A visiting judge denied a request Friday to remove 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson from hearing a request to disqualify McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna from prosecuting Twin Peaks shootout defendant George Bergman.
Retired State District Judge Joe Carroll, of Bell County, was appointed to hear the matter and signed the denial Wednesday before it was filed Friday. Dallas attorney Clint Broden, who represents Bergman, sought to recuse Johnson from presiding over a hearing in which he will seek to disqualify Reyna and his office from handling the case.
Johnson declined to voluntarily step down from hearing the disqualification motion.
Bergman, 50, a Dallas truck driver, is a former member of the Desgraciados motorcycle group and is among 154 bikers indicted in the May 17, 2015, shootout in Waco that left nine dead and 20 injured. A jury panel is scheduled to report to the McLennan County Courthouse on Jan. 12 to fill out a questionnaire ahead of a tentative trial date of Jan. 22.
A mistrial was declared in the first Twin Bikers biker trial after the jury told Johnson they were hopelessly deadlocked. The defendant in the first trial, Jacob Carrizal, president of the Dallas Bandidos chapter, is charged with directing the activities of a criminal street gang and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity with the underlying offenses of murder and aggravated assault. He was the chapter’s vice president at the time of the shootout.
Bergman is the first defendant scheduled for trial next year. Broden said he was not seeking to recuse Johnson from hearing Bergman’s case at this time, only from hearing the motion seeking to disqualify Reyna.
“I think it puts Judge Johnson in a difficult position when he is not really entitled to rule in the motion, but he is going to have to now,” Broden said. “Abel Reyna is his former law partner.”
Johnson recused himself from overseeing the case of former biker Matthew Clendennen, another of Broden’s clients. Reyna also recused himself from prosecuting Clendennen. Reyna had testified in a pretrial hearing in Clendennen’s case.
Senior Judge Doug Shaver, of Houston, was appointed to hear Clendennen’s case, and three private attorneys practicing in the Houston area were appointed to prosecute the case.
No upcoming trial date has been announced for Clendennen.