Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, June 3, 1999
Judges fight to retain lawyer selections
From Staff and Wire Reports
Local judges were surprised to learn this morning that the Texas Legislature
passed a bill last week that would take attorney appointments for poor
defendants out of their hands.
They join a host of judges from across Texas who have launched a campaign
to persuade Gov. George W. Bush to veto the bill.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, is unpopular
with criminal court judges because it transfers the power from judges to
The commissioners courts will then have the option to set up public
defenders' offices, contract with outside agencies or continue allowing
judges to appoint the attorneys.
District Judge Bob Parks said after reading the bill this morning that
he called the governor's office to join his voice to the many others who
oppose turning the authority to appoint attorneys over to commissioners
"It sounds like a very bad idea," Judge Parks said. "It is a remedy
for a problem that doesn't exist in our area."
Among the problems Judge Parks sees with the bill is that it puts authority
to appoint attorneys in the hands of people that have no way of knowing
the qualifications of the persons appointed or the quality of work they
"The attorneys in our area, after their first year in practice, do not
seek out appointments, but do it as a duty to the court, and at a nominal
fee," he said. "I can't see this doing anything but radically increasing
costs. The commissioners court has no power to compel attorneys to take
appointments. In order to attract folks to do this, I predict the cost
will go up."
If the bill becomes law, then Judge Parks said he would work with the
commissioners court to see it is implemented, "but it is not desirable,"
Ellis said the the current system often leaves poor suspects at a large
disadvantage — especially in rural and border counties. He admitted he
expected some judicial opposition, but he was surprised by its vehemence.
"I understand there are a lot of judges making calls to the governor's
office," he said. "But I'm going to do the best job I can of making a public
policy argument on its merits."
He said he will urge Bush to sign the legislation.
Bush spokeswoman Linda Edwards said the governor's office has received
a number of calls from concerned judges and added that Bush has not made
a decision about whether to sign it. Unless he vetoes the bill by June
20, it will become law on Sept. 1.
Reeves County Court-at-Law Judge Lee Green said he had not heard about
the bill and could not comment. He said he appoints attorneys for juveniles
and occasionally for an indigent defendant who requests one for a misdemeanor
Costs are minimal, he said, and he hasn't heard any complaints about
Counties pay the attorney fees for indigent defendants. Green said they
may run from $100 for a simple case to thousands of dollars for a major
Harris County criminal district court judges voted unanimously Wednesday
to authorize administrative Judge George Godwin to write Bush and urge
him to veto the bill.
"Everybody's freaking out about this bill," said Don Lee, the executive
director of the Conference of Urban Counties, which supports the legislation.
Judges and county officials around the state were caught off guard by
the legislation, which passed last week and was sent to Bush's office May
28. Most said they were unaware of the bill until Friday.
Teen jailed for grabbing at deputy's gun
By ROSIE FLORES
A street fight in Barstow during the early morning hours Wednesday landed
a Pecos teen in the Ward County Jail.
"We received a report that several individuals were fighting in a downtown
street in Barstow," said Ward County Deputy Ben Deishler, who then went
to the area that was indicated at about 2:30 a.m. and found several youths
trying to fight with each other.
"Apparently they were just mad at each other and yelling and trying
to fight," said Deishler.
Deishler tried to break up the fight, but called for some backup from
the Reeves County Sheriff's Department. Officers from Reeves County responded
As a result of the incident, Deishler said Chris Fuentez, 17, of Pecos
was arrested during the incident.
"The deputy was trying to break up the fight and Pecos was called in
to help, but this one individual tried to reach for the officer's gun,"
said Ward County Sheriff Jerry D. Heflin.
Heflin said that it appeared that the incident was not gang-related.
"It didn't appear to be gangs, just some people that for one reason
or another were mad at each other," said Heflin.
Fuentez, was arrested for trying to reach for the officer's gun and
has been arraigned. Ward County Judge Sam Massey assessed a $50,000 bond
and Fuentez remained in the Ward County Jail, as of this morning.
"I guess the judge really frowned on the fact that he was trying to
take his (the officer's) gun away, because he assessed a pretty steep fine,"
"Anytime you try to take an officer's gun, it's a big offense," he said.
