CIRCUITOUS ROUTE TO JURY ROOM AND COURT SHROUDED IN BARRIERS, FENCES AND TRAFFIC CONES, TENTS AND CAMERAS
SIX SHOOTER JUNCTION – Two sniper teams of three each provide triangulated fire zones at two choke points where jurors may likely face danger, coming and going from parking and transport.
As many as 38 undercover police officers watched carefully in and outside the buildings as veniremen arrived to fill out juror questionnaires for the Bandido organized crime capital murder conspiracy trial of Jake Carrizal, former President of the Dallas Chapter of the venerable motorcycle club.
Ear dongles dangled down coat collars of certain key men gathered outside the employee entrance to the District Attorney’s Office; others sported less conspicuous garb, but all were showing bulges where large handguns perched in quick draw concealment holsters.
The windows of the swinging doors to the auxiliary courtroom are fitted with blackout curtains so no one may see in or out.
An intricate series of barriers and temporary fencing create a corral of segregated parking areas on the square block of tarmac across the street between Washington and Austin Avenues, and there is no direct route from the University Park and Fourth Street exits on I-35. There is no direct access to barricaded Franklin Avenue, no straight shot from limited access to the downtown civic plaza and courthouse square areas.
Single axle trailer with flashing speed indicator hides a traffic camera
The McLennan County Courthouse is locked down tight with a moat bounded by the Brazos downhill, one-way Fourth Street east bound, and the narrow streets connecting to railroad tracks and a slow-going checkerboard of east Waco grids cut by diagonal cross streets.
To top things off, the Washington Avenue access curbside area is barricaded and a small trailer with a camera masquerading as a vehicle speed indicator records every car or truck that approaches the hot zone at the corner of Sixth Street, where jurors will arrive and depart.
Sheriff Parnell McNamara is ready for combat. No joke.
No one need ever see a juror’s face as they arrive or depart in vans
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SERVE ON MURDER TRIAL JURIES?
The answer to that question is simple enough. Those who want to do so, and have passed the close scrutiny of prosecutors and defense counsel during intense questioning about their history, attitudes, knowledge of the community about which they will hear testimony.
The Jury Questionnaire is detailed; its items carry a bite as distinct as that of any heat seeking predator. You can run, but you can’t hide.
Some questions were re-worded by the suggestion of Judge Matt Johnson, who corrected the questionnaire based on the agreement of the state and defense. One such item is, “What do you think about the biker lifestyle?”
Others are more routine, such as “Are you familiar with the Bandits, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club?” Inevitably, there was the question, “Have you ever been arrested and charged with a crime?” The veniremen are required to list the events by date and offense, when and where.
The lawyers will question the jurors about their responses to these questions, questions which they agreed upon during long wrangles in camera in the Court’s chambers, out of the gaze and earshot of the public, in open court beginning Tuesday morning.
They are looking for persons who can serve as fair and impartial finders of fact, people who will not be swayed by a bias against certain types of individuals with exotic enthusiasms, or the rigid authority of law enforcement officials’ judgment over a vague charge, that of engaging in organized criminal activity or directing the activities of an organized criminal street gang.
To pass such a test, one would have to really want to sit in judgment of whether Jake Carrizal left his home in the DFW area, traveled to Waco with companions, and with intent to cause murder in collusion with a combination of two or more persons and/or aggravated assault is guilty due to his role as a supervisor of his associates’ actions.
On the other hand, the alleged offenders maintain their claim. They were in this city on May 17, 2015, to hear an update of the progress of various proposed laws, one of which was the spending of a $17 million motorcycle safety fund extracted from licensed motorcyclists at the rate of $5 each time they renew their license. They also wanted to hear about a motorcycle profiling bill that would preclude law enforcement officers from targeting riders just because they are members of clubs.
The meeting was organized by the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a nationwide coalition of motorcycle enthusiasts who track such proposals in their state legislatures.
As Clarence Darrow once wrote in a popular magazine piece, you can indict a ham sandwich, but the resulting jury trial is won or lost before the first witness appears or the prosecutor opens his mouth to tell the reasons why an individual is guilty of a crime.
The decision was made in voir dire examination, which is Latin for the phrase, speak the truth.