Outlaw stew, good for the soul, common as dirt

CUE THE BACKGROUND SINGER, MAESTRO – THE TIME IS NOW

Six Shooter Junction – Now the time has come for remembrance of things thought long lost and in the past.

BE IT KNOWN TO ONE AND ALL: There is a particular place in McLennan County, Texas, where the people forgot the meaning of the terms of outlawry. They began to think of that vernacular status as that of a swashbuckling badass, someone pulling off spectacular and outrageous offenses – seemingly for sport – and not just some miserable little man, all alone within this world, placed outside the protection of the law, the peace and dignity of We The People.

But the cruelty of this jest came back to haunt them on a dog day Monday morning when the powers that be came on to be heard about the price in gold and relative worth of a human soul.

A quirk of the federal law of Reconstruction laid down by conquerors following that most vicious form of war, that of brother against brother, allowed the outlaw to seek redress in money damages for the alleged violation of his civil rights by those who in the dim mists of antiquity were once and forever quaintly known as The King’s Men.

Most people sneer at and ignore the fact that the law underpinning this legal action is known as the Magna Carta, signed at the conclusion of a battle by an English King on pain of the threat of having his head cut off then and there by members of the nobility.

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The Magna Carta, 1215

The fact that they obtained their victory by fighting on ground of their own choosing pales in contrast to what would have happened had they failed.

On Monday morning, August 8, 2016, in the 54th Criminal District Courtroom, every police officer who testified as to just who made the decision at the scene of a battle in which men dressed in distinctive costumes of allegedly outlaw motorcycle gangs had walked into an L-shaped ambush laid by police officers equipped with state of the art “assault rifles” to arrest everyone present on the non-specific conspiracy charge of engaging in organized criminal activity had not been made by anyone present at the scene of the alleged crime or the investigative headquarters.

The Chief of Police when consulted by long distance phone had no personal knowledge of what had taken place, nor did the detective who signed the affidavit of warrantless arrest declaring his sworn affirmation of probable cause. He was working another case, elsewhere, and had been summoned as the “on call” officer.

The acting chief of police testified that he would not have made the decision to arrest everyone present wearing the distinctive emblem of a member of the Cossacks or Bandidos or any of their numerous support clubs, that he and his men were in the middle of conducting an investigation of capital murder in an officer-involved shooting.

In fact, the chief of police affirmed that he misunderstood the charge under discussion. He thought the District Attorney was talking about the charge of capital murder when he gave his  assent.

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Throughout this testimony, a rangy outfit scribbled notes on pieces of legal pad torn from his tablet and passed them to the defendant Matthew Clendennen, who was seated at the rail inside the bar in the well of the courtroom. Don Tittle, the Dallas torts attorney associated with F. Clinton Broden, Clendennen’s criminal defense lawyer, would make an observation, and Broden would ask the question that placed that fact or remark on the record of the hearing into what personal or professional pecuniary interest did the District Attorney have in the case that should lead to his disqualification as a prosecutor.

Like a specter from a world unseen, Tittle stalked from his place in the gallery to the bar, totally ignored and unremarked by judge, witness, attorney, spectator, bailiff, and the like.

And yet, every time he rose to his feet and propelled his lanky frame across the room, some new revelation would take place.

You might say he’s a team player, one who extracted a $2 million judgment from the County of McLennan in federal court for the violation of the civil rights of Deputy Sheriff’s Officers in 2014.

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Don Tittle, heralded as one of Dallas’ top-notch civil rights lawyers

In a final confrontation with reality, the detective who did make an affirmation upon his oath was called back to the witness stand, questioned under redirect examination if he had received instructions from the District Attorney to make dead sure that he had personal knowledge of the allegation, or could testify as to what he based his belief upon as a result of his consultation with fellow officers.

He said, “I never talked to him.”

Abel Reyna, the elected official, the Criminal District Attorney of McLennan County who had answered in the affirmative that he is the chief law enforcement officer in his jurisdiction,  had earlier testified that he had instructed him to assure himself before signing the affidavit by making phone calls or consulting with his fellow officers that he could testify of his personal knowledge of the allegation, non-specific as to details of that offense and leveled against 177 persons in identical specification of a non-specific offense against the peace and dignity of We The People.

Somewhere, the souls of men both great and small, long gone and perhaps forgotten, men who placed their lives and the lives of their families, their wives and children on the line, turned to one another either in Heaven, or in Hell, smiled and winked at one another in a world storied in myth and Holy Writ, a world unseen.

As the parties walked away from the Courthouse in the one hundred – plus degree heat of a dog day afternoon, Don Tittle was standing near the steps, arranging to meet yet another defense attorney at his office in the Liberty Building to discuss representation of a Twin Peaks defendant for violation of his civil rights.

So mote it be.

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‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people  peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances…”

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