- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 18, 2010) —The Post & Email presents Part 2 of our interview with Darren Huff, who has been charged with “riot” and “intimidation” by the Monroe County, TN court as well as federal firearms violations. He maintains his innocence and is scheduled to go to trial in Monroe County on December 1 with co-defendant Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III. In Part 1 of Mr. Huff’s interview, he stated that he was arrested on April 30 for something which he states “never happened.”
Mr. Huff has just posted a new video on his Facebook page which explains the events leading up to the cases being brought against Fitzpatrick and him, including a brief explanation of the original incident on April 1, 2010.
MRS. RONDEAU: Based on what you have told us, wouldn’t it be obvious that the charges didn’t exist?
MR. HUFF: In a normal world, yes. But we’ve already had one motions hearing over which the judge is still in deliberation as to whether or not he’s going to toss some of the stuff out. I feel as if the public defenders actually are doing a very good job. There are tons and tons and tons of motions that they have filed, whether it’s the constitutionality of the statute, the vagueness of the statute…all of these things certainly have come into question. If I were going to compare it to anything, it would probably be the movie “The Minority Report” with the Department of Future Crimes.
MRS. RONDEAU: It’s difficult to prove what people are thinking or planning to do.
MR. HUFF: Except at ten days later, we’ve already proven that that was never the intent for which I was being charged. I’m being charged with a thought crime for a non-event that already never happened.
MRS. RONDEAU: When you said that you felt that the public defenders were doing a good job, are you talking about at the federal level?
MR. HUFF: Yes. At this point, I had no state charges. On June 11, I had another hearing. Also, here’s another interesting fact: when I was released from jail, they put an ankle bracelet on me and did the whole works. I’ve got a whole range of restrictions. When I went to pick up my camouflage truck from impound, they cleaned it out; they took all of my militia gear.
MRS. RONDEAU: They did?
MR. HUFF: They sure did. And I know that they’re trying to use that to fabricate the fact of my intent, even though that stuff has never been in Monroe County.
MRS. RONDEAU: So this all speaks to the federal charges?
MR. HUFF: Yes, everything is still federal. But when I went to pick up my truck on May 2 or 3, whenever that Monday was, the FBI paid my impound fees.
MRS. RONDEAU: They did?
MR. HUFF: Not me. And not the defenders. It was the FBI who paid the impound fees.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you have a receipt that shows that they paid it?
MR. HUFF: Somebody does. There is definitely a receipt. When we went to get the truck, the fee had not been paid yet, and I was so poor I couldn’t pay attention, and the defenders’ investigator was the one who gave me a ride out there. He got on the phone with somebody, and next thing I know, he said, “The FBI’s going to pay it,” and I said, “What?” and the next thing I know, the guy that works there is on the phone with the FBI, and they are paying my impound fees.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think that was a sign that they thought you shouldn’t have been in jail at all?
MR. HUFF: That’s my impression. If there is somebody else out there who’s ever had the people who have arrested them pay their impound fees, I’d love to know about it.
MRS. RONDEAU: It’s not normally what one would expect.
MR. HUFF: No. So here we are at June 11, six weeks after anything has ever happened, and I went to my federal hearing. At the end of the hearing, lo and behold, here’s the Monroe County deputies who take me into custody, and all of a sudden, I’ve now been indicted by the state of Tennessee.
Here’s my logic, and every single person I have spoken to agrees with it: the federal charges require an incident to point to, and this crime of violence or this specific civil unrest – my belief and my contention is that because they couldn’t have a case without an incident, they then persuaded Monroe County to indict me along with Walt to try to fabricate my incident.
MRS. RONDEAU: So do you feel that both the feds and Monroe County are trying to fabricate something?
MR. HUFF: Absolutely.
MRS. RONDEAU: Both?
MR. HUFF: Both. However, I get treated pretty well by Monroe County. They don’t have a beef with me; they just can’t stand Walt. They were very cordial to me. However, Judge Ross was sitting on the bench at my first appearance there and denied me legal counsel.
MRS. RONDEAU: He did? That sounds like Walt’s recent report that Judge Blackwood said he can’t have an attorney.
MR. HUFF: Correct.
MRS. RONDEAU: Which is a violation of your Sixth Amendment right to a defense.
