No major issues were settled Friday in a pretrial hearing in the theft case against Brown County Commissioner Steve Adams. But the judge assigned to the case, Robert H. Moore III, made it clear he wants the Feb. 13 trial date to stand.
Moore heard arguments in 35th District Court from Harry White, a prosecutor with the Texas Attorney General's Office, and defense attorney Tim Edwards, pertaining to several matters related to the indictment against Adams and the allegations against him.
Adams, 54, was indicted in September on a charge of theft by a public servant. Adams is alleged in the indictment to have taken property (money) "pursuant to one scheme or continuing course of conduct ... and the property came into the defendant's custody, possession or control by virtue of the defendant's status of a public servant."
The Brown County Grand Jury returned the indictment after an investigation by the Texas Attorney General's Office that began more than 2 ½ years ago.
While White did not reveal much about the case he expects to put on at Adams' trial, he made reference to 10 invoices paid by the county to Yellowhouse Machinery, Carlton Automotive and Brownwood Service Parts.
White said he will be attempting to prove "deception" on Adams' part. The invoices were paid "because of the defendant's actions," White said. He said there are five ways deception can occur according to the criminal code, and, White said, he will probably attempt to prove three of the methods of deception will apply in the Adams case. He did not give specifics.
Edwards said the defense is entitled to know the specifics of how Adams is accused of committing deception.
White said his office will provide the defense with a transcript of grand jury testimony. If Edwards has any concerns after reading the grand jury transcript, Moore said, those concerns will be dealt with at another pretrial hearing.
One more pretrial hearing is scheduled before the trial date. The pretrial is set for Jan. 20. A hearing can be scheduled prior to the Jan. 20 hearing if needed, Moore said.
"What else, gentlemen? Are there any negotiations going on?" Moore asked the attorneys as Friday's hearing wound down.
White replied that the "discovery" process is still under way and that it is too early to talk about any potential plea negotiations.
Moore reiterated that he does not want last-minute pre-trial matters to delay the Feb. 13 trial date. "I want to go," Moore told the attorneys.
As Moore and the attorneys prepared to walk out of the courtroom, they had a few more minutes of discussion. Court reporter Cristi Escobar was no longer transcribing the proceedings at that point.
White said he expects jury selection to last a full day. He noted that Adams and many of the witnesses are elected officials, and, White said, he doesn't know what kind of impact that will have on a Brown County jury pool. White also noted that Adams is running for re-election.
He said he expects it will take three or four days to put on the state's case.
"As far as jury selection, we're either going to have a jury on the first day or we're not going to have one," Moore said.