There have been a couple of motions filed in the last 24 hours with the Court of Appeals for the Tenth District of Texas that argue the issue of whether defense attorneys for the 177 scapegoats in the Twin Peaks Massacre, and the scapegoats themselves, and any witnesses interviewed by police who managed to avoid becoming scapegoats, must be silent or whether they have a right to tell their tales.
Abelino “Abel” Reyna, the Criminal District Attorney for McLennan County, Texas filed his motion about five yesterday afternoon. Clint Broden, the attorney for the scapegoat named Matt Clendennen filed his about 10:30 this morning.
Reyna’s brief is a bubble of hot air that stinks. He begins with a “Statement of Facts” that alleges:
“On May 17, 2015, a shootout between rival criminal gangs erupted at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, McLennan County, Texas. Nine people died in the shootout and many were wounded. (Clendennen) was apprehended at the scene, wearing distinctive signs or symbols indicating association with a criminal gang. (Clendennen) was arrested pursuant to warrant for the felony offense of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity. Details of the incident reported in the press showed that in addition to the nine deaths, eighteen subjects were wounded. Five identified outlaw biker gangs participated in the melee. In the wake of the violence, there was a heavy traffic of outlaw biker gang members traveling to the Waco area, and law enforcement intelligence had discovered that a ‘green light’ had been given by certain criminal organizations to take retribution against law enforcement and/or members of rival gangs. One hundred seventy-seven persons were charged with Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity out of the event, and one hundred fifty-one firearms were recovered from the crime scene.”
In a discussion with a prominent and highly competent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney this morning, The Aging Rebel learned about a case titled Terry Dean Eaton v. the City of Tulsa in which the Supreme Court established the principle in American law that it is perfectly appropriate to call “chicken shit” chicken shit. Reyna’s argument against free speech is chicken shit. Somebody should tell him that both he and his brief are chicken shit. Reyna should stop trying to throw a tarp over the giant pile of chicken shit that is also known as the City of Waco and the County of McLennan. For one thing, nobody makes tarps that big. For another thing, it is too late, baby. The whole world has already seen and smelled this chicken shit. Tragic though it may seem to stutting roosters like Reyna, Patrick Swanton and W.H. “Pete” Peterson you can’t shove the shit back in the chicken. It doesn’t really matter what the Texas Tenth District rules.
Decide for yourself. Reyna claims to be worried that allowing Clendennen and Broden to talk to the press would appeal to the “emotional nature” of the case, do “irreparable harm to the judicial process and will deprive litigants of a just resolution of their dispute.” Can you smell it yet?
Reyne’s big conclusion reads, “At stake are fair trials for one hundred seventy-seven people, and justice for nine dead.” Can you smell it now?
In his reply Broden argues. “The State’s Response Brief actually highlights almost everything that is wrong with the ‘gag order’ in this case. Indeed, it purports to give this Court ‘facts’ of the case that it claims are ‘facts’ because these facts are ‘what
(is) commonly known through press reports….’ The State then cites to press conferences held by state actors….”
“The word ‘gang’ appears in the State’s brief ten times,” Broden counts, “in an apparent attempt to prejudice this Court, just as the State initially attempted to prejudice the public against Mr. Clendennen. This tactic was strongly condemned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit” which noted the pejorative nature of the word “gang.”
“What is lost on the State,” Broden continues, “is the fact that, because the police gave almost constant press conferences when these events initially unfolded and because the McLennan County District Attorney went on television to describe ‘gangs’ and
explain to the public that the 177 arrested must be guilty because they were not speaking to the police, the defense will now ‘have no idea of knowing (whether) what (witnesses are) telling us (is accurate), if they remember that, if they saw it, or
if they watched it …’ during one of the State’s numerous press conferences.”
“It should be obvious to even the casual observer that what the State sought to do is fill the public’s mind with pictures of ‘outlaw biker gangs’ and misinformation and when it believed that it sufficiently accomplished that task it sought a gag order
ten minutes before an unrelated hearing with no notice that it was moving for such an order.”
Finally, Broden points out:
“The State tells the Court that ‘it would behoove the Court’ to recognize what the State perceives to be the uniqueness and enormity of this case. Again, the irony is lost on the State. There have, of course, been other situations like this with mass deaths and injuries. For a recent example one need only look to the Boston Marathon bombings where it does not appear a gag order was imposed. Nevertheless, in those other situations the police did not overreact and arrest almost everybody at the scene of the crime whether or not they were simply innocent witnesses such as Mr. Clendennen. The unprecedented overreaction and civil rights violations using ‘fill-in-the-name’ arrest warrants to arrest and detain numerous innocent individuals is a mess of the State’s own making and the enormity of it is one of the very reasons that a gag order infringes on important free speech.”
“In short, it is only through the strong protection of free speech rights and the ‘sunlight’ provided by the media that Waco and McLennan County citizens can fully evaluate what occurred at Twin Peaks, the tax dollars it cost, and the actions of their
elected officials. Likewise, it is only through robust debate that these citizens can determine whether, in light of the across the board $1,000,000 bonds set in this case in order to ‘send a message,’ the citizens are satisfied with the current state of the law providing that justices of the peace need not have any formal legal training or whether they believe the legislature should be lobbied to require justices of the peace to have law degrees. Regardless of a taxpayer’s ultimate conclusion on the myriad of important societal issues that this case presents, only the strong protection of free speech and a strong media will provide citizens with the background to make these type of evaluations that are imperative to democracy. Simply put, unlike the State which believes the enormity of this case, albeit one of its own making, justifies keeping the public in the dark (except for the ‘facts’ it wanted the public to hear in
the days following the incident), Mr. Clendennen believes that the enormity of this case and the issues involved counsel against the gag order.”
We can’t smell it now. Can you?