“THE REASON THEY STOPPED ME WAS JUST TO SHOW THAT THEY CAN”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 6, 2011) — An eyewitness to the arrest of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III on April 1, 2010 in Madisonville, TN, Mr. Carl Swensson, was arrested on January 4, 2011 after attending a bond hearing in Knoxville, TN for Darren Huff stemming from federal firearms charges brought against Huff last April.
However, following an October 5 hearing, Fitzpatrick’s name appeared in the judge’s order instead of Huff’s in regard to the levying of the federal charges. The Post & Email is not aware of any correction being made to the order in question.
Fitzpatrick has just completed a 60-day sentence in the Monroe County jail for two misdemeanor convictions following an April 1 citizen’s arrest of the grand jury foreman for his 20-consecutive-year service in that capacity.
Huff had also faced charges from the State of Tennessee regarding the same April 1 incident. On December 1, Huff took a plea deal of “no contest,” and court charges and fines from Monroe County were dropped.
A December 27, 2010 report in the Knoxville News Sentinel stated that Huff was accused of a “bait and switch” by Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie, thereby raising the question of whether or not to revoke Huff’s bond. However, a hearing in federal court yesterday yielded a ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton that Huff would remain free on bond.
An Associated Press article dated January 5, 2011 states that “the judge disagreed with prosecutors” in rendering his decision. The story, published without a byline, contends that Huff issued a “snarled insult” to a reporter after the hearing but provided no evidence to support that assertion. It also claimed that the Oath Keepers organization to which Huff allegedly belongs has been named by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an extremist anti-government group.” The SPLC appears to be supplying information to the Department of Homeland Security, and Oath Keepers has reported that the SPLC is actually a part of DHS.
The Department of Homeland Security’s website states that it employs “more than 230,000 employees” whose goal it is to “keep America safe.” Huff stated in an interview with The Post & Email that on April 20, 2010, he was “interrogated” by a representative each from DHS and the FBI after being stopped while on his way to Knoxville, TN.
Another eyewitness to the incident on April 20 involving Huff and Swensson related his account of the incident here.
Swensson issued a brief statement on his website about his January 4 arrest and subsequent release on bond. Below he describes the events in detail as well as his thoughts on the possible motivation behind it.
MRS. RONDEAU: Did yesterday’s arrest stem from the incident on April 1, 2010 regarding Walter Fitzpatrick’s citizen’s arrest of Gary Pettway, the grand jury foreman?
MR. SWENSSON: Yes, it involved a group of us who were there. However, on April 20, which is the date that the indictment was issued – although I don’t know how they did it; they must have had a grand jury in session at the time or the judge did it on his own – it was issued for Darren. That’s when the federal prosecutors could proceed, and that’s when the stop was made on Darren in Knoxville.
MRS. RONDEAU: At the time, though, you were not arrested for anything?
MR. SWENSSON: No.
MRS. RONDEAU: For what reason were you arrested yesterday?
MR. SWENSSON: I got wind from Darren back in October that I was also under indictment there, and he said that at the time they issued his, they also had my name and someone else’s on it as well. When I found out about that, I went up to Knoxville, and the lawyer for Darren said, “Oh, yeah, you were indicted on that as well. I’ll give you the information” and I said, “Thank you very much.” Well, she never gave it to me.
MRS. RONDEAU: You never received any documentation?
MR. SWENSSON: No, I didn’t, but then again, I wasn’t arrested, either. Apparently the warrant was out and available to them to use at that time, but I guess they didn’t expect me to actually show up. It was a case where they would do it only if I went back to Tennessee. So I guess it took them a little bit by surprise. I could see that in the federal prosecutor’s eyes because they had been focusing a lot upon the motion to dismiss the arrest based on the false arrest that they made of Darren in the traffic violation on the 20th. With all of the evidence that was available which I saw in the courtroom, including a video presentation, it clearly showed that the truck which Darren was driving did, in fact, come to a complete stop.
