Waco judge recused from 3 Twin Peaks trials
Retired state Judge James Morgan has recused 19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother from the cases of three Twin Peaks bikers after defense attorneys argued the judge had sided with the prosecutors on two issues including which trial to hold first.
Morgan informed McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, Strother and defense attorneys Clint Broden, Millie Thompson and Susan Criss of his decision by email on Wednesday.
The ruling was not made public.
The three defense attorneys, who represent indicted bikers Thomas Paul Landers, George Bergman and Rolando Reyes, filed motions on July 30 asking Strother to recuse himself.
Strother refused and then had to inform an administrative judge who in early July appointed Morgan to set a recusal hearing.
During the hearing on Aug. 16, Strother was on the stand for more than three hours.
Morgan then gave attorneys until Aug. 25 to file final briefs before he made his decision.
"Obviously Mr Bergman and I are pleased,” Broden said Wednesday.
“I think Judge Morgan ultimately realized that it's not a question of whether Judge Strother is fair or thinks he can be fair, but whether he has created an impression for the reasonable man on the street to question whether he would favor the state given the totality of the evidence."
Reyna said the ruling won’t affect prosecution of the cases.
"We respect and support the decision of Judge Morgan. The District Attorney's office is perfectly fine with trying its case in front of any fair and impartial judge. Unfortunately for the defendants this ruling does not change the facts and the evidence in these cases. We look forward to presenting our case in court,” he said.