GRAND JURY INDICTS 106 IN TWIN PEAKS, WACO CASE

Waco law enforcement presents a proverbial ham sandwich to the grand jury

Its been said a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. In Waco they may have ordered the party platter. In what some called a "marathon session," the grand jury in McLennan County spent nine hours indicting 106 of thebikers arrested in the May shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant.

Lets break that down; if the grand jury worked for nine hours straight they spent 540 minutes on all 106 cases presented Tuesday. Assuming the members of the grand jury did not take breaks for the bathroom, a stretch, or even lunch, that is five minutes per case. Due to the secrecy requirements of the grand jury proceedings, we may never find out what evidence was presented over those nine hours or if each case was presented individually or as a mass. All we know is the indictments allege the exact same thing: Engaging in Organized Crime with the underlying crimes being murder and assault, a first degree felony with a corresponding punishment range.

Rod Aydelotte/AP

Grand jury proceedings in Texas raise many questions. This past legislative session, the act of selecting members of the grand jury changed. The Waco grand jury panel is now selected in the same way the average trial jury is selected thus eliminating an air of impropriety known as the "pick-a-pal" grand jury system. Texas law requires the proceedings to be secret, and prohibits anyone except a select few from even entering the grand jury room. One of those allowed to enter is the attorney for the state of Texas, who is charged with "inform[ing] [the grand jury] of offenses liable to indictment..."However, no one but grand jury members are allowed to be present while they are deliberating an indictment.

So we might infer attorneys for the state in Waco spent nine hours presenting all the evidence they have on the 106 individuals on Tuesday and the grand jury believed the prosecutor has probable cause in each case. This may be possible but doesn't seem probable due to what should be copious amounts of evidence. For example, some attorneys representing the accused have little in the way of discovery, several news outlets received several thousand pages of records and videos depicting the scene which seems to indicate this may not be the typical low-level drug deal or even a highly organized smash-and-grab. The problems continually cropping up with this case underscore general problems with the criminal justice system.


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