Public records not always intack
In last week’s article I wrote of Danny Tarver who is running for public office. Tarver was arrested for Theft of Services, a Class B Misdemeanor that later was plead to a Class C Misdemeanor. What was missing from his public records is the fact that the Class C was eventually dismissed.
Tarver came to my office this week with claims of the dismissal, and in truth, I like most reporters go on court records as fact, and the fact is, the court records showed the conviction for a Class C Theft.
The missing court record, the dismissal record, was lost in the system and never posted to a website, or updated to Tarver’s file. Tarver spent most of the day on Wednesday, before press time at the Brazos County Courthouse searching for his dismissal. Clerks in that office could not find it and in fact sent him to other places, but to no avail. Tarver himself was just about convinced that the record did not exist, but then chance would step in and a wrong could be undone.
While speaking to a clerk that was adamant that the cause number did not belong to Brazos County, a clerk who had been employed for many years recognized an outdated cause numbering system. She altered the search and located the old file.
Much to Tarver’s delight, there it was, the dismissal of his charge. But that happiness led to another questions, how can they not keep the most updated record of the case on file and better yet, if it was dismissed, why was he still on the website?
Tarver found his way back to the Robertson County News early on press day in enough time for me to write this column. A column I’m happy to write. Tarver’s charge was in fact dismissed and not a conviction.
With that said, I want you as a reader to consider what Tarver and I have gone through to get to this truth. Not all court records are easy to find, and we should not just rely on websites or technology, a point well learned over here with me.
As for Mr. Tarver, I apologize, it is not often that I miss something as important as this is for you and your bid for public office. I appreciate your light-hearted good nature in this matter and I for one cheer the fact that you stuck by your conviction and went and literally dug up that document. Even when you felt there was nothing you can do, it goes to prove that if you are right, you should stand up for yourself, even if you have to prove in every now and again.
As for the Brazos County Courthouse, you guys need to be a little more proactive with your website maintenance. Dismissed cases should not be on that system. Anyone can be arrested, for anything, at anytime, but to be convicted is another story. Tarver was not convicted and this should either be reflected on his files, or he should not be on the website to begin with.
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