Austin attorney files petition on behalf of jailed Waco bikers
An Austin attorney has filed a petition on behalf of those still in jail after the Waco motorcycle gang shootout. The petition asks for additional judges to conduct bond hearings for jailed suspects.
Keith Hampton said he is not representing any of the bikers charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, but when he heard that 144 of them have not been given bond hearings almost 20 days after they were arrested, he felt compelled to help.
On May 17, 176 people were arrested after a shootout in a Twin Peaks parking lot in Waco that left 9 people dead.
"Here we are, this many weeks out later, and you've still got 144 people incarcerated without a hearing and it sounds like some of these hearings have even been set out a month from now," said Austin Criminal Attorney Mindy Montford.
The 144 people still in McLennan county jail have a bail set at $1 million for the charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.
"For them to make all of these arrests and set the bail so high, they better have pretty darn convincing evidence at the end of the day when they hand down indictments," said Montford.
One of the bikers arrested spoke to FOX 7 sister station, FOX 4 in Dallas. Matthew Clendennen said he is not a gang member, rather a businessman, former firefighter and Baylor graduate who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, he sat in jail for 17 days until his bond hearing and release on Tuesday.
"Actually, several times I spoke out to some of the guys in there stating this is just so unreal that we are sitting here in jail and have been for a couple of weeks for absolutely no reason," said Clendennen.
Hampton said he expects there are many others like Clendennen who are still behind bars and those people have the right to a prompt bond hearing.
"You can't just hold these individuals in to punish them. There's got to be some administrative connection," said Montford.
That administrative connection could be as simple as there are many other people with scheduled hearings in a county without enough judges to reach them. Hampton understands that, but said there's an easy solution and that's why he's petitioning the state's highest court.
"That's what this brief says, 'If you're going to have this type of situation, that we've really never seen before, then maybe it's a good idea to appoint special prosecutors, special judges and handle these cases in a more expeditious way,'" Montford explained looking at Hampton's petition.
Hampton said he believes if additional judges are assigned to handle these bond cases, all suspects will be reached within 10 days.
A separate attorney who is representing Clendennen has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against McLennan County.