Dallas attorney Clint Broden continues to carve up McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna like a shark carving up a whale.
Yesterday, Broden filed a motion on behalf of two of his clients, Matthew Clendennen and Burton George Bergman, to recuse the McClennan County District Attorneys Office from any further involvement in the Twin Peaks case. Both Clendennen and Bergman were accused of “engaging in organized crime” because they were present at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. There is no evidence that either man actually committed or intended to commit any crime.
Reyna ordered the arrest of an additional 175, mostly innocent, witnesses that night. So far, a grand jury has indicted 154 people for a violent brawl and gunfight in the Twin Peaks parking lot that left nine men dead. At least four of the dead were killed by police.
Three Motions For Recusal
Clendennen and Bergman are both suing Reyna in federal court for false arrest. Another defendant named Ray Nelson has also moved to have Reyna and his assistants disqualified from prosecuting the case. Nelson is represented by Houston attorney Abigail Anastasio. Nelson is not suing Reyna for false arrest. Anastasio filed Nelson’s motion to disqualify the prosecutors in March. A hearing on her motion is scheduled for August 8.
Anastasio’s motion alleges that that Reyna should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because ne violated his neutrality in the case by “commandeering” the investigation and that his assistants, Michael Jarrett and Mark Parker, are potential witnesses in the case so they should be disqualified from prosecuting it as well.
Anastasio’s motion and Broden’s motion are all before Waco judge Matt Johnson. Johnson is Reyna’s former law partner and so far his rulings in the case betray his partisanism.
In the motions filed yesterday, Broden argues that “Reyna and his assistants arrived at the Twin Peaks scene within hours of the incident and inserted themselves into the role of investigators” and that Reyna “countermanded the decision by the ‘upper chain of command’ (of the Waco Police Department) in an act of political opportunism,”
The Clendennen and Bergman motions allege that Reyna is pursuing the criminal cases against the two men “based primarily on his own financial interests in that Reyna is being sued by them in federal court for violating their civil rights…. Reyna could be held personally liable to them for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, if the civil lawsuits succeed.”
“Reyna certainly has a financial interest in this case and his actions to date reflect that financial interest,” the motions argue. “Indeed, it is submitted that no right minded prosecutor would have sought an indictment against Mr. Clendennen in this case given that there is video showing Mr. Clendennen sauntering along the Twin Peaks patio when the violence is taking place outside the patio and which then shows Mr. Clendennen running inside the restaurant when the shooting began.”
Loser Doubling Down
“Nevertheless, Mr. Reyna did seek an indictment in this case. Moreover, given the time devoted to presenting the motorcyclists’ cases to the grand jury (less than five minutes per defendant) it is sadly obvious that Mr. Reyna did not present any of Mr. Clendennen’s exculpatory evidence to the grand jury. Likewise, Mr. Reyna’s office refused a request by Mr. Clendennen’s counsel to allow counsel to appear before the grand jury and make a presentation on behalf of Mr. Clendennen. Simply put, the grand jury proceeding amounted to nothing more than a rubber stamping of Mr. Reyna’s absurd theory of prosecution in this case. The only logical explanation for seeking an indictment against Mr. Clendennen was to give Mr. Reyna cover from the lawsuits which he knew were on the horizon. Lest there be any doubt, the only explanation for Mr. Reyna rushing an indictment and then requesting a year long delay in trials was so that he could use the existence of the indictments for his own financial self-preservation. Indeed, Mr. Reyna is now using the grand jury indictments in the federal civil rights cases in an attempt to avoid responsibility for his civil rights violations.
“Similarly, if Mr. Reyna was somehow able to obtain a conviction in this case, he could reduce his personal financial exposure arising out of the federal lawsuit. In light of the lack of evidence against Mr. Clendennen, it is difficult to understand how an objective prosecutor would take this case to trial. Unfortunately, Mr. Reyna has painted himself into a corner in which he must take the risk of taking the case to trial based on his own financial interests. Indeed, it appears that Mr. Reyna has been cast in the role of the lone player at the blackjack table at 3:00 a.m. in the morning doubling down on every losing hand and the reason he is doubling down is that he has no real choice but to double down.”