Area Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Ward County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
Walker hears pros, cons on court-at-law
By MARI MALDONADO
and PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 20, 1995 - Petitions and letters for and
against retaining the Reeves County Court-at-Law are running
about even, said Warren Mayberry, legislative director for
State Rep. Gary Walker.
Reeves County Commissioners asked Walker, R-Plains, to
sponsor a bill in the Legislature to abolish the court,
which handles criminal complaints, civil suits, juvenile
matters, probate and sanity hearings.
One petition supporting the court-at-law is from law
enforcement personnel in Reeves County, Mayberry said.
Both Pecos Police Chief Troy Moore and Sheriff Arnulfo
Galindo said they favor keeping the court as it is.
If it were abolished, county administrative judge Jimmy
Galindo would handle misdemeanor criminal matters. Divorces,
civil litigation and other matters now handled by Judge Lee
Green in the court-at-law would revert back to the 143rd
The idea of eliminating the county judicial branch has been
strongly considered by Galindo because of the projected
$396,453 county deficit. Galindo stated that $53,620, Judge
Green's annual salary, could be subtracted to the deficit
amount if his proposal is accepted.
Galindo believes that this proposition stands for what he
campaigned prior to taking office in January induction. He
is opposed to a tax increase and is willing to take on the
added responsibilities that such an action would create.
Galindo argues that Pecos and Ward counties operate
efficiently with only a county judge. Both counties are of
comparable populations, said Galindo. "If the county is
asking its employees to do more with less people, then I
believe that elected officials should be examples," said
Galindo. He said that in doing so, he would be put in a
position to ask other officials, "What are you gonna do for
Green declined to comment today, but said in early January
that his court-at-law jurisdiction covers a wider legal area
than that allocated to a county judge. He said his total
budget for 1994 was $85,100, and while the court showed a
$7,400 deficit for the year, he said that was due to fewer
cases being filed by prosecutors and attorneys and in the
past the court has broken even or showed a small profit.
"We have received letters on both sides of the issue," said
Mayberry. "We have a copy of Judge Galindo's concerns. We
don't know for sure it is going to be filed; we are trying
to weigh the issue."
Mayberry said that Walker doesn't want to file the bill
until he is sure it is going to be for the benefit of the
"As elected officials, that's what we are here to do,"
Mayberry said. "The process we are going through now is
simply weighing the pro's and con's. We haven't started to
get a bill drafted. The representative really likes to get
the constituent's feedback."
The court-at-law was created by the state legislature to
relieve the county administrative judge of court matters.
Its judge must be a practicing lawyer.
Green presides over cases heard by the court-at-law division.
The judge handles adoptions, probate wills, hears civil
damage suits up to $100,000, worker's compensation appeals,
appeals from municipal and JP courts, criminal charges
punishable by time in county jail and family matters,
including divorce, juvenile delinquency and child custody.
Because he is an attorney, Green can hear all cases eligible
to be tried in court-at-law proceedings. The administrative
Chief Moore feels that the separation of the two positions
protects both the accused as well as the accusers.
Finances should not play a role in the rights of the
accused," said Moore, who added that eliminating the
court-at-law would impede justice.
"This would double the load on (District Court Judge Bob)
Parks," said Moore. For instance, Galindo cannot rule on
divorce or civil cases.
Personally speaking, Montgomery said that the branch "serves
as a checks and balance for criminal cases at the county
Montgomery adamantly believes that we need a trial judge who
is knowledgeable in court proceedings.
Jim Lyde, Executive Director of the Municipal Police
Association said that Walker is working hard "for his
constituents in finding a solution presented by the Reeves
Mayberry said he had talked with the legislative council
about legal aspects of the matter and possibly drafting a
"Even if we did draft it, since it is a local bill, it
doesn't mean it is going to be filed," he said.
One of the questions is whether or not the court could be
abolished immediately or if it would have to be redone in
"My understanding is that you can set the abolishing day in
the legislation," Mayberry said. "If we set it September 1,
that would be when it goes into effect."
