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D.A. in Waco Biker Case Ordered to Stop 'Revenge Porn' Harassment of Ex-Defendant

Prosecutors sent "private, intimate sexual images" taken from an arrestee's phone to lawyers representing all 177 defendants.

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Local authorities in Texas absurdly overreached when they attempted to prosecute dozens of people who happened to be present at the site of a May 2015 shooting melee that broke out during a meeting of motorcycle clubs at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Last month charges against more than a dozen of the 177 arrestees were dropped, and yesterday a judge ordered the McLennan County District Attorney's Office to stop distributing what his attorney calls "private, intimate sexual images" of former defendant Cody Ledbetter and his wife.

According to an emailed press release from Ledbetter's lawyers, prosecutors sent the pictures, which police took from Ledbetter's cellphone, to "attorneys representing 177 Twin Peaks defendants as part of the discovery process." Attorney Paul Looney described the images as "revenge porn." District Judge Matt Johnson told prosecutors to cut it out.

"It's a real tragedy that the District Attorneys office had to be specifically ordered by a District Judge to quit their criminal activity," Looney said in the press release, "but at least the judge did that and we are very grateful. It's the first time in my practice that I have any knowledge of a judge having to order a District Attorney's office to quit being criminal. The bizarre saga that has become Waco continues to reach new lows."

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that Judge Johnson also ordered attorneys who have received the private sexual images to delete them. Another judge handling prosecutions related to the Waco shootout, which killed nine people and wounded 18, will be doing the same.

According to the Tribune-Herald, "prosecutors argued that the Michael Morton Act, which orders prosecutors to disclose evidence against defendants, required them to send out everything they collected in the massive case." That law covers "evidence material to any matter involved in the action." It is not clear how such photos could possibly be relevant to the case against Ledbetter, who had been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity because he was present at the time of the shootout.

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  • timbo||

    All the bikers I know are salesman or teachers or coaches or dads. Not so tough but they look cool.

  • ||

    +1%

  • VinniUSMC||

    Bikers run the gamut of humanity. And Sons of Anarchy is a shitty drama, not a documentary.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Prosecutors, on the other hand, fail meet the basic minimum requirements for humanity.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I would love to see a personality study of prosecutors. What kind of a person is drawn to that job?

  • Libertymike||

    What type of person is drawn to any position of public sector power?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Satan J. Trump is drawn towards positions and positrons of pubic-sector power! Stormy Daniels and I are here to testummyify towards THAT, in yer general direction!!!

    If'n ye are CONCERNED about that, PLEASE direct your concerns (that they may be properly and promptly ignored), towards...

    Satan J. Trump
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
    Washington, D.C. 20500

  • silver.||

    It's fun(?) to imagine just how ineffective a letter sent to the president, or indeed any of our "public servants," is at communicating our wishes.

    I can barely get a canned response from my state representatives.

  • Mary Stack||

    John was a prosecutor.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Based on 30 years in court, I'd say "all kinds". I've known some excellent people in the DA's office, as well as some first-class dickwads. There are people who go to the DA because they believe it is in fact the best way for them to work for criminal justice. The excellent people I have known are usually of that type. The other main type are those who become DAs because it is a fast-track to political opportunity. The first-class dickwads I have known are usually of that type, though since I moved to a smaller town I found some of both in each.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Assholes.

  • Juice||

    but they look cool

    Sure about that?

  • Rich||

    Just check out those GEICO commercials!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    but they look cool.

    Look like a bunch of fags to me.

  • timbo||

    As long as that DA runs for governor and then one day president, its OK if he wrongfully convicts and ruins a bunch of peoples' lives.

  • silver.||

    OK? Hell, it's a boon for his political aspirations!

    "Tough on crime and criminals!"

  • gaoxiaen||

    Conviction rate Uber Alles. Who cares if they're innocent?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Isn't what the DA did considered a crime?

  • timbo||

    DA's are as good at abusing their power as any frightening bureaucrat POS out there.

    I think they're the worst because they do all of the progging under the guise of protecting us from big bad crooks.

