The court voted 4-0 to hire Howry Breen & Herman LLP and The Law Office of Randy Leavitt to represent the county in relation to issues regarding the use of Williamson County's facilities, vehicles and property for purposes of filming, producing and/or publishing the television series “Live PD,” according to the agenda item.
The attorneys will also investigate the filing of a potential lawsuit against an invalid contract entered into by Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody without the authority of the court, the agenda said.
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell recused himself from discussion of the agenda item.
“People are sick; people are dying; people are losing their jobs; people are losing their businesses, lifetimes of work—people who know the meaning of hard work and building something—[and] in the middle of this, our sheriff is playing on TV,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles said. “It’s disappointing.”
Drama ensued in April after County Sheriff Robert Chody welcomed camera crews to join WCSO Lt. Grayson Kennedy on a vehicle patrol for the purposes of being on “Live PD," a documentary series on the A&E Network that follows law enforcement officers live in the course of their nighttime patrol, even though the court canceled its contract with the show last August.
Boles said during the April 28 meeting that Chody, without any authority, signed a contract to allow the filming to continue, against the court’s stated position and legal authority.
The cancellation of the initial contract followed allegations against former WCSO Commander Steve Deaton for inappropriate behavior, such as challenging deputies in a meeting to have sex with a female “Live PD” producer and posting offensive images on Facebook.
Boles said the move could cost the county thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums and now, in added legal fees.
Boles added that the Williamson County district attorney has not been able to prosecute any cases using “Live PD" footage because the sheriff will not provide it.
Chody hired attorney Eric Taube to represent him in connection with the "Live PD" matter.
"While the Sheriff would have preferred to resolve this issue with the Commissioners with civil discussion and dialogue, it appears that the Commissioners would rather attempt to go down a different path," Taube said in an email statement to Community Impact Newspaper. "The Sheriff is happy to resolve this issue based upon the law and not on politics, and will look forward to continue to exercise his discretion as a law enforcement officer to serve the citizens of Williamson County as he believe most effective."
Taube was hired at Chody's own expense and not the expense of the county, Taube said.
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
- Williamson County proclaimed May 4-8 as Air Quality Awareness Week, encouraging residents and employees the educate themselves about air quality and promote air quality awareness within the community.
- The Wilco Forward small business grant program plans to go live at 5:30 p.m. May 6. The $25 million program will support local small businesses with up to $30,000 per business. The county plans to release requirements and details May 5.
- The Commissioners Court accepted $170,569.32 in federal coronavirus relief funds. County Emergency Management Services received funds from the U.S. Health and Human Services Emergency Relief Fund for use to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.