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Smith County constable denied bond reduction amid lawsuit seeking to remove him from office

Texas law states this petition is one of two ways an elected official can be removed from their role, while the other method requires a criminal conviction.

TYLER, Texas — Amid facing a lawsuit seeking to remove him from office, a judge denied Smith County Pct. 1 Curtis Traylor-Harris' request to reduce his $1 million bond that is keeping him in the Gregg County Jail. 

On Tuesday, 241st District Judge Jack Skeen Jr. denied Traylor-Harris' request after a brief hearing. 

Traylor-Harris, who is accused of theft and abusing his power, has been jailed since May 13 due to several bond violations. He is currently in the Gregg County Jail.

Traylor-Harris was arrested after violating the conditions of his original bond, which required he stay within Smith County unless given permission to leave from a supervisor of the court. Traylor-Harris was seen on a YouTube live video for the 2022 Police Academy Graduation for Navarro College. 

This video was filmed on May 10 in Corsicana, and was seen by his supervisor. Traylor-Harris was seen being presented a diploma, in addition to him being in full uniform and in possession of his weapon.

Online court records show Lester Melontree filed a petition in the 114th District Court seeking to remove Traylor-Harris, 34, of Tyler, from elected office on Friday. 

The Texas Government Code states this petition is one of two ways that an elected official can be removed from their role, while the other method requires the official to be criminally convicted.

Traylor-Harris is among three people, including Pct. 1 Sgt. Derrick Holman and former Pct. 1 Chief Deputy LaQuenda Banks, who were arrested in November 2021 on the charges of abuse of official capacity, official oppression and property theft. 

An arrest affidavit obtained in November details body camera footage of Traylor-Harris, Banks and Holman rummaging through and stealing several items from a Tyler residence in late January last year while the occupant, who was receiving an eviction notice, was away.

Melontree's lawsuit notes Traylor-Harris, Banks and Holman's criminal charges and Traylor-Harris' multiple bond violations. He writes that Traylor-Harris' actions amount to "gross carelessness."

"Serving jail time for bond violations as well as potential jail time if found convicted of the charges against him instead of fulfilling the responsibilities of county office certainly constitutes the 'gross of ignorance of official duties,'" the lawsuit reads in the part. 

The lawsuit requests that a judge temporarily suspend Traylor-Harris and his salary and appoint another person to serve as constable. Melontree is also asking for Traylor-Harris be removed from office following a jury trial. 

An officer can be removed from office due to incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage, the state law reads. 

A petition must detail why the elected official should be removed from office and cite each act that could be considered grounds for removal.

Currently, judicial records show a hearing regarding the lawsuit will be held June 23 in the 114th District Court. 

Banks has a plea hearing set for Thursday. Holman, who was also arrested on a bond violation and later released, has a court hearing scheduled for July 7, according to online criminal records.

Last December, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement suspended all three of their peace officer licenses. Because of the suspension, Banks and Holman cannot work or have authority as peace officers.

TCOLE said the suspension did not remove Traylor-Harris from office, and he can still exercise the authority he has as an elected constable. A removal would have to be done at the county level.

RELATED: Judge denies bond reduction for Smith County constable accused of theft

RELATED: Smith County constable, deputies indicted in connection with theft allegations





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