Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough has turned the egg into a symbol of “Reopening the Constitution.”
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, May 10 – The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, interviewed Eric Yollick about the egg.
Publisher’s Note: The Golden Hammer spoke with longtime civil attorney Eric Yollick, who is running for District Judge of the 457th District Court in the July 14 Republican Runoff Election, about an interaction between Yollick and Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough on March 27, 2020. Yollick, who was out of town during the interview and spoke with this newspaper by telephone, answered all of our questions and then some. We have printed the entire interview, which follows.
The Golden Hammer: Mr. Yollick, did you really throw an egg at Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough’s vehicle on Friday, March 27, 2020?
Yollick: I don’t see that as very important or even news but there’s a lot more to the story.
The Golden Hammer: That’s for the newspaper to decide not you. Are you in some sort of feud with Judge Keough?
Yollick: No. Mark and I are close friends. He’s a Pastor friend of mine. I worked very hard and contributed a lot of time and money to his election as County Judge. I love Mark Keough like a brother.
The Golden Hammer: Then why would you do such a thing as throw an egg on Mark Keough’s Lexus SUV?
Yollick: Here are the basic points:
#1 Light-hearted Protest of Keough’s Blatant Violation of the Constitution. I did it as a light-hearted protest for Keough breaking his repeated promises not to issue unconstitutional lockdown and business closure orders. On March 27, around 11 a.m., Mark violated all of those promises and issued a full lockdown and closure order. Mark Keough is not above reproach. He’s a friend of mine. I brought my concerns to his attention in a light-hearted way. Mark laughed when it occurred.
#2 I Cleaned the Vehicle, While Mark Watched and Laughed. Like a gentleman, I cleaned his vehicle right away with paper towels and a bottle of water. Mark laughed the whole time while I cleaned.
#3 Mark Remained Jovial. Since Keough is a friend, about an hour-and-a-half later, I drove to his house and offered him $20 to get a car wash. He said he had already done that and he said “that’s not necessary” and laughed again. He was very friendly. We had a laugh about the whole incident in his driveway. Mark’s wife, Kim, came out to the driveway and we talked about my constitutional concerns and about some matters pertaining to Woodlands Bible Church where Mark is the Pastor. As I left, Mark gave me a hug in his driveway.
#4 Mark Didn’t Complain Until After He got angry on April 1 about something else. I thought we had put the issue to rest back in March and I never heard anything about it again. The first I heard about this issue again was on Monday, May 11, when I heard that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Montgomery County District Attorney refused to take Mark’s incident report he had tried to file with them, because they didn’t want to get involved in a political prosecution.
#5 My message to Mark Keough is the following: You know I love you, brother, but you laid an egg on the citizens of this community when you violated the Constitution and issued those business closure and lockdown orders.
The Golden Hammer: If you love Mark Keough, don’t you support all of his decisions and orders to protect us from the Chinese Coronavirus?
Yollick: No. Those orders are far outside of the bounds of legal authority. As more and more people are beginning to recognize, those orders have violated the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution and have decimated the economy. I agree with Commissioner Noack’s comment that no one wanted to flatten the economy, even though we all wanted to flatten the curve.
“People are sick and tired of being locked down while they’re going broke, because the government has deprived them of their livelihoods. It’s sad that Judge Keough is more focused on a minor personal issue like this one rather than focusing on reopening our economy, getting people back to work, and restoring our civil liberties. It’s Judge Keough who has turned the egg into a symbol of ‘Reopening Our Constitution.'” – – Eric Yollick, Candidate for Republican Nomination for the 457th District Court.
Just last week, two United States District Judges in Houston – one a Republican and one a Democrat – made rulings that the enforcement of business closure orders violates the Constitution’s First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Golden Hammer: What does that have to do with throwing an egg? What happened?
Yollick: On Friday, March 27, I intended to send our County Judge a strong message that he acted like a hypocrite, because he had been saying lockdowns were unconstitutional. On Wednesday, March 25, Mark told me during a telephone conversation, “Eric, you can count on my decision that I will never issue a stay-at-home order, because they violate the Constitution.” He had said that to me several times previously and he made the same comment to the news media and to many other individuals. But on that Friday morning, Judge Keough bought into some CDC scare tactics, which predicted Montgomery County would have 100,000 COVID-19 cases and between 1,000 and 5,000 deaths. So he decided to violate the Constitution and issued a lockdown order.
I wanted Judge Keough to get a strong message that he laid an egg. He should have strongly urged voluntary social distancing and hygienic practices, just like what has been so successful in certain parts of the world such as Hong Kong.
My friend and I went to visit the Judge. I saw him in the parking lot. I walked up to him and said, “Here’s an egg. You laid an egg today on the citizens of Montgomery County by violating the Constitution.” Immediately afterwards, I asked my friend for some paper towels so we could clean the car off. We cleaned the car off and left.
An hour and a half later, I went to the Judge’s home and offered to give him $20 to reimburse him for a car wash. He laughingly declined and we had a nice conversation in his driveway.
