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“THE CONSTITUTION IS STILL THE LAW OF THE LAND”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 11, 2014) — In our interview of Dixie County, FL defendant Terry Trussell following his release from jail on October 30, The Post & Email discussed the matter of judicial corruption which Trussell said is turning Americans into “abject slaves.”
Trussell was released on a $14,000 bond, of which he had to pay 10%, or $1,400, to regain his freedom after he was jailed on October 9 for “failure to appear” when he was present in the courtroom but handcuffed and taken away at the order of Judge James C. Hankinson.
A bond on ten felony charges alleged against him when he served as Dixie County grand jury foreman earlier in the year cost him $500.
On September 2, Trussell was arrested and charged with “simulating a legal process” after he presented evidence given to him as grand jury foreman to a Common Law Grand Jury for its consideration. After the Common Law Grand Jury produced two True Bills, Trussell brought them to the Dixie County court clerk, Dana C. Johnson, who stamped and filed them with numbers assigned.
Trussell approached the Common Law Grand Jury because he said the “statutory” grand jury, of which he had been appointed foreman by former Judge Cynthia Munkittrick, had been illegally influenced by state’s attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister, who reportedly insisted on speaking with the statutory grand jurors before they deliberated over evidence submitted by a citizen and remained in the room during deliberations with three staff members in violation of Florida statute 905.17 under Title XLVII.
Over the weekend which followed Siegmeister’s presence in the grand jury room during deliberations, Trussell documented his observations, presenting a seven-page synopsis to Munkittrick and Judge Greg Parker, to whom he was referred after having been told that Munkittrick no longer had purview over grand jury matters. Siegmeister then petitioned Parker to remove Trussell as grand jury foreman, and emails directed to Trussell showed contact between Siegmeister and Parker on the matter.
The probable cause affidavit signed by a member of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) does not indicate, where asked, whether or not “probable cause” is “sufficient.” Nevertheless, Hankinson signed it and approved the bond amounts.
As in the first case brought against CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) in Monroe County, TN in 2010, Trussell was ordered not to enter the Dixie County courthouse for any reason except for hearings in the charges levied against him.
Trussell is a retired 71-year-old Vietnam combat veteran. Fitzpatrick is serving a three-year sentence on convictions of “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” following his attempts to bring judicial corruption to the attention of the McMinn County, TN grand jury, which then indicted him instead of the alleged perpetrators. In his petition, Fitzpatrick had named judges, court clerks, prosecutors, the grand jury foreman, and the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department as participants in a corruption ring which preys on the local citizenry as a source of continual state revenue.
The Post & Email has illustrated over more than five years the ways in which Tennessee judges ignore constitutional rights. Public corruption within Tennessee’s Tenth Judicial District, where Fitzpatrick found systemic judicial misconduct and law-breaking, also led to the murder of Jim Miller, a Republican elections commissioner at the time.
On November 4, Trussell spoke to us at length about what he sees as the financial exploitation of the citizenry which will end in America turning into “a wasteland.”
During his second arraignment hearing on October 30 culminating in his release, Trussell expected to have legal representation, but the individual reportedly did not appear in the courtroom. However, another representative who was not an attorney did attend and identified himself as “assistance of counsel.” According to Trussell, that individual was “told by the bailiff that if they stood up, said anything, made any remark before the court, they would be removed.”
“There were things going on in that courtroom that don’t show up in the recordings. These things happened before the recordings were turned on,” Trussell told us.
According to witnesses, Hankinson stated during the arraignment that the Bill of Particulars produced by the government could not be provided to Trussell directly, but only to a Bar Association attorney. Hankinson rejected the individual who wished to help on the same grounds. “They’re saying, ‘Counsel can only be a Bar member attorney,’ and my position is, ‘Wait a minute; that’s not what the Constitution says; that’s just what they say the Constitution says.’ So they’ve prohibited me from counsel, yet I’m being admonished for not having counsel.”
Trussell said that Hankinson told him that if he decided to appear pro se, he would have to be “evaluated” by Hankinson to “determine whether I was fit to represent myself. If I did, he would only extend to me limited rights in my presentations before the court.”
“The judge is not the one who gives me my rights,” Trussell said. “He’s not the one who can take my rights away. He can block me from exercising my rights at his own peril.” The judge then told Trussell that if he chose to represent himself, the trial “will be very one-sided,” with only the prosecutor’s case being presented to the jury.
In Monroe County, TN in December 2012, constitutional attorney Van Irion was prevented from presenting a defense while defending CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) on the charge of “tampering with government documents.” After approximately five minutes of deliberation, the trial jury pronounced Fitzpatrick guilty.