  • Get lit||

    I think it's an ego thing. The ADAs care about 'winning' the contest. The adversarial nature of the procceding encourages it. The law schools encourage it. Our society reinforces it.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Which goes back to the days when there were fewer DAs and many were private attorney's who practiced both sides of the law. The adversarial process is probably a good thing (competition in the marketplace and all) but DA's and Public Defenders should be selected from one pool of attorneys. Your DA this week on this case and next week your a PD on this other case.

  • Libertymike||

    Better yet, eliminate every single malim prohibitum statute on the books.

  • Get lit||

    Very weird because I posted that comment then went to pick up my wife and as I was driving I thought about reversing the roles exactly as you suggested and now I read your comment.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Quick, one of you, I don't care which, stab yourself and see if the other one feels it.

  • Eeyore||

    ^ this. The current system almost guarantees that DAs are experienced competent attorneys and PDs are either incompetent or inexperienced.

  • Eeyore||

    Also, don't allow the DAs office to create teams of more then 1 person, unless they also provide the same sized team to the defense.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I've had former DA's that are now defense attorneys say that they had a 100% conviction rate. I didn't bother to cancel the appointment.

  • silver.||

    I think prosecutors generally have absolute immunity, which means they can literally do anything. Remember this case where the prosecutor claimed that a man assaulted an officer when he never came within 10ft of him?

    I mean that's clearly a damned lie. We have the bodycam footage, and he knows that we do, and he just doesn't care. Why should he? We can't do anything to him.

  • Rossami||

    Not absolute immunity but they do have qualified immunity.

    Though we should note that courts all the way up to SCOTUS have made that rule so narrow that the difference between "qualified" and "absolute" is more theoretical than real. Qualified immunity is an experiment that it is long-past time to end. Hold police and prosecutors to the same standards that they hold the rest of us to.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No one is getting Nifong'd over this.

  • Booger Cannibal||

    Absolute immunity for acts falling within the prosecutorial function. Full on, absolute immunity. Imbler v. Pachtman.

  • Booger Cannibal||

    Actually, sorry Rossami. Perhaps only qualified immunity in this situation, if they were sending the pictures after the charges were dropped.

  • Cyto||

    You'd have a hard time with that argument.

    They are claiming it is a part of the discovery process, which would fall under their prosecutorial function. So at that point you can't argue that it is a real stretch to call this discovery.

    They'd win, hands down.

    Remember Harry Connick Sr.'s office? The US Supreme court said even a consistent pattern of violating victims rights wasn't enough to pierce their immunity. They will protect their own.

    About the only way to get through that armor is for the prosecutor to be so personally toxic that nobody wants to touch them. Like if they were a child molester. Then you might be able to get through the shields.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Correction: Prosecutors have absolute immunity, not qualified, for prosecuting. IOW, they cannot be held liable for the decision to prosecute someone.( Malicious prosecution is a different bird, and I'm not familiar with its criteia. Suffice to say there are probably less than one successful conviction for malicious prosecution every quarter century.) If they break laws in the process, they then may have qualified immunity for the way in which the prosecution is conducted.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It is if they can find someone to prosecute it.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Yes, it is distribution of pornography. But just you try to get the DA to prosecute

  • Flinch||

    You would think so. The guy is a frat boy, and has very bad judgement. This smells like a veiled threat with aspirations to higher office. What he's saying to other lawyers (without saying it) is probably this: back up my campaign, or I'll turn out your clients dirt. He should be disbarred, and he should never draw a public check ever again. If this was real property [say a chairs or something dumb], and he gave them out to his buddies, that looks like abuse of office and theft without question. What he is saying by distributing electronic copies of photos is that his victims intended to distribute them/make them public [or had already done so] and had made their wishes clear. He's gonna have a problem making that claim bigger than a pink elephant.
    A man who won't respect property should never hold any public trust. So for as long as he remains... any defense attorney should challenge chain of custody of ANY evidence he has handled/signed out/been in the room with the minute his face shows up in court and cite his prior misconduct. Beyond that, old convictions have a breath of fresh air for an appeal to properly review handling of evidence. If he's the loon I believe he is, a few cases get folded and he may be getting sanctioned every time he rolls out of bed for the next year.

  • Rich||

    District Judge Matt Johnson told prosecutors to cut it out

    and filed charges against them, right? RIGHT?!

