It says here – my pony is planning to kill me

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Dearborn, MI – Essentially, it’s the 2014 model of the venerable “business coupe” – any color you want, as long as it’s black – from Model T to eternity.

And it is – black on black – in black, with a six and a stick, but it’s not your grandpa’s biz coupe.

This has a gutty fuel-injected V-6 with a 6-speed, full synchro-mesh manual transmission, a very cool stereo, and the potential for a turbo-charged sizzle. So it’s low-slung and quick, an enjoyable drive that makes it fun getting somwhere.

There’s only one problem, and it came at me by surprise, in the mail, on a neatly printed

* * * IMPORTANT SAFETY RECALL* * *

There are no two ways about it. It says here.

My Mustang is trying to kill me.

Ralph Nader would say, “I told you so, Jimbo.” True story. He did. Tell me. Long ago.That was way back there. In another century, when “Sir! The Secretary of the United States Department of Defense is, sir! Robert S. McNamara, sir!” Sir McNamara had previously served time as president of Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan, and before that, he was a numbers cruncher for General Curtis LeMay of the United States Army Air Force.

But this is a revenge killing in the plotting stages, according to the letter. Unsettling. Hit something, you die in the name of safety!

In certain vehicles, the front driver side air bag inflator housing may rupture and deploy abnormally in the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver side frontal airbag. An inflator rupture could result in metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.”

Ouch.

It makes it kind of hard to ride down the road looking at the galloping Pony in the middle of the steering wheel, just over the little letters on the bottom of the padded roundel, where it says, “AIRBAG.”

Not to worry.

It says here.

What should you do? When parts are available, Ford Motor Company will send a letter to inform you that parts are available and to contact your dealer to schedule a repair.”

All I have to do is contact my dealer, bring the cayuse back to the barn, and Ford will take care of parts and labor.

Meanwhile, out on the bridal paths of the iron monsters (according to Henry Miller) all I have to do is keep an eye on where I’m going. Crash into something, you get shot in the head with flying shrapnel propelled at your face with enough force to kill. And then there’s the screeching halt.

Ouch! At least, it’s not some pastel shade of primrose. This is a business machine – black on black in black – with twin exhaust pipes, independent suspension, and a quarter-horse pickup and go. Fair warning. Beep beep.

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Twin Peaks: Recused judge’s lawyer offends client and attorney gagged by order

Double domeDallas – McLennan County’s criminal justice community is not trying to “scheme against” defendants in the Twin Peaks shooting, said a lawyer appointed to represent a judge recused in the case.

A supplemental pleading to the 10th District Court of Appeals cites those remarks as evidence a gag order is unconstitutional and unworkable, according to the lawyer who filed the court papers.

Mr. (Matthew) Clendennen and his counsel are subject to the gag order entered by the Judge of the 54th District Court, Matt Johnson, and cannot publicly speak to this matter of grave public concern to our justice system. Nevertheless, the agent for Judge Peterson is permitted to give statements to the press at will,” wrote F. Clinton Broden, his attorney.

Waco attorney David Deaconson said in a news story about the search for Peterson’s replacement following his recusal in an examining trial to discover probable cause in Clendennen’s case that there is a belief that “the county is totally trying to scheme against these people” is unfounded and that “examining trials are not needed unless defendants are in jail and seeking another way out.”

On the contrary, Broden wrote, Clendennen is seeking an examining trial so that “an innocent person can be promptly cleared of criminal charges wholly lacking in individual probable cause.”

Judge Peterson charged the 177 defendants arrested on a “fill-in-the-blank” affidavit of warrantless arrest in which only the person’s name differered from any of the others. The only allegations of probable cause are that the person so charged is a member of a “motorcycle gang” and was wearing distinctive “colors” identified by the Department of Public Safety as those of an outlaw gang. Clendennen is a member of the Scimitars, a Cossacks support club that is not listed in the DPS manual published at Texas A&M University.

He declared that “this is yet another example of why the gag order in this case is unworkable and one that has arisen since the filing of the Original Petition” because “McLennan County judges (Judge Strother and Judge Peterson through his agent) are not bound by the gag order entered by Judge Johnson and continue to make statements to the media.”

