Bill Ruth is not quite halfway through a 30-day incarceration for contempt of court in the Brown County Jail.
Speaking in a jailhouse interview Wednesday, Ruth, 53, an attorney and developer, said he’s been reading the Bible, praying, drawing and thinking about his future while incarcerated in his single-person cell.
After he gets out of jail, Ruth said, he’s going on a vacation with his wife and eating Mexican food. Ruth also said he will stay off of social media for a while when he is released from jail, other than posting a message when he’s released.The message will say he’s out and used his time in jail “for good, I made the best of it,” Ruth said.
While no one has advised him to do so, Ruth said, he thinks it’s a good idea to stay off social media because a Dallas lawyer could be bringing litigation related to his earlier claims of corruption and retaliation against him in the Brown County Courthouse.
Ruth, who said he “primarily” lives in Fredericksburg, is listed on the jail log as having a Brownwood address.
Ruth had plenty to say about his arrest, on Jan. 11, at his parents’ home on County Road 233 on a contempt of court warrant, and about the events leading up to the warrant. Ruth was additionally charged with resisting arrest, evading arrest and assault on a public servant. Ruth said he did not resist arrest, assault a deputy or perform a “dodging maneuver,” as alleged in a deputy’s report.
Ruth said he has court orders from Travis County and the 11th Court of Appeals nullifying the Dec. 17, 2018 order, signed by Visiting Judge Brad Underwood, ordering Ruth to serve 30 days in jail for contempt of court.
The contempt charge is related to a civil case in which plaintiff John Green sued Memorial Park Medical Center. Ruth was the attorney for Memorial Park, court documents state. Ruth failed to comply with a court order to pay attorney’s fees totaling $6,500 and to provide discovery documents to Green’s attorney, Robert Reich, court documents state.
The 30-day jail confinement was probated for 60 days to allow time for the payment of attorney’s fees and for Ruth to provide “answers to interrogatories in aid of judgment to Robert E. Reich,” the order of commitment states.
Ruth “has violated both terms of the 60-day probation,” the order states.
Speaking in the Brown County Jail visitation area, Ruth said the judge signed the contempt order without ever hearing his side. Ruth said he had tried to make a payment of $6,500 for the attorney’s fees to Brown County District Clerk Cheryl Jones’ office, but Jones’ staff said they didn’t know how to accept the payment and refused to take it.
Jones, when asked for comment about Ruth’s statement, said, “he had not come in to make payment prior to the commitment.”
Ruth said payment for “everything he owes” has been made to a title company, and said he doesn’t owe answers to interrogatories because “you don’t have to give post-judgment discovery if you’ve already paid.”
Ruth gave his side of the account of his arrest, which happened when sheriff’s Cpl. Taylor Fletcher and deputy Scotty Burke drove to Ruth’s parents home to serve the warrant.
Ruth’s father, Jack, died in August 2017. Ruth said his mother no longer lives in the home.
The day of Jan. 11, a Friday, Ruth said, he was driving from Fort Worth to Fredericksburg when his mother called him and asked him if he’d like to stop in Brownwood to have dinner with her. Plans were made for Ruth, his sister and mother to meet at the County Road 233 property and drive to Santa Anna for dinner, Ruth said.
Ruth was outside when he saw the deputies drive onto the property. Ruth knew there was a warrant for his arrest and initially thought about hiding from the deputies. But Ruth decided against that plan because he had the Travis County and Court of Appeals order which, he believed, would nullify the arrest warrant.
Ruth went inside to get his glasses, and the deputies followed him in.
From that point, Ruth’s account and Fletcher’s account contained in his report differ widely.
Ruth said once it was obvious the deputies were determined to arrest him, he told them to “hold off.” Ruth said he told the deputies he was going to go have dinner with his mother and then he would turn himself in at the jail.
Ruth said he thought one of the deputies was “getting ready to tackle me or going for his gun,” and he turned away reflexively. That’s when one of the deputies tased him and he went down.
“You can’t resist when you’re on the ground, knocked down with a Taser,” Ruth said. “I mean, I was down. I never hit him. I never kicked him. I was not using any aggressiveness whatsoever. I was so stunned.”
According to Fletcher’s report:
Fletcher and deputy Burke met with Ruth at his mother’s property. The deputies found Ruth watering animals behind the house and told him he had a warrant.
The deputies accompanied Ruth into the kitchen of the residence to look over paperwork which Ruth believed nullified the arrest warrant. Those documents were from Travis County and were dated from 2016 to 2018.
Fletcher contacted dispatch to verify the warrant, which was entered after any of Ruth’s paperwork had been dated. Burke also reviewed the documents, and Fletcher asked Ruth if he wanted to keep the documents with him or leave them at his mother’s house.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Ruth said, accord to Fletcher’s report.
Ruth turned away, and Fletcher told Ruth he was under arrest. As Fletcher went to restrain Ruth, Ruth turned and pushed Fletcher’s arm away as Ruth ran into the living room.
Fletcher attempted to restrain Ruth in the living room, and Ruth knocked Fletcher’s hands away and struck Fletcher in the chest with both hands in an attempt to push away the deputy.
Ruth swung and tried to hit Fletcher at least two more times before he went to the floor, then jumped back up and ran across the living room, placing a brick pillar between Ruth and the deputies.
Ruth performed a “dodging maneuver” behind the pillar and slipped down. Burke tried to put Ruth back on the floor as Ruth got up, but Ruth charged past toward Fletcher. Fletcher deployed his Taser, and both probes struck Ruth in his shoulder.
Ruth continued moving past Fletcher to the couch, where he fell face down on the couch and began to get back up. Fletcher applied a second Taser cycle, then approached Ruth to restrain him and told him to stop resisting.
Burke was initially busy restraining Ruth’s sister to prevent her from interfering with the arrest. Burke then assisted Fletcher with Ruth, who continued to resist on the couch. Fletcher administered a third Taser cycle, and the deputies were able to secure Ruth’s hands.
The deputies assisted Ruth to his feet and escorted him to Fletcher’s patrol vehicle, where Ruth remained seated until EMS could respond to check on his welfare.
Speaking in the jail, Ruth said he’s seen videos of violent suspects who simply yank Taser probes away from their bodies and keep fighting. That’s not how it was with him, Ruth said.
“It freezes you,” Ruth said.
Ruth said he was angry and upset on his first day in jail, but his anger turned to reflection. “I really believe it put me in a position to reflect on where to go with my future,” Ruth said. “My life is half over. I’m 53.”
Ruth said he’s met all of his financial goals and doesn’t have to work, but he’s debated options including continuing to build buildings, practicing law and going into ranching.
Ruth said while he still believes certain individuals have done him wrong, he’s forgiven them and prays for them. God “kind of humbled me,” Ruth said. “I don’t have the anger that I used to. I really feel like God has healed my heart.”