Charges in Buehler trial dropped
Chris Johnson / email@example.com
On Monday, July 20, Gonzales County Judge David Bird signed a motion to dismiss the case, “THE STATE OF TEXAS VS. ANTONIO FRANCIS BUEHLER,” in which Buehler, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, for an incident that occurred on March 13, 2013, in which he told Gonzales Police Captain Gayle Autry to go perform an indecent act upon himself.
On Thursday, June 25, a jury comprised of three men and three women failed to either convict or acquit Buehler on this charge. Full coverage of this trial was covered in the July 2 edition of The Cannon.
The reason cited for the dismissal on the motion signed by both Gonzales County Attorney Paul Watkins and County Judge David Bird is listed as, “Unable to prove case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Additionally, Judge Bird also said that efforts by both the city and the county to convict Buehler were likely to violate Buehler’s right to a speedy trial.
“Mr. Watkins brought the dismissal over, and it would have been difficult if Mr. Pastrano (one of Buehler’s attorneys) brought up the speedy trial issue. That thing had been dragging on for a long time,” Bird said.
Indeed, Buehler defended himself in the Gonzales Municipal Court before Judge Deidra Voigt in a seven hour trial on June 5, 2013 after being denied continuance so that he could obtain legal counsel. It is worth noting, however, that according to multiple witness accounts, Buehler’s initial disagreement with Gonzales municipal officials began in Voigt’s courtroom on March 13, 2013 after she allegedly confiscated and searched his smart phone after he began recording court proceedings for adolescents who had received Class C misdemeanor charges for tardiness, truancy and classroom disruptions at Gonzales High School.
Voigt convicted Buehler on the disorderly conduct charge and assessed him a $1 fine. He then appealed the decision to the Gonzales County Court, an official court of record in Gonzales County.
The trial was then rescheduled three times at the Gonzales County Courthouse. On February 23, 2015, Buehler appeared before Judge Bird with attorneys Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson, but this trial was declared a mistrial due to a court error. A trial date of March 30, 2015, was cancelled when County Attorney Paul Watkins said he had a family emergency, and trial date set for May 20, 2015, was cancelled when the court failed to send out jury questionnaires.
“I appreciate that the prosecutor recognized that the testimony that was provided by Captain Autry during the trial (on June 25) proved that I did not commit any crime by exercising my First Amendment rights after I had my Constitutional right to be free from illegal search and seizure violated by Judge Deidra Voigt,” Buehler said. “I am also extremely grateful for the witnesses who were willing to travel to Gonzales multiple times to testify on my behalf, for the three members of the jury who refused to be pressured into declaring me guilty for a crime that was never committed and for my hard working and principled lawyers Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson.”
Thompson added, “All lawyers, all judges and every single police officer takes an oath to protect our Constitution. The First Amendment is, obviously, first on the list to be protected. We - lawyers, judges, and police officers - do serious harm to our communities’ civil liberties when we forget that first promise we made at the start of our career. Mr. Buehler should not have been arrested for exercising his First Amendment rights, and the case should not have been allowed to survive this long. For these reasons, it cannot be said that justice has been served with this tardy dismissal.”
Buehler has already filed a lawsuit against the City of Gonzales, Gonzales Police Captain Gayle Autry and Gonzales Police Officer Tammy West for alleged violations of his civil rights in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, the outcome of which is still to be determined.
Buehler is a founder of Peaceful Streets Project, an all-volunteer, grassroots effort to unite people to end institutional violence taking place on the streets. Through community organizing and direct action tactics, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to support communities in understanding, exercising, and standing up for civil rights.
He made efforts to start the project after being arrested for Harassment of a Public Official for allegedly spitting in Austin Police Officer Patrick Oborski’s face on January 1, 2012. Since then, Buehler has been arrested four more times, has had ten criminal charges levied against him in Texas courts and has had dozens of criminal investigations launched against him, including three felony investigations by the Austin Police Department.
With this dismissal, Buehler has now been cleared of every charge brought against him in a court of law.