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Top 10: No. 4: Police chief asks court to deny appellate extension

Dec. 30, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 31, 2009 at 6:31 a.m.


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 harrassing a woman he stopped while on duty. Echeverry was acquitted of charges. The trial of Echeverry created a rift between the two officials, Tyler said.

Police 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 ago. Ratcliff was later indicted and agreed to a plea deal and probation.

In 2008, Ure was indicted on multiple counts, including misuse of official information and aggravated perjury, a third-degree felony, in connection with the Ratcliff investigation. The judge threw out all charges but aggravated perjury.

In May, Judge Stephen Williams threw out the aggravated perjury charge against Ure. Tyler later announced plans to appeal the judge's dismissal.

Police Chief Bruce Ure asked the 13th Court of Appeals to deny an appellate extension that would potentially have him facing, once again, a thrown-out charge of aggravated perjury.

District Attorney Stephen Tyler and his lawyers, representing the State of Texas, asked for more time to file a brief appealing the dismissal of the charge after failing to meet an Aug. 26 deadline.

"They don't give a reason for not filing their brief," Greg Cagle, Ure's attorney, said. "I've never seen anybody ignore an appellate deadline like that."

Cagle said that Tyler and his team cited another case that was not relevant to Ure's case, which he said was not a reasonable explanation for failing to file a brief in a timely manner.

Tyler said he stands firm on prosecuting this case.

"I believe the facts and law support my position."

He referred further comment to his attorney, Ruth Coleman of Corpus Christi. She could not be reached for comment.

Former city attorney David Smith, who had also been indicted on aggravated perjury charges, said Tyler may have avoided filing the brief to protect his reputation as he campaigns for re-election.

"I think he's trying to duck down," Smith said. "I think he wants the public to forget some of the problems he has created in this community."

If the court denies the appellate extension, the judgment dismissing Ure's charges would be final.

There remain charges of aggravated perjury against police Lt. Ralph Buentello and former city attorney Smith. Their cases are on hold until the appeals process is done.

Buentello's attorney Scot Courtney said the lack of resolution in the appeals process has cliff-hung his client's case. He said he was surprised by the delay in action by Tyler and his team.

"I'm a bit stunned that the state has not filed anything in accordance to the rules, nor have I seen a cause for extension," Courtney said.

"Normally you file your brief when you ask for an extension. In my experience, that's unacceptable from a legal perspective."



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