A biker under indictment in the May 2015 Twin Peaks shootout is seeking to disqualify McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna’s office, in part, on grounds that Reyna has a financial stake as a defendant in civil rights lawsuits and because he could be called as a witness in the case.

Austin attorney Millie Thompson, who represents Thomas Paul Landers, a founding member of the Escondido motorcycle group and an active motorcyclists’ rights advocate, filed a motion Friday asking 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson to disqualify Reyna’s office from prosecuting Landers’ case.

Attorneys for other bikers have tried to disqualify Reyna’s office on various grounds. Those efforts were rejected at the trial court level and upheld by an intermediate appellate court in Waco.

Johnson has a hearing set for Oct. 20 to consider Thompson’s motion.

Reyna did not return a phone message left at his office Friday.

Another motion to disqualify Reyna is pending before Johnson, who is waiting to listen to a county jail telephone recording between Dallas attorney Clint Broden and his client, Matthew Clendennen, a former member of the Scimitars group, before ruling on the motion.

Clendennen alleges Reyna’s office should be disqualified because his attorney-client privilege was violated when his telephone calls were recorded at the jail.

Inmates are warned by a recording that their outgoing calls are routinely recorded. Attorneys can make special arrangements to call their clients without being recorded, jail officials said.

Prosecutor Michael Jarrett said members of the district attorney’s office have not listened to the tapes.

Landers, who was part of a trio of bikers who got 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother recused from their cases last month, alleges in his motion that Reyna has a financial stake in the case because Landers and more than 100 other bikers have civil rights lawsuits pending against Reyna and others in a federal court in Austin.

“A prosecutor should be disqualified from prosecuting a case when he is a witness that will be called at trial, and/or when a party demonstrates actual prejudice that stems from the prosecutor’s dual role as advocate-witness,” Thompson wrote in the motion, citing a ruling by a Texas appeals courts in Corpus Christi.

The motion also alleges that Reyna:

  • Persuaded Strother in an improper ex parte communication to order bikers to report to court so the DA’s office could execute DNA warrants
  • Engaged in ex parte communications with Strother to establish a trial lineup that benefits the state’s trial strategy
  • Deprived Landers of his speedy trial rights
  • Deprived Landers of due process by convincing Strother to bump Landers from his original trial slot
  • Deprived Landers of due process by preventing him from calling Reyna as a witness at a previous hearing
  • Deprived Landers, and all Twin Peaks defendants, of due process by issuing a press release that painted the 154 defendants as pedophiles by revealing the discovery of child pornography on certain cellphones confiscated from bikers
  • Deprived Landers of due process by withholding essential discovery from him
  • Flooded the defense with “voluminous irrelevant discovery for the purpose of preventing the defense from properly preparing the case for trial and hiding the relevant discovery that the state has, or has not, provided.

Strother and Reyna both have denied at previous hearings that they participated in improper ex parte communications in which it is alleged they spoke about matters involving the case without defense counsel being present.

Thompson declined comment Friday on her motion.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

Recommended for you