Brownwood attorney Bill Ruth has been indicted on an aggravated perjury charge in connection with his involvement in the same civil lawsuit that led to an indictment in January on a charge known as barratry.
The lawsuit is related to a family dispute.
The Brown County Grand Jury met on March 1 and returned the indictment, 35th District Court records state. Ruth, 48, turned himself in to the Brown County Jail Tuesday, where he was booked and released on $10,000 bond.
"This is what you get when you make the wrong people angry," Ruth wrote in an email to the Bulletin. "Sky Sudderth and Joe Cooksey experienced the same. However, I trust the outcome will be the full exoneration Mr. Cooksey received once the matter was removed from Brown County."
Ruth was referring to the cases against the former district attorney and against Cooksey, whose conviction of disclosing information from a closed meeting of the Brown County Commissioners Court was overturned by the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.
The perjury indictment against Ruth references statements Ruth made in a Jan. 17, 2012 deposition related to the civil case, and before a grand jury on Feb. 21, 2013. Ruth's statements pertained to whether his mother, Peggy Joyce Ruth, had given him power of attorney to act on her behalf in civil litigation. The statements Ruth gave were "inconsistent to the extent that one of them must be false," the indictment alleges.
Ruth said in a voicemail left with the Bulletin Tuesday, and later in an interview, that the perjury indictment is not only ridiculous but insane. Ruth said the perjury charge was related to his answer to "an improperly asked compound question" from attorney Burt Burnett of Abilene.
"My answer remained truthful," Ruth said. "They just don't like the answer I gave them. This is more ridiculous than the barratry. It just shows how they're going so far out on a limb to get me on something.
" … This is nosediving into the abyss of insanity."
Ruth said in an interview that Burnett had asked him him a "trick question" during the deposition "with no right or wrong answer … there's a wrong answer no matter which way you answer it."
Ruth indicated he had said in the deposition that his mother had not given him written power of attorney. He said he told the grand jury later that she had given him authorization — but he meant verbal, not written — to act in her behalf.
Ruth said the special prosecutor in the criminal cases against him, Evan Pierce-Jones of San Angelo, "is out to get me at all costs, even if it is at the cost of splitting legal hairs."
Jones has said he cannot comment on the Ruth matters.
Ruth is alleged in the barratry indictment in January to have filed a lawsuit he was not authorized to file "with the intent to obtain economic benefit." The lawsuit, according to the indictment, was filed in October 2011 in 35th District Court "on behalf of Arma Lee Crow and The Ruby and Annie Smith Family Partnership."
Arma Lee Crow is Ruth's grandmother.
Ruth said then that "erroneous allegations" had been brought against him.
Ruth said he filed a lawsuit in October 2011 on behalf of his 94-year-old grandmother. He said while he was not authorized to file the suit, he filed it seeking the court's intervention in the matter of her assets, not with the intent of getting paid. Ruth said he filed the suit as a grandson and filed it "pro se," representing himself, and not as an attorney.