Fallout from the Republican primary runoff between incumbent Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and challenger John Devine, a former state district judge in Harris County, has prompted retired state district Judge Scott Link to file a defamation suit against the U.S. Pastor Council and its executive director, David J. Welch Sr.
In his July 18 petition, filed in Harris County’s 334th District Court, Link alleges Welch made defamatory statements about him in an email sent from his U.S. Pastor Council email address to a number of “Republican activists and commentators.”
Link alleges Welch sent the email after Link made comments about the Medina/Devine primary race to a Republican blogger on the website Texas GOP Vote.
Devine and Medina are in a July 31 runoff.
Link, a mediator and arbitrator in Houston since his 2003 retirement from the 80th District Court, seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent Welch and the U.S. Pastor Council from publishing or communicating any defamatory statements about him to any third party or getting within 1,000 feet of Link, his family, his residence or his workplace.
Link's Houston lawyers are Randall Sorrels, a partner in Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, and Rusty Hardin of Rusty Hardin & Associates. According to Sorrels’ office, a hearing on the TRO has not yet been scheduled.
While he seeks “general and special damages” from the defendants, Link alleges in the petition that he seeks injunctive relief because monetary damages are “wholly inadequate to repair the damage that would be caused by Defendants’ continued defamatory statements.”
Welch did not immediately return a telephone message left at the U.S. Pastor Council office in Magnolia.
In Hon. Scott Link v. David J. Welch Sr., et al., Link alleges he and another Houston attorney invited Devine to lunch in July 2011 after they heard “rumors” that Devine planned to run for the Texas Supreme Court. Among other things, Link alleges in the petition that during the lunch Devine told him he was running for the state’s high civil court because he needed a job, and he chose to challenge Medina because he felt he could defeat a “guy with a Mexican name.”
In an interview, Devine says, “I didn’t say those things.”
Link alleges in the petition that during an interview with the Republican blogger, he mentioned Devine’s comments and “explained that this was why he could not support Devine’s candidacy for the Supreme Court.”
Link alleges that his comments “apparently angered a number of Devine’s supporters” including Welch, and Welch emailed a “furious screed” to the blogger and others “framed as a ‘response’ to Link’s comments.”
The email contained several “blatantly false and defamatory statements,” including that Link is a “disgraced judge who was removed from the bench,” Link alleges. In an affidavit attached to his petition, Link says he retired from the bench in 2003 for family reasons.
In his petition, Link alleges that “some time” after publishing the defamatory email, Welch sent a “ ‘correction’ to the same recipients” in which he “admitted that Judge Link was not actually removed from the bench” but replaced it with another “false and defamatory” statement alleging Link resigned “under the cloud of a large number of complaints.”
“Each of Welch’s statements quoted above is demonstrably false and maliciously designed to tear down Judge Link’s good name — a good name Judge Link earned through many years of public service. . . . It is obvious that Defendant Welch will continue to maliciously publish defamatory statements about me until he is legally restrained,” Link alleges.
He brings statutory and common-law libel per se causes of actions, and requests a TRO and permanent injunction against the defendants.
Link, owner of the Law Offices of Scott Link in Houston, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Medina also did not immediately return a telephone call.
Devine says Link’s allegations about his comments at that July 2011 lunch are “incorrect.” He notes that his wife is Hispanic and it’s a “silly notion” to allege he purposely chose to run against Medina because of his “Mexican name.”
“It’s phony-baloney stuff,” Devine says about Link’s allegations in the suit.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys