By Michael McGee
Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner
“My life has been in upheaval for five years.”
The Dallas Examiner first published Finding Normal After Not Guilty Verdict in June 2013. The article described the story of Reggie Ruffin who stated he was arrested in 2009 and 2010 for unrelated violent felonies. After many court dates and repeated claims by Ruffin of his innocence and improper investigations by the authorities, he was found not guilty of all charges in two separate jury trials.
Recently, Ruffin has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, the police and the offices of the mayor and district attorney for what he claims was malicious prosecution.
He filed case number 3:2014cv00046 in January in the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit Court, Texas Northern District. Through Ruffin v. District Attorney’s Office et al, he maintains that the arrests and subsequent prosecutions left him in economic ruin due to legal fees and time lost from work, despite evidence throughout the investigations that, claim Ruffin and attorney Kevin Kurtz, indicated the felony charges had no merit.
Ruffin also argues that when employers see his arrest data in a background check they pass him over for full-time work because he cannot get his record expunged. Since 2009 Ruffin has had to hop from job to job using temp agencies and said he cannot renew his truck driver’s license.
“I do want financial relief from what has happened because my life has been turned into total chaos,” he said.
Ruffin explained that the legal battle is not just about him. Along with his own case, he and Kurtz are planning to file a class action suit with others who have faced similar circumstances.
“Right now my main objective is to try to reach out and find other people that have gone through this,” he affirmed.
Ruffin pointed out that to make ends meet while on probation, waiting on an expunction, or awaiting trial, some individuals have limited options. “A lot of times people have to resort back to shady types of activities that may cause you to get violated.”
“This is part of their tactic to wear a person down to go ahead and take the plea bargain,” Ruffin indicated.
Ruffin said that in itself showed unfairness within the Texas legal system – a state where there are 15 private correctional or work facilities, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Unit Directory.
“Your chances of finding a suitable job are very, very, very limited,” he stated.
Ruffin estimated that it could take two to five years to resolve his federal case.