By Debbie Dakin
The Texas County Federated Republican Women met June 10 at Chris’ Place in Licking. The hostesses for the meeting were Debbie Fields and Linda Garrett. The guest speaker was the Honorable Doug Gaston, Associate Circuit Judge for the 25th Circuit Court in Missouri.
Judge Gaston was appointed to the bench by Governor Matt Blunt on December 6, 2008. He was re-elected in 2010 and then again in 2014. Before this position, Gaston served as state deputy treasurer, Texas County Prosecutor and a Missouri House representative.
Gaston opened his presentation by thanking everyone for helping him retain his position as judge. He noted that Texas County was always considered a Democrat County and the support of the Texas County Federated Republican Women helped to see him through and he valued it very much. He encouraged the ladies to keep standing their ground and to remain strong.
“I have concerns about our own party,” stated Gaston. “I don’t understand why they can’t pass basic things they have been wanting to pass for years. But I believe you will be rewarded for standing up for what you believe in. Stay encouraged, stay strong.”
Gaston is going on his ninth year as Associate Circuit Judge. He pointed out that the job is always interesting, you never know what to expect, it is an around the clock job and you are never off duty. It is not at all uncommon for him to receive calls at all hours of the night with law officials requesting search warrants. In spite of these things, Gaston informed the group that he loves what he does and considers it a privilege to work for them.
One thing Gaston is proud of is the Constitution Project that he started 6-1/2 years ago in Texas County. This project was started to help high school students better understand our Constitution and the judicial process. The project consists of three parts, crime scene investigation, journalism and then the trial. A mock crime scene is set up. Students investigate the scene and gather evidence. “Journalists” report on the evidence and the case is brought to trial. The students are graded by professionals in each field. The Constitution Project has grown from just involving Texas County to a statewide competition in 2013
“Every year I ask students where our rights come from,” said Gaston. “Usually the first response I get is the Constitution. Wrong, I tell them. Then someone usually says the Bill of Rights. Once again I tell them wrong. Our rights come from God and my life’s biggest mission is to protect our God-given rights.”
Gaston explained there are times he has to make sure he is protecting the rights of individuals when he gets a warrant request. He has to make sure that the “four corners” of a probable cause are covered before he can grant that document. “A whole conviction may be overturned or a murderer set free if I don’t. I don’t always like having to say no but I can’t go on feelings. And I tell them they can bring it back to me when they have more. My job is to abide by the legislature.”
Gaston then told the group about the book he has recently had published. The book is called Believe! and Landon Kemp, a young man with autism, was the illustrator. The picture book not only speaks to children, but also adults, stressing the importance of every child and encouraging them to help each child achieve their potential. Children are encouraged to believe in themselves.
All proceeds from the sales of the Believe books go to worthy organizations:
- Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the autism spectrum, and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support. Their work enhances research, interventions, and understanding and acceptance of autism. A world leader, Autism Speaks is the leading voice for this magnificent cause.
- Heifer International’s mission is to empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity. By giving hungry families the livestock and the training it takes to feed themselves and their children, they become linked into sustainable agriculture and commerce.
- The BELIEVE! Foundation is devoted to the cause of lifting up the lives of at-risk and foster care children, through scholarships, mentorships, and other forms of outreach and collaboration. The BELIEVE! Foundation says to kids who need it the most: We believe in you and all you are meant to be – let’s make it happen!
BELIEVE books may be purchased on Amazon.
It was a very enjoyable presentation and Judge Gaston personally greeted each person present.