Judge dismisses McLennan DA subpoenas, refuses testimony in hearing
A retired visiting judge ruled Monday that subpoenas issued to employees in the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office were improper, then refused to hear any additional testimony on a reported FBI investigation of the DA.
Judge Douglas Shaver, the retired 262nd District Judge in Harris County, quashed subpoenas that named employees of District Attorney Abel Reyna and invalidated the subpoenas seeking specific evidence, which meant none of Reyna’s employees would be forced to testify on the issue raised by F. Clinton Broden, a Dallas lawyer who is representing a Hewitt man in the Twin Peaks cases.
In late October Reyna acted to rescuse himself from the prosecution of Broden's client, but Broden has argued that actions Reyna took immediately after the deadly May 2015 Twin Peaks shootout are still relevant to the case.
Broden suggested Monday he had rebuttal on the motion to quash, but Shaver would have none of it.
“I’ve already ruled on that issue. If you have something new, I’ll hear it, but if not, we’ll move on,” Shaver said.
Broden had a list of people who were called to honor subpoenas in a hearing Monday morning, but just a couple of minutes into testimony from the first witness Broden called, the judge abruptly ended the hearing, sent the witness off the stand and refused to allow Broden to call any other witnesses.
“Get down. You’re done,” Shaver said to Julissa West, the former personal assistant to Reyna and the only witness to actually take the stand on Monday.
West was answering a question from Broden about what an assistant district attorney heard Reyna say on the day of the Twin Peaks massacre.
West said the assistant DA wasn’t actually involved in the Twin Peaks investigation, but she knew what Reyna had said.
“She wasn’t actually there,” Shaver asked from the bench as he interrupted her testimony.
Shaver stopped West, looked at Broden and said “You’re through. This is utter nonsense.”
Broden was trying to establish that Reyna is the subject of an FBI investigation into misconduct revolving around improper campaign donations that may have been made in exchange for dismissing certain cases.
Two weeks ago he issued a list of more than a dozen subpoenas seeking evidence to former assistant DA’s, DA’s staff and former staff, FBI agents and retired Waco police officers.
Those subpoenaed were supposed to be in court Monday to answer the subpoenas, and several named were there, some with their own lawyers.
Shaver brought a quick and decisive end to the issues in a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes.
“He (Broden) should appeal that ruling,” one defense lawyer who was in the courtroom said.
“He has an absolute right to call witnesses and that judge just refused to let him do it,” the lawyer said.
After the hearing Broden refused to answer any questions, saying that Shaver had placed all lawyers involved in the case under a gag order barring them from speaking with media about the case.
In fact, the gag order was the first issue brought up Monday when Broden moved to have Reyna held in contempt for violating the order.
“Mr. Reyna spoke with (local news media) about this very issue and he violated the gag order,” Broden said.
After reading Broden pleading, Shaver said: “This is totally innocuous,” and took no action.
“I realize the issue is innocuous, but he violated the court’s gag order” and should be held to account for it,” Broden complained.
The three specially appointed prosecutors who have been assigned to the case Broden is defending were in the courtroom as well.
Shaver spoke with all four lawyers trying to reach a consensus for a date for the neat round of hearings and for the start of the trial for Matthew Alan Clendennen, Broden’s client.
“Now we need to set a date for the real motions and the speedy trial issue,” Shaver said.
“We can start today. I’m ready and Mr. Clendennen is ready,” Broden announced.
“They (the prosecutors pro-tem) inherited this mess,” Broden said.
Broden said if the prosecutors pro-tem will just look at the evidence against his client, they’ll see Clendennen did nothing wrong on the day nine bikers died and two dozen more were injured in a biker brawl outside a local restaurant.
“They (the state) could dismiss that case if that’s the case,” Shaver said.
They all agreed the next hearing would happen March 5 and 6.
“We can’t do anything in April because the other Twin Peaks trial goes to re-trial,” Shaver said, referring to the case of biker Christopher Jacob Carrizal, whose first trial ended in a hung jury earlier this month.