Texas

Proud Boys lawyer cuts deal to keep license, but says he doesn’t trust the system

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A Texas lawyer who represented the Proud Boys received probation Tuesday for making a false police report in September. Earlier this month, he had his law license suspended for at least three months.

Jason Lee Van Dyke, 38, of Cross Roads, had faced a charge of making a false report to police in Oak Point on Sept. 13. Van Dyke is a former member of the Proud Boys, a far right organization, and once served as the group’s lawyer.

“Because I have worked within these systems I have enough experience to know not to trust them,” Van Dyke said Wednesday.

Van Dyke entered a no contest plea and reached an agreement with the court as well as the State Bar of Texas that requires him to seek mental health counseling. Van Dyke declined to discuss the requirements.

If he doesn’t violate the terms of his agreement with the bar association during his three-month suspension, he will be able to resume his law practice as long as he does not violate the conditions of his probation, a bar association spokeswoman said.

Van Dyke’s probationary period is scheduled to end on Feb. 29, 2020, according to the official.

Jason Van Dyk_fitted.jpeg
Denton County Jail mugshot for Jason Lee Van Dyke, a lawyer who mistrust the legal system

Van Dyke said he pleaded no contest because he believed the jury pool had been tainted by adverse press and that the prosecutors in his case were biased.

A change of venue motion, a request to change his trial’s location, would likely not have been effective because his case was covered both locally and nationally, Van Dyke said. Some of the national coverage his case received was unfair, in his opinion, Van Dyke said.

“It’s hard enough to win a case before a jury without having to go before a tainted jury pool,” Van Dyke said.

Van Dyke said the complaint made to the bar association came from Thomas Retzlaff, a former adversary who he said has worked to dismantle his life for the past two years.

In a complaint to the bar, Retzlaff said Van Dyke had threatened him with violence and Retzlaff requested that he be disbarred.

The suspension is the result of an agreed upon order saying Van Dyke committed professional misconduct as described by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. The order states that Van Dyke is prohibited from practicing law from March 1 until May 31.

“I agreed to the order because I do not trust the state bar,” Van Dyke said. “If left to their own devices, I was concerned that my punishment might be worse.”

Van Dyke described Retzlaff as disreputable and said the State Bar is enabling him.

An official with the State Bar declined to comment on Van Dyke’s assertions, but said that Van Dyke did sign onto the agreed order.

Retzlaff, who said that Van Dyke is engaging in victim blaming, contends that it is too late for Van Dyke to claim innocence.

“He had an opportunity to put his evidence before the disciplinary panel of the State Bar and before a judge and a jury and he chose not to do so,” Retzlaff said. “Those are the choices that he made. It doesn’t matter what Van Dyke says.”

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.

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