A visiting judge on Monday denied a motion to dismiss a case against a Twin Peaks shootout biker while admonishing District Attorney Abel Reyna, saying Reyna should be ashamed for using the biker’s picture and featuring pending cases in political ads.
Clint Broden, the attorney for biker Matthew Clendennen, cited a 10th Court of Appeals opinion written by Reyna’s father, former Justice Felipe Reyna, and argued the 34-month-old case should be dismissed for violating Clendennen’s right to a speedy trial.
Broden argued that all delays in Clendennen’s case have been caused by Abel Reyna. Reyna, the district attorney, sought a continuance in the first trial setting and a year later recused his office in Clendennen’s case. Shaver is now presiding over the case since 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson also recused himself in the matter.
Clendennen was arrested after the May 17, 2015, shootout at Twin Peaks between rival biker groups that left nine dead and dozens injured.
After visiting Judge Doug Shaver denied the motion to dismiss the case, Broden asked the judge to order Reyna to remove images of Clendennen taken from Twin Peaks security cameras from Reyna’s political ads on TV, Facebook and his website.
The judge has placed attorneys, parties and witnesses in the Clendennen case under a gag order, instructing them not to discuss the case. However, the judge said he isn’t sure if he can enforce that order against Reyna since he has recused himself from Clendennen’s case.
“It has come to my attention the way you are running your political race, and there is a gag order in this court that you were not to discuss this type of thing outside the court,” Shaver told Reyna. “I don’t know if I can enforce that order since you have recused yourself at this time. I had no idea that you would use this case in your political ad.
“The way you have handled this case is absolutely shameful and misleading to the citizens of this county. So I know the election is tomorrow, and we can’t do anything about it up to this point. But you should be ashamed of yourself, and if I could enforce any of the gag order against you, I would and (would) put you in custody. But since I can’t, you are excused,” Shaver said.
Reyna tried to speak up in his defense, saying he would “go back and review that ad and see ... “ But Shaver cut him off, saying, “I saw it this morning. This entire episode you are showing is not something you should have done.”
Broden subpoenaed Reyna to come to the hearing, but did not call him as a witness. Reyna filed a motion to quash the subpoena, but the judge never was called upon to rule on the motion.
By late afternoon Monday, Reyna had not removed the ad from his Facebook page or website and Broden filed a motion asking the judge to hold Reyna in contempt for failing to comply immediately with his orders.
Reyna, 45, who is seeking his third term, faces Barry Johnson, 61, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
“Despite the ‘gag order’ and in gross violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Abelino Reyna, the elected district attorney for McLennan County, has used pictures of Mr. Clendennen being arrested in his political advertise (sic) for pure personal aggrandizement,” Broden’s motion states.
The motion notes that Reyna claims in his political ads that he fears for this family’s safety “from biker gangs and then turns around and prominently displays his family members in the commercial.”
“Not only has Mr. Clendennen made clear that Reyna’s actions prejudice his case but the special prosecutors have made clear that Reyna’s actions could prejudice prosecutions,” Broden’s motion says.
Broden declined comment Monday because of the gag order, as did special prosecutors Brian Boyd, Brian Benken, Feroz Merchant and Mandy Miller.
After the hearing, Broden and the special prosecutors met with Shaver and agreed on an Oct. 15 trial date for Clendennen.
Before the judge denied the motion to dismiss the charges for a speedy trial violation, Clendennen, 32, said the felony charge hanging over his head for almost three years has damaged his reputation, forced him to sell his landscaping business for “pennies on the dollar,” affected his custody situation with his three children and delayed his return to school to work on a master’s degree.
“I have been ready to go to trial since the day I was arrested,” Clendennen said. “I didn’t see any reason to wait. I didn’t do anything wrong that day.”