Ever watch a soap opera? Ever stop watching the soap opera, then go back a few weeks or even months later and watch it again? Did you miss anything? Not likely. It’s like they picked up where you left off! Waco and the Twin Peaks Massacre is no different!
I haven’t written about Waco in a while, and my main reason being I know how the game is being played and I figured the State Attorney would slow this case down as much as possible. Usually, it is the other way around. But, as we have all seen and learned, nothing is typical in this case. Sad, but true. Unfortunately, this case has been as predictable as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning.
The new issue seems to be the 6th Amendment of the Constitution, or as we have seen in Waco so far, the lack of our own most basic rights. The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Paul Looney, defense counsel for Cody Ledbetter of the Cossack MC, has requested a “speedy trial,” which of course, the Prosecutor’s Office objects to. Barker v. Wingo, is the U.S. Supreme Court case that sets the standard for speedy trial cases.
In Barker, four factors are considered in determining whether or not 6th Amendment issues are applicable. Those factors are as followed: (1) whether delay before trial was uncommonly long; (2) whether the government or the criminal defendant is more to blame for the delay; (3) whether, in due course, the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial; (4) whether the defendant suffered prejudice as the delay’s result.
In this case, the Defendant did not cause the delay and he has asserted his right to a speedy trial (Factors #2 and #3 ). So, that leaves factors #1 & #4 to be considered.
#1 Whether Delay Before Trial Was Uncommonly Long?
Here is a simple answer to this question. The Twin Peaks Massacre occurred on May 17, 2015. As I write this, it has been a total of 292 days. Now, imagine being charged with a double homicide. You are arrested on June 17 and your trial starts on January 24 of the following year. That is 209 days after your arrest. That is exactly what happened in “The Trial of The Century” & “The Most Publicized Trial in American History.” Yes, the O.J. Simpson trial!
Now, while these factors are considered on a sliding scale, it seems reaching a period of one year does trigger a speedy trial inquiry (Shaw v. State 117, SW 3d 883, 889 (TEx. Crim. App. 2003). Well, that is only 73 days away! Get ready state, because you are about to add another item to your list of screw ups.
#4 Whether the defendant suffered prejudice as the delay’s result?
The U.S. Supreme Court defined #4 with three factors to consider: (1) to prevent oppressive pretrial incarceration (the Defendant is out on bond so not applicable) (2) to minimize anxiety and concern of the accused (3) to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired (also not applicable). Which leaves us with the second factor the court considers.
Of course, it goes without saying that Ledbetter is anxious or could suffer medically from anxiety and the like, as well as other factors that the court’s consider such as financial burden and loss of social standing in the community. Looney, argued exactly those points and took it a step further by stating his client is the victim in this case, especially since he saw his father die and thus, as a victim, he is entitled to a victim compensation fund. Great argument and way to put the state on the defensive.
We shall wait and see.