The Golden Hammer: Your story doesn’t fit with how angry Judge Keough is now. What happened to make him so angry?
Yollick: Where the Judge’s tone changed was at approximately 7:15 a.m. on April 1, when he called me to complain about an April Fools Day joke article in The Golden Hammer. As you know, I’m not the Publisher and don’t work for the paper any longer, so he called the wrong person. But Judge Keough told me, “Eric, I’m ordering you to pull that article down right now!” I responded, “Judge, even if I were the Publisher, I wouldn’t do that. A government official can’t tell a newspaper to pull articles.”
Judge Keough and I spoke for a couple of minutes longer. He said he was trying to save people’s lives with his orders. I thanked him for his care for life. Nevertheless, I noted that more people had died from economic-related suicides, since the lockdown orders began, than the number of people who died from COVID-19 in this community. Judge Keough uttered some profanities at me and then Judge Keough hung up the phone on me.
The Golden Hammer: Have you tried to speak with Keough since April 1?
Yollick: Yes. I’ve tried to speak to him since that time, because he’s my Pastor and my friend. He won’t return my calls or respond to my text messages.
The GoldenHammer: Why are you speaking to us now about this situation?
Yollick: I’m speaking to you now, because you called me about it. It’s my understanding, however, that Judge Keough’s chief of staff contacted a reporter with the Courier blog and asked her to research “something Yollick did to Keough” without telling her any specifics. She contacted a few elected officials, because the Courier blog doesn’t pay credence to anyone unless they’re part of the government. There were only three people in the parking garage on March 27, so none of those people, other than the three of us, would know what happened.
People are sick and tired of being locked down while they’re going broke, because the government has deprived them of their livelihoods. It’s sad that Judge Keough is more focused on a minor personal issue like this one rather than focusing on reopening our economy, getting people back to work, and restoring our civil liberties. It’s Judge Keough who has turned the egg into a symbol of “Reopening The Constitution.”
The Golden Hammer: Do you believe your behavior showed good leadership?
Yollick: The answer to your question depends upon how seriously people take blatant violations of our Constitution. As someone who cares deeply about our rule of law, I took Judge Keough’s actions very seriously.
Our Nation faces a grave Constitutional crisis. We have executive officials in governments at the state and local levels who are creating laws and then threatening citizens with imprisonment and fines, but without following the provisions which protect our rights under the United States Constitution, its Bill of Rights, and the Texas Bill of Rights. The Shelley Luther case in Dallas showed how serious this situation has become.
My actions in protest were far less harmful than what a group of individuals (three of whom later became prominent jurists in the United States government) did when they hurled substantial tea and other goods off of a ship into Boston Harbor and other harbors along the East Coast in December, 1773. Among those three Sons of Liberty who participated in the Tea Party actions, one became an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court, one became the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and one became a United States District Judge.
Yes, I believe my protest showed good leadership.
The Golden Hammer: Doesn’t this incident tell us that you’ll be an activist judge who will legislate from the bench?
Yollick: No. Absolutely not. You’ve got that upside down. A political activist is someone who actively fights for principles. The term “judicial activist” refers to a judge who doesn’t follow the law and makes up law from the bench. I’ve continuously fought for the law. My protest against Judge Keough, albeit a minor one, was because he did not follow the law but tried to make up new law.
The Golden Hammer: Should people go around throwing eggs?
Yollick: No. I’d rather eat them with bacon, and I recommend to others that they follow suit. Mark got the message. Some of his recent video statements, like the ones last week about the vagueness of Governor Abbott’s orders, reveal to me that Mark still knows he was trampling on the Constitution and on our civil liberties when he shut down businesses, locked us down, and even forced houses of worship to close.
The Golden Hammer: Do you support Mark Keough still?
Yollick: Under the Texas Judicial Conduct Code, I can’t answer that. But here’s what I can tell you. I want government spending greatly reduced and I want the reach of government to become much smaller. Government should exist to protect our liberties, not trample on them. If Judge Mark Keough fights for that, then I’m all for that.
The Golden Hammer: Would you declare a lockdown or business closure order unconstitutional if you become a District Judge?
Yollick: Under the Texas Judicial Conduct Code, I can’t answer that. I won’t answer that question, because I would have to consider the facts and the law before me at the time of the case. I believe my actions and my answers in this interview tell you what my philosophical outlook is, however.
The Golden Hammer: Do you believe citizens should protest when government doesn’t follow the rule of law?
Yollick: Yes. That’s what I’m all about.
The Golden Hammer: Did you commit a crime, a violation of the Texas Penal Code?
Yollick: No. Under Section 28.03 of the Texas Penal Code, one must either cause pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience as an element of the criminal violation. I caused Mark neither any pecuniary loss nor did I cause him any substantial inconvenience.
The Golden Hammer: Is Mark Keough still your friend?
Yollick: Yes. I put more money into his campaign for County Judge than anyone else both in direct contributions to Mark’s campaign and through a political action committee with which I was involved. I put a lot of money and sweat into his election. I’m a bit disappointed in some of his actions, but I still consider Mark a friend.