Judge on Tyler, Ure case: 'Dismiss this appeal'
April 9, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 8, 2010 at 11:09 p.m.
THE STORY SO FAR
Days after Police Chief Bruce Ure took office in May 2007, District Attorney Stephen Tyler tried Victoria Police Officer Carlos Javier Echeverry on charges of sexually harassing a woman during a traffic stop. Echeverry was acquitted of charges. Echeverry's trial seems to have started a rift between Ure and Tyler.
Police later began an independent investigation into why former Victoria County Sheriff Michael Ratcliff, once Tyler's chief of staff, was not charged for sexually assaulting a teenage boy years before. Ratcliff was later indicted and agreed to a plea deal and probation.
In 2008, Ure, former City Attorney David Smith, Police Lt. Ralph Buentello and Mayor Will Armstrong were indicted on multiple counts, including misuse of official information and aggravated perjury, a third-degree felony, in connection with the Ratcliff investigation. Tyler contends the men conspired against him and interfered with an investigation. A district judge threw out all charges but aggravated perjury related to Ure, Buentello and Smith. All charges against Armstrong were dropped.
In April 2009, Judge Stephen Williams threw out the aggravated perjury charge against Ure, saying Tyler could not be both the victim and the prosecutor of the case. The judge also ruled Tyler could not prosecute the related cases. Tyler appealed the judge's rulings.
On Friday, District Judge Stephen Williams - upon request from a higher court - recommended to the 13th Court of Appeals that Tyler's appeal be dismissed. Among other points, Williams notes the state repeatedly failed to file a required brief.
A Victoria district judge on Friday recommended a higher court dismiss the district attorney's appeal to prosecute the police chief.
" ... the State has effectively or constructively abandoned this appeal, particularly in light of the many opportunities the State has been given to file the brief," District Judge Stephen Williams wrote in a document filed at 9:50 a.m.
"Consequently, this court respectfully recommends that the Court of Appeals dismiss this appeal for want of prosecution," Williams continued.
District Attorney Steve Tyler led a grand jury to indict Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure for aggravated perjury in 2008. In April 2009, Williams dismissed those charges and ruled Tyler could not prosecute that and related cases.
Tyler then appealed Williams' rulings.
Ure's charges stemmed from the investigation of former Victoria County Sheriff Michael Ratcliff. Tyler, in part, contends Ure and others interfered with the case, leaked confidential information, conspired against him and lied under oath.
Many of the original indictment counts were later dismissed. Williams then threw out Ure's aggravated perjury charge by ruling Tyler could not be both the victim and the prosecutor of the case.
Tyler appealed that decision, but an appellate court sent the case back to Williams for a recommendation.
Since appealing Williams' original ruling, Tyler and his lawyer, Ruth Kollman, failed repeatedly to file a needed brief. As reasons for not filing, Kollman cited an unspecified illness, other commitments and a Connecticut Supreme Court opinion.
Kollman awaited the opinion because it could have helped the state's case for appeal, the lawyer suggested.
Ure's lawyer, Greg Cagle, discussed Williams' recommendations.
"I agree with the judge. He hit the nail right on the head," Cagle said. "The state has made no effort to get a brief filed. They've made a lot of excuses."
"I am very thankful that the end of this nightmare is possibly in sight so that all of the facts regarding how, and why we were involved with the Michael Ratcliff case can be disclosed to the public," Ure said. "We want people to know what happened. That is the bottom line."
Ure described the last two years as troubling and difficult.
"I am prayerful that this is over soon so that we can focus 100 percent on our mission of providing our best law enforcement efforts for the citizens and guests of our community," the police chief said. "'Enough is enough' is quite an understatement at this point."
Once Williams offered his recommendations, Kollman revealed her next legal step.
"We will go forward and dispute that at the court of appeals," she said.
Williams' recommendations will next go to the 13th Court of Appeals. Once there, the court will review the recommendations and decide about Tyler's appeal.
No deadline date for that review or decision is set.