Austin radio talk show host sentenced in ETexas for investigating without a license
Story courtesy of the Tyler Morning Telegraph by Kelly Gooch
An Austin radio talk show host convicted of acting as an investigations company, without holding the proper license, received a one-year prison sentence Wednesday in Judge Craig Fletcher's court.
Randall D. Kelton, who is known as Randy "Due Process" Kelton on "Rule of Law Radio," also was fined $4,000 for the offense, a class A misdemeanor. A Cherokee County jury found Kelton guilty Tuesday.
The charge stems from an incident on March 23, 2009.
Cherokee County Attorney Craig Caldwell said Kelton went to the area in the county courthouse where the grand jury was meeting and spoke with Rusk Police Chief Joe Evans, who was an investigator for the District Attorney's Office and acting as bailiff at the time.
In the process of that conversation, Kelton wanted to provide information to the grand jury on behalf of personal acquaintance Robert Fox, he said.
"Mr. Evans told Mr. Kelton he wasn't on the agenda for that day so he probably wouldn't be able to present items but Evans would present it to the district attorney and it would be his decision as to what went on then," Caldwell said. "He also handed Evans (a business card) that identified himself in one item on there as an investigator and there wasn't any license number indicated on the card."
Caldwell said once he became aware there was no number on Kelton's card, he began to investigate to see what regulations there were about an investigations company.
He said he later learned that the activity of gathering evidence to be presented to the grand jury, an arm of the Second Judicial District Court, is described as activity of an investigations company, and in order to conduct the activity, a person must have a license.
In a motion to quash information, Kelton claims he was in his right to send notice to the grand jury that he "has reason to believe crimes have been committed" and that "nothing in law restricts (him) from talking to the grand jury foreman when he is sitting on the toilet, eating breakfast, or doing anything else other than sitting in a grand jury hearing in quorum."
Nothing in his complaint alleged that he was paid for investigating, and there was no evidence that he considered himself anything but a journalist, Kelton writes.
Ken Magnuson, a constituent who was asked to attend Kelton's trial at the request of state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, said a lot of Kelton's objections were overruled, and the prosecution was "getting great latitude to question."
Caldwell said Kelton attempted to make arguments, but they didn't address the actual charges brought against him.
"When an individual says they represent themselves, (he) still has to abide by the rules of criminal procedure and the court's operations. If they're outside the rules, they're going to be objected to," he said.
Magnuson said Tuesday he was "fairly certain" the case will be appealed.