Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blame game in jail costs portends a hot DA's race

District Attorney Abel Reyna in court appearance at murder trial
Blame blame, blow blame, banana fanna fo fame, me my mo mame – THE BLAME GAME COMETH

Waco – With a jail bunk-to-inmate ratio that is overbuilt by huge margins – there are more than 300 slots that have been left vacant at the downtown Courthouse Annex Jail for nearly 3 years - the local defense bar and the DA's office are playing a vicious game of blame.

Meanwhile, the bean counters predict the budget for jailing prisoners in the McLennan County Jail will eventually exceed its boundaries by about $2.6 million before the fiscal year ends.

The debate, which has maintained a steady boil for the past three years, turned ugly, its rhetoric spilling over into the Commissioners Court at the behest of a fiscally conservative advocate of penny pinching, Commissioner Kelly Snell.

He invited members of the court-appointed defense bar to address the Court with their concerns about certain policies laid down by DA Abel Reyna when he took office in January, 2011.

Mr. Reyna inherited a 1,200-case backlog from former DA John Segrest, and began clearing it by doubling Grand Jury sessions and disallowing previous practices such as letting the lawyers know the names on the indictments before arrest warrants are served, sneaking a peek at investigators' work product prior to indictments without filing pre-trial discovery motions, and allowing accused felony offenders to cop a plea for anything less than 15 years behind penitentiary bars.

“I know the games they play,” he told the Court in a hot rejoinder to his interlocutors' criticisms.

He campaigned on the notion that indicting only about half of the cases made by cops and charged by magistrates is “...nothing more than a coin flip” - a pudding, a fake, a lick, and a promise.

Three years later, he's still going strong, and he's got their attention.

Cops, crooks, lawyers and judges dance to his tune, and it's a hot old town for offenders and ham and egging barristers when his prosecutors turn the screws and say, “We'll see you in court.”

The following is an edited audio recording gleaned from the public records of the Commissioners Court meeting this past Tuesday.Such luminaries as Jonathan Sibley, Robert Callahan, and Josh Tetens ripped into the status quo – which, as any knowledgeable observer can tell you, is merely Latin for “The mess we done got ourselves into now,” according to the sworn testimony of a forgotten Texas Ranger.

DA Abel Reyna denies allegations, defies allegators...

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