Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Man jailed 83 days extra after McLennan DA fails to notify of dropped charges

Rookie McLennan County DA Abel Reyna is a man who, during his brief tenure as District Attorney in Waco, has shown himself unafraid to pick fights. First he wanted to buck the Legislature over complying with the state's updated DNA testing statute, delaying testing of potentially exonerating (or incriminating) evidence in the 30-year old Lake Waco murders case. Then he announced what amounts to his own, personal mandatory minimum on DWI deals, including big increases from prior practice in fine and fee amounts. But the longer the young DA remains in office, he'll discover that there isn't as much time to go out picking fights in a job where more than your fair of them come your way of their own accord. Most recently, reported the Waco Tribune Herald ("Waco man wrongly jailed for 83 days may sue county," Feb. 1, behind paywall).
A Waco man is deciding if he will sue the county because he was wrongfully detained for 83 days after the district attorney’s office declined his case for prosecution but failed to notify the McLennan County Jail.

Damion Wayne Evans, 33, stayed in the county jail with no other charges pending against him for almost three months after the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute him on a tampering with physical evidence charge.

District Attorney Abel Reyna said Evans’ improperly extended incarceration was the fault of his office. His staff did not fax a case disposition report to the sheriff’s office so it would know to release Evans.

Damion Evans was jailed for 83 days after the McLennan County district attorney’s office decided they would not prosecute his case.

“I will accept responsibility for the error in my office, and my apologies go to Mr. Evans,” Reyna said. “Though it doesn’t change what happened to him, the only thing I can do is work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

According to court records, Evans was arrested Oct. 12, 2011, after Waco police pulled him over and saw him chewing on something. The officers assumed he was eating drugs or items containing drugs, according to records filed in the case. But they did not take him to a hospital to empty the contents of his stomach.

A case disposition report dated Jan. 17 said prosecutors did not accept the case because without the object the suspect allegedly swallowed, they were “unable to prove what it was or that it was illegal.”

The decision to refuse the case was made Oct. 25, two weeks after Evans’ arrest. Once that decision was made, the disposition report should have been sent to the jail and Evans should have been released, Reyna said.

But the error was not discovered until Jan. 17, after Evans’ attorney, David Bass, filed a motion asking Judge Ralph Strother to set a bail Evans could afford because he had been in jail more than 90 days and had not been indicted.

Strother granted the motion, and it was not until after the hearing that officials discovered that Evans’ case had been refused Oct. 25.
What does "accept responsibility" mean in a world where prosecutors  have "absolute immunity" for harm caused by their errors? Do you think Mr.Reyna will be forced to "accept responsibility" in the same way you or I would? The DA refuses the case but fails to notify the defendant, his counsel, the jail, or anybody who might be in a position to get him released. 

The wag who notified me of this via email added that this is "another way to keep the McLennan County Jail full." That's a joke, but regular readers know maximizing the number of jail inmates is no small motivation for McLennan County officials at the moment.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. The original arrest was for "Chewing On Something?"

Anonymous said...

Wow, Grits, you sure do seem a whole lot more intolerant of other people's mistakes than your own.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:18, you notice my errors didn't cause anyone to spend 83 days in jail for the offense of "chewing on something."

Anonymous said...

Exactly 3:18. At least Reyna came out and clearly and unambiguously accepted responsibility for his mistake; which is a whole lot more than our "correspondent" can say.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. How can we trust your "facts" in this posting since you have clearly shown a willingness to make your facts fit your opinion?

Anonymous said...

So just for fun, if I am observed chewing gum, is that probable cause to pump my stomach, or do the cops need a warrant? Ha HA!!!

Why don´t you cops go chase a donut or something. Grits has done a fine job of pointing out many aspects of the criminal justice system and fights tirelessly to keep Texas from sinking further toward a police state.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Anon 6:00/6:10, if you can't trust what you read here, I suggest you not waste your time and don't visit here anymore.

I have to wonder, if you find Grits non-credible, what keeps bringing you back?

Anonymous said...

Here is a little more from that article:

"When you work with the volume of cases we do in this office and have such a serious lack of technology here, it is easy to see how a keystroke could be missed here and there and it could affect people's lives, just like it did in this case," Reyna said.

I say this is not an issue of missing keystrokes here and there. This is standard operating procedure. The jail calls the DA's office after 90 days or so to check on it.

My son was arrested on a trumped charge and told me everyone stays for 90 days, even if it gets dismissed early on. I thought that was impossible. It took me 4 weeks to get the DA's office to notify the jail the bond was lifted after the charge was refused - I even offered to transport the paperwork for them.

