AG Says Waco DA Violated Public Records Act in Request for Texts Regarding Biker Fiasco
We thought we'd heard the last of the rumors about prosecutors in Waco offering get-out-of-jail-free cards to the bikers caught up in the Twin Peaks shooting fiasco in exchange for a signed waiver vowing not to sue McLennan County. But we were wrong: The Attorney General's Office told DA Abel Reyna that his office violated the state's open records laws by withholding texts between a prosecutor and a defense attorney that related to the mysterious waivers, the Waco Tribune reports.
The whole thing smacks of middle-school gossip: The DA's Office denies ever offering waivers, and the person who first brought them up, attorney Paul Looney, quickly recanted, blaming the rumor on an attorney named Brittany Lannen. Lannen's law partner, Matthew Wright, of course, denied Lannen's involvement.
Lannen never produced a copy of the alleged waiver, but Looney's press release about them spread like batshit-fire on conspiracy websites. The next day, he backtracked, stating in a press release that the "entire debacle was orchestrated by" Lannen. He also announced his intent to report her to the State Bar for her "bizarre, unprofessional, unethical" conduct.
It seemed the issue was laid to rest, but a former sheriff's deputy and professional thorn in the side of McLennan County government named Randall Scott Gates requested a copy of texts between Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett and Lannen.
According to the Trib story, the AG's Office told Reyna October 14 that "his office violated the [open records] act and that he has four days to 'cure' the violation."
However, Reyna's office had already released texts between Jarrett and Lannen — a brief exchange in which Lannen informed Jarrett of a press release from Looney's office, accusing prosecutors of being "scurrilous" and offering bond reductions in exchange for signing waivers.
Jarrett texted Lannen, saying, "I would never ask someone to forfeit anything when agreeing to bonds."
"Uh, I know," Lannen responded. "It's horse shit."
This exchange doesn't square with Looney's allegation that the whole thing was "orchestrated" by Lannen, who seemed just as surprised and puzzled by Looney's original claim.
Even Gates isn't convinced there's any truth to the waiver rumors, but he believes there were more texts between Jarrett and Lannen. He told the Houston Press he believes Reyna is withholding them just to show his power.
On one hand, Gates said, "There was something driving [Looney's] press release…I don't think that Looney just dreamed it up on his own. That wouldn't make any sense." (We agree with that; however, we've never seen a stone tablet mandating that everything Looney does has to make sense).
"I think that the furthest I'd go out on that limb is, the information that we've got doesn't make any sense," Gates said, adding, "This has nothing to do with the content; this has everything to do with 'I am the District Attorney of McLennan County, I'll do whatever the hell I please, and you're a little peon, and if you don't go away, we'll make something bad happen to you.'"
In a statement issued Monday, Reyna denied Gates's allegation about withholding public records, stating that his office goes "above and beyond the minimum the law requires of us to ensure complete and total transparency."
He added that he provided "almost one hundred pages of information" pursuant to Gates's request, but stated that he disagreed with the AG's opinion, since it is "ambiguous and confusing as to how my office is to comply with their original opinion. However, due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, I opted to go beyond the scope of their recommendation and provide additional information that I can only assume satisfies Mr. Gates' request" and the AG's opinion.
We really hope this matter is finally put to rest, but we sorta doubt it.
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