Justice Waco Style Y’All

July 9, 2015

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Justice Waco Style Y'All

The grotesque harlequinade of  justice strutting and preening in Waco has reached a jaw dropping low. One of the Waco police “investigators” of the Twin Peaks Massacre has been appointed foreman of the grand jury that will decide which of the 177 people accused of murder will be indicted and have to stand trial.

James Head, photo above, will lead the panel of 12 jurors and two alternates that will also consider whether police acted legally when they fired into a crowd of motorcycle enthusiasts who had assembled to eat lunch and talk politics at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17. Nine people died and 18 were wounded. The day after the massacre, Police spokesman W. Patrick Swanton said 192 people had been “detained.” On June 12, Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman said 239 people had been “detained.” An unknown number of those detainees were transported to the Waco Convention Center. That is where Head interviewed an unknown number of those detainees on May 17 and helped decide who was naughty and who was nice.

The men and women arrested in the aftermath of the Twin Peaks massacre were illegally ordered held by a caricatured justice of the peace named W.H. “Pete” Peterson. Peterson based his decision on false statements made by Waco detective Manuel Chavez.

A Little History

Head’s appointment is worse than an obvious conflict of interest. It also turns the whole point of a grand jury inside out. Grand juries in the English speaking world have protected free men from reckless accusations since the year 978. The “right” to a grand jury is specified in the first sentence of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which reads “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury.” Texas has now transformed the core meaning of a grand jury from “protector” to “accessory after the fact.”

In United States v. Mandujano Justice Warren Burger, who was hardly a bleeding heart liberal, wrote, “The grand jury is an integral part of our constitutional heritage which was brought to this country with the common law. The Framers, most of them trained in the English law and traditions, accepted the grand jury as a basic guarantee of individual liberty; notwithstanding periodic criticism, much of which is superficial, overlooking relevant history, the grand jury continues to function as a barrier to reckless or unfounded charges…Its historic office has been to provide a shield against arbitrary or oppressive action, by insuring that serious criminal accusations will be brought only upon the considered judgment of a representative body of citizens acting under oath and under judicial instruction and guidance.”

In a recent case that became notorious after the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Falkenberg took a long look at it last year, a Houston police officer named James Koteras headed a grand jury that indicted Alfred Dewayne Brown for the murder of Houston Police Officer Charles R. Clark. University of Houston law professor David R. Dow told Falkenberg that the appointment of Koteras to the grand jury “would scream conflict of interest to nearly all reasonable people.”

Nevertheless, there are no state or federal laws that address conflicts of interest for grand jurors. Head’s appointment is perfectly legal.

“That’s the way it turned out,” State District Judge Ralph Strother told the Waco Tribune-Herald’s Tommy Witherspoon. “There was nothing to prevent the detective from being a qualified member of the grand jury, just like there is nothing to prevent him from being a qualified juror. If there is nothing that challenges his impartiality, he is qualified. We have lawmen who get on jury panels all the time. Who is better qualified in criminal law than somebody who practices it all the time?”

McLennan County District Attorney Abelino “Abel” Reyna told Witherspoon “That’s the system. He was chosen totally at random, like the law says.”

What’s That Smell

Dallas Attorney Clint Broden, who is representing Scimitar Motorcycle Club member Matt Clendennen in the Twin Peaks case, thinks the system stinks.

This morning in a supplement to a Writ of Mandamus addressed to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth District of Texas Broden wrote, “There is a noxious odor surrounding the investigation by the Waco Police and the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office with regard to the ‘Twin Peaks Shooting’ and the wholesale arrest of 177 motorcyclists. This odor continues to waft and intensify with Detective Head serving as the grand jury foreperson over the investigation.”

Broden and Clendennen are both restrained from commenting on the case by a gag order so Broden has been compelled to communicate with the press and the public at large by way of written requests to the court for rulings.

“Mr. Clendennen is unable to respond to Judge Strother’s comments and point out that, even if possibly lawful, Detective Head’s participation in the grand jury process makes any grand jury decision unworthy of public confidence and that Detective Head should recuse himself from consideration of the motorcyclists cases,” Broden wrote to the world in this morning’s motion. “Indeed, it would be as if a relative of the defendant was the foreperson of the grand jury.”

