Beaumont, September 13 – Both criminal defendants Charlie Riley, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner, and Marc Davenport, local political boss and consultant as well as the First Gentleman to incumbent County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, requested and received 21 day extensions to file their responsive appellate briefs in the case involving their criminal indictments under the Texas Open Meetings Act. Defendant County Judge Craig Doyal filed his brief with the Court of Appeals on August 21, 2017.
Criminal defendant and Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal filed his responsive brief in the Beaumont Court of Appeals on Monday, August 21, 2017. The State of Texas is appealing the dismissal of Doyal’s, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s, and local political boss and consultant Marc Davenport’s criminal case on constitutional grounds.
Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp dismissed the criminal charges against Doyal, Riley, and Davenport on April 3, 2017, after the Montgomery County Grand Jury indicated them in June, 2016, for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) arising out of their alleged attempts to circumvent TOMA’s provisions prohibiting communications in a quorum outside of an open meeting. More specifically, Doyal was indicted for allegedly communicating in numbers less than a quorum with the intent of violating TOMA essentially by establishing a “walking quorum” in order to get a road bond referendum on the ballot in November, 2015.
The November, 2015, road bond referendum eventually passed after Doyal, Riley, and Davenport negotiated an arrangement with the Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC to leave the proposed Woodlands Parkway Extension off of the ballot and off of future transportation plans for Montgomery County.
Despite the passage of the road bond referendum, very few of the road bond projects have proceeded in the two years since the messy circumstances resulting in the indictments. Riley has failed to proceed with the vast majority of the road bond projects in Precinct 2 while Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador has moved forward with only a handful of the road projects on his list.
Delay seems to be Doyal’s, Riley’s, Davenport’s political strategy
Riley’s and Davenport’s briefs were originally due to the Court of Appeals on July 31, 2017. They sought and received an extension on July 31 when the Court of Appeals set the new deadline to August 21, 2017. On August 21, 2017, Riley and Davenport sought an additional extension to file their briefs. The Court of Appeals granted the request for extension but ruled that September 11, 2017, would be the “FINAL EXTENSION” for Riley and Davenport to file their briefs. On September 11, Riley and Davenport requested and received an additional extension until October 2, 2017.
If Riley and Davenport finally file their briefs on October 2, 2017, it is likely that the Court of Appeals would not even hear oral argument in the TOMA criminal case against Doyal, Riley, and Davenport, until late January, 2018, at the every earliest, even though the Court of Appeals designated the criminal appeal as an “expedited appeal.”
Therefore, there is a strong likelihood that the Court of Appeals would not render an opinion in the case until after the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election. Voters will have to guess whether Doyal, as County Judge, and Riley, as County Commissioner, will face a serious chance that they will suffer removable from office for the TOMA violations which constitute “official misconduct” under Texas law.
In many ways, reform efforts in Montgomery County to remove the corrupt Doyal and Riley from office (for many, many other problems outside of the TOMA allegations) will likely receive no boost from the legal proceedings in this case.