Image: Meadows Place, Texas, Mayor Charles Jessup testified in the Trial of the 21st Century, the TOMA Trial, during the afternoon of March 29, 2017.
Conroe, March 29 – Meadows Place, Texas, Mayor Charles Jessup highlighted the testimony in the Trial of the 21st Century, the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) trial, of criminal defendants Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and political consultant Marc Davenport.
Jessup is a pleasant fellow who is the Mayor of the mighty city of Meadows Place, Texas, a one square mile general law city with a swelling population of 4,660, near Sugar Land in Fort Bend County. Mayor Jessup does not vote in the City Council except in the event of a tie. Ties can happen but are unlikely, since there are five council members.
Jessup, who is not an attorney, testified, “TOMA is a very convoluted and confusing statute.” He elaborated that “I’ve been in a position three times this week of possible violations of TOMA.” He complained that in City Council meetings, “we don’t have opportunities to answer questions for our constituents oftentimes.”
Apparently both Mayor Jessup and Rusty Hardin, the Houston attorney representing Craig Doyal who questioned him, believe that Judge Randy Clapp has taken the place of the Texas Legislature as a “super-judiciary” that may legislate from the bench.
Jessup told Hardin that Jessup and the City Council have received TOMA training and examined the training materials carefully which the Texas Attorney General and others have provided them. Jessup said that he still does not understand when he’d be violating the quorum requirements under TOMA.
Hardin questioned Mayor Jessup as follows:
“Hardin: If you had a statute which was more clear to you would you be able to more efficiently conduct your business as a mayor?Jessup: Yes.Hardin: Does this statute give you notice of what you can or can’t do?Jessup: No.”
“I understand the purpose behind the Open Meetings Act and I agree with it…I’m not trying to be sneaky…I’m just trying to get things done for our city…I try to talk to one person as a sounding board just to make sure I’m not all wet…I’m just trying to get the job done…Everybody said, ‘don’t get together,’ so I don’t get together with people.”
Judge Clapp clearly recognized the fact that the attorneys and witnesses in the Courtroom were making an attempt to turn him into a Super-Legislator. Judge Clapp asked Mayor Jessup, “Have you discussed this statute with your friends in the Legislature?” Jessup answered, “Yes, we have.” (The royal “we” is essential for such individuals.) Jessup concluded, “This is legislative over reach or over reaction.”
Prior to Jessup’s stunning testimony, Alan Brojoquez finished his testimony in front of a crowd which included Doyal’s “chief of staff” jim fredricks (paid over $118,000 per year but apparently available for some court-watching time), County Attorney J.D. Lambright (the highest paid elected official in Texas at $196,164.57 per year but also with not enough work to do that he has time to watch the action), and a variety of other paid elected officials and gawkers.
The second session of the 85th-and-a-halfth Legislature of the State of Texas, also known as the TOMA Trial, will continue tomorrow morning in the Courtroom of the 221st District Court at 9 a.m.