Trial date for Montgomery County Open Meetings Act violation case postponed until March 27

The trial date for Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark has been rescheduled for March 27, county officials said.

The county officials were indicted in June on charges accusing the defendants of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act laws via email while in the planning stages of the $280 million Montgomery County road bond that was approved by voters in November 2015.

Craig Doyal has served as Montgomery County judge since 2014. Craig Doyal has served as Montgomery County judge since 2014.[/caption]

The act mandates that a quorum—or a majority of elected officials of a governing body—must deliberate matters in a public meeting. The charges against Doyal and the commissioners allege members of the court discussed details of the bond with members of the Texas Patriots PAC in an email chain—which could qualify as a walking quorum, according to the Texas Municipal League. A TOMA violation is considered a Class B misdemeanor.

Political consultant Marc Davenport was indicted for the case as well.

The trial was postponed to allow the defense to obtain and review grand jury testimony that was not released in time for the original trial date, which was scheduled for Nov. 7 in the 221st state District Court.

Doyal said the trial was postponed because defense lawyers needed more time to review evidence from the grand jury investigation that preceded the indictments.

“I hated to see it postponed but we were still getting information as late as last week—[the week before the trial],” Doyal said. “The lawyers just needed some more time. I hate it. I want my day in court. The sooner we can get this put behind us the better.”