Conroe, April 3 – The pretrial constitutionality challenge by criminal defendants Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and political consultant Marc Davenport concluded this afternoon at 2:26 p.m. Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp announced that he will issue a ruling by Friday, April 7, on the defendants’ motions to dismiss on grounds of alleged unconstitutional vagueness and violation of the right to free speech. Doyal, Riley, and Davenport are challenging the constitutionality of the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) under which the Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted them.
Prosecution expert witness Joel White, an Austin attorney, continued his testimony after the lunch break. White testified that meetings among city councilmen in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of circumventing TOMA’s “open meeting” requirements would constitute a criminal violation of the statute. White added, “two people cannot form a quorum if there are five people in the body.”
The parties discussed proffering evidence regarding matters in Harris county which seem to have been discussed in this morning’s testimony.
The prosecution discussed submitting Grand Jury testimony under seal. Judge Clapp exhibited his fine sense of humor when he noted the irony of the State’s request for Grand Jury secrecy.
Defense lawyer’s testimony and emulation of William Jennings Bryan
In a completely bizarre turn, Riley’s attorney, Troy McKinney testified that he was confused by the provisions of TOMA when he served on the Harris County Bail Bond Board and received an email string to a group that constituted to form a quorum of the Board. The board later received admonishment from another person to stop those forms of communication.
In the trial of the 20th century, the trial of State of Tennessee versus John T. Scopes, also known as the “monkey trial,” over Scopes’ misdemeanor charge that he taught evolution in a public school, former three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan testified as an expert witness at trial on matters pertaining to the Holy Scriptures. It seems that in the trial of the 21st century, State of Texas versus Craig Doyal, it is Riley’s defense attorney, Troy McKinney, who is seeking to emulate the actions of Bryan as a trial witness in the trial of the 20th century. May we look forward to a few presidential runs from McKinney?
Judge Clapp concluded the hearing with the comment, “I intend to put this to rest by Friday one way or another.”