Waco Coercion Alleged

June 1, 2015

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Waco Coercion Alleged

A Houston, criminal defense lawyer alleged over the weekend that prisoners rounded up in the dragnet that followed the Waco Massacre 15 days ago are being coerced into signing a statement that local police “had the right to arrest the inmate and that he/she will not file a lawsuit against McLennan County and/or the City of Waco.”

In a press release issued on May 31, lawyer Paul Looney said he had learned that “an attorney representing at least one of the detainees had been offered…bond reductions” in exchange for signing the statement. The press release didn’t identify the attorney or the defendant.

The Clendennen Suit

Last Friday, a prisoner in the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco named Matthew Alan Clendennen filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Waco, McLennan County, Texas, a Waco cop named Manuel Chavez and 20 additional, unnamed law enforcement officers. The suit complains that Clendennen’s arrest and imprisonment are unconstitutional and seeks unspecified actual and exemplary damages. Clendennen and at least 100 other defendants were arrested and charged using a photocopied, generic complaint. The suit also alleges that the city and county have used their authority to steal more than 100 vehicles. Clendennen is represented by Dallas attorney F. Clinton Broden.

In general, successful claims of false arrest and detention result in compensation of  $2,500 to $5,000 per hour of bogus detainment. In one case titled Martinez v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey the complainant was awarded $160,000 after spending 19 hours in custody. The award was upheld by the Federal Second Circuit.

As this is being written, Clendennen’s false arrest claim alone would typically be satisfied with a judgment against the defendants of about $2 million. Considering that Waco police arrested and detained at least 170 people without what Clendennen’s suit calls “individualized probable cause;” and without considering the egregiousness with which local authorities trampled on the Constitution and the exemplary damages that might result from that; or the legal fees that would result from multiple civil rights lawsuits, Waco, McLennan County and the state of Texas are now faced with a potential liability of about $340 million.


In hindsight, in a news season that has been dominated by stories about and public backlash against police excess, maybe  the Waco Police Department should have taken a moment to consider how its self-congratulatory braying during the last two weeks might be viewed by Federal District Judges.

Waco’s defense against a possible flurry of civil rights law suits is probably not enhanced by the coercion Looney alleges. It is also not likely that any agreement by an illegally imprisoned defendant to not sue Waco in order to get out of jail amounts to legal “acceptance” under contract law in most first world countries. Under federal criminal law, the alleged offer can be construed as a racketeering act. Although it is unusual, it is not unprecedented for a police department and its members to be prosecuted under the racketeering statute. In 1984, the Key West, Florida police department was prosecuted under RICO and an unsuccessful RICO case was brought against the Los Angeles Police Department in 2000.

In his release, Looney states, ““It appears the public defenders office in McLennan County is involved in this scurrilous activity. I’ve never seen anything like the lawlessness that the authorities have perpetrated on these people and now to add insult to injury they are trying to cover their own tracks in exchange for bond.” If his statement is true, the public defenders office would be part of the same racketeering conspiracy.

Looney’s law partner, Clay S. Conrad said, “They know these people aren’t dangerous or they wouldn’t be offering the bond reductions and they know the police and the D.A.’s office have violated the law and now they are trying to hold people hostage until they agree to waive their rights. It’s unconscionable.”


15 Responses to “Waco Coercion Alleged”

  1. XYZ Says:

    And, it gets even more wierd:

    What’s Up With the Bogus Waco Biker Bond Reduction Story?


    “But Galveston attorney Susan Criss, who represents several of the bikers, told us in an email that an assistant McLennan County district attorney received texts about the waiver idea from Lannen, and that the ADA read the texts to Criss, her colleague, Looney, and two McLennan County District Court judges. Yikes.”

  2. Jim Says:

    So, if this is true, are the local press hearing about this and reporting it accurately? Somebody has to have the balls in Waco to print the truth. I hope everyone stays in jail and sues the shit out of the Police dept., do the ballistics testing on all weapons and find out who really shot who. This all just pisses me off!

  3. Bob meadows Says:

    Protest video please share it!
    Title : Waco River of Blood !


  4. Pissedintx Says:

    Debbie I can’t find that release anywhere on the website http://www.looneyconrad.com

    I wonder what happened to it?

  5. JohnnyD Says:

    I don’t believe that Texas law comes into play in a federal civil rights suit. I believe it only applies to state court suits against government agencies. When Bowtie made his video, he stated that he had been in touch with other attorneys in Texas saying the same thing. It would be very hard to prove any conspiracy in the District Attorney’s office, or among the Waco PD and DPS. But the false imprisonment and wrongful deaths will be simple.

