IssuesLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingJudge Suspends Smith County Constable Awaiting Trial on Theft, Oppression Charges

Curtis Harris is facing charges of official oppression and theft by a public servant.
July 12, 2022
A visiting judge temporarily suspended Curtis Harris, also known as Curtis Traylor Harris, the Smith County precinct one constable accused of official oppression and theft by a public servant.

After a hearing on Thursday, Judge David Brabham appointed Ralph Caraway Jr., an investigator with the Smith County District Attorney’s Office, to serve as interim constable. The Smith County Commissioners Court recommended Caraway as a possible replacement in addition to Bobby Garmon and Willie Mims, reported local ABC affiliate KLTV.

In 2020, Harris defeated Garmon in a Democratic runoff ordered by the Texas 12th Court of Appeals after Mims was disqualified for a lack of the required number of petitions to be placed on the ballot.

A grand jury handed up an indictment against Harris on charges of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, and theft by a public servant, a state jail felony. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to a year on the misdemeanor and up to two years on the theft by a public servant count, in addition to thousands of dollars in fines.

Along with deputies Derrick Holman and LaQuenda Banks, Harris is suspected of rummaging through and stealing the personal belongings of a tenant while serving an eviction notice. Holman’s trial has been set for October.  

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Judge Jack Skeen Jr. released Harris on a $10,000 bond in November 2021, but the constable was arrested again in May after he violated the conditions of his pretrial release. He had gone to a graduation ceremony in Navarro County in full uniform with his sidearm, running afoul of the requirements to remain in Smith County and refrain from possessing a weapon. His bond was then increased to $500,000.

While the criminal case against Harris is separate from the lawsuit that led to his suspension, the district attorney’s office appeared in the 114th District Court to provide evidence against him.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman explained to local media that a criminal conviction will be enough to remove Harris and the lawsuit will be moot if he is found guilty.

“There will be a discovery process where we trade information back and forth and then the criminal case will continue to proceed,” Putman said. “Either one of those could ultimately remove him. If the criminal case finishes first, then the civil case will no longer be necessary.”

Harris’ term of office ends on December 31, 2024. He narrowly won the runoff with Garmon after losing a bid for constable in Dallas County and running unsuccessfully for the Dallas City Council.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."