Lawyers for Don Carlos join pre-trial battle

Don Carlos

Houston – Lawyers who represent the manager of a neighboring restaurant next door to Twin Peaks say an attorney for a defendant in a shootout on May 17 is threatening contempt and arrest if their clinet does not comply with a request for surveillance video.

Labeling a subpoena for the surveillance video from the cameras of Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant a “fishing expedition,” lawyers for the restaurant’s management termed “threatening…with orders of contempt and arrest” a request by a Dallas attorney in advance of an examining trial set for August 10 in Precinct 1 Justice Court by Judge Pete Peterson.

F. Clinton Broden, an attorney representing one of the 177 defendants in the shootout at Twin Peaks on May 17, issued a subpoena for what two lawyers from the Buzbee Law Firm of Houston called “overbroad as it will unduly burden the non-party from reviewing hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from sixteen (16) different positions in order to comply.”

In a motion the attorneys stated “the manager of DC Waco Restaurant, the party Matthew Clendennen’s attorney is threatening to have arrested, is no longer in possession of the physical hard drive containing the surveillance footage requested.”

All copies were taken by “Waco Law Enforcement Agents” during the crime scene investigation, according to Bret Griffin and Ryan S. Pigg in a motion to quash the subpoena filed with the Justice Court.

At least one of the 9 persons killed by gunfire in a deadly shootout that erupted after a dispute between members of the Cossacks and Bandidos Motorcycle Clubs on May 17 in the parking lot between Twin Peaks and Don Carlos was found dead on a sidewalk at the Don Carlos location next door, according to Sheriff Parnell McNamara, who spoke candidly shortly after the gunfight.

Broden has argued in pre-trial motions before the 54th Criminal District Court and in an appeal for mandamus relief in the 10th District Court of Appeals that surveillance video will prove his client, Clendennen, was inside the restaurant during the shooting. He maintains, as has Clendennen in remarks before media outlets, that he was on the patio when the first shot rang out, then took refuge inside the building until the Waco police entered and told he and a large number of other motorcycle enthusiasts who were there for a Confederation of Clubs meeting to lay on the floor and await further instructions prior to the mass arrest.

Broden hopes to prove this allegation to Judge Peterson in order to gain a dismissal of the charge. Peterson served as magistrate in charging Clendennen with engaging in organized crime, a first degree felony punishable by 5 years in the penitentiary or up to life imprisonment. He set his bond, along with all other 176 defendants, at $1 million in order to “send a message.”

The Dallas attorney won release of the video from surveillance cameras at Twin Peaks restaurant in a hearing held on Tuesday, June 30 in 54th District Court. Judge Matt Johnson placed he and all other attorneys involved with the Clendennen case under a gag order precluding all public pronouncements or statements about the case for the duration of the litigation.

Status Quo – Latin, the mess we done got ourselves into now

To nullify election through an oligarchy’s selection…such a deal

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Scott Felton, a retired banker appointed to replace McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis

How could it be that a Justice of the Peace, a veteran law enforcement man retired from the DPS, who was originally appointed, could think of setting the bond on 177 defendants at $1 million in order to “send a message?” That’s illegal under both U.S. and Texas Constitutions, as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

Ramble along and see how this happened – not once, in 2014, but twice – in 2010, as well.

It’s a half-hour of video that explains a large component of the new fascism. The net net is this: Elected officials owe their political status to an oligarchy which has arranged their elevation to a position of political power through an adroit system of appointment following party lines – the Grand Old Party, that is.

A black woman named Jean Laster Boone entered a guilty plea to falsifying government documents while serving as Justice of the Peace at Waco, Texas. That’s a no no. A colleague named Billy Martin, retired as a DEA agent, did not seek re-election following the murder conviction of a Baptist preacher whose wife’s death he erroneously declared a suicide. That created two vacancies in McLennan County’s 7 Justice Court Precincts. The Commissioners Court proposed to eliminate, or redistrict, either one, or two of those precincts – after the election…

Randall Scott Gates is an ex-police officer who holds the unfortunate distinction of being possibly the only person ever to serve an entire 4-year term as Justice of the Peace of a non-existent Precinct during the years 2006-2010. As strange as all that may be, it looks like the McLennan County Commissioners Court is poised to re-enact the same scenario – with all seven remaining precincts. It gets complicated, but if you follow the logic, a pattern definitely emerges…

 

 

 

 

 

Report: Officer’s child let K9 out to play before bite

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K9 Ace “snapped” at Adrian, son of K9 Officer Esteban Bustillos

Waco – On Sunday evening, June 21, Deputy Esteban Bustillos left his partner, K9 Ace, a Belgian Malinois, trained to detect drugs and attack aggressors, in the care of his parents.

Bustillos and Ace have a short history together. It all started when he was transferred to his duties as a dog handler for the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office and took Ace to a training school in Louisiana to become certified.

Things didn’t work out so well while they were there. Ace proved to be overly aggressive. He “snapped” at trainers. Officials at the dog training company let honchos at Sheriff’s headquarters know he was in need of either re-training, or destruction due to his violent tendencies. Bustillos’ supervisors elected to have Ace re-trained and certified as a K9 drug detection and patrol dog.

After a period of re-training, Bustillos became the certified handler of his partner, Ace, who had been partnered previously with Deputy Joesph Ballew. A Corporal, Ballew had been offered the choice of remaining a dog handler and take an extensive cut in pay, or keep his rank as Corporal, and transfer to night patrol duties under the supervision of former Lieutenant Chris Eubank, who had resigned, then re-hired as a Sergeant in charge of a deep night shift that covers the county from dusk to dawn.

In the interim, an extensive internal investigation revealed that fellow officers had observed Eubank and Ballew snapping a cap pistol at Ace while he was confined to a kennel in the rear of Ballew’s SUV patrol unit. Witnesses gave statements relating how the pair banged on the rear panels of the vehicle, making Ace charge from side to side violently enough to cause the carry-all to rock from his motions.

In a bizarre incident, Ballew had persuaded Ace to attempt to leap to the top of a filing cabinet in an office at Sheriff’s Office headquarters. He missed his goal and wound up on a desktop, where another deputy was working at a computer console. Startled, he rolled his office chair away from the floundering dog and received a minor wound when Ace “snapped” at his elbow as he fell to the floor. Ace’s training regimen left him in no mood for horse play. He had become an unpredictable actor, even when in the custody of experienced handlers.

But on Sunday, June 21, Bustillos left his partner in his bedroom at his parents’ home in Waco, where he thought he would be safe from any provocation.

He wasn’t counting on his son, an eight-year-old named Adrian, wanting to play with Ace. Adrian let Ace out of the room and he wandered around the house during the childrens’ visit. When his mom, Penny Walter, came to take him home after his visit with his grandparents, the boy attempted to pet Ace and say goodbye.

Ace suddenly snapped at him, a canine tooth grazing his forehead. The sudden – doggy spasm – left a one-inch incision in the child’s skin, which a doctor closed with six sutures.

What will happen to Ace?

That’s up to officials of the Sheriff’s Office. For now, he is under quarantine at a veterinarian’s kennel in Woodway. Records kept on his health care show he has been inoculated against the perils of both being bitten and biting other creatures, great and small.

Ms. Walter reported, “This dog is known to be aggressive and he was living in the house without Estaban’s supervision around small children. Esteban was at church and left the dog unsupervised and uncaged. The dog Ace was completely unprovoked when the attack occurred.”

In his defense, Bustillos said in an official statement, “Both of my children, Adrian and Jacob, have been told that they are not to play with K9 Ace while I am not present and that is why he is placed either in my room, or outside away from them when I am not there.”

In his narrative, he noted that “K9 Ace did not lunge at him and immediately backed away. K9 Ace did not attempt to attack him, or pursue any kind of further violence against my son.”

Twin Peaks – Wednesday filings point up conflicts in judicial methods

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Public vigilance serves us well, for the knowledge that every criminal trial is subject to contemporaneous review in the forum of public opinion is an effective restraint on possible abuse of judicial power…Without publicity, all other checks are insufficient…” – U.S. Supreme Court holding

Waco – Court papers filed today in the case of a Hewitt man who operates a Waco area lawn service signal a robust constitutional challenge to the judicial methods of 54th Criminal District Judge Matt Johnson.

A Dallas attorney, F. Clinton Broden represents Matthew Clendennen, one of 177 motorcyclists arrested on a conspiracy charge of engaging in organized criminal activity after a shooting melee erupted on May 17 at Twin Peaks, a “breastaurant” featuring skimpily clad young waitresses with ample decolletage.

They were there for a political meeting of the Confederation of Clubs representing motorcycle enthusiasts who wear patches declaring their affiliation with various Texas motorcycle clubs.

In a Tuesday, July 30 hearing, Judge Johnson ruled against a motion to quash the subpoena of the video, the property of the former restaurant franchisee, TP LLC,  by the City of Waco and the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office. He limited viewing of the video to attorneys, law office staff, and expert witnesses.

The judge simultaneously ordered the attorneys involved in Clendennen’s case to make no public pronouncements related to the litigation.

