Waco – DA Abel Reyna is forging ahead with malicious prosecution of 155 indictments of alleged Twin Peaks offenders for engaging in organized criminal activity because he has a financial interest, according to a brief to be argued in appeals court on Wednesday.
The resulting mano a mano will take place in the ornate fourth floor courtroom of the 10th District Court of Appeals at the McLennan County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 1, at 11 am.
There are serious issues on the table.
F. Clinton Broden, the Dallas attorney representing Matthew Clendennen in the 54th Criminal District Court will get 20 minutes to tick off the reasons that Reyna’s professional and political future is wrapped up in a faulty decision to take over the Waco police investigation of a ultra-violent gunfight between bikers that prompted the intervention of cops with assault rifles. It resulted in 90 seconds of hell that left 9 dead, 20 wounded, and 177 charged with the identical offense on non-specific and completely unparticularized affidavits of probable cause sworn en masse before Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson – a complete abrogation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
And then the former Highway Patrol supervisor set each defendant’s bond at $1 million in order to “send a message,” an alleged violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure’s proscription against bail set so ridiculously high as to be punitive in its nature.
Broden succeeded in forcing Peterson’s recusal to hear examining trials of those so charged prior to their indictments.
In a hearing in an August hearing in support of a motion to disqualify Reyna and his staff from prosecution of the cases, Broden caught Reyna in a bald-faced lie regarding those charging instruments when he testified from the witness stand that he had instructed Waco Police Detective Manuel Chavez not to allege anything about the cases unless he could with good faith assert his personal knowledge of what happened, therein described.
While Reyna was excluded from the courtroom as a witness, Chavez had previously testified out of the presence of Reyna that he was not on the scene at the time of the eruption of vioence, that he was across town working on another case.
Following Reyna’s testimony, Broden recalled Chavez to the witness stand – where he answered the question of whether Reyna had so instructed him by saying he had not spoken to Reyna at any time that day, Sunday, May 17, 2015.
You could have heard a pin drop.
It is Broden’s allegation that not only did Reyna propagate a falsehood before the open Court, he at the time of the investigation on the fateful day of the gunfight at Twin Peaks became a “necessary witness,” as did his staff, by taking on the role of police officers directing an investigation, and not prosecutors observing and nominally advising the police as to the legal matters involved.
The central issue: “Whether Mr. Clendennen is denied due process by allowing the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute him in this case given the fact that the elected District Attorney as well as some of his assistants will be necessary witnesses at trial and given that the elected District Attorney has a huge financial interest in the outcome of these prosecutions.”
Broden added, “…Respondent (District Judge Matt Johnson) abused his discretion in denying Mr. Clendennen’s Motion to Disqualify McLennan County District Attorney’s Office and Appoint an Attorney Pro Tem.”
The allegation of jurisdiction is expressed this way. “The Court has jurisdiction of this Petition pursuant to Tex. Gov’t Code § 22.221.
“The Petitiion is also bought under the due course of law clause contained in Article 1, Section 19 of the Texas Constitution and the due process clauses contained in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
It is a fact that Chief Brent Stroman, Assistant Chief Robert Lanning, Detective V.R. Price, Jr., Detective Manuel Chavez and Detective Michael Alston were consistent in their recollection that Lanning and Price and other Assistant Police Chief did not believe all the Bandidos, Cossacks and their support club members should be arrested.
Despite their plan to transport the people who were present at the gunfight to various local police stations to be released, “McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna did not like this plan and did not like the decision that Lanning was making not to arrest all of the Bandidos, Cossacks and their support club membrers. Indeed, Mr. Reyna wanted all motorcyclists wearing ‘colors’ and present at Twin Peaks arrested regardless of club membership.”
Reyna also later told Chief Stroman by long distance phone that he wanted everybody arrested, “despite the opinion of each and every assistant police chief on the scene…”
Stroman testified that he knew of no plan to arrest everyone until he got back in town on Monday. The reason? That’s what Reyna wanted.
Reyna’s staff “set the criteria” by which Chavez’ arrest affidavit would be written and signed by the officer.
“Although Chavez would not normally sign an affidavit alleging facts as if they were in his personal knowledge when they were not, he agreed to do so on this occasion because, during the process, “the District Attorney’s office provided the police ‘false information.’”
Reyna testified that he gave very specific instructions to Detective Chavez to assure himself that he was to “read every single line and word in this affidavit…”
“Nevertheless, Detective Chavez testified that he never even spoke to Mr. Reyna that night!”
As a result of all these circumstances, Reyna and his staff members became “necessary witnesses” to the complaint, acting as law enforcement officers who would be able to offer direct testimony as to the facts of the offenses alleged in indictments.
The Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence preclude prosecution by such persons, as well as the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
“Moreover, Reyna has a huge financial interest in the outcome of the prosecutions,” wrote Broden in his brief.
Because he advocated for the arrest of Clendennen and a total of 177 alleged offenders without telling Chief Stroman of the exact charge, he and police officials, the Commissioners’ Court, and the Magistrate, Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson, are being sued in U.S. District Court for denial of a number of the defendants’ civil rights under the authority of 42 U.S. Code § 1983.
The number is not yet fixed because prospective litigants have until May 17, 2017 before the statute of limitations tolls and it will be too late to file suit.
By advocating for their arrests and the fact that he “also involved himself in the investigative phase of the cause prior to a determination of probable cause…Reyna could be personally liable for damages arising out of the false arrests of the mortorcyclists and consequently, his career and financial well-being are in jeopardy.”
Should Reyna be able to obtain a conviction in the case, “he reduces his personal financial exposure for the false arrests for which he advocated.”
Stroman will be allowed 20 minutes to make his argument, and following the answer of the Respondent, Judge Johnson, and the Real Party In Interest, the State of Texas, time to rebut the arguments.
The gavel drops at 11 am on Wednesday, March 1.