Appellate court denies first of Tyler's petitions
July 31, 2009 at 2:31 a.m.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR
Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure is accused of lying to the grand jury that investigated whether former Sheriff Michael Ratcliff sexually assaulted a teenage boy.
Police Lt. Ralph Buentello and former city attorney David Smith are also charged with aggravated perjury.
A grand jury indicted the three men and Mayor Will Armstrong on multiple counts last year, accusing them of plotting to interfere with the Ratcliff investigation. The city officials maintain they were concerned the investigation was mishandled and that District Attorney Stephen Tyler's prosecution of them is retaliatory.
Judge Stephen Williams dismissed the case against Ure on April 30.
All charges against Armstrong were dropped. The only charge that remains against Smith and Buentello is an aggravated perjury charge.
District Attorney Stephen Tyler lost the first of four chances to undo a district judge's rulings, according to court documents filed Friday.
The state's 13th Court of Appeals denied the petition Tyler filed to unseal documents. Those documents pertain to Police Chief Bruce Ure's aggravated perjury case, which a judge dismissed in April.
"I have several options," Tyler said. "I can ask for the court to reconsider, if you will. I can take it to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court for criminal matters. I haven't had a chance to talk with my appellate attorneys. I would wait to talk with them before I make any decisions."
In April, District Judge Stephen Williams:
Dismissed the aggravated perjury case against Ure.
Quashed grand jury subpoenas Tyler served to city employees.
Disqualified Tyler from prosecuting Ure and other city employees linked to the case.
Sealed portions of the case.
At least for now, the case's sealed portions remain sealed. The appellate court will consider the other three legal items during the next several months.
"Obviously, I'm thrilled the appellate court made its initial ruling in our favor," Ure said Friday night. "I hope this ruling sends a message to the district attorney's office that enough is enough."
Tyler took his fight to the appellate court in May. He first filed a notice to set in motion efforts to appeal Ure's case dismissal. He next plans to file his appeal brief and briefs for the other two petitions.
George Hyde represents the city of Victoria.
"All I can really say is that I feel the court of appeals made an appropriate ruling and properly followed the law," Hyde said. "The opinion speaks pretty strongly."
Because Williams sealed portions of the case before it went to the appellate court, Tyler's petitions and the city's response remain closed to the public.
While the court publicly released its denial, its reasons for the opinion revealed little.
"The court, having examined and fully considered the petition and the response, is of the opinion that (Tyler) has not shown himself entitled to the relief sought," the court document notes. "Accordingly, the petition is denied."
Mayor Will Armstrong said he hopes the denial is a sign of things to come.
"This has been going on for a long time," Armstrong said. "This would be a good time to quit spending the taxpayers' money on this issue. I'm of the belief that the community is ready for this issue to be over. I wish it was over."
Tyler gave no indication on Friday that he will comply with the mayor's wishes.
"I still believe it will take until the end of the year to resolve all four actions," Tyler said. "Some might finish before others; some might be appealed by either one of the parties. I believe both the facts and the law support my decision. I hope a court will hear it and listen to the merits of it. We'll see what happens when someone looks at both the law and the facts."