Jury selection was set to begin on September 1st with a possible trial date for Christopher Jacob Carrizal, president of the Dallas Chapter Bandidos MC, a couple of weeks later. Carrizal would have been the first biker tried in the Twin Peaks case even though there were other bikers practically begging to go first. For the record, you rarely if ever see defendants begging for trials, but nothing about this case is normal.
The District Attorney’s Office wanted Carrizal first and got him. That’s one of the many reasons criminal defense attorneys believed that State District Judge Ralph Strother was biased towards the defense. Ultimately, this led to a motion for recusal being filed (also not common) and granted (also not common). Read here about Judge Strother being recused from the three other cases.
Attorney Casie Gotro who represents Carrizal, had mentioned previously filing a recusal motion. Lately, Gotro had been dealing with “missing evidence.” Apparently, bullet fragments were found that cannot be tied into any rifle.
So, as Friday morning rolls in and two hundred prospective jurors are to be handed a jury questionnaire, Gotro files her motion (handwritten) for Judge Strother to also recuse himself from this trial. I’ll interpret this in many different ways.
One, maybe Casie Gotro wanted Judge Strother to be forced to recuse himself automatically which is a big pill for any judge to swallow. There’s no doubt that would send shock waves throughout the court house and cause major delays in the trials of the bikers and be a huge embarrassment to Strother both legally and professionally. Then again, he backed himself into a corner. Recuse yourself or we will do it for you. Either option is a loser for him.
Or, the night before, Judge Strother went to bed as well as DA Abel Reyna, thinking all was good. Basically, she mind f****** them. Throw in there a handwritten motion which is common with court orders dictated on the spot. Motions are using done ore tenus, meaning orally, but Gotro wanted this motion part of the Court docket not just the court record in case of future appeals. I also interpret this as you aren’t worthy enough to have this typed up in advance, I’ll do it now while the jury is preparing to fill out a questionnaire.
More importantly, it means everyone was blindsided! The District Attorney’s office has been playing “trial by fire” from the beginning. From the arrests to jury selection, they have been playing games, Judge Strother included since he was recused. I had said in a prior blog this is no longer about the practice of law, but the game of law.
Trials aren’t just about procedural issues, evidence, and questioning witnesses. Trials are much more complicated than that. During the O.J. Simpson case, there was a hearing to determine whether the “n” word could be said before the jury. When O.J. Simpson’s attorney Johnnie Cochran was returning to his table, he whispered into Christopher Darden’s ear, the prosecutor, “n***** please!”
If you show up to play checkers and the trial lawyers at the other table are playing chess, you are in for a long day.
Now that the trial of Carrizal is delayed, maybe the other defendants that wanted to go first, can. While the wheels of justice do grind slowly, once it gets going, watch out.
Two victories for the defense this week!