All those who cherish justice should rejoice at the resolve of Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, presiding judge of the Third Administrative Judicial Region, to undertake specific actions to address the judicial logjam involving the May 17 arrest and jailing of 177 bikers following a shootout at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant. His decision suggests a healthy perspective on how all this looks beyond Waco.
Stubblefield, who presides over a 26-county region, was to meet Tuesday with Ralph Strother and Matt Johnson, McLennan County’s primary felony court judges, to “basically brainstorm” ways to expedite bond-reduction hearings and other matters involving bikers’ cases. The meeting came two days after several hundred bikers converged on Waco to protest million-dollar bonds for bikers, many of them languishing in jail.
Bikers and others are understandably outraged at the bonds, which some call punitive. Then again, the shootout itself — a shocking incident that left nine dead and 18 injured and members of the public next door diving for cover — is so unprecedented in scope that it’s no surprise the sheer volume of arrests would overwhelm police investigators, district attorney’s staff and local judges. Any outside help is much appreciated.
“When you have 170 arrested at the same time, it is just a sudden rush, like if you were in a fast-food restaurant and three buses pulled up and all the kids want their food just as fast as they normally do,” Stubblefield said. “It is a nightmarish situation for everyone involved.”
Even with 95 bikers now released, biker advocates should welcome this latest development, given that so many legitimate questions remain inexcusably unanswered.