The fact that all four commissioners and the county judge
signed the resolution requesting the court be abolished
doesn't mean the legislature automatically votes for it, he
That premise is probably based on the fact that county
commissioners are representatives of local government, he
"If they send something up to us, it would be almost the
will of the people that elected those commissioners, so we
are working by mandate from the people," he said.
But Walker will certainly listen to what constituents say.
"We are responsible to the people, just as the county
commissioners are responsible to the people that elected
them," he said.
Walker also said he is seeking funding alternatives to ease
the financial situation projected for Reeves County.
Walker has co-authored a bill that would award the Texas
Juvenile Justice System with $3.7 million. Monies will be
taken out of the adult correction system.
Reeves County Juvenile Probation Officer Alberto Alvarez
thinks that if the bill is approved and the Reeves County
Juvenile System does receive a substantial amount of funds,
this will in turn generate revenue for the county, hopefully
aiding the current deficit problem.
Alvarez added that doing away with the court-at-law would
pose some problems on the juvenile justice system. He said
in most cases where there is no county court-at-law judge,
cases tried by the administrative judge get appealed because
of his lack of experience in juvenile justice management,
which leads to addition court expenses.
Gomez told by BOP not to fire Trujillo
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mar. 20, 1996 - U.S. Bureau of Prisons representative
Tommy Duncan met with Reeves County Commissioners Friday
afternoon to express concern regarding the county Law
Enforcement Center and the BOP's contract for confinement
The meeting was part of a 'briefing' at the Reeves County
Courthouse detailing the BOP's feelings about the LEC
situation, and specifically, a recent dispute between Reeves
County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez and warden Joe Trujillo.
"At this stage the Bureau of Prisons will no longer accept
political interference in the operations of the LEC," said
Duncan, who told commissioners that recently his supervisor
got a letter from Sheriff Gomez requesting that he be
allowed to replace Trujillo as warden.
"My supervisor specifically and categorically instructed me
to inform you that we do not concur with that
recommendation," Duncan said.
"This contract is absolutely vital to the community, it
provides 135 jobs and $7 million to the community," said
County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, who said the BOP could remove
its inmates from the facility if Trujillo is fired.
"The Bureau of Prisons feels that it is very important that
at this stage of our contract that all of you are aware of
our position regarding the LEC," said Duncan.
"The contractors must work under what's called 'The
statement of work,' we provide certain criteria that we ask
Reeves County to meet in order to house our Federal inmates
and that criteria in encompassed in the statement of work,"
"My job, as a Detention Center Monitor, is to monitor these
contracts closely and ensure that the vendor is meeting all
the requirements of that statement of work," he said.
"The statement of work specifically spells out some very
detailed information on who operates the facility. It is the
Bureau of Prisons' experience that a penal facility can only
be operated effectively through on Chief Executive Officer.
And, that CEO must have complete, ultimate authority in all
operations and all procedures regarding the facility.
"A prison cannot be run by a committee," said Duncan. "There
needs to be one executive officer we call the warden."
"We believe that each of you have specific roles, as well,
the (county) judge's role is to be held accountable, as the
contracting official, and as the signer of our agreement, we
hold, Judge Galindo, ultimately, completely responsible for
anything that happens at the LEC," said Duncan.
"Each of you have a role representing your various districts
(precincts) in the County and we understand that," he said.
"I spoke with the sheriff and he feels that he has a role, a
legal role as the sheriff of this county and a moral
obligation to the citizens of this county, and we concur
that he has certain responsibilities and issues that he must
address to the county," said Duncan.
"But, we don't believe that citizens of a county can operate
the prison, by contract and by the statement of work, the
warden is the one who should run the facility," he said.
