Prostitution trial for Smith Co. constable pushed back so separate felony trial can begin first

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A misdemeanor prostitution trial for a sitting Smith County constable is being pushed back to allow for a separate felony oppression trial to proceed first.

Precinct 2 Constable Josh Black was arrested for misdemeanor prostitution and felony official oppression just days after being elected last November after he was indicted by a grand jury. He is still the acting constable for his precinct, which covers the southwest portion of Smith County.

Map of Precinct 2 in Smith County for JP and Constable. (via Smith County)

Official oppression is typically classified as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas but can be upgraded to a third-degree felony in certain cases, which it was in Black’s.

In Texas, a law enforcement officer can be charged with official oppression under any of the following circumstances:

  • Intentionally subjecting another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful
  • Intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful
  • Intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment

No details have been released on what incidents led to Black’s arrest, but judicial records indicate that the incident took place on July 31, 2020.

At a hearing Monday morning, 114th District Court Judge Austin Jackson’s office was in talks with County Court at Law 2 Judge Taylor Heaton’s staff about which trial would proceed first.

Jackson announced that the trial for felony oppression would be scheduled first while Heaton granted a two-week continuance on the misdemeanor prostitution charge.

Jury selection was scheduled for Monday afternoon. Jackson’s staff said after the hearing that the oppression trial would begin either Tuesday or Wednesday, but a final decision has not yet been made as of this writing.

Another twist was added in the case when he was arrested again on Friday for a separate indictment of prostitution, just three days before his first trial. Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said that the charge dealt with a separate victim than the first.

Under Texas law, the maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor in a fine of no more than $4,000 and/or a one-year sentence in county jail.

Black was appointed to be the Pct. 2 Constable back in 2018 when Andy Dunklin vacated his position to become the precinct’s Justice of the Peace. He ran unopposed in the 2020 election this week.

He holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice from TJC and graduated in 2007 from TJC’s 10th session Police Academy. He has completed training at The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Institute of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University for constables.

Black also served in the army component of the Texas State Guard, 2nd battalion 19th regiment, where he received the regimental commanders’ award.

Editor’s Note: The original story stated that the prostitution charge was from an incident on July 31, 2021. It was actually in 2021. The story has been updated.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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