Broden may be shouting into a storm. So far just about every cop, prosecutor and judge in Waco has made it clear they don’t need no stinking “public confidence.”


62 Responses to “Justice Waco Style Y’All”

  1. RVN69 Says:

    This is kind of long, but it was in response to a post by a Texas cop on another forum about a different shooting, he believes that Cops are justified to have rules of engagement that are more lienient than the troops in Afghanistan or Irag had, to him no police shooting is ever unjustified. The article I quoted was from an investigation of police shootings by the American Lawyers Guild, it ties in with Confederate Celts post above. Continuing to try to get anyone in the national news media to follow up on the rampant corruption in Waco.

    Originally Posted by CavCop View Post
    And there lies part of the issue today.

    When have the police ever shown evidence to the public, when all shootings get reviewed by a court and the case is still pending.

    The problem is everyone wants to rush to judgment and not let investigations and courts do their part.

    You might want to see the video, but if it goes to court, you don’t want it to have been posted on Youtube with a million views and people who form opinions and don’t know all the facts.

    The point of body cams is not so the public can watch a shooting, it so when it goes to court there is more evidence that the officer were doing their job dealing with a criminal. 99.9% of what is reported by the media as a bad police shooting, turns out to be the police dealing with a criminal that refuses to comply with an arrest. The investigation should be like any investigation, and not a news media show. People need to learn to wait for facts to come in and not be so judgmental. Granted we can all speculate what we think happened and how things went down, but we still need to let courts have access to information that will be part of a case that has yet to be presented to the court on an open case.
    99.9% hmmm, unless you have the stats to back it up it is just your opinion.

    There has been a clear escalation of violence by police, particularly since 9/11,” says Brigitt Keller, who heads up the National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “The willingness of police to use very harsh measures against people has definitely increased.”

    A big part of the problem, she says, is that these days “officer safety” is given primacy over “protect and serve.” A case in point: a South Carolina sheriff’s deputy in February shot and seriously injured a 70-year-old man at a traffic stop when the man tried to retrieve his cane from the back of his pick-up truck. The Sheriff’s Department said the deputy acted “appropriately,” as he had “a legitimate fear” that the cane might have been a long rifle.

    In another recent example, New York City police shot and injured an unarmed man who was acting “erratically” in Times Square. The officers were exonerated, while the man they shot was charged with causing injury to several bystanders—who were hit by the police officers’ stray bullets.

    “I’m all for police officers not getting hurt on the job,” says the Lawyers Guild’s Keller, “but if you make that your first concern, then it’s problematic, because you allow the use of deadly or excessive force in practically every situation between an officer and a citizen, and you end up with citizens getting hurt.”

    In fact, while being a police officer has been getting less dangerous, killings committed by police have been rising despite the drop in police who are killed.

    The numbers are eye opening. The Justice Department, which keeps all kinds of statistics on violent crime, does not tally up individuals killed annually by police. But by combing public news reports and other sources, the Justice Policy Institute has estimated that police officers in the U.S. killed 587 people in 2012 alone. Over the course of a decade, they’ve tallied more than 5,000 people in the U.S. during that period—far more than the number of people who lost their lives in acts officially classified as terrorism in roughly the same span.

    The many instances of deadly police violence captured on video give a visceral reality to these statistics. They show police beating and sometimes needlessly shooting citizens—even those with their hands up or armed only with a knife or stick while standing too far from responding officers to pose a threat.

    In some jurisdictions, police have responded to these damaging videos by routinely confiscating bystanders’ cell phones and threatening witnesses with arrest, even though federal courts have consistently held that citizens have a right to photograph and videotape officers engaged in police actions.

    The National Police Accountability Project’s Keller suggests that, along with the public’s acceptance of military-style policing, the killing of civilians has become more acceptable too. Police are rarely punished for killing people—even those who were unarmed or already restrained—because in most communities, police shootings are investigated by the police themselves, or by a closely-allied district attorney’s office. Indeed, about 95 percent of police shootings end up being ruled “justified,” a statistic that hasn’t changed as the body count has risen.

