Waco – No doubt, it’s possible to get a fair trial in this city, but you’ve got to be willing to fight to get it on right downtown with finesse and all that’s fittin’ and proper.
Casie Gotro ended a love-in between 54th Criminal District Judge Matt Johnson, DA Abel Reyna, lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett, and herself in a mutual atmosphere of commisseration following a visiting judge’s ruling that Johnson should stay on the case, having been found unbiased.
Like Lt. Colombo, she stopped the music, once again, by saying, just one more thing, here.
“We need to talk about the police presence in this case. I count eight armed deputies in uniform in the room. I personally had three sheriff’s deputies following me around all day yesterday. I don’t like the feeling; I don’t understand the purpose for it, and if there is some kind of threat on my life, I’d like to be brought into the loop.”
The judge thought awhile, then said, “I can address that issue with the Sheriff’s Office.” He suggested there must be some solution. Gotro said, “Well, last week you had some guys in here dressed plain clothes. Maybe that would be more unobtrusive.”
Prior to the end – or perhaps the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, of the hearing, from which the media was excluded for quite some time because “Someone…” told a Deputy District Clerk no one is allowed inside, she aired her grievance with that bugaboo of writing about, investigating, or defending any criminal offense in the jurisdiction. Waco “Tribune-Herald” staffer Tommy Witherspoon told her the BS, that if the attorneys are in there, we’re on the record, and that’s that. He made a call and we all trooped in.
Checking with Sheriff Parnell McNamara later, it was learned, “We’re not doing anything to be mean or ugly to anybody. Our main concern is safety.”
So mote it be.
He said the problem had been solved between District Clerk Johnny Gimble an Courthouse Security Chief Lt. Lionel McGhee.
Done deal. But that ain’t all.
For instance, there is the fact that for months, when she visits the property room to see the evidence of audio taped or videotaped statements of witnesses, she is ushered into a room where the computer has no speakers. But that’s better than the way things started out.
At first, there was no chair.
They say in writing that they bent over backwards to provide for her comfort.
She said, “Come on, Judge, a chair? Speakers? That’s comfort?” They must not have heard her the first time.
It’s like this. When you are involved in criminal litigation, both defense and prosecuting counsel are involved in all proceedings, with the defendant, and the client of the State’s law firm, We The People Of The State Of Texas.
Now, this is an experienced criminal defense attorney on the road out of Houston, talking to a judge for the multiple go-round on thiss ridiculous dispute, about doing that which the State Bar of Texas has certified her to do, a decision ratified by the Supreme Court of Texas, and some clerk at the Waco Police Department can’t guarantee the chain of custody of evidence if she’s left alone with it for even a minute.
They’re a little short-handed, you see.
The judge spoke up and said, well, why not get a hard drive and put all the evidence on it, indexed, so “If we can admit it into evidence on the hard drive, then everyone agree…I would like to have that in the record so everyone can agree that everything has been produced.”
DA Reyna spoke up and said, “We have absolutely no problem with that, Your Honor. We will even furnish the equipment – speakers, whatever it takes.”
Jarrett then spoke up by whispering in the damsel’s ear, saying he has no exception to preparation of an order for Johnson’s signature to the effect that Waco PD, should provide access – the greatest problem being staff on duty to guarantee chain of custody.
That’s easy, said the judge. We can seal it by court order, and then the general public can’t get at it. You go by the index, access, and check it out.
Done, and done.
So mote it be.
“Now, we’re getting somewhere,” as Dr. Hannibal Lecter of Baltimore told Clarice Starling of Hubbard,Texas. Hannibal the Cannibal – the fictional character created by writer Thomas Harris who once worked at the Waco sheet. A psychiatrist, Hannibal the Cannibal only ate the free range rude. Yowza!
I am sincere.
- Legendary Jim