Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nothing to see here, move along

Much ado about nothing.

It is not unreasonable in a case like this for a prosecutor to agree or recommend a PR bond.

This wouldn't be news at all except that it involves Susan Reed, the Bexar County DA being involved in the recommendation. if the young man has an otherwise clean record it is not a problem.

Reed sparks airport flap
By Robert Croweand & Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

A man arrested on a charge that he carried a loaded gun at San Antonio International Airport last weekend was released from jail without posting bail after his friend's well-connected mother placed a call to a prosecutor.

That mother was Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed.

Some have questioned whether the incident was one of preferential treatment by the tough-on-crime district attorney. Reed herself was under fire in past months for being one of several county courthouse employees who flew on airline tickets later revealed to have been stolen. (Reed has maintained that she and others did not know the tickets were stolen.)

In Saturday's incident, Reed's son called her and said his friend, Christopher J. Mueller, had been arrested for accidentally carrying a gun in his backpack, authorities confirmed.

“I can confirm Reed's son was with this young man,” First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said Tuesday. “The son called and said, ‘Mom, my friend's been arrested.'”
Travis Reed, and Mueller, 25, real estate brokers, were about to board a plane headed to Las Vegas when security personnel saw on an X-ray machine a gun inside Mueller's Dakine brand backpack, police reports state.

Police seized a .22-caliber pistol loaded with five rounds and $844 in cash from Mueller. He was arrested and transferred to the magistrate's office.

Records show magistrate Judge Pamela Craig set bond at $2,500 for the third-degree felony charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon. Reed's son called his mom, then she called an assistant district attorney to say she wouldn't have a problem if the judge were to release Mueller without posting bail through his own personal recognizance.
“What Judge Reed did is call over there and say she had no objection to a PR bond for him,” Herberg said.

He's still obligated to pay $2,500 if he does not make court appearances, but he initially was released without having to post bail because he did not have a criminal record and he holds a concealed handgun license, Herberg said. He was arrested about 10:15 a.m., appeared before a magistrate judge at 1:30 p.m. and was released by 2 p.m.

Herberg said Mueller was not given preferential treatment and that there is nothing improper about the district attorney recommending a bond for someone.
Reed did not return a call for comment, but acknowledged the incident through Herberg.

On Tuesday, word quickly got around the county courthouse, where lawyers swapped theories on what happened.

A lawyer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, given Reed's power, said, “The basest comment I heard was that he must come from a very connected family, because (Reed) never does anything that doesn't benefit her politically.”

“When the chief law enforcement officer of the county calls to get preferential treatment for her son's friend ... it's quite hypocritical,” he said, considering the recent case of District Judge Raymond Angelini.

Angelini was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in February, and Reed requested he recuse himself from hearing his criminal docket.

The same lawyer predicted Mueller would get a special prosecutor appointed in the case.
Herberg pointed out that Mueller would have “under any circumstance,” been eligible for a personal recognizance bond. “In this case, Reed's son happened to call her about it,” he said.
The anonymous attorney said, “If he is just going to get a PR bond, well then, just let him get a PR bond.”

Mueller told authorities he holds a concealed handgun license and he forgot that the gun was in his bag before he went to the airport that morning.
Airport spokesman David Hebert said most guns found during security checks are mistakenly left in bags or forgotten by travelers.

“Nine times out of 10, it's at least (the) same situation where they say, ‘I didn't realize it was in my bag. I forgot to look in my bag. I didn't see it whenever I was packing my stuff,'” Hebert said.
In 2006, the airport recorded 42 cases of unlawful possession of a firearm. Herberg said he knew of at least two other such cases this year in which suspects were released on their own personal recognizance. Reed didn't get involved in those cases, he said.

Herberg acknowledged it's not typical for Reed to recommend a bond in cases such as this and that Reed probably wouldn't have known about Mueller's case had her son not called her.
Hebert said passengers can legally transport guns on airplanes if they check them in with local and federal aviation authorities.

“They have to register them with us and they are tagged and transported in the belly of the plane,” he said. “Hunters transport guns all the time.”