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There is clearly something seriously wrong with the U.S. system of justice, because justice is clearly not the objective, or even an afterthought, in a system that displays corruption from the top down and has no simple mechanism for people unjustly prosecuted to recoup any of their losses.
In their ongoing crusade against guns and gun owners, the Obama administration targeted Rick and Terri Reese and their two sons, Ryin and Remington. After spending 526 days in jail, Rick and Ryin Reese were finally released on bail pending a decision on a new trial. This after a federal judge overturned their earlier convictions. Rick, his wife, Terri, and son Ryin had been found guilty of failing to psychically intuit that undercover federal agents were lying on firearm transaction forms.
The reason for the judge’s reversal was the discovery that a key prosecution witness, Detective Alan Batts of the Luna County Sheriff’s Office, was himself under investigation for corruption, and that prosecutors knew this, but presented him as unimpeachable and of the highest integrity. It was also disclosed that Detective Batts either knew or suspected that he was under investigation, as he had made overtures to the FBI suggesting he was trying to ingratiate himself with them. Prosecutors intentionally kept this information away from attorneys for the defense and the judge, even though they are required by law to reveal this sort of information immediately.
Now prosecutors have about 60 days to decide whether to try the Reeses again. While the judge throwing out the original convictions is a good thing, it comes with a bitter pill. The Reeses are already deeply in debt from the first trial. The judge forbade them from all using one attorney or law firm so they each had to hire individual counsel. All of their assets are still locked up pending forfeiture proceedings, and there is no way of knowing what, if any, of those assets will ever be returned, or when. Going through another trial will require another boat-load of money the family simply doesn’t have. There is also the concern that they could be found guilty a second time. Having already served 18 months each, Rick and Ryin would not be likely to have to serve much more, if any, but since Terri has been out on bail for a year, there is a good chance she would have to serve more time. That has to be weighing heavily on Rick. A conviction would also undoubtedly have a negative impact on their forfeiture case, and it would preclude any of them from ever possessing a firearm or ammunition again, much less going back into the gun business.
I have spoken with Rick and Terri, and they would prefer to take this fight to the mat. They insist on their innocence and don’t want to let the feds get away with any of this – against them or the next guy. But the financial burden weighs heavily on them. Rick told me that if it were just him at risk, and he had access to his money, he would fight to the last penny, but with Terri and Ryin in jeopardy, and with friends and family fronting the lawyers’ fees with no guarantee of ever being able to pay them back, Rick is feeling pretty frustrated.
Several friends are working desperately to raise money for the Reese Defense Fund, and others are trying to catch the interest of foundations or wealthy supporters of the Constitution and honest government who might help to bankroll a solid defense, but until an angel steps up, this family will remain under the thumb of heavy-handed prosecutors and an unjust system.
Consider the injustice perpetrated upon young Remington Reese, who turned 20 in a federal detention facility and barely missed “celebrating” his 21st birthday in custody as well. Prosecutors took a full year of this young man’s life, and when a jury exonerated him, all he got back was his liberty – not even any reparations for his attorney’s fees. And you can bet that this young man who has spent literally his entire life working in a gun store will never be allowed to follow his dream and open a store of his own. Not without thousands of dollars more in lawyer fees anyway.
There is a lot riding on this case from the prosecution side as well. The U.S. attorney for New Mexico, Ken Gonzales, was recently nominated to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge by President Obama. The prosecutors in this case work directly for him, and he’s taken a personal, and public, interest in it. Having the case fall apart with nothing to show for the work put into it will reflect poorly on him – as well it should. The prosecution team members have their reputations on the line and potential for some sort of disciplinary action, though that seems unlikely under this administration.
Even though the Reeses may be found innocent, there’s the issue of their money. The government has a vested interest since that money would be spread around if the government wins the forfeiture case. Lead investigators would all get bonuses, and each of the participating agencies would get a piece of the Reeses’ wealth. Like pigs at a trough, the federal, state and local agencies are already squabbling over who gets what. A forfeiture proceeding can move ahead whether there is a guilty verdict or not.
Meanwhile, this family, which has already suffered so much, has to decide how much more they are willing or can afford to risk, and how much might be left once all of the dust settles.
If you’d like to help, you can contribute to:
The Reese Defense Fund
Attn: Patricia Arias
First Savings Bank
520 South Gold
Deming, NM 88030
Or you can make a donation online through The Firearms Coalition at: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
There is a button to the left marked “Special Contribution for the Reese Family.” Any donations received will be forwarded directly to the Reeses.