Reyna may appear as though he is taking responsibility, but this "missed keystroke" thing is a bullshit excuse he thinks sounds good to the public.

Anonymous said...

They want to keep the McLennan County Jail full.

Anonymous said...

I think what you're seeing here Scott is not unlike the very public humiliation of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards and other very outspoken figures who've screwed up big time. It's not a pretty sight and people want to look away. But it's just human nature to keep glancing back just to make sure you didn't miss anything. You have been so outspoken in your criticism of other public figures, like Reyna in this instance, that a lot of people are getting a ton of satisfaction out of watching you "get yours." I don't think just dismissing critics is ever going to ultimately solve your problem here. Like it or not, anyone that you target with your criticism is, from now on, going to have the ultimate two word comeback: "He lied."

Anonymous said...

Now that your a known lier!!! How do you stay in Buisness? Typical ACCLU...Your all full of Crap and should be removed!!!!!

ckikerintulia said...

Anon 7:10
As far as I know, Grits has never been associated with the ACCLU. I don't know anything about that organization. What do you want to remove Grits from?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Actually fwiw, I worked for ACLUTX for six years, and was basically run out on a rail, so in a sense I was "removed." Then, maybe that's different from the "ACCLU."

Anon 7:00/7:10, I no more "lied" than you manned up to issue your attacks under your own name. Making unintentional errors that one publicly corrects is not the same thing as intentionally bearing false witness.

If you think that episode makes me non-credible, please by all means don't visit this blog anymore. No skin off my nose. Seriously, I have no idea why y'all would keep coming back if you genuinely feel that way.

At the end of the day, though, responding to legitimate arguments through unrelated, ad hominem attacks only gets you so far. Reyna's problem isn't Grits, but his local defense bar. You can be dismissive of me if you like - either for this recent epidode or any number of others one might pick - but that doesn't mean the issues raised on this blog aren't real ones.

Anonymous said...

No attorney? McLennan County must not be concerned with SB7 and indigent defense issues. Hopefully the state will withhold reimbursement fees to McLennan County to pay the county's court-appointed attorneys. The county and the DA's office may not care about liberties and personal freedom - but I bet they care about not being funded.

Anonymous said...

F*ck suing the cop and Reyna! I would take away more than 83 days of their lives if that was done to me or a family memeber.

ckikerintulia said...

I knew you worked for ACLU Grits. I think we worked together quite a lot back in the early '00s. I just had never heard of ACCLU. I'm sure that was an anonymous typo. Of course "lier" is a misspell as well. Plenty of good reasons for this guy to post anonymously.

benbshaw said...

Many years ago when visiting a liberal State Senator's office, I drafted a Jail Census Law. To my knowledge, such a law has never been passed. Habeas writ is the remedy for the case you describe. But, Habeas is not helpful if you have no relatives and no one knows you are in Jail. Monthly Jail Census Law is needed, a list of persons in jail with charges should be made public.

benbshaw said...

The Justice Party of Texas is being created now to deal with Rule of Law issues like these. See http://texas.justicepartyusa.net/

Anonymous said...

McLennan County is notorious for actions like these. What surprises me is that this actually wasn't shoved under the "hush" rug like most every other so called error that has negatively affected the lives of citizens in Central Texas. Abel Reyna needs to focus on doing an accurate, good job that enforces the law in a way beneficial to the community rather than continue his current bravado display of how much tougher he is than John Segrest.

Anonymous said...

Here is a another related concern reported by the Waco Trib last November:

"When Reyna took office, he stopped a practice of allowing defense attorneys to review prosecutors’ case files before defendants are indicted by a grand jury.

The case files contain common evidence that would be asked for in the discovery process.

“If we can’t see the file before it gets presented to the grand jury, a prosecutor might present something to the grand jury that is really a terrible case or the result of a bad police investigation, and my client has to go through the trauma of having their names in the paper when they get indicted and probably losing their job,” Hunt said.

Hunt and Martinez both said under former District Attorney John Segrest, they often could see case files even before they were assigned to a prosecutor.

In many cases, they were able to convince the prosecutor the evidence was insufficient for indictment before the case was presented to a grand jury or that it should be more appropriately filed as a misdemeanor."

