The attorney for nine of the Twin Peaks bikers told Breitbart Texas that he was in effect told “You Sir, are poured the f*** out.” A hearing was held this week on motions to remove three McLennan County judges who set and retained $1 million bonds on bikers arrested at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. The attorney argued that the judges demonstrated bias and should be recused from making future rulings.
Austin lawyer Adam Reposa argued that the $1 million bonds were unreasonably oppressive, unconstitutional, and the judges clearly showed bias in setting them.
Breitbart Texas reported the story when Reposa filed his motions to remove these judges.
Breitbart Texas also reported that two of the same judges had three bikers re-arrested after they bonded out on reduced bonds. Their bonds were reset to $1 million but they were able to bond out again. The article was entitled in part, Waco Judges Gone Wild.
The judge appointed to hear the motions to remove the judges, retired criminal district judge Doug Shaver from Houston, denied the motions to recuse and said that the bond process should be expedited so the men would not be a burden on taxpayers who are paying to keep them in jail.
Reposa told Breitbart Texas that “At the end of the hearing, the judge focused less on the innocent people and their constitutional rights and more on the taxpayers.” He also focused less on the $1 million bonds and more on them wearing a patch (referring to the bikers’ motorcycle club membership).
The defense lawyer also added, “There has been no focus on due process, or probable cause. There is no probable cause connected to a crime. We are going on 24 days of all 170 being arrested on a defective probable cause affidavit.”
Those arrested and incarcerated are concerned about losing their jobs, and losing their wages while incarcerated. A $1 million bond costs approximately $100,000 in order to bond out.
Reposa argued at the hearing on the motions to remove the judges that the judges’ impartiality could reasonably be questioned – one of the standards for removing a judge from hearing a case.
Reposa filed the motion to remove Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson because he not only set $1 million bonds for 174 bikers, but added he was doing so to “send a message.” Peterson does not have a law degree.
According to the Waco Tribune Herald, Peterson said “I think it is important to send a message… We had nine people killed in our community. These people just came in, and most of them were from out of town. Very few of them were from in town.”
Motions to remove Judges Matt Johnson and Ralph Strother were also filed because they approved the $1 million bonds, and ordered that no other judge could rule on motions to reduce the bonds.
The judges were questioned by Reposa during the hearing on the motions.
Breitbart Texas talked to Houston-based lawyer Kent A. Schaffer, who has over 30 years of criminal law practice. Schaffer called the bonds “absurd and unconstitutional.”
Schaffer continued, “Bond is supposed to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court, but this judge set bonds based upon his desire to teach the defendants a lesson, and not out of some concern that they will not appear in court.”
He said “The hearing should not take place in front of the same judge who has already made comments that evidence his lack of respect for the constitution and the rule of law,” Schaffer told Breitbart Texas. “Sending a message is not one of the factors that is to be considered by the court in setting a bond.”
Breitbart Texas talked to Randy Kubosh of Kubosh Bail Bonding in Houston, which includes Harris County, Texas, the third largest county in the United States. He called the $1 million bond “astronomical” and noted that the bail schedule in Harris County for a non-capital murder is $50,000.
Kubosh said, “Bail is supposed to guarantee someone’s appearance in court, not punish them.” He continued, “It appears that the judge intended to be punitive,” he added.
Breitbart Texas also talked to Joe Ash, of Ash Bail Bonds in Waco. He said that “$10,000 is mostly what we see on that charge (engaging in criminal activity) but I can also pull up at least 40 cases where it was $5,000.” Ash has two clients who were involved in the Twin Peaks incident and it cost them $100,000 to bond out on a $1 million bond.
Breitbart Texas also obtained this statement from the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association:
The Waco situation of recent days raises serious concerns. It seems unprecedented that you have 170 individuals charged with the same or similar crimes and identical bail amounts set at 1 Million Dollars each. When you consider the constitutional prohibition against excessive bail as well as the requirement for probable cause prior to arresting an individual, the risks of abuse in the Waco case seem obvious.
Reposa told Breitbart Texas that “The judges have broad discretion but then the constitution steps-in.” He added, “That’s where the constitution is being denied.”
The Austin lawyer said “I think the judge agreed that you can’t hold someone on a $1 million bond if they don’t have probable cause or a criminal action against them, but I was chopped off.”
“The judge basically admitted that people are in jail that don’t belong there which is a problem, but he did not believe it rose to the level of questioning the bias of the judges.”
According to the Waco Tribune Herald, the judges have approved reduced bonds for 58 bikers after agreement were reached between the district attorney’s office and defense lawyers. The publication also reported that 47 bikers have been released from jail as of Thursday evening.
The judges who testified during the hearing said they had not rejected any agreements for reduced bonds since negotiations began on May 30th.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state as a prosecutor and as an associate judge. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2