Conroe, May 7 – Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright has asked for an executive session to consult with the Montgomery County Commissioners Court about “contemplated litigation” concerning County Judge Craig Doyal’s trampling of the free speech rights under the United States and Texas Constitutions of GOP Precinct Chairman Reagan Reed during the April 24, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. Over the outspoken objections of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, Doyal directed Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Billy Jordan to remove Reed from the Commissioners Court meeting after Reed dared to get up, approach, the podium, and make a citizen comment against Doyal’s and Charlie Riley’s beloved $95 million, 3 mile TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway.
The executive session agenda item reads, “CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEY REGARDING CONTEMPLATED LITIGATION CONCERNING PUBLIC COMMENT.” The Golden Hammer has confirmed that a draft agenda item, which the County Attorney’s Office submitted for inclusion on the agenda, was far more descriptive and specific, but Doyal and his long-napping “chief of staff” jim fredricks changed the agenda item to be more vague so, they hoped, the public would be unable to ascertain what the matter concerned.
During April 24, 2018, citizen comments on the shameful $95 million Tollway that Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are shoving down the citizens’ throats, renowned conservative Republican Precinct Chairman Reagan Reed, who is also the Houston correspondent for Empower Texans, rose to make a comment and approached the podium. Doyal angrily pointed at Reed and said, “Have a seat please! You’re not signed up to speak!”
Reed said, “I got here more than 5 minutes early. Your clerk told me I would be allowed to speak.”
In the past, Doyal has allowed citizens to speak even if they didn’t sign up to speak at all. In the past two meetings, however, without any written rules or approval from the Commissioners Court, Doyal has created his own rules that citizens must sign up to speak to the Commissioners Court at least by 9:20 a.m. Doyal’s secretary, Sylvia Olszowy, confirmed on video that “we make up the rules however we feel” in a conversation with Republican Precinct Chair Ginger Russell videotaped early Tuesday morning.
Doyal repeated, “If you don’t have a seat, you’ll be removed.” Reed answered, “If you want that to be in the press, come on.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack interrupted and said, “You’re breaking your own protocol. You have done this time and time again.”
Doyal hissed, “No, I’m not” similar to the manner in which a 3-year-old might protect a toy he just grabbed from another child on the playground.
Noack responded, “You have let people who have not signed up come and speak. Come on, Judge. The people want to have a voice. Give them one.” The audience overwhelmingly chimed in that Doyal should have allowed Reed, a highly-respected leader of the Republican Party, to speak.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Billy Jordan then pulled Reed out of the Commissioners’ meeting room and required Reed to stand outside of the meeting during the entire remainder of the Commissioners Court for almost two hours.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley laughed while Jordan arrested Reed.
Doyal then made clear that his real intent was to prevent Reed from speaking against the Tollway: “He said the same thing every time he has come. We know what he is going to say.”
Doyal’s action clearly was a prior restraint of political Free Speech which violated Reed’s rights under both the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution. By ordering Jordan to participate in the illegal and wrongful arrest and prevention of Reed’s political speech, Doyal and Jordan violated 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, which prohibits state officials from violating the federal Constitutional rights of individuals under the color of state law.
This newspaper has confirmed that the executive session is a response (1) to the incident in which Doyal violated Reed’s Constitutional rights, (2) an email which The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher submitted to the Montgomery County government, and (3) a letter from Empower Texans, the grassroots conservative organization which employs Reed.
On April 25, 2018, the day after the incident, Reed issued the following statement:
“Yesterday I was thrown out of commissioners court at the order of outgoing County Judge Craig Doyal for attempting to speak about the 249 toll road during the public comment part of the meeting. The reasons he gave? I didn’t sign his ‘permission slip’, and in the judge’s words, ‘we know what he’s going to say.’
“Commissioners court does not have an official public comment policy in writing. Instead, different ‘rules’ regarding public comment are made up by Doyal on a whim from week to week. Historically, a sign in sheet has been provided for citizens to check it ahead of time, but it has been optional. Citizens who sign in are usually called up first, but then anyone who wants to is allowed to get up and speak on court business. Lately Doyal has decided to mandate that citizens have to sign up for permission, and now will not permit them to sign up after 9:20 (court starts at 9:30). Some citizens who did not know the process have been turned down, and it’s hard for even activists to know what the rules are because they constantly change.
“Doyal’s ever changing ‘rules’ have become a way for him to stifle free speech and criticism,and needed to be challenged. I arrived a few minutes after this week’s deadline, but before the meeting, and asked to sign in to speak. Doyal’s secretary refused to let me sign in, but said I would still be allowed to speak (since that has usually been allowed).
“I took her at her word, and after all the people who had signed up had spoken, I stepped up to the podium. I was immediately interrupted by Doyal, and told to sit down, and when I tried to explain that his representative had told me I would be allowed to speak, he ordered a sheriff’s sergeant to escort me out. Doyal’s comments as I was being thrown out made it clear that the content of what he thought I was going to say was a large part of why he was shutting me down. An uproar ensued, and Doyal lost control of the meeting for a few minutes amid all the shouting and the 30 or so people in the audience who walked out. Commissioner Noack also walked out. After waiting in the lobby outside until the end of the meeting, I was finally allowed back in and given three minutes to speak at the end. Feeling I had already made my point, I just made a few remarks thanking the sheriff’s department for their professionalism in handling the situation under the circumstances.
“The rights of free speech and petitioning our government are among the oldest and most sacred rights in our country, and should not be infringed. If getting thrown out of court is what it takes to get that point across, so be it. Hopefully yesterday’s incident will lead to the county adopting a fair public comment policy that will protect the rights of citizens and be consistently and equally applied to all. This is supposed to be the people’s court- the citizens must remain vigilant and involved!”
“Dear Sheriff Henderson and Sergeant Jordan,“I was a witness to the incident which occurred when Craig Doyal officially oppressed and violated the First Amendment rights (and rights of Free Speech under the Texas Constitution) of Mr. Reagan Reed yesterday.“I request that you include in your written report of the incident that Mr. Reed was the victim and Mr. Doyal very clearly the perpetrator. I believe Mr. Doyal violated 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 as well as the criminal provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.“Please note that Mr. Doyal is already under criminal indictment for violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. Such extraneous conduct as what we witnessed yesterday would likely be relevant during the sentencing phase of Mr. Doyal’s trial.“Thank you for your serious attention to this matter.“Sincerely,/s/ericyollick/s/Eric Yollick, Private Citizen“cc: Mr. Reagan Reed, Mr. Bill O’Sullivan, Ms. Kelli Cook, Ms. Ginger Russell, Mr. Craig Doyal, Honorable Christopher Downey, Prosecutor Pro Tem”