It’s been a full year since Gilberto Reyes has been in the San Miguel County jail. His trial for a charge of distribution of marijuana is set for late February.
We suppose the players in our local justice system would argue that they are ensuring Reyes’ constitutional right to a speedy trial. We think such a claim is hogwash.
As we have stated in this space before, we consider this case a huge failure of our justice system. And the blame goes around to all involved — the judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorney.
One of our reporters has met with Reyes in jail. In that interview, the Dominican Republic citizen denies committing any crime. On Dec. 22, 2007, he was driving a truck full of furniture on Interstate 25 and got into an accident amid a snowstorm. He was taken to the hospital and when officers searched the truck, they reportedly found 400 pounds of marijuana inside. Reyes, a former professional baseball player with the Montreal Expos, denies knowing about the existence of the drugs.
Reyes’ trial was set for September, but the district judge, Eugenio Mathis, had a two-week trial in Union County, so prosecutors asked for a six-month extension. Mathis then scheduled the trial for near the end of that period.
We wouldn’t have such a big beef with the timing of the trial if Reyes had made his $5,000 bail, but he hasn’t. Apparently, he doesn’t have that kind of money. So he’s been in jail every day since his arrest.
His attorney, Ben Mondragon, has barely put up any kind of fight for his client. Why hasn’t he argued before the court for Reyes’ constitutional right to a speedy trial? We’re not sure why because Mondragon won’t speak with the Optic about this case. To be sure, Reyes has said nice things about his attorney. But perhaps that’s because he fears that if he offends Mondragon in the slightest, his attorney will provide even less service than he already has.
The district attorney’s office shares in the blame for this failure by not insisting on the protection of a suspect’s rights, which is one of the office’s duties. And, of course, the judge participated in the injustice by scheduling the trial so late.
Reyes is penniless and lacks any influence locally. Are those reasons he has been denied justice for so long?