They were telling him that it was a rolling stop. The officer at the time said “It’s my discretion,” and there was a little bandying back and forth between the two as to whether or not Darren had stopped. The officer then said, “Well, yes, he did, but then he took off; he didn’t stop long enough, in my opinion.” That was the beginning of it all. The prosecutor already knew that he was being discredited, but that was his witness. So he tried to get the salient information out of him as much as possible. Of course, it made for easy pickings for the defense counsel. They clearly showed that he did stop.
At the end of that motions hearing, the prosecutor was not happy with the way it had proceeded. The hearing was adjourned, and he ended up turning around and looking at me, and we made eye contact. He literally looked stunned that I was there. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I left, and they didn’t arrest me at that time. I remember thinking,”Well, I might have been indicted, but apparently there’s no arrest warrant out there for me.”
When I got back, I started making calls. I called the FBI in Atlanta and Knoxville; I called the TBI; I called the Madisonville Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department asking them if there was an open warrant for me in Monroe County. No one would answer me; no one returned my calls. So at that point, I just didn’t know, but I had to assume that they would use that when they felt they wanted to. So this time, I went up to Darren’s hearing, and it was for a bond revocation with the same prosecutor, whom I suspect has some kind of agenda and some sort of point to make. He’s tried to paint Darren as a threat to society, a threat to flee and seemed to want him re-incarcerated, or at the very least, have his ankle bracelet put back on.
That’s all fine and good, except that the probation officer, who has been supervising Darren, decided to tell the truth. He said, “Darren has been exemplary; he’s done everything that the court has required of him. He has obtained work as per their request; he has not ventured forth and done anything out of the ordinary; therefore, I am not recommending that they put the ankle bracelet back on or incarcerate him.”
Now the prosecuting attorney, Will Mackie, decided that he was being lambasted, and he was. The judge shot him down and said, “No, we’re not going to incarcerate him, and we’re not going to put the ankle bracelet back on.” Mackie was visibly upset then. At that point, he had turned around and seen me and apparently made some comments to his counsel.
As soon as the court was adjourned, I got no further than the doorway as I was opening it up to leave when the federal marshals came and asked me who I was. I told them, and they escorted me into the little room right off of the main courtroom door and put me under arrest by showing me the “Capias and Bond” document. They did not read me any Miranda rights. They did put handcuffs on me, at which point I gave my keys and wallet to my friend Jim, because I suspected that they might have done this, so I wanted to make sure that my vehicle could be driven and that Monroe County didn’t have access to my wallet with my bond money in there.
So the marshals were nice enough to give that to Jim, and he had that in his possession, and he drove my car from there. That was between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. I don’t know what happened after that outside of the courtroom because at that point, they had me in custody and they took me back to a holding cell in the courthouse. Jim then left and went straight to Monroe County to try and post bond for me. He did, and unbeknownst to me, of course, they held me there at the courthouse while I was awaiting transfer by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Someone from there finally showed up at 3:00 p.m., put me in irons (legs and hands), escorted me out of the building and drove me down to Monroe County. They got me inside of the booking station. I hadn’t been there more than just a few minutes; they were taking off my sweater and prepping me to go into a jail room, and they said, “Well, your bond has already been made.” I figured Jim would do that, but I really had no idea it would be that fast.
They then fingerprinted me, took my mug shot and asked me a few questions about who I was, where I was, and all of that. They have a little pad there for you to sign off on. After being asked all of the questions, I was told by the booking agent, “If you’ll just sign this pad, it will put your signature electronically on all of these papers,” and I said, “No, I want to see what I’m signing.” He said, “Well, this will take a while,” and there were six pages. It took about two minutes.
Just a little after 4:00 p.m., they were escorting me out to the bail bondsman. From there, I went over to see if there were any restrictions on my bond, and they said there were none and that to their knowledge, it looked like a single charge. The way it’s worded, I don’t know if it’s a single charge or not.