It was learned today that he also ordered an extension of the last Grand Jury term to be selected under the “pick-a-pal” Grand Jury Commissioner system of recommendation for members selected to serve as such.

Broden filed an appeal of the gag order with the 10th District Court of Appeals, seeking mandamus relief because, in part, “the criminal justice system exists in a larger context of a government ultimately of the people, who wish to be informed about happenings in the criminal justice system, and, if sufficiently informed about those happenings, might wish to make changes in the system.” Gentile v. State Bar of Nev., 501 U.S. 1030, 1070(1991)

He noted that though he represents only one of 177 defendants so charged, the Clendennen case is the only one singled out for the strictures of the gag order. Broden’s argument is that the order is a direct violation of Clendennen’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

He also filed a motion of his objection in order to challenge the judge’s extension of the “pick-a-pal” Grand Jury already seated under the Grand Jury Commissioner system. The district judges of McLennan County had earlier declared an end to the “pick-a-pal” system following a recent act of the legislature that makes the practice optional, at the judges’ discretion.

In one part of his filings, he declared, Whether real or perceived, there is a noxious odor surrounding the investigation by the Waco Police and the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office with regard to the ‘Twin Peaks Shooting’ and the wholesale arrest of 177 motorcyclists based on identical, ‘fill-in-the-name’ criminal complaints.”

New user fees equal new taxes on cell phones

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By Lisa Mickle Bacchi, World Integrity News Network

When it comes to broadband internet service, read my lips. More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when.

For the good news, click here. 

Is this just going to end up as tax like we pay on our phones – something called a user fee? 

In Section II. of the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: B. Promoting Investment with a Modern Title II 36. we read “Nor will our actions result in the imposition of any new federal taxes or fees; the ability of states to impose fees on broadband is already limited by the congressional Internet tax moratorium.” 

 Congress passed H.R. 3529 (105th): Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998, and extended it by appropriations until September of 2015. What happens then?

New broadband taxes — new fees that will be applied to broadband. Here’s the background. If you look at your phone bill, you’ll see a “Universal Service Fee,” or something like it. These fees are what most Americans would call taxes; they are paid on their telephone service and funnel about $9 billion each year through the FCC — all of it outside the congressional appropriations process. Consumers haven’t yet had to pay these taxes on their broadband bills because broadband Internet access service has never before been a Title II service.

That’s why the Order repeatedly states that it is only deferring a decision on new broadband taxes—not prohibiting them.

FCC secretly told lobbyists that it would raise universal service fees – taxes – after the election to pay for the promises it was making. Sure enough, in December, 2014, the agency did just that—increasing E-Rate spending , which compelled a hike in phone taxes, by $1.5 billion per year.

The smart money says federal government is sure to tap this new revenue stream soon to spend more of consumers’ hard-earned dollars. Indeed, it’s been publicly reported that the FCC is itching to use the Universal Service Fund to extend the Lifeline program of “free” cell phone medical alert service to broadband.  That won’t come cheap. In order to provide discounted broadband service to millions of Americans, the FCC will have to find the money somewhere.

With this order, that somewhere is your wallet.

 

To frame the question in a way that is not leading, argumentative, suggestive, speculative, or testamentary, calls for a conclusion, opinion, and/or unproven expertise…

Stand-By Counsel

Victor Pool and Melissa Bias (center) their daughter, and “stand-by counsel” in an impromptu lunch break corridor conference

WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME?

“Representing yourself in court is kind of like performing your own open heart surgery.” – former 249th District Judge John McLean

Waco – Judge Brad Cates of McLennan County Court at Law No. 2 is a patient man with courtly manners and a fabulous grasp of the law. A half-hour before lunch during the second day of the trial of Melissa Pool, he dismisses the 4-man, 2-woman, all-white jury for lunch, saying, “I know it’s only 11:20, but we will reconvene at about 12:45…”

They look grateful, as they fairly flee from utter tension of the tiny courtroom on the second floor of the old rococo building that is a replicated model of a 19th century Mississippi state capital building, designed by the same architects.

It’s been a rough morning.

The public is getting its first look at a surveillance tape of the events that led to the entire family being placed under arrest at a Bellmead Wal-Mart Super Center when their minor daughter and a cousin were apprehended and accused of shoplifting one frosty evening last winter.

When loss prevention specialists took them to a mirrored room off the entryway to the store to await police, they sat with their phones in hand and called the Pools, who were there within minutes.

They sat waiting calmly for the arrival of the next event, be it parents or police bent on taking control.

