Texas Court Tells Waco Twin Peaks Judge to Vacate Gag Order

Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP
Photo: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP

The Waco Court of Appeals held on Friday that a lower court judge was wrong to issue a gag order in connection with a Twin Peaks biker case. The court ordered the trial court judge to lift the order. The gag order was imposed on June 30th.

Waco Court of Appeals Chief Justice Tom Gray granted a petition for writ of mandamus filed by one of the bikers. The appellate court gave 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson, seven days to vacate his order.

The judge issued the gag order upon the prosecution’s motion.

The issue was raised after the biker’s lawyer, Dallas lawyer Clint Broden, received a copy of a surveillance video from the Don Carlos restaurant, and procured a subpoena for the Twin Peaks restaurant’s surveillance video. The video was posted on the Broden, Mickelsen, Helms, & Snipes law firm website. The Mexican restaurant is located next door to the Twin Peaks restaurant. Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price reported on the video and posted a copy of the leaked video.

Breitbart Texas reported that Judge Johnson stopped the release of the Twin Peaks video, and issued a gag order.

Broden represents Matt Clendennen, a Hewitt biker who was caught up in the Twin Peaks bikers’ arrests where the Waco police department arrested 177 bikers en masse and charged them with engaging in organized crime.

Broden represents Matthew Alan Clendennen and he urged that he needed the video in order to help him prepare for an August examining trial and a pending motion to amend bond conditions.

Clendennen is a member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club and is out on bond after having been arrested.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, Clendennen filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Waco, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and individual peace officers. The federal lawsuit complained that Clendennen’s civil and due process rights have been violated.

Broden notified media outlets on Friday about the appellate court’s granting of his petition for writ of mandamus. Broden emailed the order and wrote, “I will have a lot to say soon, I have been saving it up.”

Friend of the Court briefs in support of the lifting of the gag order were filed by several media outlets and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA).

Broden, the media, and the TCDLA, argued that the trial court judge did not have jurisdiction to issue the gag order because the biker has not been indicted, and the order was unconstitutional because it violated the biker’s right to free speech. They also argued that the gag order defeated Clendennen’s right to effective assistance of counsel and endangered his right to a fair trial.

Breitbart Texas has been reporting on the problems that the bikers have been experiencing in Waco (McLennan County).

The 177 bikers at the Twin Peaks restaurant were swept up in a mass arrest and all charged with the felony of engaging in criminal activity because they were at the restaurant.

Besides being arrested en masse irregardless of individual probable cause for arrest (fill-in-the-blank probable cause forms were used) and issuance of $1 million bonds that defense lawyers have condemned as unconstitutional, the bikers have also had to fight “guilt by association” arguments by the prosecution. Moreover, a Waco Police Department detective was recently made foreman of a grand jury in McClennan County.

The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and TCDLA President Sam Bassett have repeatedly issued statements with regard to actions taken by officials in McLennan County.

“The Waco Bench and DA’s office should look in the mirror and realize how foolish this looks to the outside world,” said famed Houston lawyer Dick Deguerin in response to a prior inquiry from Breitbart Texas. “First they round up the usual suspects, charge them all with a fill-in-the-blank complaint, set ridiculous million dollar bonds, refuse to have timely hearings, then put a local cop in charge of the grand jury. Even Stevie Wonder could see how unfair this looks,” said the prominent criminal defense lawyer.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, police characterized the afternoon gathering at the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant as a gathering of criminal biker gangs with violent intent; however, the bikers say the meeting was a legitimate, organized gathering of motorcycle riders to discuss political and other issues.

The Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents (CoC&I) have frequent meetings to discuss biker safety issues, proposed legislation, and other motorcycle issues. Their website gives a very different impression of the group’s purpose and goals than what has been portrayed by Waco PD Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton in his press conferences. His statements have been repeated by the media.

An AP report after the shootings shows what has become a repeated narrative:

 Five gangs had gathered at the restaurant as part of a meeting to settle differences over turf and recruitment. Prior meetings had been held at the restaurant, and managers there had dismissed police concerns over the gatherings, he said.

“They were not here to drink and eat barbecue,” Swanton said. “They came here with violence in mind.”

Louie Nobs, liaison to the board of National Coalition of Motorcyclists, and former National Vice President of Soldiers for Jesus MC (motorcycle club) told Breitbart Texas, “I am not willing for our Christian bikers to be vilified as ‘engaging in organized crime’ when our mission is to serve the biker community. We marry them, bury them, make hospital visits, and raise funds to help their families. How does that make us a “biker gang?”

Steven Cochran, vice president and a founding father of the “Sons of the South MC,” and the Texas State Director of the Texas Legislative Strike Force told Breitbart Texas, “We have been demonized and dehumanized. The continued dialogue is being falsified to support their narrative – a narrative that was false from the beginning.”

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

Waco Court of Appeals Granting of Clendennen’s Pet Writ Mandamus

TCDLA Amicus Brief Clennenden


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.