"And, we understand that everyone has a boss, we believe
that Judge Galindo, you gentlemen as a group, and the
sheriff should monitor what happens at the prison, and
monitor the warden's actions; and if you believe something
is important or if you believe certain policies and
procedures are operating outside the way they should be,
those should be reported, through Judge Galindo to me," said
"I will investigate those and make recommendations based on
Bureau of Prisons experience and policy and federal laws, as
to how that should be handled," he added.
"I can't fire him," Sheriff Gomez said this morning of
Tujillo, whom he appointed to the post in October of 1993
after two previous acting wardens were rejected by the BOP.
"My concerns are the employees and the community.
"I disagree with what they did but I want to do what's best
for the community," said Gomez. "Whether I like it or not,
we have to keep the warden. I don't necessarily agree, but
we want to keep the LEC."
Trujillo and Gomez got into an argument at the Feb. 27
commissioner's court meeting over what Trujillo said was
Gomez's interference in LEC operations. Gomez was opposing
an effort to appoint Marc Contreras to one of three
newly-created lieutenant's positions at the LEC. Gomez
charged, and Trujillo denied, pressure to hire Contreras.
Contreras was one of six persons to later apply for the
lieutenant's post, under a ruling by commissioners. However,
he was one of two who did not show up for a March 10
interview, and is no longer under consideration for the job.
During Friday's meeting, Duncan listed the efforts made by
the BOP to help fill beds at the LEC. The nine-year-old
facility gets almost all its inmates through the BOP, which
has filed numerous complaints over the years about the
"The history at the LEC has not been good; however, upon
Warden Trujillo's appointment we immediately, within the
first three months saw major improvements in the facility,
morale of staff immediately began to go up, things that had
been identified as deficient at the LEC for years began to
be corrected," said Duncan.
Duncan also stated that on at least two occasions, since he
had been here the BOP had discussed seriously the issue of
taking their inmates out of the LEC.
"Warden Trujillo has convinced us that his ability to
operate the facility is there and if he has your support
that it will no longer be an issue, he can run that facility
with your support and meet all requirements of the statement
of work," said Duncan.
"The question is 'Does Reeves County agree with the contract
and the statement of work as it is and so you want to keep
housing Federal inmates?" said Duncan.
"If you do, we are simply asking that you meet those
requirements of the 'statement of work' and that political
influences do not be involved in the operation, we
understand also, that we are not the only customer that you
might have," said Duncan. "They're a lot of people who are
looking to house inmates and you certainly have the option
to decide--we don't need the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a
customer, we want someone else," he said.
In responding to Duncan, Galindo said, "The Bureau of
Prisons is a vital client to Reeves County and I think this
community will hold together to do everything in its power
to keep the bureau as a client.
"We appreciate you guys that have had the patience to bear
with us and I think that we've come a long way over the last
year and a half and I will continue to keep progressing and
I hope that you will let your supervisors know that we do
want to serve the Bureau of Prisons and that we are very
interested in continuing our relationship as far as I'm
concerned," said Galindo.
Officials trying to avoid gang problems
By MARI MALDONADO
PECOS, Mar. 20, 1995 - Juveniles didn't seem to be any more
of a problem than sunburn around Reeves County during the
just-completed spring break week.
The usual parties, staying out after curfew, traffic
violations and teenagers driving without a drivers license
were about the only reported offenses by local juveniles
during their week off from school, said Pecos Police Capt.
"It was a typical spring break for Pecos," Montgomery said,
while Sheriff Andy Gomez said nothing out of the ordinary
was noted in Balmorhea last week.
"It was real calm," Gomez said.
Despite the relatively quiet behavior of area juveniles
during spring break, and the relative absence of gang
problems in the community for the past few years, Reeves
County Juvenile Probation Officer Alberto Alvarez, Jr.,
believes that this is only the lull before the storm.
When asked if he thinks there might be a local gang problem
Alvarez said that it is eminent. "It's (the gang problem)
lingering out there," said Alvarez, "and it won't be too
long before it blows up."
Alvarez claims that all the gang tell-tale signs are evident
in the community's youth. "Makeshift weapons, the number of
referrals for expulsion hearings," are all positive signs
that gangs do exist said Alvarez, who also is a member of
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board.
Alvarez believes that alcohol is a strong factor in juvenile
"Maybe it's time that we have a stricter enforcement on
alcohol sales," he said, "and there is not one dance hall
that doesn't contribute to the problem."
With is so readily available to minors, alcohol can only
pose serious dangers in the predicted gang uprisings.
Montgomery agrees with Alvarez and both said that together,
the police department and the juvenile probation department
are currently working on a manual of guidelines at the
street level for all officers. The manual is designed to
prepare for any future problems posed by Pecos' younger
"Juvenile law can be complicated and a lot of officers are
not too familiar with it," said Montgomery, and the manual
will cover procedures for investigating juvenile cases and
"Pecos is going to see something very positive in the
future," said Alvarez.
"The key to this is good communication and constantly
evaluating the juvenile process," he added.
Since changes in laws by the state legislature are
constantly affecting juvenile proceedings, the project will
be held off until any new laws passed by the current
legislature go into effect, in order to create a manual as
up-to-date as possible, said Montgomery.
Currently, both departments are keeping up-to-date with
local gangs and any new ones that may be forming said
The Carlitos are apparently a new gang that local law
enforcement agencies are aware of, Montgomery said.
"They dress in cowboy clothes, with the hat and boots and
jeans," said Montgomery, "but they pretty much stick
together. We are only aware of assaults directed at
individuals by this group."
Both Alvarez and Montgomery said that they are not aware of
any problems with rival gangs.
Juvenile legal system complex, Alvarez says
By MARI MALDONADO
PECOS, Mar. 20, 1995 - The puzzle that the Juvenile Justice
System poses lies behind the way it works said Alberto
Alvarez, Jr., county juvenile probation officer.
With the alarming statics in the recently-released
Associated Texans Against Crime Report, it is more important
now to educate people on how the juvenile justice system
works and the growing need for reform.
The ATAC reports that juvenile arrests are on the rise and
that more teens are being arrested for violent crimes. There
were 154,524 juvenile arrests in Texas in 1993, up 16
percent from 1991. Of that number, 30 percent of these
arrests involved crimes of a violent nature such as murder,
manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
A juvenile that is 15 and accused of a felony can be tried
as an adult, said Alvarez. It the offense is placed on
Determinant Sentencing, he can be tried as early as 10 years
of age for a serious crime and do time in a state facility.
Then at the age of 17 he is committed into adult criminal
"The Juvenile Justice System is not broken," said Alvarez,
"it's just broke."
"It's poor, and it's working backwards!"
Alvarez claims that there is no incentive for personnel in
the juvenile justice system. "Job positions are insecure,
there are no salary scales or levels that are attractive,"
said Alvarez, "Plus, the state has never focused on
stricter, more stern requirements for employees in this line
Ten hours of juvenile law is requires for law enforcement
personnel during their academy training. Alvarez claims that
this is not nearly enough.
"The juvenile justice system is trying to work with kids
five years too late," said Alvarez, who is a strong advocate
of early childhood intervention.
However, funds are scarce and state legislation doesn't aid
in the effort, though legislators are currently working on
additional funds for the system.
With the effort by the state to decrease the number of
juveniles committed to state schools, county facilities have
been put to a test this year. If more juveniles are detained
at a county facility, then the facility will be allocated
more funds for building improvements next year.
The Reeves County Detention Center caters to surrounding
counties that don't have such a detention facility.
Currently, the RCDC is holding two Reeves County juveniles
and 9 out-of-county juveniles.
Funds for the out-of-county juveniles are paid by the county
from which they are sent, an amount currently set under
state regulations. RCDC is paid $70 per day per
out-of-county detainee, though Rep. Gary Walker, R-Plains,
said last week that the Texas Legislature is currently
working on increasing this amount.
Juvenile services in Reeves County are overseen by a
Juvenile Board. It is comprised of Reeves County
Court-At-Law Judge Lee Green, who is the designated juvenile
court judge for Reeves County, 143rd District Judge Bob
Parks and Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo.
The three are the policy makers of the juvenile system in
Reeves County. Their board also has the power to employ the
chief probation officer and set salaries for the juvenile
detention center staff.
The board gets together about every three months for regular
The Reeves County Juvenile Advisory Committee is made up of
George Vasquez, Billie Sadler and Dr. Jaroy Moore, all of
whom are selected by the board. "The committee feels how the
community responds to the juvenile problems," said Alvarez.
Alvarez said he would like to clear up any confusion the
public may hod as to what a juvenile officer does and what a
juvenile probation officer can do. The juvenile officer can
investigate and charge a juvenile, whereas the probation
Alvarez's duties are to scrutinize juvenile cases before
they are actually referred to court, so as not to overwhelm
the county court-at-law with inadequate cases. He also,
along with other RCDC staff members, conducts home visits
with juveniles placed on probation through the use of state
The ATAC report said that out of 7,500 cases brought to
court involving juveniles accused of violent crimes, only
eight percent of these resulted in commitment to a Texas
Youth Commissioner facility in 1993. Seventeen percent
(1,300) were counseled and released and eight percent (641)
were placed on "informal probation" without going to court.
The study said 25 percent (1,925) were placed on probation
with only three percent certified as adults and six percent
placed in a non-TYC facility.
Alvarez feels that the county court-at-law is an asset to
Reeves County because a juvenile going to court must have an
attorney, a title which Judge Green possesses, and which are
scarce in Pecos.
Most juvenile cases are indigent--meaning they cannot pay
court costs--and would prove a burden on the county said
Alvarez. With Judge Green hearing juvenile cases, the
problem is readily solved.
"The beauty of our system (Reeves County Court-At-Law) is
that if you have a legal mind involved in these cases,
things will run smoother," said Alvarez.
Less cases will be dismissed and more cases tried judicially
with an accurate number referred to the proper institutions
County facing additional fees on LEC project
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mar. 28, 1995 - Reeves County Commissioners discussed
compensation schedules linked to construction at the county
Law Enforcement Center during their regular meeting Monday
afternoon at Reeves County Courthouse.
Commissioners talked about payments by the county of
architectural and construction management fees for extended
construction administration on the LEC project, which was to
have been completed in late February.
Also discussed was the establishment of a rate of
compensation for new addition to the county-owned prison. It
will increase the capacity of the 520-bed facility and add
isolation cells mandated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons,
which supplies most of the inmates for the LEC.
"Basically, a general overview of the situation is that the
project is three months behind schedule," said Reeves County
Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
Commissioners launched into a discussion on who is to blame
for the delays, which have pushed construction past the Feb.
25 completion date, and whether or not the architect and
construction manager should be paid completion fees.
"Our contract states that we are due compensation, because
the construction has gone beyond the scheduled completion
date," said Lorraine Daily, of Gondeck, Daily and Rabke.
"Essentially, our contract and fee is based on construction
cost," said Daily. "The duration of the project which had
been set to be a 9-month project," she said.
The new completion date has been set for May 20.
Reasons for the delay are attributed to re-bidding the
project. The contractor who was hired to do the concrete
foundation and tilt-up concrete walls was unable to secure
bonding for the project, and as a result, the foundation
work had to be awarded to another contractor.
"If this project was just extended two weeks there wouldn't
be a problem," said Daily.
"I'm offering a reduced payment of $650 a week," said Daily.
"We have performed a lot of services that we could have
asked for more money."
"But I just don't have the resources to continue coming out
here," she said.
Dailey said the $650 rate was separate from reimbursable
expenses, such as air fare and car rental. The total cost
for the 13-week extension in the construction schedule would
"We're faced with the same situation as Ms. Daily," Project
Engineer Frank Spencer said. "If the project is prolonged we
get compensated for additional time."