  • Hugh Akston||

    But then he'd have to find another fourth for his weekend golf game.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Well, he politely asked them to file charges against themselves, but withdrew when they egged his car.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    This is the problem with a monopoly on justice. Who prosecutes the prosecutors? Who judges the judges? We need competing court systems. Privatize judicial services.

  • silver.||

    I think this is a joke, but it makes a good point.. Prosecutors are disproportionately high in douchebaggery.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Not a joke.

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Libertymike||

    The joke is the proposition that the monopolization of the administration of justice somehow leads to the best, most civilized, and just outcomes.

    HHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  • Rat on a train||

    Fist?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Now that there's no longer a PM Links, Fist sneaks out of work at ten after 4 and drinks at dive bars until midnight.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I imagine he sneaks out to practice with his 80s cover band, for which he plays the steelpan.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    They were called More Tears For Fears, but then Roland Orzabal sued them.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

  • SQRLSY One||

    Embrace the nuclear bomb within you!

    Inner peace, through nuclear balance, I say!

    "Daddy, Daddy! I need a nuclear bomb! All my friends have nuclear bombs!
    I am strategically vulnerable!!!
    Daddy, Daddy, are you listening?!??!"

  • Flinch||

    Pardon me for asking, but are you the one who branded The Atlantic as a "shrieking hive of retardation"?
    It's that damn song... causes instant squirreling.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Since this is apparently the closest thing we'll have PM Links (RIP) thread: don't be just throwing out those Valpak envelopes anymore.

  • silver.||

    Damn, that's interesting.

    My apartment has had high turnover in the past decade, so we get one for a bunch of the previous tenets, 3 or 4 I think.

    Wonder how likely this would be to encourage mail theft...

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    That's not enough to get me to open one of those things.

  • silver.||

    What if it had a 1 in 50,000 chance of glitterbombing you upon opening?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    He'd be into that.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I call that the reverse Vermin.

  • ||

    Man, $100? I'm honestly like 50/50 on whether it's worth it. Would I pay $100 to rid my life of Valpaks and the regular postal service that goes with them? Hmm...

  • swampwiz||

    Big sign on I-20 (or is it US 80?) coming into Dallas from the East, right next to an Adult Video store: "Real Men Don't Use Porn"

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I don't use porn, I consume it.

  • In Time Of War||

    The only people opposed to porn are liberals and religious nuts.
    But I repeat myself...

  • Lester224||

    Liberals and religious nuts have a small overlap. Mostly baptists.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    May of 2015!
    Why is this travesty still continuing?

  • Frank Thorn||

    The process is the punishment.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This is the town where the ATF botched a gun-control tax raid on a Christian hippie community and murdered all inhabitants. I was at a bookstore when this happened and a plainclothes agent walks in and starts a speech in the middle of the store about how nice it is to be in Austin, not Waco "where those whackos live." I immediately left and under the Austin-Waco freeway a young flower-child was shouting at passing motorists that "they're killing our people." The benches in Waco have "MEET GOD" signs on them with phone numbers, and a bookstore I saw at the time contained nothing but Bibles and Harlequin romance novels. Why would ANYONE assemble there?

  • Ken Hagler||

    They were meeting to discuss lobbying strategies regarding bills that affected bikers in the Texas legislature. A small gang of violent criminals who worked for the police as informants showed up and picked a fight, leading to one of the criminals who worked for the police firing a pistol shot, which gave the police who had the meeting area surrounded the excuse they were waiting for to open fire indiscriminately into the crowd.

  • Eidde||

    "First we prosecutors get blamed for concealing evidence, then we're blamed for being too liberal in answering discovery requests. Make up your minds, people!"

    /sarc

  • flyfishnevada||

    Obviously a hit piece illustrating how trust-worthy government is and why we should give up our guns...oh, wait!

  • TxJack 112||

    Hope the couple sue the crap of the DA. What happened in Waco was a gross miscarriage of justice and unfortunately not a surprise. McClennen county has always been a strange place with off the reservation law enforcement. When speed limit on interstate 35 was 55 mph, you did not even consider driving 56mph through Waco.

  • Flinch||

    I remember 55 in Texas. Think I'd rather be water boarded for an hour rather than go through that again. God what misery... never vote for a peanut farmer again.

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