Chief prosecutor Michael Jarrett (l) discusses fine points of Twin Peaks cases with defense attorney F. Clinton Broden (r) at hearing
Waco – Records show that within two days the prosecutor in the Twin Peaks cases knew he was facing problems in just how he would defend himself against claims of false arrest.
An insurance policy obtained through open records request shows coverage of Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna in his official capacity is limited to $500,000 per claim and $1,000,000 per incident, including attorney’s fees.
But that’s not all. “Lo and behold, it does not appear that the TAC (Texas Association of Counties) policy provides any coverage to Mr. Reyna for acts in his individual capacity,” stated F. Clinton Broden in court papers answering numerous objections by public officials and lawyers for the insurance carrier to provide any information whatsoever.
The issue is at the heart of hearing reopened to determine the limits of Reyna’s insured limits and just who is paying his legal fees, a thorny issue that halted the court’s inquiry into the merits of a motion to disqualify him as the prosecutor in 177 cases of engaging in organized criminal activity filed against bikers on May 17, 2015 following a deadly shoot-out between members and supporters of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs.
Reyna insisted under cross examination that he had no knowledge of the extent of the coverage, or even who, exactly was paying for his legal representation. He said defense attorneys would have to “talk to my lawyers” to find that out.
At the time, 54th Criminal District Judge Matt Johnson, a former law partner of Reyna, called on attorneys for Matthew Clendennen, a member of the Scimitars support club of the Cossacks, and Ray Nelson, Hill County Chapter President of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club, to file interrogatories seeking answers to those questions from attorneys representing Reyna and the insurance carrier.
Replies from the TAC attorneys claimed that providing answers would violate attorney-client privilege.
Hence, Clendennen and Nelson were compelled to reopen the public hearing of August 8, set to resume on Friday, October 14, at 10:30 am.
“In the end, however, the defendans simply want somebody from McLennan County to verify what is likely known to everybody but Mr. Reyna. In other words, that McLennan County officials have not committed McLennan County taxpayers to writing a blank check and funding Mr. Reyna’s defense and any judgments against him in his individual capacity in excess of any insurance coverage,” Broden concluded in his answering documents.
According to phone records obtained through discovery, Reyna contacted Steve Henninger at the law firm representing the TAC and spoke to him for an hour only two days following the arrests of bikers whose arrests he ordered simply because they were wearing the “colors” of motorcycle clubs. By doing so, according to the defense motion to disqualify Reyna and his staff, the prosecutors became “necessary witnesses,” thus disqualified under professional rules of responsibility to serve as prosecutors representing the State of Texas.
Broden notes in his answer that the arrest affidavits are identical in the 177 cases, names of defendants provided on a fill-in-the-blank basis, their bail set in each case at $1 million.
Reyna is facing civil rights litigation in an Austin federal district court for violation of more than a dozen of the defendants in suits that claim his culpability in both an official as well as an individual capacity.
Potentially, judgments and attorney’s fees could run into the millions of dollars in those cases.
McLennan County officials including County Judge Scott Felton and members of the Commissioners’ Court have similarly indicated they will not testify about the insurance issue because to do so would be a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act if they are all situated in the same courtroom outside of an official session of Commissioners’ Court.