As Kerr County Commissioner (Pct. 1) Harley David Belew awaits the trial that could potentially remove him from office, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly reiterates the county’s position on the matter. “I think it is important for our citizens to understand that the county plays no part in this legal case. It is outside our jurisdiction, and we have no legal authority or responsibility in the matter,” said Kelly.
Kelly went on to add that while Texas Local Government Code provides for any citizen to file for the removal of a county official from office for misconduct while holding public office, it does not apply to misconduct prior to taking public office. However, State of Texas prosecutors can file a “quo warranto” petition. A final felony conviction disables a person from holding public office, unless that ability has been judicially restored or there is some other form of clemency, such as a pardon from the governor.
198th District Attorney Stephen Harpold initiated the investigation and subsequently filed the “quo warranto” petition questioning whether Belew has the rightful authority to hold his office. The Kerr County Attorney recused herself from the case citing a conflict of interest because she legally represents all of the officials on the Kerr County Commissioners’ Court.
During the initial hearing, the visiting judge, the Hon. Sid Harle, denied a plea in abatement filed by Belew’s defense attorney, Patrick O’Fiel. The case will continue and is expected to be heard sometime in July. If it is found that Belew has a final felony conviction that has not been judicially restored or pardoned, the “quo warranto” remedy is an order of removal from public office.
Belew will have the right to an expedited appeal to the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, and possibly on to the Supreme Court. Kelly added, “One other point I’d like to make clear is that the vetting process for candidates for county office is the responsibility of the respective political parties requesting their nominees be placed on the primary ballot in March and again on the general ballot in the November election. It is my understanding that this was included in the original investigation and no criminal charges were pursued.”