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“NO CONTEST” AND NO COURT FEES OR FINES CONCLUDES HUFF’S CASE IN MADISONVILLE, TN
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 1, 2010) — The Post & Email has just spoken with Mr. Darren Huff, a defendant in a case brought after c0-defendant Walter Fitzpatrick carried out a citizen’s arrest of Gary Pettway, the grand jury foreman, last April. Both were charged with “riot” and “intimidation,” among other things.
Huff reported that today’s proceedings began at about 9:30 a.m., with his public defender, Matthew Rogers, offering him a plea deal of one misdemeanor for interrupting a public meeting and a $50 fine. Huff reported that he replied that he could not in good conscience “lie” to the court about something he hadn’t committed, at which point Mr. Rogers reportedly then said, “No contest, no court fees, no fine.” Mr. Huff then accepted that arrangement.
Huff stated that his case in Monroe County has now concluded and that he now will stay out of the state of Tennessee in accordance with the restrictions placed on him due to the federal firearms charges against him. He stated that the only exception to that would be if he were called to be a witness for another case.
Mr. Huff reportedly left the courtroom after the arrangement was agreed upon and approved by the judge and went across the street to a restaurant. While there, he was told by a reporter who had been in the courtroom after Huff had departed that the trial of Walter Fitzpatrick had begun, and that Fitzpatrick had pointed out to the judge that a juror who had just been seated had served as a juror last year, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated regarding jury service. Reportedly, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood then dismissed the juror. That then left the question of Ms. Angela Davis, who served in 2009 and again in 2010, even acting as foreman for a day when she signed the “True Bill” charging Huff and Fitzpatrick with the list of crimes.
A resident of Monroe County left the following comment at The Post & Email:
Blackwood is a drama queen, and can be gently inspired to lose his temper in a most unattractive way. He is also a coward, afraid of adverse publicity, as the LCDR has found. He has also shown a talent for “piddling in the jury pool.” Instead of remaining impartial in cases where he and a defendant are at odds, he attempts to contaminate local attitudes by feeding the local press derogatory, misleading, or outright fabricated characterizations of the defendant. I saw him in action for 2 years, and find him a small-souled martinet whose ignorance and hubris are eclipsed only by his arrogance. More than I disrespect the man, I disrespect the system that has allowed him to remain on the bench all these decades.
Does that then bring the charges themselves into question?
And what about Time magazine author Barton Gellman, who wrote in an article on September 30 that “Georgia militia member Darren Huff was arrested by Tennessee state troopers after telling them that he and other armed men intended to “take over the Monroe County courthouse,” now that Huff has not been prosecuted?
I was the one that assumed you got 11/29 probation. That is a very common sentence in my county for the court to maximize income from those on probation. Was the jury pool present for your proceedings?
The jury was had been removed for the motions that were filed. It was at that time the “no contest” was done.
In other words Walt is left to the wolves. The case against both were flimsy enough without the no contest monkey wrench thrown in. Even if the corrupt TN system found him guilty it wouldn’t end there but for the Huff concern for his own familial and financial state. Ask him. I bet the answer is just that. That is manipulation this system ought to be condemned for. Justice ought not hinge on willingness to sacrifice a spouse and children or financial ability to pursue. If anything is a right in this nation it is access to a full and competent exercise of the court system. Intimidating people with representative debt (a public defender in TN is free for a reason, it makes corruption profitable), lengthy prosecutions and assignment of counsel that are disinterested or corrupted. A recent case won there was won only because the defendant was able to become a competent cousel over the extreme length of the proceeding. That ought never be heard of and is a pathetic example of how putrid the system has become. Yet, it is what it is and we are where we are because of it. This was not overlooked 200 years ago either as the “from time to time….” quote tells us.
Found these stories about the Trial today:
A Dalton, Ga., man who traveled to Madisonville, Tenn., on April 20 to “take over the town” was sentenced to six months probation Wednesday.
Darren Wesley Huff, 41, was found guilty of disrupting a meeting, a Monroe County Circuit Court official said Wednesday.
The prosecutor moved not to go forward for now with two other charges, riot and retaliation for a past action, court officials said. The ruling of nolle prosequi means those charges were dismissed but could come back again, records show.
Investigators said Huff traveled to Madisonville to support U.S. Navy retiree Walter Fitzpatrick III, 56, of Sweetwater, Tenn. Fitzpatrick has been challenging grand jury panels throughout the country, charging that grand jury foremen and forewomen have become “tools” of prosecutors and judges.
On April 1, Fitzpatrick barged into a closed grand jury meeting to make a citizens’ arrest of Monroe County grand jury Foreman Gary Pettway. Fitzpatrick was arrested.
On April 20, Fitzpatrick’s scheduled arraignment date, Huff drove from Georgia to Madisonville. An FBI agent’s affidavit said Huff told officers he and others were going to help Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick’s case was still going on late into the afternoon Wednesday, according to the court official. He faces charges of riot, disrupting a meeting of procession, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, retaliation of past action and civil rights intimidation.
