Opening statements, testimony begins in Jessie Haynes' trial

The Jefferson County Court at Law #3 courtroom was packed Monday morning as Jessie Haynes, the Beaumont Independent School District spokesperson currently under suspension, rejected a plea deal amid a charge of obstructing a public passageway. The charge is a Class B misdemeanor.

The plea deal would have set punishment at a one-year deferred sentence and a $1,000 fine. Haynes now faces a possible sentence of 180 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000.

Jury selection began after Haynes rejected the plea offer. Around 2:30 p.m. Monday the jury had been seated. All six jury members are male.

The jury is made up of only six people because it is a misdemeanor charge.

Opening statements began at 3:30 p.m. Monday after a lunch break.

The Jefferson County District Attorney had at least four staff members in the court room Monday as proceedings began. Haynes is represented by Attorney Thomas Swanson.

The case against Haynes stems from an August 1, 2013 incident that was caught on district surveillance video.

Prosecutors say Haynes tried to keep board member Mike Neil and Reporter Jerry Jordan out of a room where a news conference was being held.

In opening statements prosecutors told jurors that even if Jordan was not allowed access in the administration building, Neil should have access in his capacity as a B.I.S.D. trustee. The defense said during opening statements that Monday's proceedings were not so much for a criminal case as it was 'political blood sport.'

Neil was the only person to take the witness stand on Monday. He noted Haynes was blocking Jordan access to the news conference. He confirmed to prosecutors that Haynes does not have the same authority as security or police officers. Neil was not cross examined before the judge recessed for the day. The trial will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.

According to 12News file stories, an arrest warrant was issued for Haynes October 2013 after the district attorney's office reviewed surveillance tape of the incident. Haynes later turned herself in to Hardin County authorities. She was booked into the Hardin County Jail and posted $250 bond the same day.

Haynes was placed on paid leave on Aug. 5 following the incident. She said she suffered injury and requested what is called assault leave. She was granted the assault leave. She also filed for worker's compensation. The state denied her claim for worker's compensation.

Haynes was eventually taken off of assault leave. According to 12News file stories, she field a grievance last month against the district for changing her status.

Haynes filed a complaint against Mike Neil and Jerry Jordan, citing offensive touching. The charge is a Class C Misdemeanor. The complaint was forwarded to the municipal court, but so far, no charges have been filed based on the complaint.


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