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Judge dismisses residency case against Tarrant County constable candidate who lost his election

A campaign sign for Precinct 8 constable candidate John Wright, stuck in the grass in front of a blue dumpster. The sign has a photo of John Wright, a bald Black man with a beard, wearing a blue suit. The sign says "Vote John Wright Democrat for Constable Pct. 8."
Miranda Suarez
A campaign sign for Precinct 8 constable candidate John Wright near Brentwood Stair Road Feb. 12, 2024.

The lawsuit against a Tarrant County constable candidate accused of lying about where he lives has ended without a decision about his true residence.

Incumbent Tarrant County Precinct 8 Constable Michael Campbell accused his Democratic primary opponent John Wright of living outside the precinct and sued to get Wright declared ineligible for the office. Wright argued during his March 1 trial he splits his time between his homes in Precinct 1 and Precinct 8.

On March 5, Campbell beat Wright with 71% of the vote. That means the question of Wright’s residency doesn’t matter anymore, Judge Chris Taylor of the 48th District Court ruled Thursday, closing the case.

Taylor had previously expressed doubt about whether the case should continue after Wright lost in the primary.

“Considering that the primary has occurred, and Defendant Wright has been defeated, the Court is of the opinion that the matter is now moot,” Taylor wrote in a letter to attorneys filed March 8.

Campbell’s attorney, Jason Smith, argued there should be a ruling, contending that Wright has lied about where he lives before.

Wright ran for constable in Precinct 5 in 2020, claiming he lived part time at his late grandmother’s house in the precinct.

Smith had hoped Taylor would rule on the case to offer guidance in similar situations in the future, he told KERA News Monday.

“We felt we presented strong evidence that showed that Mr. Wright did not live in Precinct 8, and we're just sorry that we didn't get the question answered," Smith said.

Texas election law is squishy when it comes to residency. Courts take the intention to live somewhere into account, not just a candidate’s current address. Wright and his wife told the court they plan to move to their home in Precinct 8 full-time.

Wright’s attorney, Doug Ray, told KERA News he’s confident Taylor would have ruled in his client’s favor had the case continued, but there's no conflict to solve anymore.

"There's no reason for a judgment that then either side could appeal and just have more expense for no good reason," Ray said.

The only justification for a ruling, Ray argued, would be if the same election matchup, with the same circumstances, was sure to happen again.

Constables are law enforcement officers who serve court papers and oversee evictions. Wright, a deputy constable, has been disciplined more than a dozen times during his 20-year career, and he has survived three attempts to fire him, his long disciplinary file shows.

Campbell was one of the constables who fired Wright. In 2019, Wright shot his gun into the air after an attempted theft at his home, according to county documents. Firing warning shots is against county policy, for safety reasons.

Wright maintains none of his terminations were justified, including that one. He told KERA News and the Fort Worth Report he was not firing a warning shot — he just missed the alleged robbers.

That firing and a previous firing in 2011 were reversed by the Tarrant County Civil Service Commission, the body in charge of county employee discipline. His first firing, in 2004, was later reversed by the constable who tried to terminate him.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.