Open Meetings Act prosecution of Doyal, Riley plods forward in Court of Appeals

Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, a criminal defendant in the Texas Open Meetings Act prosecution.

ERIC YOLLICK, The Golden Hammer

Beaumont, May 10 – The accelerated pace of the State of Texas’s appeal to the Beaumont Court of Appeals in its prosecution of Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and local political consultant Marc Davenport for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) has slowed slightly. Brief extensions of deadlines in appeals are the norm.

Montgomery County District Clerk Barbara Gladden Adamick’s deadline to file her record of the instruments which the parties filed was May 1, 2017. Adamick filed the District Clerk’s record on April 28, two days early.

The court reporter was to file her transcript of the proceedings in the trial court by May 1, 2017, as well. On May 1, Cathy Busa, the Official Court Reporter of the 221st District Court, requested a 10-day extension. The Court of Appeals granted her extension the same day, so that the Reporter’s Record is due May 11, 2017.

Therefore, the State of Texas will need to file its brief 20 days after May 11, or on May 31, 2017. The defendants will then need to file their responsive briefs on June 20, 2017. Once again, it’s the norm for attorneys to file requests for extensions, and for the Court of Appeals to grant them, even in accelerated appeals. Since the appeal is accelerated, it’s likely the Court of Appeals would probably only grant one extension to each side of the case.

Therefore, an oral argument on the State of Texas appeal, involving Special Prosecutor Christopher Downey for the State, Rusty Hardin for Doyal, Douglas Atkinson for Riley, and Steve Jackson for Davenport, will still likely occur in late summer or early autumn of this year.

The criminal case against Doyal and Riley remains very serious, even though they were able to obtain a dismissal of the charges by Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp, who agreed with Doyal’s and Riley’s argument that the TOMA is unconstitutional because it restricts their rights to free speech and is unconstitutionally vague. The charges against Doyal and Riley are Class B misdemeanors but they also would constitute a finding of “official misconduct,” if convicted, which requires removal from their public office.

Liberty County Commissioner Mike McCarty was removed from office on April 25, 2017, after a jury found him guilty of a Class B misdemeanor which constituted “official misconduct.”

The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, will continue to cover events in this case as they develop.

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