“The Houston Chronicle has jumped into the fray over a gag order issued in the case involving 177 bikers charged in Waco for their alleged roles in a melee that left nine people dead and 18 wounded,” the paper self-reported Friday. “The Chronicle’s parent company, the Hearst Corporation, is one of 16 news media companies that are supporting a biker’s fight against the gag order. Others include the Associated Press, New York Times and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.” . . .
“Authorized journalists” doing their job and acting as a watchdog on government seems a rarity to those of us jaded from seeing the establishment media act more like propagandists and spiking stories that don’t advance a narrative. In this case, the joint action is the result of legal circumstances that also merit further scrutiny.
“A state district judge [ruled] that a Dallas attorney can have a copy of a Twin Peaks franchisee’s video of the May 17 biker shootout, but the judge barred the release of the video to the public,” the Waco Tribune Herald reported. “Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court also granted a prosecution request to place a gag order in the Matthew Alan Clendennen case, preventing attorneys on both sides, law enforcement officers and witnesses from discussing that case only in the media.”
For his part, Clendennen, per Dallas/Fort Worth’s 5NBC, maintains “he was unfairly slapped with a gag order after publicly criticizing how the investigation has been handled [and], said the order in the state’s criminal case against him is unconstitutional and outside the court’s jurisdiction because he has not been indicted.”
That’s not the only questionable conduct on the part of both the court and the DA. For starters, again per NBC 5, Judge Johnson and prosecutor Abel Reyna, who requested the granted gag order, have enjoyed a longstanding personal and professional relationship. They’re former law partners, and Reyna contributed the maximum amount allowed by state law to the judge’s political campaign.
Problems from the government side don’t end there. In another move gun owners will be familiar with (because the technique is used to smear them all the time) Breitbart is reporting the use of language intended by the prosecution to tarnish reputations and prejudice the public, such as “persistent and flagrant use of terms such as ‘outlaw bikers,’ ‘biker gangs,’ and ‘outlaw biker gangs’ when referring to motorcycle riders and all of the bikers in Waco on May 17th. They cite legal opinions that prevent such ‘guilt by association’ arguments by the State.”
That flies in the face of the judge’s stated reason justifying his gag order…so that the potential jury pool would not be “tainted.” Add to that the empanelling of a grand jury under a system criticized as “pick a pal,” as opposed to random selection, and it gives credibility to allegations such as those leveled by oversight monitors like “The Aging Rebel” that “The gag order seems intended to protect public and police officials from being confronted with their own lies.”
But wait, as late TV pitchman Billy Mays used to say, there’s more, and if not directly related to the gag order and biker shootout stories, it’s at least indicative of government personnel.
This is the same DA’s office where one of their own negligently fired a gun inside the office, taking out a window he was pointing at and hitting a building across the street. Even afterward, despite intentionally pulled the trigger without determining there wasn’t a round in the chamber, the assistant prosecutor insisted he was “being extremely safe. I inspected the gun even after I was told it was not loaded, but it was just an unfortunate accident.”
And while he made a show of being angry, DA Reyna was adamant his guys would stay armed. And rather than treating his underling like he would a citizen — arresting, charging and prosecuting him — Reyna merely demoted the guy, and even then cited “related but unspecified personnel matters” as factors for a pay cut that still compensated the shooter with a six-figure salary.
Then there was a man who was forced to remain jailed an extra 83 days because Reyna’s office “declined his case for prosecution but failed to notify the McLennan County Jail.” The DA said he accepted responsibility, but accountability for these things always seems to come out other people’s pockets.
This is the prosecutor who doesn’t want defense lawyers and the media to inform the public of information relevant to a high-interest case — and his crony buddy on the bench goes along with it? This is the judge,who, with colleagues, approved $1 million bonds on arrested bikers, and then “ordered no other judge could rule on motions to reduce the bonds.”
There are plenty of questions to investigate regarding alleged criminal activities by those involved in the Twin Peaks incident. That’s what trials with a presumption of innocence are for. And investigating and reporting on all aspects of those trials, and of events leading up to them, is the purview of the “official” and alternative media, with their activities supposedly protected by the First Amendment.
For the prosecutor and the judge to hold their interests above scrutiny is unacceptable. All Americans interested in justice should join in seeing the gag order overturned so the truth is not suppressed by those wielding power to accuse and punish.