No Kool-aid server here. By R.S. Gates
This is not a write up to curry favor, just the facts as I see them.
Waco PD arrested 177 people on a boiler plate warrant. Yea it happened. I think they were in a cluster and here is why I think it was justifiable. 9 people were dead. Think about the last time you heard about 9 victims of violence in one place. It was a serious situation. Serious situations require a serious response. It was necessary to identify the people there and there was another quickly forgotten element in that they did not know if the violence was over or what risk was posed to the 230,000 residents of the county. If you wanted Kool-aid, you can now click the little white X on the red button in the upper right corner.
Judge Peterson set million dollar bonds on the boiler plate warrants. Based on the information he had at the time, one of the persons could have been responsible for the deaths of 9 people. What if that one person was recently paroled and had no permanent address? That would warrant a million dollar bond. Review of the boiler plate warrants indicates they drafted one with a blank for name and date of birth and made a couple of hundred copies. I would not be surprised if the only one the judge signed was the original. Think about the cluster in which police found themselves. See the next paragraph for why all of this is no real big deal.
When a magistrate issues a warrant there is still an arraignment which is the process actually addressed by the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution. The accused is brought before a magistrate, advised of their rights and the charges pending against them. The magistrate can ignore any bond on the face of the warrant because he has a constitutional duty set a bond that is not excessive. He should ask if the person has roots (owns a home or has maintained the same residence for a few years) has gainful employment (how long employed) and ask what resources he has to flee the jurisdiction. Then and only then can a bond be determined that is not excessive. The reality is, had the system worked, 90% would be out of jail in 48 hours. If 90% were out of jail in 48 hours, would there still be discussion? Probably. Would there be vitriolic ire of epic proportions? Probably not.
So how did it get so screwed up? It’s McLennan County business as usual. Several years ago a Judge was elected by the people. That guy did not “play ball” in the parlance of the day. Today it is complying with the swallowing policy. He was replaced by a jail magistrate who did comply with the swallowing policy. The DA determined he was in violation of the Texas Constitution and had to go and they saw an opportunity. They appointed another compliant individual to take over the job. They set the starting salary at $24K a year to discourage applicants and today the same guy makes ~$86K a year. The reason for the elimination of the elected magistrate was to save money. If you guessed the guy who royally screwed up on the arraignments is the same guy they created a job for you would be right.
Judge “Little Buddy” Bain has friends in the right places. Competency is not required.
The Sheriff should have intervened if for no other reason for the taxpayers. The Sheriff is the constitutional keeper of the jails. I ran for Sheriff in ‘08 and I would have identified those with no criminal record and that would have been the start. No one without an affirmative link to the crime and clean record would have been in jail more than 48 hours. It really is that simple. What is the judge going to do? Hold the Sheriff in contempt. Nope.
Rail against the cops or the J.P. but the problems in McLennan County run much deeper.
R.S. Gates was elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct 6 in 2006. He embraces the title Self-appointed Minister of Irritance -McLennan County. He ran unsuccessfully for Sheriff in 2008.