Supreme Court declines to consider former McLennan County DA’s appeal of decision to reinstate lawsuits filed by bikers in Twin Peaks shootout
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider an appeal by the city of Waco and McLennan County in lawsuits filed by bikers arrested in the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout that left nine bikers dead and 20 injured.
The nation’s highest court denied without comment a request from the remaining defendants in the federal lawsuits, including the city of Waco, McLennan County, former District Attorney Abel Reyna and former Waco police officers Manuel Chavez and Jeff Rogers.
Attorneys for the defendants asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an April decision by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that reinstated the lawsuits of about 90 bikers whose civil rights cases were dismissed last year by U.S. District Judge Alan Albright of Waco.
The federal appeals court panel reversed an Albright ruling that held a grand jury’s indictment of the 90 bikers “served to break the chain of causation” for their false arrest claims and sent the cases back to Albright for further action in the wake of the court’s ruling.
Dallas attorney Don Tittle, who represents most of the bikers, said he was not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision not to consider the appeals.
“The arguments advanced by Reyna and the city defendants always seemed like a Hail Mary to me based on existing law,” Tittle said. “I guess these days with the different make-up of the judges on the Supreme Court parties are throwing anything out there with the hope of decades-long precedent being struck down. The defendants were essentially arguing that 50 years of civil rights laws should be struck down.”
Waco City Attorney Jennifer Richie said the cases are still in the preliminary stage.
“At this time, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to consider the issues we presented” Richie said. “They could take up these issues at a later time.”
Dallas attorney Tom Brandt, who represents McLennan County and former DA Reyna, said Monday that “we will proceed with our defense in the district court.”
The 5th Circuit opinion put the civil rights cases of about 90 bikers back in play and instructed Albright to determine if each defendant has alleged appropriate claims that they were falsely arrested after the chaotic melee. The ruling did not affect the pending cases of about 34 bikers who were not indicted.
Attorneys for the bikers challenged the validity of the arrest warrant affidavits, claiming the 192 bikers were arrested on identical allegations and charged with engaging in organized criminal activity. The bikers all were jailed under $1 million bonds, including some who did not participate in the clash.
Of the 192 arrested, 155 were indicted. Only one biker, Jake Carrizal, went to trial, which ended in a hung jury and mistrial. The remaining cases eventually were dismissed by Reyna and current DA Barry Johnson.
The bikers’ lawsuits claim they were falsely arrested without probable cause and that the grand jury could not have received a thorough presentation of the facts of the shootout simply because of the number of defendants and the relatively short time it took the grand jury to issue the indictments. They also allege the grand jury was not shown video of the fight between the Bandidos and the Cossacks and their support groups that could have cleared many of wrongdoing.
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