BULLETIN: In an e-mail to County Attorney Natalie Koehler, R.S. Gates presses his demand, accused Bosque County Sheriff of official misconduct:
Section 552.201(b) Each elected county officer is the officer for public information and the custodian, as defined by Section 201.003, Local Government Code, of the information created or received by that county officer's office.
'I believe this section protects people from government officials who desire to “throw it over the transom” for someone else to deal with. Because Sheriff Malott is the elected official I filed the request with, he has the liability for failing to comply with the request. While there is a provision in the Act for the Sheriff to delegate the responsibilities of complying with the ACT, I believe a close examination of the statute provides no delegation of liability for failure to comply with the Act.
'I hope the Sheriff will give that some consideration. Is there some impairment the Sheriff is suffering that renders him incapable of fulfilling the statutory requirements of his office?'
A dispatch from the trenches of the info wars
Meridian – The recent death of a Bosque County inmate who was in custody at the time of her demise – reportedly a case of suicide by hanging – is an excellent example of the present controversy regarding the creation of a two-tiered system of classification of journalists.
As of Thursday, July 11, Bosque County is seeking the subject matter expertise of a hired gun in the protracted hassle over release of public information in the jail house death of April Troyn.
After consultation with the Texas Association of Counties, County Attorney Natalie Koehler retained David Iglesias, an associate of a Tyler law firm, to obtain an Attorney General's opinion.
Jailersfound Ms. Troyn unresponsive on May 4 following an arrest on May 2for endangerment of a child and/or abandonment. The charge is basedon a December complaint, an affidavit of probable cause sworn inFebruary, a February arrest warrant, and an arrest carried out on May2.(click here for an earlier report)
The Legendary obtained all that information – in writing – during the course of a 3-month wait-and-see process that began easily enough by a simple request to Justice Court No. 2, the Hon. James Zander. Judge Zander released the affidavit of probable cause, the arrest warrant and return of service of the warrant, as a matter of routine – in a timely fashion.
Inquiries to the Clifton Police Department Chief Steve Adcock and the Sheriff, Anthony Mallot, met with stonewall resistance.
Chief Adcock said, “We haven't done that yet.” He said he had earlier released “something the attorney says I wasn't supposed to release,” and would henceforth refer all such requests to the City's attorney for a 10-day review process.
“I think those people at the Sheriff's Department may have screwed up,” he added.
The matter is under investigation.
Bosque County requested the assistance of Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield. So none of what the laws governing public information call “work product” are available. Such items include autopsy reports, ballistics and chemical analyses, witness statements and an officer's supplemental reports and impressions of evidence thus gleaned.
The law says that the bare bones information contained in first page offense and arrest reports, police blotter information, and records of inmates booked into county jails, criminal charges, bond information, and release, are public information. Not much else is available.
According to a an Attorney General's Opinion, No. 664 issued by then-AG John Cornyn, all such records are not only public, they should be released promptly, without the need for a 10-day review by the AG's office.
The Legendary obtained those records once that had been established, but only many days after other media received it in a timely manner.
Booking information requested from the Sheriff's Department was similarly obtained, once the type of information requested had been defined.
In the written request, The Legendary asked for police blotter information, records of booking, charging, bond, and release.
Once the County Attorney understood, she ordered the custodian of records at the Sheriff's Department to release the information.
A vague request from R.S. Gates specifies no particular type of public information, but merely asks for “public information relating to the May 2 detention of April Troyn.
Though the attorney agreed to make the information available, Gates did not pick it up. He asked for it to be sent to him by e-mail. He has received no information.
On Monday, July 8, he alleged that Bosque County Sheriff Anthony Mallot and Clifton Police Department Chief Steve Adcock have withheld public information, a Class B misdemeanor for which he intends to level criminal charges. Contacted today for comment, he said he has not yet done so.
The Legendary obtained the information on Monday, July 8, after paying a dollar a page for the two-page report with a money order that cost an additional $0.65.
Other, more established representatives of media outlets received the same information on May 4 through telephone calls.
Similarly, when the 220th Judicial District Attorney B.J. Shepherd released the finding of a medical examiner to Waco news outlets, his staff refused to release the same information to The Legendary. According to the judge the autopsy, Precinct 1 Justice Court, The Hon. Ray Ballman, that matter is under investigation by Ranger Hatfield. He has made no such release. The finding of the autopsy surgeon is that Ms. Troyn's death is consistent with that on a suicide by hanging.
C'est la guerre.
- The Legendary