March 21, 2007
The do-nothing prosecutor

One of the themes of the TYC scandal is that for whatever the reason, the local prosecutor never bothered to take the evidence from Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski and charge the alleged wrongdoers with crimes. It turns out that this lack of action was par for the course for that District Attorney.

The prosecutor who took no action on the graphic Texas Rangers report on alleged sexual abuse at a West Texas juvenile prison for almost two years declined to prosecute nearly all felony cases that came before him in that time, according to an Associated Press review of state court filings.

State legislators have accused Randall W. Reynolds, who first won election as prosecutor for Ward, Reeves and Loving counties in 1996, of ignoring a lengthy Texas Ranger report that he received in March 2005 outlining allegations of abuse by two top administrators at the West Texas State School in Pyote, a small Ward County oil town.


According to statewide court filings from 2005 and 2006 analyzed by The Associated Press, Reynolds declined to prosecute more than 90 percent of the 128 felony cases filed in Ward County and 83 percent of the 210 cases in Reeves County between 2005 and 2006. Only one case was filed in Loving County, the state's least populous with only 67 residents.

Reynolds' rates rank among the highest in the state among counties that reported at least one felony from 2005 to 2006. Statewide, only about 18 percent of cases were not prosecuted in that time.

Judge Bob Parks, who presides over all of Reynolds' cases, generally dismisses at Reynolds' request, said Parks's court administrator, who asked not to be identified.

During the same time, Reynolds won guilty pleas or convictions in about 21 percent of cases in Reeves, Ward and Loving counties. Statewide, prosecutors won convictions in more than 55 percent of felony cases.

This blows my mind. How can you decline to prosecute 80 percent or more of the felony cases brought before you? Especially when the statewide average is less than 20 percent? Something is very wrong here.

Ward County Attorney Kevin Acker, who handles misdemeanor and juvenile prosecutions, said he offered to help Reynolds and his two investigators with the TYC investigation but Reynolds didn't respond.

And after certifying two juveniles as adults in a TYC-related assault case, he offered Reynolds a list of witnesses to help prove that the two defendants used a broom handle to sexually assault another inmate.

A grand jury didn't issue an indictment, Acker said.

"I had 10 witnesses and I've never been able to figure out if any of them were called," Acker said. He's still trying to get the case to trial.

Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez said felony cases his 10 deputies pass off to Reynolds often seem to vanish.

"We take cases and then we never hear anything again," Gomez said.

Acker said he has seen numerous felony cases end up in his office, refiled as misdemeanors after Reynolds didn't take on the cases.

Gomez said his deputies sometimes file cases as misdemeanors in Reeves County to improve the chances that a defendant will go to court. He has also started requiring someone in Reynolds' office to sign a receipt each time a case is dropped off to ensure that deputies cannot be accused of failing to turn in cases, Gomez said.

I have no words for this. Whatever is going on in Randall Reynolds' office needs to be explained. And for crying out loud, if and when Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez are ever arrested, let's have someone else handle the prosecution.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 21, 2007 to Scandalized!

If the Rangers were so freaked, then why not investigate the D.A.? It certainly has been done before. They simply could go to the A.G. with either the TYC case or with allegations against the D.A, Why not have the local media stir up something?

Something else isn't right here. It isn't like the Rangers are completely helpless when it comes to friendly folks who would help them with a D.A. who isn't interested in making them look like they like to look. And of course everyone likes a good story on a bad D.A. Either people didn't mind the lack of prosecutions until this horror story broke or there is going to be some blowback on those who are complaining this time.

Posted by: Jaye on March 21, 2007 7:17 AM