Robert G. Callahan and Christopher L. King respond to questions
Waco – When and why Judge Ralph Strother issued the warrants used to seize DNA samples from bikers accused of engaging in organized criminal activity will be a key element in a battle to suppress evidence.
Lawyers who intend to challenge the validity of the search warrants used to obtain the samples in the Twin Peaks cases are playing their objection “close to my vest (pun intended)…”
Suppression of any evidence will hinge on the wording of the affidavits as to the purpose of the search because they may have been expired at the time officers of the court served them at a pre-trial hearing, it was learned.
According to a missive from the law firm of Callahan & King, “I’ll get you a copy of the search warrant. In short, they had expired. They’re only valid, I believe, for 3 days.
“While this has been brought to the DA’s attention, I don’t think they understand that yet. So, I’m trying to keep that card close to my vest (pun intended) for now. I’ll use it to our advantage later.”
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides for three time periods for the warrant to run under three specific purposes, as amended by recent acts of the Legislature.
According to Section 18.07 (1), the time limit is “15 whole days if the warrant is issued solely to search for and seize specimen from a specific person for DNA analysis and comparison…”
In two subsequent subdivisions, there are provisions for 10 whole days if the purpose of the warrant is to seize electronic evidence from computers, cell phones or telephone pen registers, and three days if the warrant is issued for other purposes.
In all cases, the Code requires that affidavits of probable cause must specify the person and place to be searched; the items to be searched for; and the specific complaint for which they are sought.
Warrants of search must be time stamped as to the time and date a Court issued them.
According to a previous story that appeared in these columns, lawyers involved in the litigation objected to the method by which the search warrants were obtained from 19th Criminal District Judge Ralph T. Strother. They allege it was done through ex parte communications between he and the staff of District Attorney Abel Reyna.