Slipping Under the Bar Radar

Will a less-than-Frank Reyes cloud O'Quinn's win?

Reyes also answered "no" to a jury screening questionnaire submitted by the bar attorneys. It asked, "Have you or a family member been accused or convicted of a crime?" Since Ben Reyes was sitting at the same time in federal court on the other side of downtown in his trial on multiple felonies, his brother's answer is hard to excuse as a lapse in memory or misunderstanding of the question. Had Frank answered truthfully, the prosecuting attorneys would have quickly flushed out his relationship to Ben.

Frank Reyes claims he had forgotten about the DWI incident when he filled out his juror form and answered to the best of his knowledge.

"I wouldn't consider that a criminal action to begin with," said Reyes, even though the case was heard in County Criminal Court No. 5. "It was one of those things where I went to a club, came out, and they pulled me over for a ticket.... I had already forgotten it until you mentioned it right now." As for not disclosing his brother's legal problems, Reyes claims it was outside the scope of the lawyers' questions. "Well, when you tell me 'family'," muses Reyes, "I'm thinking of my immediate family, my wife and my daughter."

O'Quinn's exonerated co-defendant Carl Shaw told the Insider he was unaware of any problem with the jury. He contends that even if Reyes is disqualified, it should not have any effect on a unanimous verdict. In civil cases, a verdict only requires agreement by ten jurors.

"There's 12 other jurors [including the alternate], and the prosecution had equal opportunity to look at the jury questionnaires," says Shaw. "Obviously they are unhappy with the result. If it were a 10-2 verdict or the alternate didn't concur with the jury verdict, which I happen to know the alternate did, then you're still 12-0."

Likewise, the trio's attorney, Ernest Cannon, says he's "in the dark" regarding allegations that Reyes lied to get on the jury. He believes any attempt to challenge the verdict is just part of a continuing vendetta against O'Quinn by the State Bar.

"I know what they're going to do. They're going to continue to stew in their sour grapes," snipes Cannon. "They got their butts kicked, and they don't like it, and they're willing to do anything. They're grabbing for straws.... I told John, and I told the jury that the State Bar is going to pursue John O'Quinn, right or wrong, for eternity, and this is just living proof."

Like Shaw, Cannon claims Reyes had nothing to do with the failure of the bar lawyers to make their case against O'Quinn.

"The jury was out less than an hour, and they were unanimous, and now they want to worry about whether one of the jurors has a DWI?" Cannon said. "I mean, get a life, man. Helloooo?"

On the other hand, taking into account the difference in the hung jury in Ben Reyes's first bribery-conspiracy trial and the hanging jury in his second, you couldn't blame the State Bar officials for wishfully thinking that, without the Reyes factor, they might have better luck the second time around against O'Quinn and company.

Let the Insider use your news tips to expose the truth. Call him at 280-2483, fax him at 280-2496, or e-mail him at insider@houstonpress.com.

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