Clendennen is “denied free speech rights to address why he is seeking an examining trial despite the fact that he is not ‘in jail and seeking another way out.’”

At the time when the first shot rang out at the Twin Peaks Restaurant on May 17, Clendennen ran from the patio area and hid inside the building during a bloody melee that left 9 dead, 20 wounded, and is one of 177 persons charged with the identical offense of engaging in organized criminal activity that led to capital murder and/or aggravated assault.

A first degree felony, the offense is punishable by a possible minimum of 5 years imprisonment or a maximum of a life term upon conviction.

For the reasons set forth in the Petition and for the foregoing reasons, Mr. Clendennen submits that Judge Johnson’s gag order is unconstitutional and unworkable and that the Writ of Mandamus should be issued.”

Pigskin gridiron fisticuffs turned political football

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A mugshot of fistfighter taken at time of the alleged assault

Waco – Jurors will likely be treated to an ordeal in sight and sound – the video account of a drunken brawl at a cabin at the Barefoot Ski Resort – if a personal injury lawsuit that is nearing critical mass goes to trial.

QuotesA passage from a deputy’s report…

Dashcam video captured the resort’s owner, Stuart Parsons, Jr., telling deputies that he would “get Parnell” and Captain Steve Smith out here to “settle this thing” if they did not go forthwith and arrest some weekend guests who he claimed trespassed on a newly completed water slide he claimed was off limits to guests in May, 2014.

Parson and two former college football players he had employed for “security” went to their cabin after he loudly decried their presence at the water slide, a second skirmish of a continuing fist fight broke out, and Toby McCarver and Randy Murphy both claim serious bodily injuries as a result. McCarver’s jaw and nose are broken, causing pain and mental anguish; Murphy’s collar bone is dislocated, and both claim damages in excess of $1 million.

A McLennan County Grand Jury declined to indict Parsons and his security guards.

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In the ensuing brouhaha, opponents of the Parnell McNamara Administration of the Sheriff’s Office brought up allegations of campaign finance impropriety involving some Dallas Cowboys football tickets.

According to election records, the McNamara campaign treasurer filed a “Correction/Amendment Affidavit for Candidate/Office Holder” on October 15, 2013, regarding the $1,000 worth of tickets Stuart Parons donated to the election campaign.

Stuart Parsons, Jr. gave the tickets to Kevin Ferguson, either individually, or as a representative of SLEAMC (Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Association of McLennan County) to be used in an auction on behalf of Parnell McNamara. The tickets were auctioned and purchased by Krisita Salome, who in turn donated them back to the auction for resale.

Therefore, due to the confusing fact sequence of the donation, in addition to Kevin Ferguson originally named, Stuart Parsons, Jr., SLEAMC and Krista Salome ought to be identified as additional possible donors.”

A campaign finance report notes the tickets as a donation made by Ferguson on September 26, 2012. A campaign expense report mentions a payment to Campaign Manager Sarilee Ferguson of $7,500 for “contract labor” during a similar reporting period.

The local daily has generated much publicity regarding the matter prior to the announcement of Waco Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton’s announcement of his intentions to enter the primary race of 2016, in opposition to Sheriff McNamara.

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Realistic Military Training 101 – Class of 1954 – Guatemala

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CIA Assassination Program records – finally declassified in 1997

A program of destabilization – neither confirmed nor denied for four decades became a matter of record in 1997 when CIA released 1,400 pages of documents.

Among them, this brief file detailing the methods and means of assassinations. The campaign included border emergencies that served as cover for means of ingress of insurgents from other staging areas. A classic textbook case for future events in the Americas.

Twin Peaks gag order unconstitutional, says media lawyers, outlets

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 11.11.26 PM F. Clinton Broden and his client Matthew Clendennen are seeking relief in a writ of mandamus filed in Waco’s 10th District Court of Appeals

Waco – Media outlets decried “prior restraint” on freedom of speech in news reporting in a strenuous legal objection to a gag order by State 54th Criminal District Judge Matt Johnson.