    “I think when non-targeted individuals are killed in a raid, or when a person is shot in the course of a routine traffic stop, it’s seen as a kind of ‘collateral damage,’” Keller says, “instead of as some tragic or criminal use of excessive force by police.”

    Public indifference to “civilian” casualties in police actions highlights a disconnect: The public perceives rampant crime while the actual crime report suggests nothing of the sort.

    This fundamental misapprehension seems to be fueling the continuing political push for more police and tougher policing. While the militarization of law enforcement has little or no relation to the falling crime rate, there is reason to fear that it is eroding our constitutionally protected rights under the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

    “I’m not sure that spending money on more police, on Kevlar suits and on things like armored vehicles is the most efficient thing to do,” says UNH’s Kirkpatrick. “It might be better to spend it on Big Brother/Big Sister-type programs and other kinds of services for kids. The trouble is, we generally implement public policy based on sentiment, not logic or statistics, and thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and its really quite dramatic reports on crimes, the average Joe or Jane thinks that things have gone nuts.”

  2. EclecticAK Says:

    The first of over 10 Don Carlos videos leaked! Bad angle, shows mostly area immediately outside Don Carlos front door…. http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/07/11/waco-twin-peaks-shooting-update-cctv-video-released/comment-page-1/#comment-1516295 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpPNX4PHKVQ

  3. Philo Says:

    RE: Cell tower intercepts, et al

    Look – everything in life is trade-off’s, right? If you use any form of electronic medium, in any way,the government is vacuuming it up and analyzing it. Period. There’s nothing you can do that will stop them from doing so, except avoid all forms of electronic mediums. And even then, we have far surpassed critical mass in the sense that even if you were completely, “off the grid”, all of the info about you can be gleaned from those close to you who are not.
    So knowing that, the only thing to do is be very cognizant of the type of data you allow. Dont want to be tracked? Only buy phones with removable batteries, and remove it when you are out and a out. That’s it folks. Nothings going to change it. It’ll only get worse as technology becomes more, “convienent”..


  4. rojas Says:

    One thing is clear. You can’t shake a sheet in Waco without a cop, a judge and someone from the DA’s office being in bed together.

  5. Rebel Says:

    Dear Cynically Jaded,

    Thank you for this.


  6. T Hell Says:

    @Cynically Jaded

    A great deal can often be ascertained not only by what is said but by the words people use. Unarrested is a particularly interesting word, a word that I have not seen before, personally plenty of times I have heard the word arrested, under arrest, arrested and held over for bond, arrested and released on my own recognizance, arrested and held without bond, I however, have never heard the word unarrested. It’s too bad the men killed by the police in Waco can’t be unshot or un-fucking-murdered.
    Rest assured Rebel has not slept since receiving your post.

    T Hell

  7. T Hell Says:


    I’m Back, the blackout appears to be over

    Thank you for your work on my particular issue, Ide be interested in knowing what you came up with if you find the time.

  8. Road Rage Says:

    Cynically Jaded

    Strong post. Post more please.

    Respect to the real. Ride hard. Stay up.

    Road Rage.

  9. Cynically Jaded Says:

    From the talk I’ve seen in various places, “unarrested” is an inside term generally used for Confidential Informants who may have been picked up in an op and not been able to identify themselves on the scene for fear of being outed amongst the group for which they are informing upon.

    Now as to these specific people mentioned in the previously linked doc:

    Rod Nash is the owner of a recently closed bike shop called Kay’s Motorcycle Mania located in Nolansville, TX. He’s originally from a town in ILlinois and is a Vietnam vet. Judge Peterson, or Walter H “Pete” Peterson is ex Vietnam vet as well, former police officer for Copperas Cove PD (close to Waco), then Dps, then JP and now judge. He got some criminal justice education from Central Texas College. Rod Nash, likewise is an army vet, and went to school at Central Texas College …

    Make of this what you will.

  10. Ol'Goat Says:

    can’t find “unarrested” in Blacks law dictionary 6th or 7th edition.

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