Texas' Top Criminal Court Blocks Waco Biker Case Gag order

Texas' Top Criminal Court Blocks Waco Biker Case Gag order”

Today the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals removed the gag order issued a year ago in the case of a biker arrested in the Twin Peaks shooting.

The opinion lets stand an order by the Tenth Court of Appeals that overturned the gag order on August 7, 2015, in the case of Matthew Clendennen, a member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club who was arrested at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015.

Local authorities have frequently cited the gag order in refusing to comment on any of the pending cases against bikers charged in the May 17, 2015 shootout between rival gangs and police that left nine bikers dead and 20 more injured. Shortly after the ruling, however, District Attorney Abel Reyna sought the CCA's ruling, which allowed the gag order to remain in effect until an opinion was reached today.

In a one-line opinion, written by Justice Cheryl Johnson, the court said, "We deny mandamus relief and withdraw our order staying the proceedings".

Reyna issued a brief statement Wednesday afternoon in which he said, "The gag order was requested by the state to help preserve and maintain everyone's right to a fair trial".

State District Judge Matt Johnson issued the gag order on June 30, 2015 in the case of Matthew Alan Clendennen of Hewitt, after ruling that Dallas lawyer F. Clinton Broden, who represents Clendennen, could obtain surveillance video of the shootout from the owners of the Waco Twin Peaks franchise, but could not release it to the public.

Broden, who represents Clendennen said after nearly a year the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals restored Clendennen's First Amendment rights. "In short, we will leave our talking for the courtroom", he said.

Phone calls to Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman were not returned.

Broden stated he doesn't know if lifting the gag order will impact his client or other defendants.

Broden filed an emergency petition, arguing that the gag order violates Clendennen's right to free speech and alleging that the finding to implement the gag order was "insufficient to establish that any unidentified pretrial publicity in this case has risen to the level that it poses an imminent and severe harm to a fair and impartial trial".

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