Filing as friends of the Court in support of a Waco lawn service operator and his attorney who have been enjoined by court order prohibiting their speech about the case, 16 media outlets and reporters associations filed a brief that claims the order is “unconstitutional, overbroad, and unsupported by findings of a sufficient likelihood of prejudice.”

The filing calls for a vacation of the order precluding public pronouncements of discussion of the facts of the case, as ordered to ensure that Matthew Clendennen may receive a fair trial.

The dispute arose when the Dallas lawyer filed a subpoenae to obtain copies of video surveillance camera depictions of exactly what happened when a shooting occurred on May 17 at Twin Peaks Restaurant that left 9 dead, 20 wounded, and led to the arrests of 177 persons on identical charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.

F. Clinton Broden, whose criminal defense practice hails from Dallas, overcame the objections of attorneys for the City of Waco and the McLennan County Criminal District Attorney’s Office in arguments before Judge  Johnson.

The judge ordered the video surveillance released to Broden, but enjoined he and Clendennen, as well as members of his staff, witnesses, and opposing attorneys from making any public utterances regarding the tapes or the case in general.

They are the only parties to criminal litigation involving the incidents of May 17 at Twin Peaks Restaurant to be so enjoined.

He also precluded by protective order the public display or viewing of the material by anyone other than the attorneys involved, their staff members, or expert witnesses.

According to the brief prepared by an attorney representing the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, headquartered at Washington, D.C., the order by Judge Johnson violates both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution.

“The record in this case does not include any findings of inflammatory or prejudicial media coverage that would support a determination that Relator’s (Clendennen’s) fair trial rights would be threatened in any way by public access to information about his case – let alone findings of prejudice to the extent required to justify curtailing the exercise of state and federal constitutional rights,” wrote Hannah Bloch-Wehba, Counsel of Record, who signed off on the brief on behalf of the Committee.

Ms. Wehba further claimed that the Court (Judge Johnson) “improperly rejected alternatives to its expansive prior restraint of speech.”

The following news organizations joined as friends of the court:

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; The Associated Press; The Center for Investigative Reporting; Courthouse News Service; Cox Media Group, Inc.; First Look Media, Inc.; Gannett Co., Inc.; Hearst Corporation; Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University; National Newspaper Association; The National Press Club; National Press Photographers Association; The New York Times Company; Newspaper Association of America;
Radio Television Digital News Association; The Seattle Times Company.

Defense lawyer takes a base on balls in Twin Peaks pitchers’ duel

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Mano a Mano proceeds – Prosecutor Michael Jarrett chats with  defense lawyer F. Clinton Broden following recusal of Judge Pete Peterson

Six Shooter Junction – A Big D barrister assured his client will get a chance to have the probable cause of the charges against him examined at trial prior to a Grand Jury’s scrutiny.

In a favorable ruling on a motion to remove the magistrate who charged Matt Clendennen with the capital conspiracy charge of engaging in organized criminal activity that lead to murder, F. Clinton Broden furthermore assured his client that a new assignment of his case to a court of record for the purpose of an examining trial will be under the control of the Third Judicial Region Administrative Judge, Billy Ray Stubblefield, who sits at Georgetown in Williamson County.

Examining trials are very rare in the twin Criminal District Court jurisdictions of McLennan County, according to courtroom arguments made by First Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett.

During a tense hearing before retired visiting Judge Joe Carroll of Belton, he said that in five years of local criminal prosecution, he has seen only one examining trial prior to indictment. He also remarked that his associate, Assistant District Attorney Mark Parker, has seen only two in 27 years of experience as a prosecutor in McLennan County.

Judge Carroll acknowledged in remarks as he opened the hearing that in hearings such as the one in which he presided on Thursday morning, July 23, “The rules of evidence are fairly relaxed.”

He told both Jarrett and Broden, “I’ll be glad to hear whatever you have to say.”

As the hearing unfolded, he reminded both advocates several times that his assignment as ordered by Judge Stubblefield was to rule solely on whether Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson should remain on the case in an examining trial tentatively scheduled for August 10.

These cases can actually be brought on affidavits,” he added. A ruling may be made on the basis of those affidavits prior to a presentation to a Grand Jury.

Jarrett replied to the judge, saying, “We would allow the defendant to take leave of this court to seek his hearing in any other court.”

Broden countered his statement, saying “That ship has sailed…” He explained that “I don’t want to be running around at this late date looking for another Court to file this (case for an examining trial)…”

The rules governing such examining trials allow they may be heard in any court of record, including Municipal Courts, the Judge agreed.

As it turned out, the proceeding was mistakenly filed in the Precinct 1 Justice Court, said Jarrett.

Broden agreed, saying that a person in the District Clerk’s office told him the case for the examining trial must be filed in the Magistrate’s Court in which charges were filed.

Jarrett sought to explain how a clerk could make such an error. There are so few of them sought, and even fewer of those are granted, he said.

Once you have an indictment, there’s no more examining trial,” said Judge Carroll. Broden said that though there are many examining trials held in Dallas, where he normally practices criminal defense law, “I have heard of judges refusing to hear examining trials.”

Judge Carroll said examining trials are governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure. Rules 520 through 528 require the reasons an examining trial may be denied, and that they should be filed in the nearest court of record.

Broden then sent an associate attorney out of the courtroom to the office of Judge Hensley, which is located right next door. When he returned, he told the Court he had learned that Judge Hensley would be available on the date scheduled for the examining trial, but she would immediately recuse herself.

Broden again spoke on behalf of his client, a member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club who, unarmed, ran away from the sounds of a gunfire and hid inside the Twin Peaks Restaurant as soon as a scuffle between Cossacks and Bandidos that led to the shooting deaths of 9 and wounding of 20 broke out on May 17. He fled as soon as he heard the first gun shot, and has been described by his attorney as a “witness to something he never saw.”

Broden told the Judge, “You are not Judge Johnson. You can’t give me permission to file for an examining trial in his court.”

Judge Carroll remained resolute.

He said, “I have to make a ruling on the case before me. What happens after that doesn’t concern me.”

He granted the motion for the recusal of Judge Pete Peterson, making reference to the exhibits attached to the motion detailing his improprieties by speaking to the media about the allegations contained in charging instruments he signed.

Based on that, I’m gong to grant the recusal and turn it over to the Regional Administrative Judge (Billy Ray Stubblefield).”

All attorneys and the defendant in the unindicted case of State v. Matthew Clendennen remain under a gag order until further notice.

Visiting judge to decide: Is JP who set $1 million bonds capable of fair and balanced judgment?

Curves, angles

Waco – Can there be a reasonable expectation that a Judge with no legal training will be able to apply the standards of evidence and testimony in an examining hearing to determine if there is enough probable cause to try an offender accused of a capital crime, engaging in organized criminal activity leading to murder, a man who hid inside a building while 9 people suffered fatal gunshot wounds, 20 sustained serious injuries, and police took deadly action to quell what they termed a riotous situation?

Court spectators will find out at a hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. in Room 108 of the McLennan County Courthouse on Thursday, July 23.

Judge Joe Carroll, senior judge of the 27th District Court at Bell County, will have his work cut out for him when he takes the gavel to hear evidence as to why a Justice of the Peace who set bond on 177 people at the astronomical amount of $1 million after charging them all with the same offense, using the identical statements of probable cause, either can, or cannot render a fair and impartial recommendation as to probable cause in an examining hearing of the charge leveled at law service operator who graduated from Baylor University and employs six people.

Judge Walter H. “Pete” Peterson, a retired DPS State Trooper who came to the bench with no previous judicial or legal experience, referred a motion by an attorney representing Matthew Clendennen to recuse himself to the Administrative Judge of the Third Judicial Region, Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, a District Judge who sits at Georgetown. The recusal motion is based on numerous allegations, all of which are mentioned both in a complaint to the Commission on Judicial Conduct and a Federal lawsuit alleging McLennan County officials and Waco police conspired to deprive his client of due process.