MRS. RONDEAU: With what were you charged? Nothing happened at Darren’s hearing yesterday, did it?
MR. SWENSSON: It dates back to the incident of April 1.
MRS. RONDEAU: Because you weren’t able to get documentation on the alleged indictment, do you think one actually existed?
MR. SWENSSON: I have some idea that it existed in that Darren told me that he physically saw it when he was arrested. His counsel, I believe at his first hearing, had shown him the arrest warrant and the indictments that were handed down that day, and my name was on them.
MRS. RONDEAU: But the fact that you could not obtain a copy for yourself would seem unusual, wouldn’t it?
MR. SWENSSON: I thought so. I wonder what the problem would have been for them to show me that there was an indictment pending, because if they have an arrest warrant out for me, that’s something that will be there to surprise me should I ever get stopped for, say, a traffic violation. Then they would most likely send me right back up there for whatever reason, and it would have been a much more long-winded process.
MRS. RONDEAU: What do you think they are trying to accomplish with your arrest? Is it because you returned to Monroe County?
MR. SWENSSON: I had to stay outside of Tennessee, because I was arrested in Knoxville, not Monroe County. I did not go to Monroe County.
MRS. RONDEAU: While you were at the hearing on Tuesday, did you get the feeling that someone was watching for you?
MR. SWENSSON: To my knowledge, the only person who knew that there was an indictment against me was the federal prosecutor, Will Mackie. I had to show my driver’s license to get into the court, so there’s a chance that the people who looked at my license recognized me, but they didn’t write anything down.
MRS. RONDEAU: What went through your mind when you went to Tennessee yesterday?
MR. SWENSSON: If the indictment was out there, I wanted it resolved, and I did suspect that it would happen. That was why I made appropriate arrangements.
MRS. RONDEAU: You mentioned that no one read you Miranda rights. Should they have done so when you were taken to the booking room?
MR. SWENSSON: Not being a constant traveler in those circles, I really don’t know what the natural progression is, but it seems to me that if they were placing me under arrest, one of the first things they would do is to read me the Miranda rights. When they showed me the arrest warrant, which is the Capias and Bond, at that point, would it not be reasonable to assume that that’s when they would then read a person his rights?
MRS. RONDEAU: I would think so, but I will check on it. Did they give you a copy of the Capias and Bond document?
MR. SWENSSON: Yes.
MRS. RONDEAU: Now that you’ve been bonded out, what is the next step?
MR. SWENSSON: I go back for a pretrial hearing, which is when they will give me a trial date, and that will be on January 18.
MRS. RONDEAU: What would you expect to happen then?
MR. SWENSSON: I would expect that on that day, a counselor will be requested because I plan on doing this pro se. Whether I do or not doesn’t matter; it is my right to request counsel, and it is their responsibility to provide one. So I will do that because it’s available to me. We will then proceed to the trial date. I will hopefully get time during the meeting with the judge to remind him that these particular charges were dropped in Walt’s case and that I was neither in the courtroom nor guilty of any riot and have video proof to prove the same.
MRS. RONDEAU: You’ve been charged with “riot,” but you didn’t go into the courtroom on April 1?
MR. SWENSSON: Yes, that’s correct.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is there an accuser?
MR. SWENSSON: I have to imagine that the accuser in my case is going to be the same Stutts character. I have no way of knowing for sure. I’ll ask when I go in on the 18th who my accuser is. It will be interesting because I will have to note that the accuser was not there on that date, at least not to my knowledge. The original accusations in Walt’s case came directly from the judge, not from Stutts.
MRS. RONDEAU: If you have video proof that you didn’t go into the courtroom at all during the citizen’s arrest, how could this charge have been leveled?
MR. SWENSSON: It was leveled against Darren, the third-party cameraman who was there, another person who was with us, and me. It was just the four of us. Originally there were five, but one left early. At least three of us that I know of were indicted. It might be four; I have not seen the list. The counsel for Darren still refuses to give me that list.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is this a state indictment against you?