Cable company planning computer hook-ups
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, June 3, 1999 - Pecos and Kansas City will be linked by computer
within the next 90 days to facilitate bill paying, said Classic Cable area
manager Ben Hernandez.
Hernandez assured the Pecos City Council last week that Classic has
no intention of closing their bill-paying office here.
"When you go into the office here, the gal will be able to look up and
see what payments have been made," Hernandez said. "Now sometimes she has
to call Kansas City to get information."
And they have two technicians on duty to handle trouble calls.
Hernandez said that rates will increase in July, adding about $2 to
the basic service rate, along with a new Disney channel.
Asked about a possible discount for senior citizens, Hernandez said
that federal regulations force the cable industry to treat everyone the
"We shy away from that so we are not discriminating against other customers,"
he said. "We do offer a budget basic rate for those on limited incomes."
Budget basic is about half the basic rate, and fewer channels are offered.
Hernandez said that high-speed Internet service is on the horizon. In
fact, Classic is testing for Internet services in Kermit that provides
a 500K bps hookup. Telephone service is limited to 56K bps, he said.
Russell Johnson told Hernandez that cable service is disrupted during
storms. "It really doesn't benefit us at all," he said.
Hernandez said that Classic is considering adding standby power supplies
to keep cable service working when power lines are down.
"When Gomez Peak runs out of power, we are out of TV," he said. "In
town, you lose power throughout different locations. You have to understand
the system's power drive. If we lose power, we lose service."
Technicians will completely re-do the head end where Classic receives
signals, he said.
Upgrading the Pecos system will cost money, and lending institutions
want to ensure they will get their money back, Hernandez said in explaining
why Classic refused to consider a franchise term shorter than 10 years.
The council approved a new franchise agreement on first reading in their
May 27 meeting and will consider it for final adoption in the June 10 meeting.
Summer meals, migrant ed programs underway
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, June 3, 1999 - School may be out for some, but for others, learning
Project Smart, a Migrant Summer School Program for children in grades
1-6, will be taking place in Pecos this summer at the Carver Center, 300
W. 12th St.
Transportation is available for those children who qualify for the special
The program began on Wednesday and runs 2 through July 8.
Students who qualify for the program are those who they and their family
have moved from one school district to another, state to state in order
to seek work in the following: ranch, field work such as picking cotton,
melon, onion or Anchor West processing plant.
"Your children may be eligible for this services," said Blanca Roman.
For more information contact Gome Olibas or Blanca Roman at 447-7202.
In addition, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will again be sponsoring the
Summer Food Service Program.
The school district began providing meals on Wednesday at the Bessie
Haynes Elementary School cafeteria. The program will run through July 16.
Hours for breakfast will be from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. and lunch
will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
Cost to adults will be breakfast $1.25 and lunch $2.50.
Balmorhea ISD will also be sponsoring the program at the Balmorhea High
School, First and El Paso streets.
The program there will run from June 1 through June 28.
Meals will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Reserve deputy sues city, police
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, June 3, 1999 - A reserve deputy for the Reeves County Sheriff's
Office has filed suit in federal court against the city of Pecos and one
of its police patrolmen for injuries she received last year.
Aurora Balderaz of Monahans said in the petition filed by Odessa attorney
Tom Hirsch that she was assisting the Texas Department of Public Safety
to arrest a fugitive on Feb. 5, 1998, when Pecos Police Patrolman Billy
Hull arrived at the scene and ran toward the two. Hull knocked her down,
breaking her arm in at least five places, the suit alleges.
She claims Hull's acts were in violation of the Fourth Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution because he was acting in his official capacity as
a police officer at the time.
Hull assisted with the arrest of Michael Allen Cunnington, 33, of San
Diego, Calif., near Mile Marker 37 on Interstate 20, according to a news
report of the incident.
Sheriff Andy Gomez said at the time that Balderaz either tripped or
was pushed and her elbow was broken during the scuffle.
City Manager Kenneth Neal said this morning that the matter has been
turned over to the city attorney, and he could not comment on the allegations.
