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Judge: Smith County commissioners meetings regarding cameras violated Texas Open Meetings Act


Evidence that would have been presented at former Smith County Judge Joel Baker’s trial for Open Meetings Act violations are now public following a ruling by the Texas Attorney General.

Documents and video released Monday include a copy of an April 17 order signed by Judge Jack Carter, the sitting judge assigned to the Baker case.

“After a thorough review of such agendas and recordings the court finds that as it relates to deliberations about American Traffic Solutions conducted by Smith County Commissioners Court in closed meetings on July 8, July 29 and August 12, 2014, said portions of the closed meetings were conducted in violation of the Government Code Section 551, Texas Open Meetings Act,” the order states.

Baker was accused of the violations in relation to a contract with American Traffic Solutions to place unmanned speed cameras in school zones. Under a plea agreement, Baker pleaded not guilty to two counts of violating the Open Meetings Act and no contest to the remaining one. He was fined $200 and served 30 days of deferred adjudication. He did so as jury selection was underway in the Smith County Courthouse.

The documents and video were released via a Freedom of Information Act request filed in March by JoAnn Fleming, director of Grassroots America We the People. The documentation was made public on the organization’s website on Monday.

“While violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act is not a violent act – no blood is spilled and no one has committed armed robbery or assault – make no mistake, government officials who act in secret commit a treacherous act – a willful violation of the public trust,” said a statement from the grassroots organization.

This story will be updated.

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Mobile users click here to view full videos of Smith County Commissioners Court.

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