Case involving Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Commissioners Riley and Clark to continue on Monday

The case against Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and other elected officials has been dismissed.

The case against Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and other elected officials has been dismissed.

The case involving Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and two county commissioners continued on Friday with additional testimony from Charlie Zech, an attorney with firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal Hyde & Zech P.C.

The case, which is being heard in Montgomery County’s 221st District Court, brings to question whether Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark and political consultant Marc Davenport violated the Texas Open Meetings Act while negotiating details of the November 2015 Montgomery County road bond.

Over the course of the week, attorneys have asked questions related to the constitutionality of Texas Government Code 551.143, which states that members of a governmental body cannot knowingly conspire to circumvent the TOMA by meeting in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations.

During Friday’s hearing, presiding Judge Randy Clapp of Wharton County’s 329th District Court heard testimony from Zech, who—like other witnesses who have testified on the case—expressed his concern that subsection 551.143 of the TOMA is difficult to interpret by elected officials who are trying to follow the law.

In his practice and previous experience, Zech said he advises municipalities to be careful with the statute in question and to seek advice from criminal attorneys if they are concerned about the possibility of being prosecuted for innocent conduct.

“When I read this [statute] I cannot explain it to my clients,” he said.

Zech is the latest of six witnesses called by defense attorneys—including two expert witnesses—who have been called to testify about their experience with the TOMA and any concerns they share regarding government code 551.143.

The court recessed for the week Friday afternoon and is expected to hear from about four witnesses called upon by state prosecutors when the case resumes on Monday morning at 9 a.m.