His referral to Judge Stubblefield is tantamount to a recusal of himself. The procedure automatically triggered a hearing, which will determine if another judge will be appointed to conduct the examining trial, tentatively scheduled for August 10 in Peterson’s Precinct 1, Place 1 Justice Court.

Chief among the complaints are that not only did Peterson set the massive amount of bail, he told the media that he did so in order to “send a message.”

There is no such provision in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, nor in the U.S. or Texas Constitutions – all of which guarantee that reasonable bail will be set, and that it shall not be of an amount calculated to punish the accused offender by keeping him a jail.

Among numerous other complaints are the fact that Peterson rubber stamped the affidavits of warrantless arrest prepared by Waco Detective Manuel Chavez, failing to particularize or personalize any of the allegation. The arrest warrants allege only that the arrestees – all 177 of them – were wearing patches on their jackets associated with “outlaw gangs” and that since the DPS has catalogued their “colors,” that is enough evidence to hold them over for trial.

In court papers filed by F. Clinton Broden, a Dallas attorney who represents Clendennen, there are allegations that the colors worn by his client, those of the Scimitars, are not on file in the DPS manual published at Texas A&M University. Though the colors black and gold are in fact associated with the Cossacks Motorcycle Club and the Scimitars are known as a “support club” of the Cossacks, they are not considered a “gang,” Broden wrote in his complaints.

DA’s dad served as Grand Jury Commissioner

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Click on image to view full-size

The McLennan District Clerk just confirmed through a public information act request that former 10th District Court of Appeals Justice Felipe Reyna served as a Grand Jury Commissioner or the January – June 2015 term of the 54th District Criminal Court.

Judge Matt Johnson at first order an extension of the term of the Grand Jury so selected in order that it may hear the evidence in the 177 cases of engaging in organized criminal activity filed following the May 17 shoot-out at Twin Peaks Restaurant.

In that melee, which happened outside a Confederation of Clubs meeting about to convene inside the “breastaurant,” 9 died, 20 wounded and Waco Police arrested the 177 persons so charged.

Within two days, Judge Johnson had changed his mind, and he ordered the Grand Jury be selected at random from the rolls of registered voters, in accordance with a recent act of the Legislature.

 

First Shirt’s arrest led to Come and Take It activism

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The image that started it all – Sgt. 1/C C.J. Grisham arrested for the open carry of an AR-15 and licensed concealed carry of his .45 ACP

Bastrop, TX – This picturesque community nestled in a valley on the Colorado River near Austin is not far from the flash point of the Texas Revolution of 1836 at Gonzales.

A change in regimes at Mexico City had brought grief for Texian colonists in the State of Coahuila. The dictator Generalissimo Santa Ana called for his troopers to reclaim cannon and munitions from the colonial alcaldes – and they were not having it. Hence, the revolutionary slogan, “Come and Take It.”

Members of C.A.T.I. – in Texas and nationwide, have a similarly defiant attitude toward modern day efforts to disarm the people. “Without the Second Amendment, you have no other rights,” says Murdoch Pizgatti, a co-founder of the group that has faced arrest in communities all across Texas in order to openly carry long guns and handguns. Their activities have prompted mucho friction, but on Saturday, July 18, they fairly had to go knock on the door at the Bastrop Police Department – just to let them know they were in town and carrying their rifles.

Asked what turned him into a gun rights activist, Pizgatti told The Legendary it was the image of Temple, Texas, police officers jerking then Army Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham around for making a 10-mile hike with his son, who was working on a merit badge to become an Eagle Scout – armed with his rifle and handgun. A passing motorist, whom, as it turned out, is a social worker for the local branch of Child Protective Services (CPS), called police because she felt threatened by the firearm Grisham carried.

Prosecutors decided it was all perfectly legal, so authorities charged him with interfering with the duties of a public official. His conviction is still under appeal, and a judge has denied municipal authorities immunity from civil litigation for false arrest and official oppression.

Here’s an interview of Pizgatti and some of his men and women as they marched on the Bastrop police on Saturday.