Citizens deserve answers in Montano case

Published 8:09 am Saturday, March 4, 2017

Taxpayers have questioned the Robert Montano case since the first breaking news of his death in the Orange County Jail on October 12, 2011.

We were told the county could not comment due to ongoing litigations.

Now, litigations are over and the settlement, $3.175 million awarded to his family, has been paid.

Orange County Judge Stephen ‘Brint’ Carlton announced a Town Hall meeting so taxpayers could finally have answers.

On the morning of the scheduled Town Hall, Orange County District Attorney John Kimbrough and Sheriff Keith Merritt released a statement stating lawyer/client privilege and the risk of violating Texas Open Meetings Act by ‘disclosing the confidential discussions that were held in a closed meeting, which would violate the law.’

But what about the other questions which may not pertain to confidential discussions or closed meetings? Such as, were disciplinary actions taken for the individuals who did not follow policy? We now know there were no terminations resulted from the incident.

While reading the ruling issued in November 2016 by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, more questions are raised than answered. Such as how did this happen? What is being done to prevent it from happening again? What exactly is the policy for holding a person believed to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance?

Is it normal procedure to allow a human being to be left in a room ‘littered with uneaten food and human waste and which did not have a sink, toilet, or toilet paper’? According to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans ruling, this is the condition of the room in which Montano was found unresponsive four and a half days after his arrest.

Taxpayers deserve an answer to their questions and those detained in the jail should know their lives will not be put at risk.