Jason Van Dyke (Courtesy photo)
Plano attorney Jason Van Dyke thought he’d be starting a new job this month as an assistant district attorney in Victoria County so he shut down his solo law office and placed a contract on a house in what he thought would be his new hometown.
But two weeks before Van Dyke was to start his new position, the job offer was rescinded with no explanation, he said. His subsequent emails and telephone calls to the man who offered him the position, Victoria County District Attorney Stephen B. Tyler, were ignored. So in a highly unusual move, Van Dyke has filed a petition in a state district court seeking to get an answer from the prosecutor.
“I think if you make a job offer, you know a guy is shutting down his law practice and buys a house, it’s unprofessional to rescind a job offer,” Van Dyke said. “It’s certainly unprofessional to do it by email and not give a reason why. For all of the money I lost on this deal, at least I deserve an explanation.”
Tyler did not immediately return a call for comment.
Van Dyke’s petition was filed under Rule 202 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure which would allow him, with court approval, to take a pre-suit deposition of Tyler to investigate a potential claim. He also seeks information about anyone who consulted with Tyler about his decision to rescind the job offer, which he alleges caused damage to his personal and professional reputation.
Van Dyke alleges the information is necessary for an investigation against unknown individuals for slander, libel and business disparagement. Van Dyke, who has been licensed to practice law in Texas since 2007, notes in his petition that he has no disciplinary history with the State Bar of Texas, no criminal history beyond a traffic violation and was an Eagle Scout.
Van Dyke said in 2014 he became the subject of media coverage when he sued a “dark net” revenge porn website called Pinkmeth on behalf of a plaintiff. Van Dyke’s case also attracted the attention of the legal blog “Above The Law,” which chronicled a Twitter war that Van Dyke engaged in with Pinkmeth.
After Pinkmeth posted a link to his lawsuit on Twitter and called it “stupid and unprofessional,” Van Dyke responded by inviting him to file a grievance with the Bar. Pinkmeth responded, “Twitter will do just fine,” to which Van Dyke wrote, “I thought so. You’re a pussy!” Pinkmeth responded, “And you’re not getting any pussy.”
The exchange was detailed in the “Above The Law” post. Van Dyke’s Twitter account in use at the time of the exchange appears to have been deleted.
“I said some very tough things to these people,” Van Dyke said. But he did not bring the conflict up during his job interview, and Tyler didn’t ask him about it, Van Dyke told Texas Lawyer.
“It stands to reason they would have Googled me. I think I would have heard about it a lot sooner than 12 days before I was to start working in their office,” he said.
“If it turns out that another attorney or an elected official found out and said, ‘Hey, don’t hire this guy,’ I’m going to sue that person,” Van Dyke said. “I’ve practiced law for 10 years and I’ve reached a point I’m not going to tolerate that. If they had budgets cuts, that’s one thing. But the fact they won’t tell me the reason, something stinks.”