MR. HUFF: Absolutely. They just tacked on me three of Walt’s charges, so my charges are “riot” – you’ve seen the video from April 1; you may have seen me in the background standing silently with my video camera. I had never even heard of a Walter Fitzpatrick until I arrived in Monroe County.
MRS. RONDEAU: You didn’t know who he was?
MR. HUFF: No. Never heard his name, not even what the situation was about.
MRS. RONDEAU: So why did you go?
MR. HUFF: I was literally there to observe, just to observe, nothing more.
MRS. RONDEAU: And you were at the courthouse on April 1?
MR. HUFF: Absolutely. That was the day Walt got arrested and I was videotaping. So even if Monroe County convicts me for the events of April 1, it still does not give the feds the incident they need for the events on April 20.
MRS. RONDEAU: Because there are two different dates.
MR. HUFF: Yes. So I’ve been charged with “riot,” which, if you’ve seen the videotape, not only was there not a riot, but if anybody was not involved in a riot, it was me, because I was just standing there videotaping. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the one fabricated police report from that day where the chief of police says that Walt “burst through the courtroom doors with at least seven others remaining outside.”
MRS. RONDEAU: Yes, I did. They had Walt down as a woman, misspelled his last name and had the wrong birth date.
MR. HUFF: I know (laughs).
MRS. RONDEAU: And it looked as if a third-grader had written it.
MR. HUFF: Well, that being said, how could I disrupt a jury if I was outside of the courtroom?
MRS. RONDEAU: I’ve spoken with someone at the court who refuses to go on the record, as all of them seem to do, and it doesn’t sound to me as if anybody even got into where the grand jury might have been deliberating that day.
MR. HUFF: Whomever shot the video, it could have been one of them, but that would have been it. Nobody else went in, and by the police chief’s own testimony, no one went in. In fact, my other charge is “threatening a juror,” when I didn’t even know the guy was black until I saw the video several days later.
MRS. RONDEAU: Unless I’m missing something, it didn’t look to me as if Walt “burst in” to the grand jury deliberation room.
MR. HUFF: But that’s what they’re saying: that he interrupted the grand jury while they were deliberating.
MRS. RONDEAU: So you were charged with that, too.
MR. HUFF: Right.
MRS. RONDEAU: It makes one wonder why they would spend the kind of time and resources of both the federal government and the Monroe County government if nothing happened. When you were at the courthouse on April 1 when Walt tried to make the citizen’s arrest, as the videographer, what did you observe about their treatment of you, Walt, or anybody else who was with you?
MR. HUFF: It was a dictatorship, just as has been reported. When they started to throw Walt around on the hood of the car and they finally got him in cuffs and then as they picked him up, you can see in the video that we were all following, and one of the officers stopped with his back to us, held out his arms, and said, “Don’t y’all come any further or you’ll be arrested.” And I said, “This is America. This is a public sidewalk; I’ll walk anywhere I want to walk.” Nothing happened after that, but I think it’s only because they didn’t know who we were.
MRS. RONDEAU: Meaning that you were with Walt?
MR. HUFF: That we were with Walt, but we were not local, so they didn’t know if I was some kind of federal agent…I had no idea who they were talking to, so they only went so far. They were already outside the law by doing what they did, but I don’t think they were going to get too carried away not knowing who was filming them.
MRS. RONDEAU: You could have been a citizen journalist, one from the “big media,” or from the FBI.
MR. HUFF: Any of that, correct.
MRS. RONDEAU: Why do you think they treated Walt the way they did that day? Do you think that was normal procedure?
MR. HUFF: My attorney has told me that upwards of 70% of Monroe County residents are on current misdemeanor probation. Seventy percent of the population of Monroe County is on probation now.
MRS. RONDEAU: What have these people been charged with?
MR. HUFF: Anything and everything. When I was in Blount County jail, which is right down the street from them, it’s basically the same people. I know Walt made a reference to the “kids” in there (and they are, for the most part; there are a lot of late teens and up to mid-20s), and the ones to whom I spoke over the weekend that I was in jail are in there for $200 arrears on their child support, and they’ve been in there for three and four months and still don’t know when they’re even going to get to see a judge. They are non-criminals in jail. In fact, I met with my sheriff today and went over a lot of the stuff with him. How do you get 70% of your people on probation? Is it that everybody who lives there is criminally-minded, or could it possibly be that we have a bad government that is out to drain the people of their resources?
