Overdue Info Request On DA’s Pre-Trial Releases


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Waco – Before close of business today McLennan Criminal DA Abel Reyna will field a demand for response on 4,300 public information act requests.

A duo of public information act specialists – one of whom has been labeled by an east Texas DA as a “public information terrorist” – obtained a favorable ruling from the Texas Attorney General back in June on a March request for information about a pre-trial intervention program that allows defendants to go free of their charges.

DA Abel Reyna explained that his program began as a way to collect hot checks without putting defendants in jail where they can’t pay.

But at some point, he expanded the program. Records obtained so far indicate that persons charged with felony DWI, abandoning a child,  assaulting a public servant and crimes against nature involving children have escaped their date with a judge.

Ordinarily, since the material regards charges that have been dismissed and resulted in no conviction, the information is private.

But when the DA’s staff did not meet a deadline triggered by the provisions of the Open Records Act, the Attorney General ruled  that all information requested must be made public. The order for release issued more than 90 days ago in OR2017-13053.

In a published report, Reyna explained the program by saying:

This program is not intended to be soft. but it allows you to think outside the box and to not clog up the criminal justice system with individuals who don’t need to be there so we can better focus on the ones who do need to be there. The program is an opportunity. It’s not a right.

An original pubic information act request for names of persons so diverted from the court system resulted in a database of 481 names and their offenses. One may view list that by clicking here.

A trio of public information activists including R.S. Gates and David Stua, who once hit the Angelina County District Attorney’s office with 28,000 PIA requests in the space of one hour, worked through Labor Day weekend to surgically redact the information required by the AG’s ruling. That resulted in altering each of the original information requests into 9 separate requests for each of the original 481 records obtained.

Said R.S. Gates of his motives in making the request, “Because participation most often leads to dismissal of charges, the records are normally beyond the reach of the Texas Public Information Act. Being beyond the reach, the lack of public scrutiny has led to speculation of shady dealings.”

He added that he and his colleagues are expecting loud protests from the DA’s staff and local government officials. Nevertheless, according to the Open Records Act, it’s not up to the government to decide what the people should know because the records belong to the people. Government officials are merely custodians of the records




One thought on “Overdue Info Request On DA’s Pre-Trial Releases”

  1. It would seem that Anal Reyna never heard the old sayin’ “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. Although he is trying!

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