Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Doing life on the installment plan – Can we talk?

Here's how tough it gets, says defender turned DA
With 14 felonies, 7 for life, a 10-year term offer

Waco - “These people forget I was once there. I did that job for 13 years,” said Abel Reyna, recalling the bizarre facts of a case that still makes him shake his head.

In a case against a multiple offender in which the judge told him, when he appointed him, “I'm not asking you to do it; I'm telling you...,” he recalls, he saw a man glean a 10-year plea bargain by waiting out an array of 14 indictments, 7 of them for offenses that carried a potential life sentence, if convicted.

“I said, 'Okay, thanks a lot, judge.'”

Women tittered; men gave polite horse laughs. This was going to be good; they knew it.

“This guy would offend, get indicted, bail out, than re-offend, get indicted, bail out, and go on to offend again,” he said. “He told me, 'I live in a jungle. You are either a predator, or you are a prey.'

“I said, 'Okay, then, let's not mention all that in front of the jury.'”

The crowded bistro filled with Waco Tea Party backers burst into uproarious laughter. Sam's On The Square, located at the corner of 3rd and Austin Avenue resembles a high-tech 'ice house' on a coastal Texas highway, its roll-up garage doors glazed from sidewalk to ceiling, brilliant chandelier lighting and whirling brass fans contrasting with earth tones and dramatic sun-splashed views of downtown Waco in the pale glare of a mid-winter prairie sunset.

But it's pure Texas, replete with cold beer, hot tacos. The only thing missing is the Pearl Beer poster of hanging day at Judge Roy Bean's beer joint, “The Jersey Lily, Law West Of The Pecos.”

Guy has a perfect sense of timing, knows when to hit them with that one-two punch that will make them laugh, whet their appetite for the punch line they know is coming.

Then came the serious part of the narrative, the tale of how the offender calmly waited his chance for a bargain basement deal with prosecutors by demanding a lengthy and complicated jury trial, an ordeal of the foregone conclusion, for which everyone involved – including the judge – were making reluctant preparations.

People leaned forward in their chairs, their demeanor just a little more focused than usual as Abelino Reyna sequed into the most serious part of the tale.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara and DA Abel Reyna
As trial day slowly approached over a course of many months, he explained, first the offer went from 40 years, to 20, and just before the attorneys got busy picking a jury panel, the offer came from the DA's office.

Plead guilty to this entire array of malefaction, the offer went, and receive 10 years to do behind bars at the Texas Department of Corrections, Institutional Division.

You could have cut the deafening silence with a knife.

These are the people you knew were there, all along. They are God-fearing, tax-paying, hard-working – citizens!

They actually care who the District Attorney is, and how he does things. You can get them downtown on a Tuesday evening to talk about things like a burgeoning debt, school vouchers, the declining value of a dollar – and other weighty issues for which most people have no appetite.

The very idea of a life strategy of doing bad things to other people, with the foreknowledge that one will surely be apprehended, jailed and prosecuted, is, at best, incomprehensible to them.

Add in the notion that you can actually game the system by waiting around behind the bars of a county jail, and – well, you know – it does something to them.

At worst, it makes their blood boil, sets their teeth on edge, causes stomach acids to back up in their digestive systems, and leaves them in state of what W.C. Fields often described as 'high catoque.'

Mr. Reyna, a seasoned defense attorney turned District Attorney, hired by popular vote to run the law firm of The People of the State of Texas in the contiguous twin 19th and 54th Districts, let that sink in.

Then, he repeated his message, one more time.

“These people forget that I was once there. I did that job for 13 years...”


  1. Keep it up Able and don't let anyone distract you from reaching the goals you promised and you will always have my vote.

  2. Abel was a good Defense Attorney. He gave people the best defense he could. He's an excellent DA because he knows the games played.