BELTON — Attorneys involved in the civil case to determine whether Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown is fit to serve in office will meet in June to try and find a solution short of a jury trial.
The attorneys, including Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols, participated in a status conference call earlier this week with Kerr County District Judge Stephen Ables, the judge appointed to rule on a petition filed in February against Brown, Nichols said Thursday.
Brown said Thursday that she was not aware of the meeting, but added that she could not speak further.
“My attorney says I cannot talk to the media anymore,” Brown said.
The attorneys requested a little more time to try to find a resolution, and will meet sometime between June 5 and June 10 when all of the attorneys are available to discuss options, Nichols said.
“Anything that would satisfy both sides would be a resolution,” Nichols said, but he stopped short of going into any details or possible solutions.
If no resolution is agreed on, then a jury trial would be scheduled.
“No amount of training or mentoring will help her,” Michael White, a local lawyer, said of Brown on Thursday. “You can’t mentor someone who is ‘not fit’ to hold the office.”
No formal hearing has occurred to consider the motion made by Brown’s attorney, Thomas Baker, for a change of venue to Travis County, Nichols said.
Ables determined on March 9 that there was substantial reason to send Brown to trial after hearing arguments by Killeen lawyer Brett Pritchard. Pritchard filed a Feb. 15 petition asking for Brown’s removal from her elected office.
During the petition hearing, Brown was given an opportunity to defend some of the decisions she’s made since taking office Jan. 3:
• She ordered a record-setting $4 billion bond for a Killeen murder suspect, Antonio Marquis Willis, as a protest against the legal system. The case gained national attention after the Temple Daily Telegram first reported on the high bond. The bond amount was ruled unconstitutional by a Bell County judge after a motion was filed by Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza to lower the bond amount. The amount was reduced to $150,000.
“I set it as high as I could to illustrate the fact that it’s ridiculous how we are railroading people without them even having their constitutional rights to a fair trial to determine if they are guilty or innocent,” Brown previously told a Telegram reporter. “Everything in the system is broken.”
• Brown then dropped her bonds to the low side for several defendants charged with violent felony offenses. Those bonds were once again set aside by Bell County judges and higher bonds were set.
She believes bonds are set too high for offenders, making it impossible for them to be released from jail until they are proven innocent or guilty, Brown previously said. To protest the high bonds, Brown then began setting many bonds below the recommended levels for some violent offenders.
Brown was allowed by Ables to remain in office pending the final outcome.
Seven felony bonds were reset by the courts since Brown took office.
The last two reset were for two men, each accused of the aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Thomas Lloyd Cannon, 41, of Salado, was originally held in the Bell County Jail on a $50,000 bond that Brown set. Cannon, a Killeen Independent School District teacher, is charged with allegedly sexually assaulting at least one student at Iduma Elementary School in Killeen.
Cannon’s bond was raised by the courts to $500,000.
The bond for Tyrese Tremaine Leroy Eason, 18, of Killeen, who allegedly sexually molested a 16-year-old boy at a Killeen home, was recently raised from $50,000, set by Brown, to $75,000.