Motion to recuse newly appointed judge in first Twin Peaks trial denied

Posted at 9:13 AM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:07-04

A motion to recuse a McLennan County District judge from presiding over the first Twin Peaks trial has been denied. 

Falls County 82nd District Court Judge Robert Stem heard hours of testimony regarding the removal of McLennan County 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson from the case. 

On Tuesday morning, Christopher Jacob Carrizal's attorney Casie Gotro filed a motion to recuse Johnson as the jury qualification for his trial was expected to start.

On Monday, visiting Judge Dan Mills recused Judge Ralph Strother from the case. On Tuesday, Johnson started the jury qualification during which potential jurors explain the disqualifications or exemptions they may have to serve on the jury panel but that was halted when the motion was filed. 

Gotro's motion claimed Johnson's court communicated with the District Attorney's Office without the presence of defense attorneys. In addition, she questioned the judge ordering defendants to appear in court for the DA's office to collect DNA evidence from certain bikers. 

Prosecutors said they had concerns about having to go to different places around the state or having to appear at someone's work to execute that search warrant. 

Judge Johnson testified he was initially approached about asking certain defendants to appear at the courthouse to execute those warrants but he denied that request. However, when he was asked whether all defendants could be summoned he agreed. He said that appearance was intended to allow parties meet and discuss pending issues with their cases. However, he said he was not aware the search warrants would be executed then. 

Gotro also questioned court coordinators having knowledge about the motorcycle clubs they belonged to and scheduled them accordingly. The DA's office said this was done out of concern so rival gangs would be at the same location at the same time. In addition, 54th District Court coordinators testified the McLennan County Sheriff's Office had communicated those safety concerns with staff as well. 

Gotro, who caused the delay of the jury qualification on Tuesday morning, walked into the courtroom and asked Judge Johnson to speak with him.

Minutes later, District Clerk Jon Gimble announced "This saga is going to drag one more day."

Those in the crowd replied with an audible 'no' once that announcement was made.

This is at least the third time, the jury selection has been postponed.

The jury qualification is expected to start on Wednesday morning. Those who were summoned are being asked to appear by 9 a.m.


+Judge recused from first Twin Peaks trial

+Judge recused from three Twin Peaks biker cases

+Jury selection for first Twin Peaks trial postponed after defense attorney files motion to recuse judge

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