Austin – An Attorney General’s ruling released today holds that McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna must release text messages between a defense attorney and First Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett regarding a proposal to have defendants in the Twin Peaks cases sign hold harmless agreements promising no litigation against authorities in return for reductions in $1 million bonds set across the board by Justice of the Peace “Pete” Peterson on 177 defendants.
Defense attorneys present at a meeting between Jarrett and the jurisdiction’s two Criminal District Judges revealed to media outlets that Jarrett rejected the proposal of the attorney as “improper” under the rules of criminal prosecution and constitutional rights of those accused of a crime.
The assistant to AG Ken Paxton also held that though the names of 62 persons arrested but not charged along with 177 other defendants with the offense of engaging in organized criminal activity is “intertwined with the investigation,” their names must be released because public records law “does not except from disclosure basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime.”
In the opinion sought by public information activist R.S. Gates, Assistant Attorney General Paige Thompson held that “the characterization of informationa as ‘public information’ under the act is not dependent on whether the requested records are in the possession of an individual or whether a governmental body has a particular policy or procedure that establishes a governmental body’s access to the information…Because this information is maintained by the District Attorney’s Office for the transaction of official business, it does not constitution a record of the judiciary.
“In summary, the portion of the requested text messages that relate to the official business of the District Attorney’s Office are subject to the (public information) act.”
Ms. Thompson held that the e-mail addresses of persons arrested but not charged, information obtained from questionnaires during the period the accused were detained at the Waco Convention Center over a period of 48 hours while law enforcement processed the arrests, must be redacted, but any other information regarding the arrests is subject to public scrutiny.