Conroe, August 1 – A pretty mundane request by Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson resulted in a sharp rebuke of County Judge Craig Doyal by Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act when Doyal tried to discuss a matter not on the Commissioners Court Agenda during the July 24, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting.
After the Commissioners Court quickly approved a reallocation of excess salary funds to a radio shop position within the Sheriff’s Department, an interesting colloquy went as follows.
Doyal: “Sheriff, where are we on the tower [referring to the radio tower]?
Sheriff Henderson: “All of those moves are in place. Everything is moving along.”
Doyal: “You got all the land. All squared.”
Sheriff Henderson: “That’s done. Y’all approved all of that.”
Noack then loudly interjected: “That’s not on the agenda, Judge. Probably shouldn’t be talking about that.”
Doyal: “That’s a question I have in an open meeting.”
Doyal, who along with Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley is under criminal indictment for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, obviously doesn’t get the concept of an “open meeting” under Texas law.
Subchapter C of Texas Government Code Chapter 551 prohibits the discussion of matters by a governmental body unless properly posted in advance of the meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act.
The Texas Open Meetings Act also requires that elected servants attend open meetings training in accordance with the provisions of Section 551.005 of the Government Code.
Doyal has been an elected servant for 16 years, 12 as Precinct 2 County Commissioner and 4 as County Judge. One would expect that Doyal would have at least a limited understanding of the Texas Open Meetings Act. Doyal has, however, made clear in his filings with the criminal courts in the pending case involving his criminal indictment that he does not understand the statute. Doyal recently filed a brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in which he argued that elected officials should receive special treatment when they’re charged with crimes.