  6. calvin, john Says:

    A man convinced he is dying of thirst, when offered water often times drinks before asking questions.

    Plea deals sound better than jury trials if the defendant is convinced he cannot win at trial, whether true or false.

    I don’t expect anyone to play fair or fight clean, ever.


  7. Enlightened One Says:

    $25,000 bond for a deputy in Waco, a few weeks prior to this tradegy, for soliciting sex with a victim under 18 years of age. Just shouldn’t sit well with anyone.


  8. 55 Says:

    Good news, Rebel. The fat lady is stepping up to the mike for the Constitution-crushers in Waco. Thanks for keeping the music going and prodding her to the microphone. And the song she will sing will sound a lot like Esoteric’s Ignotum per Ignotius… (warning, this is the most intense song on the planet, 22 minutes long … the scream around the 11 minute mark is the symbolic scream of all those wrongly held in Waco’s jail…hang on)

    Esoteric – Ignotum Per Ignotius: http://youtu.be/cHLljASO7Ow

  9. oldskewl Says:

    If these men and women can hold out until they kick them OR pending a court date it might benefit them monetarily.
    I wonder how iron clad the document would be even if you signed it?

    It’s a tough call, jail sucks ass.



  10. Randy in Pensacola Says:

    They’re laying the whole “no sue” agreement at the feet of local attorney Brittany Lannen (who, btw … used to work for the Waco DA Office. surprise, surprise)

    I bet there’s a lot of e-mail’s at Waco PD, DA, & Public Defender’s Offices are being deleted faster than Hillary Clinton’s at this very moment. (see 18 USC 241 … Conspiracy to violate civil rights)

  11. DEBBIE Says:

    FROM THE FB PG OF LOONEY & CONRAD P.C. “That entire debacle was orchestrated by McLennan County private attorney Brittany Lannen,” Looney said. BREAKING NEWS IN WACO:
    Here’s our Media Release as of noon today:
    Earlier today, prosecutors in the Waco District Attorneys office began meeting with defense attorneys for motorcyclists involved in the May 17 shootout at Twin Peaks in order to reach bond conditions and reduction agreements. Paul Looney, Houston attorney with Looney & Conrad, P.C. said he had a productive meeting with Michael Jarrett, First Assistant Prosecutor with the McLennan County District Attorneys office. During that meeting a reasonable bond was agreed to with only minor conditions.
    “My clients were released this morning. We have every expectation that they will be ‘No Billed’ during the Grand Jury process because they are completely innocent of any criminal activity,” Looney said. “The judges in McLennan County and the District Attorney’s office were quite helpful in securing the immediate bond release.”
    It has been determined the District Attorney’s office was not involved in yesterday’s attempt to get defendants to waive their rights of litigation in exchange for bonds. “That entire debacle was orchestrated by McLennan County private attorney Brittany Lannen,” Looney said. “Her behavior in this matter is bizarre, unprofessional, unethical and unappreciated by all of the attorneys representing defendants, by the McLennan County District Attorneys office, and by the McLennan County court staff. Her behavior will be reported to the State Bar of Texas for investigation this week.”

  12. XYZ Says:

    “Waco, like every city in Texas, is insured by Texas Municipal League insurance.”

    Maybe whoever wrote that is not fully informed, as it seems some cities have insurance through the Texas Municipal League, and some are self-insured:

    “Not all cities are self-insured. Others, particularly midsize to smaller cities, have policies with insurance providers such as the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool, which has about 2,600 clients statewide.”


  13. Shyster Says:

    I certainly hope all those unlawfully detained hold their mud. Waco will pay.


  14. Demon.xxx Says:

    FXR, that maybe correct, then again, how can they claim an emergency if they were at twin peaks prior to bikers arriving. Also, how did they know there was gonna be trouble? Who told them? Undercover police in a routine investigation? Seems like regular police work and possibly a conspiracy, but not an emergency, that is with the exception of the cya actions taken after the “event” was over.

  15. FXR Says:

    This is from another forum, about Waco and the lawsuits…no clue if it’s accurate

    The city’s finances are irrelevant. Waco, like every city in Texas, is insured by Texas Municipal League insurance. Like every other city, claims are capped at $500,000 for tort. However, if the officer was responding to an emergency, like this situation, the city is immune from tort liability.

    The civil rights lawsuits would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to win.

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