So, here's the picture:

LE trumps charges, as encouraged by DA's office (been told that by LE, as a victim). Perpetrator is booked in on a trumped charge, with a high bond. Perpetrator requests Court-appointed attorney at the bond hearing. Posted rules on time frame for appointment are not being followed (told by a jailer it sometimes takes a month or two). On top of all that, DA wants to prevent defense attorneys from communicating with prosecutors before indictment, which could be 90 days.

Here's the result:

Innocent people are being held in the jail.

Here's a solution:

Lobby for a toll road that bypasses McLennan County on I-35 so those in the know can opt out altogether.

Don said...

"I just had never heard of ACCLU. I'm sure that was an anonymous typo. Of course "lier" is a misspell as well. Plenty of good reasons for this guy to post anonymously". You are right, Charles. I can see why they wouldn't want to put their names on this crap. When did Scott ever lie? Do they know what lying means? (guess not, if they can't spell it.) Scott's misperception of minor details that happened rapidly and in an emotionally charged moment didn't change the general description of the event. Don't understand why some people want to pounce so readily, and also, like Scott, don't understand why they would keep coming back. Wish they wouldn't. Grits should be removed? Shouldn't be allowed to have a computer? Or what? WTF????

SEMPERFINE said...

1.Attacking Grit's personally for a completely separate issue is not relevant to this blog. He's right; if you don't like the blog, don't read it.
2.Having met Mr. Reyna in a social setting, I have found him to be highly intelligent and personable. I have not yet dealt with him professionally.Perhaps he needs to modify his approach to policies in his office, but it is His office.
3. "Open Files" should be codified, not left up to policy decisions by the various prosecutor's offices throughout Texas. This would eliminate time and expense for all parties.
4. Scott, are you sure it wasn't Sharon Keller with the Tazer? Sorry, couldn't resist.
GFB provides a valuable service, even when the objectivity is occasionally lacking. Sometimes I wonder if Scott's real name is Darby, [inside joke to those who know], but at the end of the day, it's something I read on a daily basis. Keep on Keeping on!

Phillip Baker said...

Ah, just a lovely example of schadenfreude (Sorry Anonymous 7:10. Ask your mother to look it up for you.) Clearly cops and their friends are going to work this minor matter as long as they can. It reminds me of those folks who want to ban certain TV shows, knowing all the while that all they have to do is change the channel.

This DA represents most of what is wrong with that segment of our criminal justice system, in that he obviously did not swear to seek just and not convictions, etc. That silly Constitution! What a bother!

Keep up the good work, Grits. I do not always agree with all that gets posted here, but it sure gets me thinking. (Alright, Anonymous 7:10, yet another concept for conversation with your mom. Sorry to lay such burdens on the poor soul.)

Who are you "anonymous" posters afraid of anyway? Grow a pair and stand behind your name, or at least some pseudonym (Ah, another task for that overburdened mom. Mea culpa)

justforgrits said...

Grits- you are a douchebag. I just watched the video and you are a liar. Agenda much?
http://www.khou.com/news/APD-video-refutes-claims-by-local-blogger-139992463.html

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:15, you're on the wrong string. Go here to debate that.

Folks, stay on topic, please. Thx. The Management.

Anonymous said...

Highly intelligent isn't how anyone I know who has really met Reyna would ever describe him. Including me.

Rage

Anonymous said...

grits is great! i damn sure beleive him more than that head of the austin police dept. the camera was from only one car, what about all theothers that were there??? cop cover up???

Anonymous said...

!. Magistrating judge @ the defendants initial appearance should have tossed the case after reading the arresting officer(s) pc affidavit.

2. Under Art. 2.19. Texas CCP.......REPORT AS TO PRISONERS. On the first day of each month, the sheriff shall give notice, in writing, to the district or county attorney, where there be one, as to all prisoners in his custody, naming them, and of the authority under which he detains them.

Anonymous said...

Kill yourself you lying POS. Please. Or at least excuse yourself from the internet.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the magistrate looks at much more than the offense charged and history. Why would he set a $10,000 bond for a guy charged with Arson after his barbeque pit caught an apartment complex on fire and the paper reported the authorities did not think it was intentional?

Maybe the sheriff does furnish the census to the DA's office, but the next step would be for the DA's office to check and see if they still needed everyone to stay.

Best solution would be for the DA's office to notify the jail to lift the bond as soon as the case is refused/dismissed.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

When an attorney from the DA’s office works with an attorney who represents the accused to achieve a just a fair outcome we have a system of justice. The system is truly setup to operate this way. It provides the highest level of benefit to the citizens of the jurisdiction where this is practiced.

