A retired judge ruled Wednesday that 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother should be removed from presiding over the cases of three Twin Peaks bikers, saying he thinks the average man on the street might say, “Judge, you’re just not being fair.”
“It is unfortunate that there was ever a need to file this motion to recuse,” Thompson said. “Nevertheless, we now have hope for a fair trial. A fair trial is not too much to ask for.”
After 22 hours of evidence, a juror's dismissal, hallway conversation in close proximity to a witness that nearly led to a mistrial, a reading from Rudyard Kipling by a defense attorney, one woman ejected for taping portions of the testimony, and one witness recalled only to be dismissed without actually answering any questions – it was fitting to see prosecutor Matthew McCabesummarize the week's proceedings to the jury during final arguments as being "literally a three-ring circus." Generally speaking, Class C misdemeanor trials don't require four days of proceedings. This one, featuring cop-watching activist and organizer Antonio Buehler, extended into the unimaginable by its first lunch break.
Thompson suggested instead, via a string of testimonies, that Oborski infringed on Buehler's First and Fourth Amendment rights and that Buehler had done nothing to provoke Oborski illegally. She had Buehler testify to his ignorance of the officer's order, and repeatedly twisted state witnesses around their own sworn testimonies. During cross examination, Carrillo once responded to a hypothetical drafted similarly to the Buehler episode by saying one could charge the officer with assault.
Two defense attorneys have sent a demand letter to six Travis County Court-at-Law judges seeking an end to the misdemeanor court system’s Jail Reduction Docket, and are threatening legal action in the form of a motion for injunction in federal court if the judges do not acquiesce to the request.
The attorneys, Millie Thompson and Amber Vazquez Bode, argue the docket – which processes the cases of low-level offenders in rapid succession, sometimes in pools of 60 inmates, in the name of reducing crowding in the county jail – violates the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendment rights of inmates, and “necessarily forces attorneys to violate” ethical standards concerning confidentiality.
Thompson and Vazquez Bode say it “encourages convictions as a condition of the clients’ freedom.
“Prosecutors offer plea bargains, but almost never offer to dismiss the charges. Many times, the plea bargain is ‘back-time,’ or the amount of time that the accused has spent in jail at the time of the Jail Reduction Docket. While the incarcerated clients want to be released from jail, pleading to ‘back-time’ results in permanent criminal convictions. Because they know they cannot post bail, [and] hear that jury trials take months and probated sentences are expensive, many plead guilty to the allegation solely to get out of jail” – even if they are actually innocent or could present mitigating evidence during a proper trial."