MISTRIAL ONLY OPTION FOR JURORS WHO DON’T SEE THE CASE
WACO – Just like the riotous conditions provoked by the police at Twin Peaks, the final day of deliberations was over before you knew it had begun.
The final question asked, “Would you have had a better chance at acquittal had you been able to obtain timely discovery?” provoked only a wave of the hand and a hip-slung pirouette to the privacy of a conference room on the rotunda of the old courthouse.
It was a question that deserved no answer, prompting laughter from the excited gallery, a bit of comic relief.
Casie Gotro and her co-counsel Thomas Lane obtained a take nothing judgment in a bruising criminal conspiracy trial of a man accused of being a party to capital murder, aggravated assault, and the brutal treatment of nearly 300 persons gathered for a political meeting on Sunday, May 17, 2015 at a trendy theme bar-restaurant, Twin Peaks.
Jake Carrizal is a Bandido who drives locomotives for a living, delivering freight to warehouses and rail yards all over the Metroplex and most of north Texas.
His government spent a month tarring him with the brush of guilt prosecutors failed to prove to a jury desperate to get back home to careers and kids, wives and husbands – fearing financial hardship if they could not.
Prosecutors complicated the preposterous case against the man who rode in at the head of a column of brother Bandits on his Harley into an ambush by nearly hundred angry gun-wielding Cossacks bent on revenge.
They tried to kill him, his brother, and his father, and the unseen hand of a “law enforcement-based entity” ordered his arrest along with 176 others on a cookie cutter, fill-in-the-blanks arrest affidavit with no particularized accusation of any specific act judged to have caused the deaths of 9, wounding of 20, and the hateful flight from fear that made men and women crawl across the filthy floors of restrooms and barrooms, hiding in coolers and waiting for the all clear while police officers wielding rifles stood over wounded men as they bled out.
In the end, the defense attorney who hails from Houston told the jurors that if it had not been for the swift action of a SWAT team member who shot his assailant, her client would probably have been murdered by a Cossack on a murderous rampage with a six gun in his hand.
Lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett told them that Jake Carrizal has not the right to self defense because he “fits the criteria” of a member of an outlaw criminal street gang as determined by “expert” gang investigators.
“You don’t bring a gun to a fight and claim self defense,” he said.
Jake got on the witness stand and admitted he had a two-shot derringer that he fired twice.
It didn’t matter, according to the elected Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna. He told jurors in both his opening and closing statements that just being there was good enough for a conviction that would land a man in the penitentiary potentially for 99 years and a minimum of 15 on the charge of engaging in organized criminal activity, 25 on the charge of directing the activity of a criminal organization, the Bandidos.
Their chief evidence?
He sent an e-mail to members of his chapter of the club, saying, “Bring your tools,” and not to bring their old ladies.
This is code for going to a gunfight.
Next time, he answered a prosecutor, he would probably just go ahead and say, “Bring your guns.”
“We were targeted.”
There is ample evidence of that, exculpatory in nature and suppressed as inadmissible hearsay in an audio recording released near the end of the trial that set the defense scrambling.
The pattern persisted from the time the defense began to assemble its case, said Ms. Gotro. She would get emails from prosecutors that claimed either they had already furnished the items requested, or that it didn’t exist.
In the middle of the prosecution’s case, she caught numerous items of this type as the subject of direct examination questions of witnesses. Each time, she would stop the music, make a complaint of prosecutorial misconduct, and request dismissal of the three-count indictment.
The judge persistently overruled her objections.
At one point, she stalked from the courtroom, shouting at the top of her lungs.
“It’s criminal!” she said of the prosecution’s ongoing campaign of withholding evidence of an exculpatory nature.
After hours of deliberation on Thursday, November 9, jurors sent a note to the judge saying they were hopelessly deadlocked. He sent them to a hotel for the night.
About 10:30 on Friday, the jury foreman sent a note that said a mysterious Mr. P was deadlocking a count of the indictment 11-1, and later, at point in mid afternoon, the foreman indicated that the sands had shifted yet again, that the jurors were deadlocked on each of the counts, that further deliberation would yield no results.
He said some of the jurors, fearing economic hardship if they couldn’t get back on the job, were refusing to consider any evidence whatsoever.
They were finished, ready to walk away.
After sending the “dynamite charge” allowed by a Supreme Court decision to prevent deadlock, the judge examined the jurors in the courtroom.
The foreman said he couldn’t remember how many votes for and against acquittal had been cast. He just said they were deadlocked. His desultory affect announced to the world that this is someone else’s problem, from here on in, and the judge released them from their service.
In a brief hearing, he ordered all the exhibits returned to their original sources, which means that if a subsequent proceeding is initiated on the original charges, the discovery process will have to start all over again.
And with quick and effusive statements to the media gathered to hear the news, Ms. Gotro and her associates left the building the same way they arrived.
The family Carrizal, three brothers, a mother and father, strolled away to the parking lot, so relieved they were radiant.
So mote it be.
- The Legendary