When the attorney works with the police to lock people away we have a police state. It’s costly to the citizens of the jurisdiction where this is practiced.

Even worst on an overall societal level, when this type of partnership between DA and LEO is practiced in a so called Christian state like Texas, it provides more historical proof that the Christianity professed by our leaders is nothing more than a way to control the mass. It’s a desecration of the bible that is so prevalently thumped by these people. A bible that calls for a system of justice so that you may live. On a bigger picture as it relates to spreading the gospel, how can Christianity say its biblical based when Christians like our governor and other leaders claim that Texas is a Christian state based on biblical principals yet allow a justice system like we have in Texas. Our leaders in Texas criminal justice continue to prove that christianity is not a religion, but just another way to use superstition and idol worshiping to control the mass and feed their own personal greed. And the voting majority is OK with that!?

People like the chicken shit anonymous poster who’s busting Grits balls, like many who are exposed on this blog for defiling justice are shining examples of people whose momma and daddy should not have reproduced. Shame your daddy couldn’t have chosen to pull out because it’s obvious you have been unable to overcome your parent’s poor child rearing.

BTW Grits, saw a news story about UT discriminating against a student for being white. Full circle since the 1950’s. I guess those people in Austin like their chief pig just don’t like white people.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:29

Under Texas CCP, anyone arrested without a warrant is supposed to have a probable cause hearing during the initial appearance. During the initial appearance, the magistrate is supposed to also determine indigency.

Although not required, the jail where Some county jails have a check and balance system in place for those arrested without a warrant. We check to make sure (1) the arresting officer files his case report with the prosecutor in a timely manner and (2) check periodically with the prosecutors office to see if the charge is accepted.

Not that time consuming of a process.

Anonymous said...

thats terrible and they need to pay this man for all the time he was taken from his life, lost wages, and more, thats a serious mistake, I never been here before but for all those that are bitching at grits for breakfast, screw you guys, I saw the video and if I were on the receiving end of what grits went through I would have viewed it the same way, the person at fault is the idiot woman who called in saying he was kidnapping a girl, grits has a point, he was walking with a black girl, his grandaughter and was automatically treated like a criminal handcuffed because he was a white man with a black grandaughter, imagine the man were black and the grandaughter were white, he would have been treated the same but then apologies and ass kissing would have come along, imo, they owe grits an apology. Ask shit first before making assumptions. And Im loggin in as anonymous cuz Im too lazy to make an new account...

Anonymous said...

When I was a prosecutor (not in Texas) and knew I'd be dismissing a case for a person who was held pretrial, I always made sure as soon as the decision to release was made to call the Judge's chambers to make sure he or she would be ready to receive, sign, and docket a release order that day. (In my jurisdiction, release orders had to come from the judge.) That doesn't mean mistakes will never happen -- but getting people out of jail when a case is dismissed a pretty important part of the job (much like clearing arrest warrants when you decide someone's no longer a suspect).

Anonymous said...

Looks like John Bradley and his clone Reyna are busy commenting here and not keeping innocent people OUT of jail.

John Bradley is living on political life support....Reyna needs to have the plug pulled on his political career as well...

Charlie O said...

Would all you scumbag cops please go elsewhere. Try the PoliceOne blog where you can all sit around licking each other's scrotums.

Anonymous said...

As a former McLennan County resident, living in McGregor, and losing a son to questionable circumstances, I had a consultation with Mr. Reyna/Attorney-at-Law about taking Joshua's case, a I believed, and still do, that Joshua was murdered by McGregor PD. He told me he would take the case for $20,000. Needless to say, I couldn't come close to paying the fee.
However, as District Attorney, he, nor his investigative officers will open the case file on the death. WHY???

mike gordon said...

I must agree w/"grits"....this is directed to anonymous.........if you don't like the blog, take a hike. We all make honest mistakes from time to time. I have to be leery of someone that goes by the name "anonymous". Maybe he is anonymous because he is embarrased that his parents are cousins

mike gordon said...

I must agree w/"grits"....this is directed to anonymous.........if you don't like the blog, take a hike. We all make honest mistakes from time to time. I have to be leery of someone that goes by the name "anonymous". Maybe he is anonymous because he is embarrased that his parents are cousins

Alan said...

i know of several more of this situation from this county since Mr.Renya has taken office.Yes the work load is very large and things do pass thru the cracks but you must remember we are dealing with a humans livelyhood and large case load or not we must not have these mistakes.

Brandon G said...

Able is a bad seed that is no good for the people of waco. We need to let him know this next time we vote for our DA