Trial postponed for former Smith County Judge

Former Smith County Judge Joel Baker appeared in court Thursday.

The trial for former Smith County Judge Joel Baker was reset during a pre-trial hearing Thursday.

Baker faces three charges of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The charges stem from closed-door Smith County commissioners court meetings regarding a contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for speed cameras in school zones.

Baker's trial will begin Monday, December 12 and defense attorney Joe Murphy said he expects it should take at least one week.

Baker's case was originally set to go before Visiting Judge Jack Carter on October 31.

The judge granted a motion of continuance because Smith County Assistant District Attorney Phillip Smith will be unavailable on October 31. Smith will be out-of-state for several weeks due to military service.

Prosecutors and the defense both told Carter they consider Smith a necessary witness.

While the motion for a continuance came from prosecutor Daniel Brody, who works in the Texas Attorney General's Office, Murphy made a number of other requests during Thursday's hearing.

In addition to asking for prosecutors for information regarding the FBI investigation into the county's contract with ATS, Murphy also motioned for Brody to supply a list of the prosecution's planned witnesses

Murphy also brought up the emails he requested between a number of Smith County residents and employees of the Attorney General's Office.

Though he received some emails from the Attorney General's Office, Murphy said he felt like some relevant messages could still be missing.

Thus, he requested the AG's information technology department search the office's servers using a list of keywords to ensure all relevant messages are handed over.

The judge ruled in Murphy's favor.

Last week, Baker resigned from his role as county judge in order to resolve an investigation by the State Board of Judicial Conduct into separate sexting allegations.

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