Money machine spins, eagle grins, cases sour

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Criminal cases are like milk; they don’t improve with age…” – District Attorney Abel Reyna on the campaign trail, ca. 2010

Six Shooter Junction – The debacle of May 15 is beginning to reveal signs of being  just the kind of unfunded federal mandate conservatives rail against.

After all, the FBI is probing a “war” allegedly declared on the Cossacks by the Bandidos, and though examining trials consisted by and large of testimony from a state police supervisor, the ATF is the lead agency on the investigation of exactly what happened at high noon at an upscale beer joint on May 17.

If each of 106 indictments returned in the Twin Peaks massacre goes to trial, the cost to taxpayers could top a quarter of a billion dollars – $265,000,000, according to a writ pending in the 10th District Court of Appeals.

An initial round of indictments charge the alleged offenders with the first degree felony of engaging in organized criminal activity – which carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life.

At that rate, It’s the kind of allegation to which a defendant cannot simply acquiesce, especially since the prosecutors will not allow trials to go forward, pending further “analyses” of the evidence.

What the mainstream media outlets like to call a “melee” has now turned into a “standoff,” rather than a “shootout.”

What that evidence may consist of is difficult to imagine in the case of dozens upon dozens of people who merely ran – or crawled – to shelter, only to hide from whizzing bullets when shots rang out at Twin Peaks Restaurant on May 15, leaving 9 dead, 20 wounded, and a nation scratching its head while police flacks and TV pundits brayed about “punks” and “thugs” who converged on this ultra-conservative Baptist bastion 9 months ago to hear about pending legislation – handgun legislation.

The indictments, which are identical and specify no particulars as to how each defendant could have contributed to the capital murder or aggravated assault of another human being while low-crawling to the nearest toilet, garbage can, or refrigerator to stash their guns, knives, blackjacks, whips or chains, are as close-mouthed as the Sphinx. Annuit Coeptis, etc. 

CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY Abel Reyna, a Republican, campaigned against long-term incumbent John Segrest, a Democrat, in that year of wrath against all things left of the aisle on the notion that it was taking far too long to clear criminal cases.

He told resentful Tea Party throngs that the present policies of plea bargaining in which only half of indictments returned resulted in a conviction was, basically, “a coin flip,” thus unacceptable to a new and get-tough-on-crime awakening of a right wing loudly demanding its money’s worth.

HERE IS WHAT ALL THAT BOUGHT THEM:

According to a “Request for the Earliest Possible Trial Setting” filed on behalf of Cody Ledbetter by his attorney, Paul Looney of Houston, last November 16, “A felony courtroom costs well over one thousand dollars an hour to operate, when the costs and benefits of court personnel, technology, utilities, maintenance, and expenses are all factored in (the undersigned does not the numbers for McLennan County, but is aware that every felony court in Harris County, Texas costs over $1,500 an hour to operate)…

If each of the cases takes 24 hours (three days) of court time to try, that cost alone could quickly surpass $2.5 million dollars – and that is only the first round of indictments, with the belief being that additional indictments will be forthcoming…

These figures, of course, will be significantly increased if it becomes necessary to try many if not most of these cases out-of-town. Room, board and transportation alone could easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Judges will be unavailable to deal with other cases, even during breaks. With a population of under 250,000, the costs of such litigation cannot be born by McLennan County, Texas without putting a huge burden on the county purse.”

In a hearing on December 7, 19th District Court Judge Ralph T. Strother ordered a trial date for Ledbetter of May 31. Without notification or further hearing, he reversed the order.

Looney renewed his motion, filing again on December 28, a request that has fallen on deaf ears. Now, he is attempting to have the appeals court direct the Judge to set a trial date at the earliest possible time because, “Someone has to go first,” and his client is ready to stand trial based on the evidence that has been presented to the Grand Jurors as probable cause to bind them over for trial.

As visiting Judge James Morgan said in an examining trial, “Mr. Looney, you make a good argument, but I think it’s one for a jury to hear.”

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