Beaumont, October 27 – The Beaumont Court of Appeals the two-month delay request of criminal defendants, Craig Doyal and Charlie Riley, who are, respectively, the Montgomery County Judge and Precinct 2 County Commissioner. Local political boss Marc Davenport is a co-defendant along with Doyal and Riley for allegedly violating Section 551.143 of the Texas Open Meetings Act by allegedly conspiring to circumvent the open meetings requirement of Texas law for the purpose of negotiating the terms of a November, 2015, road bond referendum “behind-closed-doors.”
While Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark had been charged along with the other three, he agreed to testify at the trial and tell the truth about what happened. Therefore, Special Prosecutor Christopher Downey has agreed to dismiss the charges against Clark. Meanwhile, Davenport is gearing up to run Precinct 4 JP James Metts against Clark as revenge and in order to move Clark aside, since Clark has resisted the Davenport Ring’s efforts to take over the County government’s purchasing and information technology functions.
The Court of Appeals has set the oral argument for January 25, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., at the James Keeshan County Administration Building, 301 North Thompson Street, 2nd Floor Courtroom, Conroe, Texas 77301. Each of the State and the collective three criminal defendants will have 20 minutes per side to argue to the Court of Appeals.
If the State prevails in the appeal from Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp’s April 3, 2017, dismissal of the indictments after he determined that the Open Meetings Act unconstitutionally infringed upon the criminal defendants’ rights of free speech, then Doyal, Riley, and Davenport would face potential criminal convictions, jail time, fines and, for Doyal and Riley, removal from office. Doyal and Riley would face removal from office, because a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act constitutes “official misconduct” under Texas criminal law.
The delay of the oral argument until January 25, only forty (40) days prior to the March 6, 2018, Primary Election where Doyal and Riley face serious challengers, puts Montgomery County voters in a difficult position. If the citizens were to re-elect Doyal and Riley, there is a serious possibility that their choices for re-election could face removal from office which would put the determination of the new officeholders outside of the decision of the voters.
It’s unlikely that the Beaumont Court of Appeals would decide the case between the oral argument on January 25, 2018, and the date of the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.