Texas County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Gaston announced he will file next week to keep that position for the next four years. He said his mission was to continue to work for safe homes, strong families and a bright future for our county.
“It has been the privilege of my life to be able to serve the people of this county, and I am so honored to serve as their judge. This job is about the people of Texas County – about keeping families safe and strong — about making sure they have a level playing field so that justice always prevails. I will continue to work hard for the people of this county to make sure they have a judicial system that is fair, firm and that always stands strong for justice.”
Gaston said he is thankful for a good background and experience that makes him a well-rounded judge, having served in all three branches of government, including as a state legislator, state and federal prosecutor, top aide to the president of the Missouri Senate and state treasurer, and currently as associate circuit judge.
Gaston was appointed to a two-year term as associate circuit judge by Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt which began in January 2009. Before assuming the bench, Gaston served as Missouri deputy treasurer under State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. In that position, Gaston held the statutory powers of state treasurer, and acted as state treasurer in Steelman’s absence. Those duties included the daily oversight and investment of approximately $3 billion of state investments, management of the state’s college savings plan and director of legislative and administrative affairs for the office. Gaston also worked with Steelman in an effort that has led the nation in developing terror-free investments. These efforts to rid American funds of investments that are tied to terrorist-sponsoring nations like Iran and North Korea, has been praised by major news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal, and is now a model being emulated across the country.
Before going to work as deputy treasurer, Gaston served as chief of staff and general counsel to Missouri Senate President Peter Kinder. While with the Senate, Gaston was instrumental in developing the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund, assisting the families of Missouri Veterans called to active duty after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In 2002 Gaston was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice as special assistant U.S. Attorney under Attorney General John Ashcroft. Gaston served as a prosecutor in the Project Safe Neighborhoods Division, focusing on illegal drugs and weapons offenses in Missouri, including several Texas County cases. While with the U.S. Department of Justice, he received specialized and advanced training at the National Institute for Justice in South Carolina. In 1998 Gaston was elected Texas County prosecutor, where he served a four-year term. Gaston was responsible for the prosecution of all cases in Texas County during his term and was active in the Missouri and National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He maintained a small solo law practice as well.
In 1996 Gaston was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. While in the House, he served as deputy whip for the Republican caucus, president of the Republican Class of ’96, member of the House Judiciary Committee and ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee. Gaston co-sponsored several pieces of important legislation, including the sales tax cut on food that was passed in 1997, and the senior citizen property tax cut passed in 1998. Gaston also maintained his law practice during his term in the House.
Gaston worked for Judge Morris Arnold of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, as well as Arkansas Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee while in law school, and clerked for Jon Hutcheson’s law firm in Houston each summer. Upon graduation in 1995, he practiced law with Hutcheson, specializing in family law and estate planning. He also served as general counsel to Wri-Tex 911.
From 1995 until 2002, he served as an adjunct professor of political science for Southwest Baptist University, Houston campus. Gaston was born and raised in Houston, and he is a 1986 graduate of Houston High School. Gaston received his bachelor’s degree from Southwest Baptist University in 1990 and his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law in 1995.
As judge for Texas County, Gaston has overseen a busy docket of more than 3,000 cases reaching final disposition in his first year. But Gaston says being a good judge isn’t about numbers. “Every case that comes before me is a life-changing event for a person in this county. I will never forget that it always comes down to those basic principles – equal justice, for each and every person. That’s how we protect the way of life we all love here in Texas County. That’s my commitment, and the reason I hope to continue to serve.”