Pct. 1 County Commissioner Joe Hall pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of perjury and abuse of official capacity.
Hall appeared with his attorney, Mike Head, in 392nd District Judge Carter Tarrance’s courtroom. A pre-trial hearing has been set for June 9.
Head filed various motions with the court, including a motion to dismiss the case because, among other things, he contends “the grand jury did not hear all of the testimony which was accessible,” in violation of the Texas Criminal Code of Procedure. He also states material witnesses which were available were not allowed to testify before the grand jury, which he said is a violation of Hall’s Fifth Amendment rights and rights under the Texas Constitution. Head went on in his motion to say he did not believe the grand jury acted independently of the prosecutor, but instead “rubber stamped” the case in favor of the District Attorney’s Office.
“The one thing I would say is I think he will be found not guilty and he’ll be vindicated in the end,” Head told the Review Thursday afternoon. “I don’t understand why these charges were even brought, and I don’t think they ought to go anywhere.”
Head also filed a motion to void the indictments against his client, claiming the indictments as they appear do not “set forth the offense in plain or intelligible language.” Head said because of the language in the indictments, the grand jury might have to once again hear the evidence against Hall.
Those and other motions could be ruled on at the June 9 hearing.
John Scott, who will prosecute the case for the District Attorney’s Office, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Hall was indicted by a Henderson County grand jury in April, charged with two cases of perjury and one case of abuse of official capacity.
Abuse of official capacity is a state jail felony, punishable from six months to two years upon conviction. State jail sentences are served in Texas Department of Corrections facilities. The time served could range from 180 days to two years.
The two perjury charges, both Class A misdemeanors, are punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $4,000 fine.
The abuse of official capacity indictment means Hall is accused “with intent to harm or defraud another, intentionally and knowingly misuse government personnel, to-wit: county employees, which had come into the defendant’s custody or possession by virtue of the defendant’s office as a public servant, namely County Commissioner, Precinct 1, by using said employees to prepare the parking lot of Antioch Baptist Church ... .”
The charges are made for Oct. 6-8, 2005.
On Nov. 15, 2005, Hall is accused of “intentional trying to defraud another by intentionally and knowingly misusing government personnel, to wit: County employees, which had come into the defendants custody or possession by virtue of the defendant’s office as a public servant ...”
The aggregate amount of pecuniary loss was $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000, the indictment said.
Hall is accused of making a false statement under oath, namely, “indicating he worked Antioch Baptist Church, such sworn statement being then and there authorized by law to be made under oath, while the said defendant was then and there under oath, such statement being false in that the actual time spent on the said parking lot was three days.”
The other perjury charge, which also comes from Feb. 8 testimony of this year, accuses Hall of making a false statement under oath, again indicating he worked on Antioch Baptist Church.
While under oath he is said to have made a statement indicating he worked Antioch Baptist Church, “in that the actual time spent on the parking lot was two days.”