United HC

Courts sentence seven; County wins civil trial over road rights

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Ismael Trevino pled guilty to Delivery of Cocaine and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Loujack Lombardo pled guilty to Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity – Theft. Lombardo received five years deferred adjudication and a $4,000 fine.
Frank Bolton pled guilty to Felony Driving While Intoxicated. He was sentenced to seven years probation and a $3,000 fin

e. He was also committed to Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility.
John Valdez pled guilty to Aggravated Assault and was sentenced to seven years deferred adjudication with a $2,000 fine. Valdez also pled guilty to Felony Driving While Intoxicated and received as sentence of seven years probation with a $2,000 fine. He was committed Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility.
Yvonne Fletcher pled guilty to Misapplication of Fiduciary Funds and was sentenced to four years deferred adjudication, fined $750 and ordered to pay $4,200 in restitution.
Ray Tobias pled true to violating conditions of his probation for a retaliation charge and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Crystal Vela plead guilty to misdemeanor theft. She was sentenced to one year deferred adjudication.
In addition to the non-jury criminal docket last week, a civil jury trial was held involving Caldwell County.
Visiting Judge W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall of Seguin presided over a civil jury trial entitled “William Lee Steubing and Doris Lea Steubing vs. Caldwell County, Texas,” involving a dispute over the location of Caldwell County Road 230, known as Jolly Road in the western portion of the county.
The plaintiffs, represented by Jim Guleke of Sneed, Vine and Perry of Austin, had attempted to build a pipe fence on the right of way, and partially in Jolly Road, maintaining that they had the right to build the fence on their surveyed property line. Caldwell County, represented by Bob Bass of Allison, Bass and Associates of Austin and by Criminal District Attorney Chris Schneider, took the position that the County”s rights to Jolly Road, like most rural county roads in Texas, were established by over a century of public use and maintenance by the County. The County further contended that the plaintiffs” land was burdened by the public easement.
Prior to 1981 counties in Texas could establish rights to county roads that were never formally deeded or dedicated to the county by continued public use for 10 years. In 1981 the legislature changed the law, prohibiting counties with populations of less than 50,000 from acquiring road rights in such manner. However, county roads existing at that time were not affected. The issue at trial was whether Jolly Road is in substantially the same location as it was in 1971, that being 10 years before the law changed. The plaintiffs argued that the road had moved from its original location onto their property in recent years.
After hearing testimony from the plaintiffs, surveyors, former county commissioners, county road maintenance employees and neighboring property owners, the jury reached the decision that the County had established a prescriptive easement prior to 1971 in the present location of the road. The jury also decided that Caldwell County”s attorneys fees for defending the suit were $15,000.00
County Judge H. T. Wright, District Attorney Chris Schneider and county officials were relieved with the verdict of the jury.
“Had the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, it would have set a catastrophic precedent not only for Caldwell County, but for all small counties where the majority of county roads were never formally deeded or dedicated” Schneider said.
(Courtesy of Caldwell County DA”s Office)

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