Haynes' motion for new trial rejected
County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Langston Adams has denied a request by Beaumont Independent School District Communication Director Jessie Haynes for a new trial on her Class B misdemeanor conviction for blocking a public passageway. Haynes’ last trial ended with a guilty verdict in May 2014, and she was sentenced to two years probation, a $2,000 fine, community service and instructed to take a series of betterment classes, including anger management.
Haynes’ criminal charges stemmed from an altercation occurring at the BISD administration building board meeting room the first week of August 2013. Haynes, who said she was only doing her job, used her body to keep a reporter and a BISD Board of Trustees member from entering a public hallway where the restrooms and water fountain are located, and where BISD attorney Melody Chappell was talking to select media representatives. Haynes further contended that she was injured in the confrontation and took off work for over nine months – paid time off – to attend to her what she said was her mental anguish and bodily trauma. Haynes was denied worker’s compensation benefits when she failed to provide evidential support of her claims, and returned to work after her criminal conviction.
Haynes, through new attorney David Barlow, argued that she had inadequate representation in her first court proceeding. Haynes’ appeal said the jury could have ruled differently if her attorney would have called BISD superintendent Timothy Chargois to testify. To support her assertions, Haynes provided a sworn affidavit from Chargois notarized by fellow BISD communication department worker Cynthia Fonteneaux.
“The hallway where Ms. Chappell stepped outside of her meeting with contacted attorneys to speak with selected media, in front of which Jessie Haynes was standing, is not a public passageway,” Chargois swore. “As this hallway leads to offices where student records, employee records and financial information are maintained, federal law FERPA requires the district to assure the protection of such information. As such, this area is not a public hallway. “
Chargois states no less than a half-dozen times in his sworn affidavit that the area Haynes was admittedly blocking was not a “public passageway.” According to him, no person without BISD credentials is allowed in that area without approval and an escort, despite the fact that BISD board meeting guests and audience members and media representatives frequently use that passageway to access public restroom facilities.
“The area in which Jessie Haynes was standing was not a public passageway, and was not open to the public on Aug. 1, 2013,” Chargois stated. “Such areas which are public are marked with appropriate signage. As the superintendent of BISD, I am the person responsible for designating which areas of BISD are public areas and which are not.”
Chargois then pointed to the BISD board member as being the only person in the wrong the evening of the blocked passageway commotion. “The area in which Jessie Haynes was standing was not designated as a public area on Aug. 1, 2013. Furthermore, with the exception of the Superintendent for BISD, the Board of Trustees has no authority over employees nor facilities, neither individually nor collectively.”
Although Chargois expressed multiple times that “had I been called as a witness, I would have testified that the area in which Jessie Haynes was standing, which was the basis of the prosecution , was not a public passageway,” Judge Adams denied Haynes’ request for a new trial shortly after the paperwork was filed on the same day.