19th Criminal District Court Judge Ralph T. Strother – photo by T.Witherspoon, Waco ‘Tribune-Herald’ staff writer
THAT SOUNDS LIKE CONTENT RESTRICTION, TO ME – Casie Gotro, defense counsel for Bandido Jake Carrizal
Jerusalem-On-The-Brazos – It is a well-known fact to one and all that T. Witherspoon of the Waco ‘Tribune-Herald’ is the dean of courthouse reporters in this fair university town that would be but a truck stop were it not for Baylor University.
Naturally, Witherspoon is the only media representative and erstwhile scribbler who is allowed to take pictures in the 19th Criminal District Courtroom, a fact reported in a story reported previously in these columns.
When Mssrs. T. Woods, city editor of that mighty organ of public opinion, and his boss, Steve Boggs, editor, apprehended that we of The Legendary had re-printed a picture of Bandido Jake Carrizal, the first of 155 persons facing murder conspiracy indictments in the criminal district courts following the massacre of May 17, 2015 at Twin Peaks Restaurant, snapped by Mr. Witherspoon, they responded with fervent and righteous objection in the dialect of high dudgeon.
Reached for comment, Mr. Boggs allowed that the or else to this unhappy occurrence is simple enough. “We will get the lawyer to get out a cease and desist,” he said.
Wot dis mean, Cholly, is equally simple. If we don’t do what he say do, then the injunction will include some verbiage about in this order fail not, or suffer the contempt of this Court, accompanied by thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening, and other words to that effect – expensive words, the kind that cost time in the cross bar hotel of the striped sunshine if you have not the coin to satisfy the clerk.
Cut to: A phone call from Ms. Casie Gotro, the defense counsel representing Jake Carrizal whom Judge Strother has threatened in a written order to appear with her client tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. – or else. He will order the revocation of the bandit’s bond, institute contempt proceedings against his attorney, and other – ah – well – distasteful consequences of which, dear hearts , you may well imagine if you may choose to give it any nevermind.
She recalled her first appearance in the Carrizal case, during which she learned of a verbal order by Strother to gag her utterances regarding the instant litigation, other circumstances surrounding the Twin Peaks – ah, let’s say – conundrum in general, and words to that effect.
She said of Strother regarding this latest contretemps: “He sounds to me like he’s all about content restriction.”
She recollected that when she made a verbal motion for the discontinuance of the gag order, he replied from the bench, “What do you want to tell people, Ms. Gotro?”
Her reply – “I asked him to reduce the order to writing, and he lifted the gag order.”
We’ve heard about this kind of thing before, as you know.
Same case, different defendants? Remember, the Twin Peaks indictments are based on an identical Affidavit of Warrantless Arrest applied to 177 persons arrested on that tragic Sunday, an instrument signed by Detective Chavez of the Waco Police Department.
We live and learn – while you wait – dear hearts.
Legal opinion gleaned so far from Ms. Gotro and an acquaintance of hers, Houston attorney Mark Bennett:
The material is germane to my reporting because my readers may be interested in courtroom conditions and the restrictions which apply to all other journalists other than those employed by the Waco ‘Tribune-Herald.’ The common law Fair Use doctrine could well apply. Would we like to find out? Hell, yes!
We would also like to challenge the Texas Journalist Shield Act in its subsection that stipulates as a result of a Senatorial amendment to the original House version of the Act that only those journalists who derive a “substantial” portion of income from their scribblings may claim privilege under the provisions of the law.
After all, there are a large number of Baptist preachers who marry, bury, preach and teach without ever making a dime. They are members of their churches and they serve their congregations with no demand for emolument other than love offerings. And yet the First Amendment and the provisions of the Texas Bill of Rights apply to them as well as the upscale ministers and pastors of uptown and high income congregations of all denominations of faith.
Same license, different style. As Miles Davis once asked through the mouthpiece of his horn, “So what?” They say it was Duane Allman’s favorite blues album. That’s Jimbo, brother. And the floggings will continue – until morale improves.
I am sincere.
So mote it be.