While Fitzpatrick will go to trial on the charges from his April arrest today, the charges incurred from his October arrest won’t go before the Monroe County Grand Jury until Jan. 6 and if indicted, he won’t appear in criminal court on those charges until Jan. 19.
n. in criminal law, a defendant’s plea in court that he/she will not contest the charge of a particular crime, also called nolo contendere. While technically not an admission of guilt for commission of the crime, the judge will treat a plea of “no contest” as such an admission and proceed to find the defendant guilty as charged. A “no contest” plea is often made in cases in which there is also a possible lawsuit for damages by a person injured by the criminal conduct (such as reckless driving, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault), because it cannot be used in the civil lawsuit as an admission of fault. “No contest” is also used where there has been a “plea bargain” in which the defendant does not want to say he/she is guilty but accepts the sentence recommended by the prosecutor in exchange for not contesting the charge (which is often reduced to a lesser crime). It is standard practice for the judge to ask either the attorneys or the defendant, “Is there a factual basis for the plea?” before accepting it and finding the defendant guilty.
Mrs. Rondeau replies: Yes, that has been corrected. Thank you.
Great news and hopefully Walter will be released and found not guilty.
Law suits to follow.
This is one piece of good news.
Huff was not exonerated, he pleaded no contest! His case was not dismissed nor was he found not guilty by a jury. Any fool would take that deal which is the best way to get out of that corrupt court system. Huff won’t file a civil case, the no-contest plea is how the court has manipulated things to silence him. If he behaves himself, the federal charges will more than likely go away after he completes his 11 month 29 day “probation”. I would bet the entire jury pool was not sequestered away from the trial and present in the courtroom when Huff took his plea, which would taint the jury pool for Walt’s trial.
Mrs. Rondeau replies: I have updated my comment on that after speaking briefly with Mr. Huff again to clarify. Please forgive the error.
Did Darren plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in Federal Court? If he did not plead guilty in Federal Court then why is he on 11 month 29 Day Probation?
Or did he agree to 11 month 29 Day Probation in Monroe County in exchange for a suspended sentence in State Court? If so isn’t he still facing a trial in Federal Court?
A misdemeanor in TN has a maximum sentence time of 11 months 29 days. Since the no contest plea was entered today on a misdemeanor charge, I assume he got 11/29 probation for it. It seems to be a popular sentence in my corrupt TN county criminal court.
” I would bet the entire jury pool was not sequestered away from the trial and present in the courtroom when Huff took his plea, which would taint the jury pool for Walt’s trial.”
If the jury was tainted, then that puts Walt in a very difficult position, especially without an attorney representing him. Unless Walt listed Darren as a witness on his witness list, he may now face trial without any witnesses for his defense with a jury tainted by Darren’s plea bargain, thinking Walt is guilty before the State even has to present any evidence of guilt.
What does “no contest” mean?
No contest is a plea agreement wherein the defendant pleads “no contest” to a charge in exchange for an agreement for no jail time. The benefit to the State is that a no contest plea forecloses the defendant’s right to file a lawsuit against the State for malicious prosecution. In this case the Monroe County and State officials would clearly have been subject to a lawsuit for malicious prosecution if Darren had not agreed to the no contest plea bargain.
Mrs. Rondeau replies: Thank you. I have updated my comment in regard to “no contest,” as I had misunderstood what Mr. Huff had stated.
As I stated in earlier posts here, Darren was clearly innocent of these false charges. The false federal charges should be dismissed as well. The false federal charges are clearly a case of entrapment by law enforcement.
I’m confused. The radio said he pleaded no contest and got probation but your article which I believe more says he was found innocent. Was this on all stuff or does he still have to go on federal trial?
Mrs. Rondeau replies: He is still on probation from the federal charges, a case which is separate from the Monroe County charges. However, two charges were dropped, and a “no contest” plea is a conviction equivalent a traffic ticket, according to Mr. Huff.
Actually, in a no contest plea the charges are not dropped (retired) or dismissed. Rather, the State and the Defendant enter into a plea bargain wherein the defendant gets no jail time and the State gets the benefit of not prosecuting a weak case and being subject to a malicious prosecution lawsuit.
Is he on probation on the Federal Charges or the State Charges?
Did he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in Federal Court? If he did not plead guilty in Federal Court then doesn’t he still faces a Federal Trial?
@ Leo – I’m not sure where the 11 month/29 days came from: it was 6 mos. suspended. I DO still have federal trial beginning tenatively on January 10th. Thank you for explaining/answering some of the legal questions.
@ the others – It was my fault for the misconceptions in the article. A recorder was offered and I declined. Don’t be hating on Sharon, as she, and a VERY small handful of others do their absolute best to report the truth – we all know it. If blame is to be passed, send it my way. Thank you all, and God bless.
Good news. Now hopefully some high price legal eagles will compete for a piece of the law suit pie against those involved in this travesty. No one would do it for justice but greed is a different animal.
Have a Merry Christmas, Darren at home with your family.
Thank you, m02, and to all of those who have supported us. More than anything at this time I would ask any Christians who are keeping up to lift Walt up to God for strength. He is standing steadfast, and I salute him. May God be with him.