion about Jones' statements.

Ellis County Judge Carol Bush.Photo by Dave A. Vance

Ellis County Judge Carol Bush.

"Certainly, he is entitled to his personal opinion and has a constitutional right to express those opinions even if they are, ironically, antithetical to his position as a law enforcement officer and the oath he swore to uphold — the laws of the United States and of this state."

The oath of office every elected official in Texas puts the U.S. Constitution first and foremost.

The oath states, "I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of _______ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God."

Bush distanced herself and the county from Jones' statements.

"However, in light of the fact that Constable Jones poses with an Ellis County owned vehicle bearing the county seal in the background, I believe it is important to state that Constable Jones' remarks do not reflect the views of Ellis County as a whole or of this body," she said. "In various photos Constable Jones is sporting an Under Armor shirt with Constable written in large letters across the chest and wearing the badge," she said.

"As the chief elected official of this county and the presiding officer of the commissioners' court, I would not want the public to misconstrue the use of county identifiers as the county's endorsement of Constable Jones' views."

Bush, who as a constitutional county judge rather than a judicial judge, does not preside over a judicial court and has no authority to control another elected official's actions.

She faced a criminal investigation during the middle of last year related to the filing of false affidavits with the State of Texas claiming she spent 40% of her time performing judicial duties. In return, she received a salary supplement from the state.

However, by her own admission in a column she wrote for the Waxahachie Daily Light, she did not perform judicial duties and stated she was repaying the state monies already distributed.

Despite the admission, a special prosecutor declined to file charges based on lack of evidence.

During Bush's speech to the commissioners' court on Tuesday, she misrepresented one of Jones' statements and implied he believes he is not accountable to anyone as an elected official.

"The Constable has stated that he is "an elected official" and is therefore not accountable to anyone at the county level. I found that statement disturbing as well," Bush said.

Jones has previously made it clear that he answers to his constituents in Precinct 4 of Ellis County. He has stated that if constituents do not like what he has to say, then they have the option to vote against him during the March 1, 2016 election.

After chastising Jones, Bush admitted that she and the commissioner's court do not have any legal authority over another elected official.

"While it's true that this body has no real authority to compel an elected official to do something or to refrain from doing something, all of us elected officials are also county employees, and as such, I believe we should respect our county personnel policies," Bush continued from her written speech.

"One of those policies states that the county email is not intended for non-county business. In one of Jones' Facebook exchanges, the Constable offers to fund some individual's CHL class and tells the person to contact him with his story. He then gives out his county email address. The county is not in the business of funding CHL classes and this is clearly outside the scope of constable duties, which are primarily to bailiff the justices of the peace court and to serve papers. Perhaps he should have offered his personal email or phone number."

The Texas Association of Counties describes the duties of constables as more than bailiffs and paper pushers.

"Constables are certified peace officers; they have the same enforcement powers as other peace officers, as defined by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 2.12. They often participate actively in criminal investigations and assist other law enforcement agencies," the Texas Association of Counties website states.

"In addition to performing traditional law enforcement functions, the constable also serves as bailiff for the justice courts and serves subpoenas and papers necessary to the functioning of both the civil and criminal justice systems."

The Texas Association of Counties also makes it clear that constables, like every other county elected official, has full authority over their offices.

"As with all elected county officials, the constable has ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel and direct their daily activities. The constable also has authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process," the website states.

Although the discussion was a non-action item during the commissioners' court meeting, Bush asked the four commissioners to consider creating a county policy controlling the use of social media.

Mike JonesPhoto courtesy Mike Jones.

Ellis County Precinct 4 Constable Mike Jones.

"This incident has given rise to questions about social media usage. Do we need to explore refining our policy regarding the following: county usage versus personal usage? What about using county property, computers, cell phones to post personal contact? What constitutes excessive usage during county business hours, as many of Jones' posts were made during the workday. What about posting unauthorized postings and photos that potentially compromise evidence in a civil or criminal case? Do we need to ask our elected officials, who blur the distinction between county and personal business and county information and campaign rhetoric to place a courtesy disclaimer on their pages that the views they espouse in their official capacity do not reflect the views of Ellis County nor constitute an endorsement. These are some of the topics that should be addressed because, evidently, I don't believe that commonsense always prevails," Bush said.

The four county commissioners remained completely silent during and after Bush's speech.

Jones' position on carrying concealed handguns with or without a license is not new. Jones made the same statement in 2013 where he was a guest speaker at an Ellis County Open Carry event held on July 27, 2013.

"I think everybody in the state of Texas ought to be concealed carry whether they're licensed or non-licensed. You're my backup," Jones said to the crowd.

Jones was quick to return fire following Tuesday's commissioners' court meeting. He posted on Facebook and provided Ellis County Citizen with a statement.

"If she would have put that much effort into her failed law practice, she would probably still be in business," Jones said of Bush.

"She has a personal vendetta and she doesn't care if it hurts the citizens of precinct 4. She just wants to damage me as much as she can because I won't acknowledge that I work for her. I work for those who have elected me. I will not bow down to her."

Bush has often conflicted with county law enforcement officials and other elected county officials. Jones has stated he's ready for the battle that is sure to ensue.

"Well she has declared war on me now, and I am ready," Jones said.

Watch Bush's entire speech below.

The above unedited video is Bush's speech during the Tuesday, October 13, 2015 Ellis County Commissioners' Court meeting and was recorded by the county. Visit the Ellis County website to watch all segments of the meeting.