DA drops charges against East Texas commissioner

Local News

Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon has dropped the charges against Marshall Commissioner Michael Mitchell.

Solomon announced Tuesday that after thorough review of the videos, witness statements, and evidence in this case, his office had no choice but to refuse criminal charges against Mitchell.

The offense of Disruption of a Meeting or Procession is governed by Texas Penal Code Section 42.05, which states that:

“a person commits an offense if, with intent to prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering, he obstructs or interferes with the meeting, procession, or gathering by physical action or verbal utterance.”

This statute must be read in the context of the First Amendment right guaranteeing freedom of speech under the United States Constitution. 

It appears from the review of the evidence that Mitchell was invited to the town hall meeting, and was also given an opportunity to address the individuals who attend this meeting.

In order to be guilty of violating Texas Penal Code 42.05, “a defendant must act with the intent to prevent or disrupt the meeting.”  The statute does not penalize an intent to express one’s ideas.

Whenever an individual is invited to a meeting and given the opportunity to address the audience, he does not violate the Texas Penal Code simply because those in attendance disagree with his views. 

Back on July 27, 2016, Marshall Police Department in conjunction with its No Colors No Labels initiative and

held a community meeting. During the question and answer portion of the meeting, Commissioner Michael Mitchell entered the meeting and interrupted the meeting and caused a breach of the peace, according to police.

Mitchell was asked to leave the meeting, but refused. He was then physically removed from the meeting.

Commissioner Mitchell was arrested for disrupting a meeting or procession. He was transported to the

Harrison County jail where he was processed and placed in jail. He was released from jail Thursday

afternoon.

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