MR. SWENSSON: No, it is a Monroe County indictment, strictly Monroe County.
MRS. RONDEAU: That’s interesting, because Mr. Fitzpatrick’s transcripts say “State of Tennessee.” I wonder why yours says “Monroe County” and Walt’s and Darren’s say “State of Tennessee?”
MR. SWENSSON: It was issued from a federal court, Monroe County, Madisonville, TN.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think it’s a legitimate document?
MR. SWENSSON: I don’t know. It looks official. It was in the hands of the federal marshals.
MRS. RONDEAU: Who were the officers involved in your arrest?
MR. SWENSSON: The booking officer was Sgt. Belcher, and that was the only name that I was able to get out of the whole affair. I can’t read the signature of the officer who signed the approval form.
I think the reason they stopped me was just to show that they can.
MRS. RONDEAU: So you return to court on the 18th and will accept a public defender?
MR. SWENSSON: I know the public defenders there. Darren and Walt have experience with them. They are as intricately involved in the whole Monroe County process as they could possibly be, and nobody has any confidence in getting a fair and impartial trial or jury from this system. Would I accept one? Sure. Would I allow him to make pleadings for me? Not necessarily. I could fire him right there just before trial and go pro se, which would be my intention, unless, of course, the judge decides to drop this and save the court the time and expense they will have to expend by providing me the public defender over a misdemeanor infraction that they know is going to be dropped anyway.
I would like to note that I try to do everything above-board and legally, constitutionally, and morally. That’s who I am; that’s what I do. So I have no regrets as to anything that has transpired thus far. The officers there will say, “Oh, well, Walt’s just crazy, that’s all,” and I had to correct Sgt. Belcher on that, because as I told him, I don’t believe Walt is crazy in the least. I believe Walt was using the Tennessee Constitution as it is written to do what he is charged to do. He saw an injustice and he tried to correct that injustice. These are traits to be admired, and I told him, “I admire Walt. I will always be in Walt’s corner. He has done absolutely nothing to justify the treatment he has received in Monroe County, TN, and for that reason, I will fight this fight to the best of my ability using whatever constitutional tools, my inalienable rights, to defend myself.
The court does whatever it decides it wants to do, and this is totally and completely against the Tennessee Constitution. So either it exists and it is in force or it does not. I think the judge actually stepped in it when it was discovered that a juror at Walt’s trial on December 1 was a retread from a jury panel that year and dismissed him.
Editor’s Note: The following excerpt from our December 8, 2010 report reads:
…during the December 1, 2010 trial, eyewitnesses reported that at the beginning of the trial when Fitzpatrick was allowed to ask questions of the jury, Blackwood dismissed a juror who admitted to having served on a jury within the past 24 months. Blackwood reportedly dismissed the juror. Why was that juror dismissed but the indictments of the grand jury from June 3 allowed to stand?
MRS. RONDEAU: Walt had also reported that on two occasions, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood had stated that the grand jury foreman is just like any other jury member.
MR. SWENSSON: That’s right. So how can it apply one place and not the other, unless the judge says, “Well, I’m just going to ignore that law because it’s more expeditious for me to do so and I can control the outcome of the grand jury process by having my own people in place”?
Is it common practice? Sure. Is it legal? Is it moral? Is it ethical? Of course not, because it lends to grand jury corruption. It taints every grand jury on which these people have served. The grand jury foreman is either an employee of the court, in which case there is a serious conflict of interest, or he is no more or less than another jury member and subject to the rules and regulations thereof.
Is it reasonable to assume that the Tennessee Constitution would be followed, or is it reasonable to assume that the judges have carte blanche to run roughshod over any and all laws?
Apparently, this is the mode of operation for the judiciary across the country. To take it a step further, look at the state of Washington. They no longer use a grand jury. Now how unconstitutional is that, because “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia…”
MRS. RONDEAU: The states of Connecticut and Michigan also have unconstitutionally done away with grand juries.