MRS. RONDEAU: An overbearing government would drain the people of their courage and will to be free people. Do they just want bail money?
MR. HUFF: The best that I can figure is yes. It’s all a money racket.
MRS. RONDEAU: This checks out with what others have been saying. So they’re terrorizing the people who live in their community, and they’re trumping up charges, bringing people in; they’re hoping for bond and bail money, and if they don’t like you, they get you back in there and sentence to you to prison and throw away the key?
MR. HUFF: Pretty much. It’s like “Walking Tall.” One of the stories that I have heard, for instance, is from a gentleman that we spoke to in the restaurant who had a nephew who committed suicide by “shooting himself in the back of the head.” Go figure.
MRS. RONDEAU: Was he in the jail?
MR. HUFF: No, he was at home. He couldn’t shoot himself in the back of the head; he was murdered. But yet, there was no evidence; all the photos disappeared; nothing could be found out about it. It just went away as a death, and all of his case just went away.
MRS. RONDEAU: Did you ever ask for a transcript of the hearing on June 28?
MR. HUFF: Yes, I have that transcript.
MRS. RONDEAU: You do?
MR. HUFF: Yes.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you know if it’s the same transcript that was on the internet?
MR. HUFF: It should be; in fact, I have posted it, and I got it off the internet weeks before I could get it from anybody else.
MRS. RONDEAU: Walt said he has never received a copy. He was told by Atty. Randy Rogers to “come and get it.” There’s a phone recording of Randy Rogers calling Walt and telling him that he could obtain a copy of the transcript during business hours at his office, and Walt’s attorney was also told that in writing. When Walt went the next day during business hours, he said that some giant “investirgator” named “Butch” told him to get the heck out of there.
MR. HUFF: No kidding!
MRS. RONDEAU: Yes. That was reported several weeks ago. He said he was turned away empty-handed by “Butch,” who said, “Get ouf of here; you’re not getting anything.” He never got the transcript. Have you read it carefully?
MR. HUFF: I’ve read mine; I wouldn’t say that I read it carefully, but everything seemed to flow. The only thing that I think was missing was that my attorney actually happened to be present that day out of interest for the case, before he was my attorney.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is this Randy Rogers?
MR. HUFF: His son, Matthew. Walt was in there; there was Pat Shannon from American Free Press and a few other people and heard the judge say, “Look, we know you didn’t do anything; you got sucked into this thing or something like that.” His words “We know you didn’t do anything” are not in the transcript.
MRS. RONDEAU: That checks out with what Walt has said; he says the transcripts are doctored.
MR. HUFF: Yes. In fact, my attorney volunteered – I didn’t even bring it up – he said “This is going to be really curious because I may have to bring in Judge Ross as a witness, because I sat there and heard him say that you didn’t do anything. Well, if you didn’t do anything, why are you even here?” But when he asked me how I would plead, I said, “To be honest with you, I’m not really sure how to respond to that.” And my intention was, “Because what happened? I must have missed it.”
I said, “Do I have an accuser? Who is my accuser?” and the judge fumbled through the indictment, and his response was, “Well, the grand jury has indicted you.” I didn’t get a chance to respond then something like, “I don’t care about the indictment; who accused me?” but then later, when I asked him, he said that I would have to get with my attorney to find that out.
Now my attorney is telling me that the state has accused me, and I said, “That doesn’t make any sense. The state was not present; a person had to make a report to bring to the grand jury to have them indict me. I want to know who that person is.
MRS. RONDEAU: Because everyone is supposed to be able to know and face his accuser.
MR. HUFF: That’s right. And the accuser is not the state; they’re the prosecutor. We need to find that person.
MRS. RONDEAU: So you’re saying that there’s no real accuser, which would be another party claiming you did something.
MR. HUFF: Yes. And it’s the same with Walt, so we do share that together; there is no accuser. The funny thing is, Walt at least has, even if it’s fabricated, a police report with his name in it. The funny thing is that I don’t even have that. I have nothing. I have no police report, even a fabricated one; I have no incident to speak of, to point to; I have no arrest. In fact, they didn’t even indict me until two and a half months after the fact.
MRS. RONDEAU: How did you know you’d been indicted?
MR. HUFF: At my federal hearing in Knoxville, they showed it to me with my name on it and two other names on it. However, I’m the only one who ended up being included. And at my June 28 arraignment, I was handed a copy of that. It lists, I think, all six charges for Walt, and then I’m included on three of those.