"She just reiterated what I said last time," said Spencer.
"We have no control over it, it was circumstantial and we're
trying to work ourselves out of it."
"There were things that happened that were out of our
control. We're putting in Saturdays and Sundays out there
trying to catch up with the work, and not only us but all
the contractors," he added.
Spencer is asking the court for $18,720 more in compensation
"When Ms. Daily came out here she made a great presentation
and it kind of made us feel that you were responsible for
all that," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht. "Now, nobody
"We want to get down to specifics and see who is at fault
and why we are behind schedule," said Weinacht. "We need to
pinpoint who and why."
"In the early days when both us (Spencer and Daily) signed
contracts, I lowered mine by 25 percent, I didn't know it
was going to be three months behind schedule, but if I
hadn't reduced my fee I wouldn't be here," said Daily.
"I'm coming in here also for 50 percent less," said Spencer.
"That's $48,000 I didn't charge the county.
"I take responsibility, but I'm not a magician," said
"I want an analysis of why it's three months behind schedule
and how much it's going to cost and who's to blame for
this," said Weinacht.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Bernardo Martinez made the motion to
let Weinacht evaluate the situation.
In a statement released today Judge Galindo supported the
stance taken by Daily and Spencer.
"At this time, certain commissioners are being very critical
of this project," said Galindo. "However, what they forget
is that they were the ones who initially approved the
construction project, about a year and a half ago. Now, they
are complaining about the cost.
"In any project, often, there are reasonably unforeseen
situations that arise," Galindo said. "In this case, there
were several sub-contractors who committed to doing certain
aspects of the project, then failed to live up to their
"This isn't the construction manager's fault," said Galindo.
"I disagree with Mr. Weinacht. I believe that Spencer and
Associates earn every penny they make and in this project
the sub-contractors' inability to perform caused the delay
in the completion of the project."
"Frank Spencer is a Registered Professional Engineer in the
State of Texas with twenty years of professional experience
and I have the utmost confidence in his abilities," said
The court agreed to let Weinacht evaluate the situation for
a few days and get back to both the architect and the
project manager with their decision within a few days.
Martinez also recommended that all meetings be held at 9:30
a.m. to form a consistency. Commissioners' meetings have
started at 9:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Monday of the
month for many years, but the first meeting in March begins
at 10 a.m., and Monday's session was a 1:30 p.m. start.
In other business, William Gochicoa was name housing
rehabilitation specialist with regard to Home Program and
construction would be completed as fast as possible. Galindo
said last month work on the rehabilitation project is two
years behind schedule.
Gochicoa will be working on a budget of $11,500. "He's
agreed to do all the paperwork and estimations needed to
complete this project, and with that in mind I think we're
very lucky to have him," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Lupe
The court listened to an update on the past six months from
Bill Wendt, a STEP worker at the community council. Wendt
helps individuals with social security forms and questions.
"I feel people have benefited greatly from my being at the
office at the community council," said Wendt. "It's a very
Wendt who commutes from Balmorhea to Pecos, also requested
help with travel expenses. "It would be a tremendous help to
me and I would also like to spend some time in Balmorhea
helping people there," he said.
A discussion of pay increases for LEC workers was tabled
until more information can be obtained.
Warden Joe Trujillo suggested pay increases of $1,000 for
each employee at the LEC, with an exception of those
employees who have been there for less than a year.
In his presentation, Trujillo stated that his objective was
to lower the turnover rate and create a veteran core staff.
Several LEC guards have left in the past year to take
higher-paying jobs at the new state prison near Fort
In other personnel matters, Michael Lara was appointed as a
full-time employee beginning April 1 at the Reeves County
Sheriff's Department as a probationary jailer. This is an
open position and money has been appropriated for this
Contracts for juvenile offenders with Crane, Floyd, Briscoe,
Motley and Dickens Counties were approved for the Juvenile
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