Court dismisses DA's case against police chief

May 12, 2010 at 12:12 a.m.
Updated May 13, 2010 at 12:13 a.m.

The 13th Court of Appeals has denied the appeals of district attorney Steve Tyler in the aggravated perjury case of Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure.

The state's appeal was dismissed for want of prosecution.

At this point, the case against Ure and all of Tyler's appeals of the case have been dismissed.

"I agree with the court," said Greg Cagle, Ure's attorney. "It's what I've been arguing since (Tyler's attorney Ruth Kollman) never filed the brief in court."

Tyler and his attorney still have the option to file a motion for rehearing, Cagle said.

Kollman could not be reached for comment.

The appeals court ruling said when the state prosecutes an appeal but does not file a brief, appellate courts hold that the state's failure to file a brief constitutes abandonment of the appeal.

It continued, "The state's brief was more than six months overdue when this court remanded the cause to the trial court for a hearing on the prosecution of the appeal. The court gave the state multiple opportunities to file its brief, but the state did not."

The state's motion to consolidate their case with the court's appellate cause was ruled moot and dismissed as well.

The appeals deal with perjury charges brought against Ure and three other city officials.

This long legal battle began when Ure was hit with charges stemming 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.

A district judge ruled Tyler couldn't both prosecute the cases and be a victim.

As a result, Tyler hired Ruth Kollman to represent the state and filed an appeal, but still failed to file the necessary briefs by the January 2010 deadline.

On Feb. 18, Ure and Cagle filed a second motion to dismiss, claiming failure to prosecute.

In March, the Court of Appeals remanded that motion back to the trial court for further proceedings to determine whether the state desired to prosecute this appeal; why the state still had not filed a brief; and whether the state had effectively abandoned the appeal.

In both an affidavit Kollman filed on April 6 and in her response, Kollman outlined her reasons for not filing her brief by the Jan. 20 deadline, citing pre-existing client commitments, a trial schedule and the onset of a severe illness.

After the hearing, district Judge Stephen Williams ruled that even though the state said they desired to prosecute the appeal, the state had "effectively or constructively abandoned this appeal," based on their continued failure to file a brief.

Williams recommended the Court of Appeals dismiss this appeal for want of prosecution.

The Court of Appeals agreed.

Ure shared his thoughts on the conclusion.

"Hopefully, now, the District Attorney will unseal my grand jury testimony. This should be done immediately. Steve Tyler has the absolute authority to do so, or he can unfortunately keep it sealed for self-serving purposes. The unsealing is the only way that the public has a chance at understanding what really happened," the chief said.

Now that the court has ruled on Tyler's appeals, the cases against the two remaining city officials involved with the case, Victoria Police Lt. Ralph Buentello and former city attorney David Smith, can begin.

The remaining cases were put into abatement until Tyler's appeal in the Ure case concluded.

"I assume at this point, our case will be put back on the docket and we'll pick back up where we left off," said Scot Courtney, Buentello's lawyer.



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