Two Bellmead police officers, Hathaway and Sellers, arrived before the Pools.  When their daughter refused to put away her phone, the two cops physically lifted her from her chair and placed her face-down on an elongated, angled desk at which she was seated, then placed her in handcuffs after Sellers removed a bulky-knit scarf wound around her neck – for her safety. Sellers is seen putting the girl in a headlock, then wrestling her to the floor before they lifted her and laid her onto the table, where they applied the bracelets. Then they placed her back in her chair, where she was sitting when her mother and father arrived.

In the video, the entire mood and body language of the persons so depicted changes when the officers are seen coming through the door. Hathaway, who is white, pointed an accusatory finger in the face of the Pools’ daughter. From there, the conflict over the phone escalated as both officers attempted to take it from her hand.

Matters are seen to escalate violently with the arrival of the Pools.

The two policemen sought to eject them from the room for purposes of officer safety, according to their testimony.  Both testified that they asked for the child to put away her phone for the same reason – officer safety.

Sellers testified that, as he stated in his affidavit of warrantless arrest, he had been informed that there was a safety issue before he entered the room.

Melissa Bias, who has no legal training, is in the midst of attempting to elicit testimony from him regarding his written statement and previous testimony. She is defending herself for the offense of interfering with a public official, resisting arrest, and similar complaints.

Hathaway had previously testified that the girl was playing a video game on her phone.

Ms. Pool points to the frozen video screen, which depicts her daughter sitting with her torso and head resting on the surface of the desk, looking down at a cell phone in her hands, and asks Sellers, “Do you see a hostile situation?”

The prosecutor immediately rises and objects to the form of the question as “speculative,” a total no no in the rules of court procedure and evidence. When she rephrases, he objects to the form of the inquiry requiring a speculative response, and a further attempt to rephrase the question is sustained as objectionable for its testamentary phrasing.

After a lengthy colloquy, the question is phrased correctly, and Sellers says, “It didn’t look hostile to me.”

The jurors, all of them middle-aged, dressed neatly in working costume and intently following the dialogue and the events depicted on the screen, are clearly becoming irritated by the constant confusion. They are unable to hide their facial expressions, though their affect also often betrays utter boredom caused by the continual arguments over procedure.

The conflict resumes when the tape is started again, as the Pools enter the room, trying to shove their way to their daughter, who is depicted on the video soundlessly calling for their help. There is no audio track.

Hathaway is seen pointing a TASER gun in Ms. Bias’ face, then shooting it at her husband as Sellers holds the child in his ample bear hug. He is a squat, muscular man with a powerful frame carrying in excess of 200 pounds.

He testified, “I see you grasping her and trying to take her away.”

As depicted in the surveillance video, the entire family winds up in handcuffs, arrested for their conduct.

Officers had originally intended to issue citations for petty theft to the two defendants, who would be summoned to municipal court or allowed to post bond and forfeit the sum in an automatic plea of guilty.

Through the halting dialogue of improperly framed questions and sustained objections, it finally emerges that the concern for officer safety is based on this, when Sellers is finally allowed to answer.

“Usually, we ask that they not (have their phones in hand) to keep them from calling anyone who could come down and make it worse.”

A half-hour later, after a Mr. Lowe from Wal-Mart loss prevention sat on the witness stand during the video tape’s fitful start and stop play on the screen, Ms. Pool recalled Sellers to the stand. When she tried to ask him questions about an affidavit, she asked the judge for instructions on how to properly admit the document to evidence.

Judge Cates began to explain how it had to be marked, inspected by opposing counsel – then caught himself, and dismissed the jurors for their lunch break with all due courtesy.

The man’s entire demeanor projected an attitude of calm rectitude.

He said, in part, “If you insist on representing yourself, you are responsible for properly introducing evidence.” He reviewed the facts, emphasizing that “all this has been going on for awhile.” He also said that, though he realizes it’s difficult to learn proper courtroom procedure in a few months’ time, he had appointed a competent attorney as “stand-by counsel” to answer any questions.

“I cannot advise you on the law.”

He later concluded, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to represent yourself.”

 Ms. Bias’ husband Victor Pool, father of her daughter, who is similarly charged in the same court,  is directly related to Elijah Pool through his grandfather, a cousin. Elijah Pool is known by his spiritual name as the head of the Black Muslim movement, The Honorable Elijah Muhammed, Messenger of Allah.

The couple have attempted to correct their citizenship through means of emancipation through a Florida court order. Mr. Pool claims a heritage as an aboriginal descendant of Moorish forbears who arrived on American shores as free men.

As the scribbler left the courthouse, the stand-by counsel was conferring with the family in an impromptu corridor meeting.