MRS. RONDEAU: But you’re saying there still is no accuser?
MR. HUFF: That’s what I’ve asked the attorney: how did they come up with this indictment? There has to be some information. Get this: In their discovery, there is a list of seven items that they have. The first item is a videotape that I produced which I filmed on April 1. The second is the videotape that I produced that I posted on the internet. Here’s a problem: I’m not computer-literate, and the videotape that I taped is on a disk, still in the camera in the possession of the FBI. It has never been posted at all.
MRS. RONDEAU: So what is that second video, or where did it come from?
MR. HUFF: It was probably the one that you’ve seen, because I copied somebody else’s and posted it as well, but #3 through #7 are ultimately my blogs, the radio shows that I’ve done, the interviews and articles and all that. However, none of those existed until at the earliest, April 18. So how are they accusing me of using evidence that doesn’t exist?
MRS. RONDEAU: Are all law enforcement personnel called “sheriffs” there, or are some of them policemen?
MR. HUFF: They do have a police department, and they also have a sheriff’s department. I believe combined, there are a total of around 50-55 law enforcement officers in that area.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is that a lot for the population, do you know?
MR. HUFF: I would say it’s a lot, although they do cover quite a few square miles, so it might be necessary that they have that many. But in the town of Madisonville, there’s a ton of sheriffs that are just hanging around; it’s not as if they’re out patrolling anywhere. And of course, you have the Madisonville Police Department two blocks down the road, and they’re only in Madisonville. So there’s definitely a very concentrated law enforcement presence in Madisonville.
MRS. RONDEAU: That does raise the question as to why so much law enforcement is necessary. There’s a town in another area of the country with 12,000 people, and there’s one resident state trooper and just a few local policemen. There are also some constables, but that’s it. Are people in Monroe County scared of law enforcement?
MR. HUFF: Well, let me give you an example. At the arraignment, I was walking to my truck and went around a corner and almost ran into a lady who looked as if she was probably in her mid-60s. The courtroom was packed; people were coming from everywhere to attend the hearing.
MRS. RONDEAU: Why do you think there was so much interest?
MR. HUFF: This absolutely broke my heart, because I didn’t really know until I spoke to this lady. What she said was, “What in the world is going on here today?” and I said, “Didn’t you know they were having the domestic terrorist trials here today?” and she leaned back and looked at me, and she said, “You’re one of ‘em!” and I said, “Yes, ma’am, I am.” And she said, “Look, you’re never going to hear a thing from anybody in this town because they are absolutely scared to death, but I want you to know that we all support you. PLEASE do not stop what you’re doing.”
MRS. RONDEAU: So she was encouraging you to keep going, but saying that the residents of Madisonville are too afraid to do it for themselves if they’re terrorized by the cops.
MR. HUFF: This is just my impression from the conversations that we had.
MRS. RONDEAU: I’m wondering about the effect of the local media there. Why did the Advocate & Democrat and The Knoxville News Sentinel report that there was a warrant for Walt’s arrest before he even knew about it?
MR. HUFF: That’s what I told the sheriffs down here. How do you broadcast the fact that there’s a warrant and they’re saying “We’re searching for Walt,” when Walt didn’t run? He was right there in his house the whole time. There’s no reason for them to search for Walt because he has been in their face for a year or more now.
MRS. RONDEAU: Walt mentioned that the sheriff’s deputies were snickering during the November 9 hearing.
MR. HUFF: In fact, during our arraignment on June 28, they were doing the same thing. I’m sure Walt will relay that to you. But there’s one thing in reading a transcript and there’s another thing being present and actually hearing and seeing it. They did everything they could to humiliate Walt. The thing is, no one in the courtroom was laughing except the tyrants. The only thing I can hope is that somehow truth can prevail, and I don’t know that that’s possible in Monroe County. How am I still facing a trial when there is no evidence; there’s nothing. I was present in Monroe County, and now I’m being charged with three crimes? How does that happen? I didn’t do anything. I would be happy to pay restitution to someone whom I have victimized, because that’s how I am. I was the chaplain for the Georgia militia. I had a Bible study at my house for five years. I’m a good guy. Show me whom I have offended, and I will make it right. I will be more than happy to resolve it, but you can’t even show me that, and I’m still going to trial?