Hull and Police Chief Clay McKinney had no comment.
Balderaz had earlier filed the suit in 143rd District Court.
Madera Valley water problems almost solved
Water, water everywhere.
Water problems had been plaguing the Lindsay Addition and the Alamo
Gin area, but those problems have now been corrected, according to Madera
Valley Water Manager Peggy Cox.
Cox said that Toyah had helped out and had rectified the problem that
had plagued them, which left residents in the Duval Road area without any
"We've also been doing maintenance overhaul and those at Alama Gin area
will have some water by this afternoon," she said.
The problem at the Alamo Gin area was the pumps and new pumps have arrived
and will be installed to resolve that problem, according to Cox.
Border Patrol notes 75th anniversary
MARFA, June 3, 1999 - A new flag, service awards and tribute to
fallen officers highlighted the Marfa Sector's open house Tuesday honoring
the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Chief Patrol Agent Simon Garza Jr. introduced the new Border Patrol
flag, which is the agency's first official flag.
The name of agent Stephen M. Sullivan, who was killed in the line of
duty in El Cajon, Calif., was added to the honor board of fallen agents.
Congress passed an act on May 28, 1924 that created the U.S. Border
Patrol. At that time, 450 officers patrolled the border to deter undocumented
aliens from entering the United States.
The patrol has grown to more than 8,000 agents, the largest uniformed
law enforcement agency in the United States.
Attorney General Janet Reno marked the anniversary in San Diego, Calif.,
May 29 by reading a statement from president Bill Clinton thanking the
men and women "whose exemplary service proves that `Honor First' is not
just a mere motto, but also words to live by."
"As the Border Patrol and its mission have grown, so too have the risks
that agents face. But, undaunted by danger, Border Patrol agents stand
ready to go wherever they are needed to save lives, protect America's borders,
and promote justice," Clinton said.
Garza said that the patrol remains committed to serve the community
by remaining firm and resolute in the motto, "Honor First."
Stabbing investigation ends with arrest
PECOS, June 3, 1999 - A reported "stabbing incident" turned out
to be the case of a family feud in which one individual got to spend the
night in jail.
The incident happened Wednesday, at about 2 a.m., when a Reeves County
Sheriff's Deputy was dispatched to the Robert Smart residence, approximately
eight miles north on U.S. Highway 285, in reference to Robert Smart Jr.
"Upon arrival, I met with Smart who advised me that he was traveling
on County Road 424 and several subjects beat him up and stabbed him and
also broke out his windshield to his vehicle," said Reeves County Deputy
Dominguez said that while speaking to the subject he noticed him to
have slurred speech, unsteady balance on level surface, bloodshot eyes
and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage about his person.
"He then lifted his shirt and revealed a small scratch on his belly
and said that he had been stabbed with an ice pick," said Dominguez.
Ambulance personnel checked him and he refused any assistance, according
to the report.
Dominguez then checked the vehicle and noticed the front windshield
to be broken and several shoe prints on the inside of it at this time.
"I then found a hammer in the vehicle and it fit in a hole that was on
the windshield," said Dominguez.
Contact was then made with the owner of the property, Robert Smart Sr.
and he said that he did not want Robert Jr. there "because he would cause
trouble as soon as we left," according to Dominguez.
Robert Smart Jr., 38, was then placed under arrest for public intoxication
and transported to Reeves County Jail.
AUSTIN (AP) — No ticket correctly matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday
night for the twice-weekly Lotto Texas game, state lottery officials said.
The numbers drawn Wednesday night from a field of 50 were: 5-16-27-29-38-48.
Saturday night's drawing will be worth an estimated $18 million.
AUSTIN (AP) — The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas
Lottery, in order: 4-6-7 (four, six, seven)
Services are incomplete for Apolinar Ramos, 89, who died Thursday, June
3, 1999 at the Pecos Nursing Home.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, June 3, 1999 - High Wednesday 106. Low this morning 65. Forecast
for tonight: Becoming mostly cloudy and breezy. Low around 70. southeast
wind 15-25 mph and gusty. Friday, mostly cloudy and breezy. High around
90. South wind 15-25 mph and gusty.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise