The hunt is on for an impartial judge to hear 20 Twin Peaks biker examining trials. The administrative judge for the Waco region has asked a Travis County judge to hear the trials.
This comes after one of the judges was found to be biased by a fellow judge after a hearing on a motion to remove him. The other justice of the peace is accused of saying she is biased.
The Waco Tribune-Herald has reported that the administrative judge of the Third Judicial Region, Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, said he is waiting to hear from the Travis County judge.
A former McLennan County prosecutor hired to help with the cases, suggested that “an out-of-town judge might quell more criticism about what the bikers and their supporters are calling the unfair McLennan County justice system,” reported the Tribune-Herald.
Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson, one of the judges in the Waco Twin Peaks cases, has been removed from making any further decisions in biker Matthew Clendennen’s case. Judge Joe Carroll from Bell County was appointed by the regional administrative judge to hear Clendennen’s motion to recuse.
Clendennen’s lawyer, Clint Broden, filed a motion to remove the judge and was successful in arguing that the judge was biased.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Judge Peterson is the judge who set $1 million bonds and said he was doing so because “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.”
Criminal defense lawyers and bondsmen have called the bonds “astronomical” and “unconstitutional.”
Peterson, a non-lawyer, also signed the “fill-in-the-blank” arrest warrants which led to the arrest of all 177 bikers. The warrants have been criticized for their failure to set out probable cause for each biker individually.
In addition to his motion to remove Judge Peterson, Clint Broden filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct alleging that the JP violated the judicial canons of ethics in how he presided over the biker cases.
The Tribune-Herald reported that Waco police officer Manuel Chavez testified that Peterson “signed the arrest affidavits in bulk, without an individual determination for each defendant.”Broden’s complaint also alleges Peterson set bonds “in mass, group hearings without considering the rules for establishing bonds under the Code of Criminal Procedure.” The ethics complaint also states that Peterson refused to set probable cause hearings in some cases for almost three months after the May 17th arrests.
The other justice of the peace is accused of expressly stating that she could not be impartial.
The judge, Dianne Hensley, also admitted that she has never conducted an examining trial. Hensley was reported to have said she would “have to do some research” but would prescide over the examing trials if appointed.
Waco attorney David Deaconson told the Tribune-Herald that there have been maybe three or four examining trials conducted in McLennan County in the past 30 years. He is the ex-prosecutor appointed to assist in these cases.
Examining trials are used to flush out the prosecution’s evidence and look at the issue of whether probable cause exists as to that particular biker.
A gag order has been placed on the Clendennen case, and his attorney, Clint Broden, is prohibited from speaking to the media about the case. Broden has appealed the gag order to the court of appeals.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2