“I may end up with a public defender,” Trussell told us, “which to me is like having no representation. This is not casting any aspersion upon public defenders who do serve the people without the ability to hire an attorney. I don’t understand how justice can be for sale like this. The problem with the public defenders is that they have very limited resources; I’m still going to have to put everything together myself and then trust them to vet it, in a way. Even the public defenders I’ve talked to have said, ‘The best thing to do is go ahead and plead this thing out; admit to partial guilt; they may bargain down some of the charges; you may get a minimal amount of prison.’ There’s no consideration of the fact that there’s no substance; they’ve not even been able to explain to me the nature and cause of the charges. By the Fifth Amendment, I’m entitled to that. Even in the arraignment, the judge didn’t even bother to read me what the charges are. He said simply that he entered a ‘Not guilty’ plea as if he were my attorney.”
The Post & Email observed at that point that a similar situation had arisen with Arthur Jay Hirsch in Lawrence County, TN, where Judge Patricia Maguire entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf without his consent and in the absence of a charging document.
“I don’t know what he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to,” Trussell said, referring to Hankinson’s action in the courtroom. “I don’t know how they justify what they’re doing. They took an oath to the Constitution. I’m being told that they don’t teach the Constitution in college. [Constitutional attorney] KrisAnne Hall has said that they don’t teach the Constitution, but rather, how to ‘subvert’ the Constitution, how to get around the constitutional restrictions and go in and get their job done. But where’s the integrity in this? Where’s the honor?”
Trussell said that he recently spoke with a Florida attorney who confirmed that the courts, in fact, “ignore constitutional rights.” “I said to her, ‘Well, wait a minute; explain this to me: this is an American court, and these people have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, and yet they completely run right over it, ignore it, and even denigrate it.’ And she said, ‘That’s correct.’ I said, ‘How do you say that? This is not what I went to Vietnam to fight for. This is not my America here. Why is this being forced upon me?’ and she said, ‘Well, it’s just the way the courts work.'”
“It’s treason,” Trussell told us. “It is tyranny by the courts. If people feel as if that’s too strong a word, have the courts come into your life, take your liberty, take your treasure, threaten you…essentially, what they’re threatening me with is a death sentence, and then denying me not only due process, but they’re telling me I have no way to defend myself. Why am I not a victim in this case?
“As grand jury foreman, I had the instructions, and I followed the instructions right on down the line. I had my oath of office, and I followed my oath of office. What the court is saying is, ‘Well, we said that, but that’s not really what we meant.’
“The crimes of which they’re accusing me do not fit anything that I did. They refused to give me the Bill of Particulars, or discovery, which was supposed to be in place before the arrest warrant was issued. They still haven’t been able to come up with any link between me and the crimes that they’ve charged me with. If anything, there are no laws to prevent anything that I did; in fact, the laws are just the opposite; they require me to do what I did. So none of this makes any sense. It can’t be supported by any of the allegations that they’re making. I don’t know where they’re going to go with it; I think it’s going to be to their detriment to continue pushing this prosecution.
“What’s going to happen is that I’m going to be forced to reveal things about the bureaucrats who are acting in government that they do not want the public to know. It’s going to come out with my prosecution. I have no option but to depose some people they don’t want to have talking in public and revealing a lot of this stuff that’s going on. It will be in the papers; it will be public; it will be all over the place, and it won’t make them look very good.”
The Post & Email asked Trussell if a planned meeting between some of his supporters and Florida Gov. Rick Scott had taken place yet, to which Trussell answered that he did not believe it had. Scott was re-elected on November 4 to another term. Trussell said he has seen no indication that Scott recognizes corruption within the state’s courts such as that which he has witnessed. “I think in order to do anything to help me, he would have to admit his own complicity in the process, and he’s not going to do that. The Bar agents around him are not going to let him do that.”
Trussell said he has requested the Bill of Particulars in writing on two occasions.
Regarding Hankinson’s apparent change in demeanor on October 30, Trussell said, “Everything about this is political, so any attitude change is based on politics for him. There is no remorse in these people; they are pure evil all the way through. What they don’t want to do is get caught in their criminality.”
The Post & Email has submitted a Public Records request to Hankinson’s assistant for the audio recording of the October 30 hearing and the Bill of Particulars which has been withheld from Trussell.
He concluded the interview with:
We have to proceed as though we won’t have counsel. We have to continue to get the documents. The court, so far, has said that if I don’t have an attorney, it will not share any information it has with us, meaning my wife and myself. The way I look at it, and of course, they don’t, the Constitution is still the law of the land, and I am entitled to know the nature and cause of the charges against me. That’s so fundamental, and the fact that they keep refusing this based on the fact that I’m not an attorney has placed me at a very strong disadvantage. If they can’t explain to me what I did and how I did it, then there’s no crime. How are they going to prosecute me if they can’t link me to these charges?