Department of it’s not over ’til it’s – all over

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Antagonist and protagonist face off in Courthouse rotunda – Michael Jarrett (l) is chief prosecutor in the Clendennen case defended by F. Clinton Broden, a Dallas lawyer (r) gagged by an order in the case


Dallas – The defense lawyer gagged by an order issued by 54th District Judge Matt Johnson spoke up today to correct misconceptions about a Court of Criminal Appeals ruling.

The high Court denied his motion on Wednesday to lift the gag order re-imposed by the 10th District Court of Appeals following an earlier ruling vacating the District Court’s order for he and prosecutors as well as the defendant Matt Clendennen to keep silent about the case. Clendennen, who was not present during shooting and fighting on May 17, is charged along with 176 others with engaging in organized criminal activity.

But Broden was quick to point out that it’s not over – not by a long shot.

“This is not the final ruling. This is simply a denial of the motion I filed yesterday to dissolve the stay based upon the ‘unclean hands’ argument. The merits of gag order remain pending…All it really says is that there have already been briefs filed by the parties and the amici (friends of the court) so we are not going to simply dissolve the stay on the grounds of ‘unclean hands.”

In his writ, the lawyer argued that the state has repeatedly violated the mandamus relief originally sought by Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna as officials continually make statements to media about the nature of the case, the circumstances of arrests, and the like.

Broden contends that he has not yet obtained a ruling from the state’s highest criminal appeals court on the fact that both the state and Waco officials have no real standing in the dispute over whether he and his client Matt Clendennen may have access to material such as surveillance video that will clear the defendant of any wrongdoing. The video does not belong to either entity, but both have argued that in the interest of giving the defendant a fair trial, all parties to the criminal litigation should be ordered not to talk about the Clendennen case.

In earlier statements to the public, Clendennen said at a press conference and in other venues that “My client is guilty of being a witness to something he did not see.” He has accused state officials such as DA Abel Reyna and Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson of making such statements as that motorcycle enthusiasts who are members of riding and support clubs are “thugs” and members of “street gangs.” He has cited the fact that acting as Magistrate, Peterson said he set bail at $1 million in each identical case to “send a message.”

The ruling has led to a widespread misconception among the public that all parties to criminal litigation stemming from arrests following a deadly May 17 shootout at Twin Peaks Restaurant are under a gag order. That is not true.

Judge Johnson’s order applies only to prosecutors, the defense attorneys representing Clendennen, their staff, and expert witnesses.

Broden is enjoined to not talk about the case, but he is free to talk about the gag order, and plans to do so at a rally on the South steps of the State Capitol at Austin at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 26. He had intended to speak at an August rally, but was prevented from doing so by a bomb scare which caused Sheriff Parnell McNamara to clear the Courthouse Square immediately when it was learned a suitcase and an ice chest had been abandoned at the corner of 5th Street and Austin Ave.


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