Law and Order Ex-Judge Says ‘Waco 170’ Arrests Raise Red Flags

The Associated Press

A pro-law enforcement, pro-military, ex-judge and ex-federal prosecutor with 39 years of public service said he has “looked at the facts” and “there are many, many, red-flags in this case.”

Mike Snipes represents Matthew Alan Clendennen, one of the “Waco 170” Twin Peaks bikers. He suggested that “the Department of Justice get involved in this case.”

Breitbart Texas was in Waco on Monday when Snipes said, “I was a federal prosecutor for many years, very proud to have been in the department. They’ve got the kind of professionals that are needed to come down here and straighten this case out and to give some assistance.”

Snipes said “generally speaking, I am extremely pro-law enforcement, pro-military, very, very, proud of our great country, and have served, I hope, with some degree of honor and duty for the last 39 years.”

He represents Clendennen along with his partner Clint Broden.

Breitbart Texas reported that Clendennen claims he is innocent, and that his arrest with the rest of the Twin Peaks bikers was a result of a broad sweep by Waco Police. He was reportedly on the patio at the Twin Peaks restaurant when the fighting began and took cover inside the restaurant before being arrested by the police.

Clendennen, a member of the Scimitar Motorcycle Club, is a former firefighter and a Baylor graduate.

As previously reported by Breitbart Texas, Clendennen filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in late May against the City of Waco, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and various police officers. He has asserted violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The lawsuit states “It was the policy of the City of Waco, as decided and approved by their policymakers, to cause the arrest and detention of numerous individuals … regardless of whether or not there was individualized probable cause to arrest and detain a particular individual …”

The lawsuit petition continues by asserting “the arrests were “based on ‘fill in the name’ complaints without individualized facts. This policy was carried out repeatedly, and as a result, over 170 people were arrested and detained, with each one of those persons given the identical $1 million bond, with no regard to their individual situation.”

On Monday, Breitbart Texas reported that during the Waco press conference, Clendennen called on the Texas Governor and Attorney General to intervene.

Clendennen’s lawyer, Mike Snipes, said that the amount of bond, $1 million, was “far too excessive.” He said “bond is not designed to oppress individuals.”

Snipes said the amount of bond is to “present reasonable assurances that a defendant will appear in court and keep the community safe. It is not supposed to be used to send a message, as this justice of the peace in this case indicated.”

He said because the arrest warrants did not have individualized probable cause, there were “very, very serious problems with that in this case.”

He said the arrest warrants alleging probable cause were “fill in the blank” forms. He said the only thing that was individualized in the warrants in these cases were the names of the various defendants. He said the rest of the arrest warrants were essentially the same. He said Texas courts have specifically found problems with this method of stating probable cause, naming cases where the courts have done so.

Snipes said in addition, “It is not illegal per se to have a justice of the peace sign an arrest warrant.  However, that does lead to certain red flags.”

He noted that a justice of the peace does not have to be a lawyer. He asked, “So, how would you expect a layman to be able to evaluate probable cause, a very, very, serious, legal standard in a way that a lawyer could?” The lawyer and former judge and prosecutor answered his own question: “Well, you wouldn’t.”

Breitbart Texas has reported that defense lawyers, bails bondsmen, and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA) has condemned the bonds as “unconstitutional” and “astronomical”.

The TCDLA issued a press release stating that “The Waco situation … 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.”

Motions were filed to remove the judges who set the bonds, but the motions were denied by a judge who was appointed to hear them.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state of Texas as a prosecutor and associate court judge. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2


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