Daniel Boyette, regional road captain of McLennan County Cossacks
Waco – The primary issue is control – control of peoples’ lives, their associations with whomever they may choose, what they are allowed to say and do, and where they may go and not go.
To that end, the assault on the First Amendment rights of the nearly 200 people arrested and charged following the attack on bikers at Twin Peaks on Sunday, May 17, 2015, is a total success. (Cue the music, keep on reading…)
Bond conditions dictate that those awaiting trial – and that’s everyone charged and indicted for the blanket, non-specific offense of engaging in organized criminal activity – may not come to Waco for any other purpose than to attend court on a regularly scheduled appearance, must not discuss their case with any other than their legal representation, and are precluded from associating with members of “criminal street gangs” if they hope to stay out of jail, their bond conditions remaining inviolate.
Meanwhile, the contents of their phones, statements they gave at the time of their arrest, surveillance video – all remains at the disposal of a multi-agency federal, state and local task force headed by the FBI and ATF called “Operation Rocker Arm.”
HOW IT WORKS IN McLENNAN COUNTY
Both Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna and his father Felipe, a former State Appeals Court Judge and DA who was appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe to fill out a deceased DA’s term, are on record with their philosophy of how to run a jail and a criminal investigation.
Reyna told Tea Party activists several years ago that his office serves as the peoples’ law firm, and that includes offenders who aren’t necessarily guilty of anything until they are convicted.
If they serve the big end of their time in an air conditioned jail close to home, where their wives and girlfriends, buddies, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, can come see them – so much the better.
Who cares if they plead out to some other offense than that which is charged and grand jurors have indicted?
And though he didn’t say it, the truth is, sureties go off bond at the drop of a hat, arrest warrants are served, and offenders turn around and pay the bond fee multiple times in order to stay out of jail – if possible. It’s just a cost of doing business for a professional criminal.
With taxpayers footing an overflow bill of $45.50 per diem to LaSalle Corrections to house prisoners at the bespoke built, privately operated Jack Harwell Detention Center, it’s a win-win situation for business, all the way around.
Nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving.
Besides, the practice known as “riding the docket” has led to historic budget overruns for jail staff overtime and subsequent tax raises, to the consternation of conservatives and budget watch dogs such as The Tea Party.
THE CASE FOR THE ACCUSED AS CRIME VICTIMS
When Cody Ledbeter and his father got caught in the so-called “melee” outside Tin Peaks, he watched as Danny Boyette collapsed, shot in the head.
With his arm in a sling, Ledbetter was in no position to do much else but try to make himself as small a target as possible and stay safe.
He and his attorney Paul Looney have been campaigning for a speedy trial for the past year.
In fact, at one point, he had a trial date of May 31, 2016, set by 19th Criminal District Judge Ralph Strother on December 7, 2015.
Within days, he had rescinded his order at the insistence of prosecutors, who said they need more time to examine evidence for possible exculpatory items.
At a rehearing on January 8, Looney argued that, “…having viewed no inculpatory evidence, we don’t really care about exculpatory evidence.”
The colloquy between attorney and the Judge has become surreal, at times:
Court: Let me ask you, are you claiming that the right to a speedy trial entitles you to a specific trial date?
Looney: You Honor, what it entitles you to is a swift trial…The State can dismiss this case without our participation…
In further argument, the Court denied the demand for a swift trial in this way – (click image for full size)
To that end, the raid on bikers that took place of May 17, 2015, at Twin Peaks Restaurant is totally effective in denying First Amendment rights to wear items of adornment such as patches, to associate freely with whomever one may choose, to freely express one self or gather to petition the Government for redress.
More importantly, by using certain legal strategies, the police and prosecutors have found a way to collude with the Courts in order to deny defendants the right to a speedy trial.
Ledbetter has repeatedly asserted that he needs no further discovery of the evidence and witnesses, that what he needs is his day in court.
For one thing, he could then qualify as a crime victim in order to claim compensation for what happened to he and his family at Twin Peaks.
To that end, the Court has demurred, the ruling of the 10th District Court of Appeals stayed by the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the writ for leave to file for mandamus relief in seeking a trial setting dismissed without argument or written report by that Court a year hence.
All of this has been accomplished without the presentation of any specific complaint against Cody Ledbetter, who watched in horror as his father’s life blood spilled from a quarter-inch bullet wound that pierced his head on May 17, 2015.
So mote it be.
- The Legendary