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They Left No Crime Uncommitted
The Inquisition of James Walker
After the jury voted to forfeit my property, the district court issued a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture. It directed the government to publish a legal notice in the newspaper that any person, except myself, who claimed a legal interest in any of the forfeited property must file a claim with the court.
Accordingly, James Walker filed his claim for certain property that he had stored at my home. The petition he filed resulted in the government issuing a subpoena for his personal appearance and his tax records. Accordingly, on June 7, 1999 James Walker appeared at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Gainesville, Georgia to answer the subpoena and give a deposition for the return of his property…but without tax records.
Albert L. Kemp, Jr., the assistant United States attorney who conspired with Leta at my trial, wanted to link Mr. Walker to my charges or hang him on a perjury or tax charge. But Walker was too smart to fall for it. So, with minor spelling corrections and redactions for brevity here is how his inquisition went:
KEMP: This deposition will be used for any and all purposes permitted under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Moreover, the deponent is advised that he may at any time invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. All objections except as to the form of the questions are preserved to such time as the deposition may be tendered. Mr. Walker, do you have any questions concerning the ground rules for this deposition?
WALKER: I can invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege, is that correct?
KEMP: That is correct, Sir.
WALKER: I do it now.
KEMP: You may only do it in response to a specific question.
WALKER: Okay. I’m going to ask you a question. Are you conducting a criminal investigation?
KEMP: Sir, I’ve explained to you that the purpose of this deposition is to determine your ownership interest in certain properties that have been forfeited.
WALKER: Okay. Can anything I say be used against me in a court of law?
KEMP: Sir, that is correct; and that is why you have the right to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege.
WALKER: Sounds to me like I ought not to say anything. Because I might make a misstatement, and who knows what will happen then?
KEMP: Sir, that is a determination that you will have to make. Will you please administer the oath to the deponent?
COURT REPORTER: Raise your right hand, please.
WALKER: Oath? What’s an oath? My Bible tells me not to swear at all, but I don’t bear false witness. Is that sufficient?
COURT REPORTER: Will you affirm then?
WALKER: Well, that’s the same thing. I don’t have any intention of telling you any lies if that’s what you want to know.
COURT REPORTER: Is that good enough for you, Mr. Kemp?
KEMP: Sir, are you refusing to take the traditional affirmation? There is a difference in which you can either take an oath or you can affirm.
WALKER: Okay. I’ll affirm.
KEMP: Then please let her administer the affirmation.
COURT REPORTER: Do you affirm that the testimony that you are about to give in this case is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
WALKER: Which God? See that’s the problem. Which God?
COURT REPORTER: Okay. Do you affirm to tell the truth in this deposition.
WALKER: I will affirm to you that I will bear no false witness, and I’ll invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege as I see appropriate.
KEMP: Sir, do you affirm to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
WALKER: I may not know what the truth is.
KEMP: As you know it, Sir.
WALKER: As I know it, yes. I’ll be happy to do that.
Having been duly sworn in, the cross-examination of James Daniel Walker by AUSA Kemp began. For ease of reading, the remaining questions and answers by Kemp and Walker will be labeled Q and A.
Q. Will you please listen to the questions—and to the best of your ability, answer them truthfully?
Q. Sir, what is your name?
A. My name is James, capital “J”, lower case “a-m-e-s”; capital “D”, lower case “a-n-I-e-l”; capital “W”, small case “a-l-k-e-r”; James
Daniel Walker. James Daniel is my Christian name, or given name. Walker is the family name, or if you prefer, the tribe or clan.
Q. Mr. Walker, did you receive a subpoena that was served upon you regarding the deposition, this incident deposition?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And what is your date of birth?
A. I’m not sure. I am told that it’s in September of ‘47, the 30th as I recall.
Q. And who told you that?
A. My mother.
Q. Do you have any reason to believe that your mother would lie to you as to your date of birth?
A. She does some strange things. I don’t know about that.
Q. My question, Sir, is do you have any reason to believe that your mother would lie to you about your date of birth?
A. Doubt it, just don’t know.
Q. So have you been told by your mother or any other relative that you were born on a different day?
A. No, not that I recall.
Q. What, if any reason, do you have to doubt the truthfulness of that date of birth?
A. I have no conscious memory of it.
Q. And do you have a Social Security number?
A. Could be. Haven’t used it in years.
Q. Do you have a driver’s license?
A. No, I do not. Haven’t had one of those in years.
Q. Are you a citizen of the United States?
A. You’ll have to define that for me.
Q. Please explain to me what it is you do not understand about that question?
A. I don’t understand what you mean when you say citizen.
Q. What does citizen mean to you?
A. What my definition of citizen is may have no meaning whatsoever in the law.
Q. Sir, I’m asking you what is your definition of citizenship?
A. Am I a citizen if I was born in Georgia‘?
Q. Sir, I do the questioning...what is your definition of citizenship?
A. I assume...my definition would be subject to or born in a state or nation.
Q. Then are you a citizen of the United States?
A. I suppose since I was born in Georgia, I could be construed as a citizen of Georgia.
Q. And what is your current residence?
A. I don’t know what residence means.
Q. Where did you sleep?
A. Is that a residence?
Q. Where did you sleep last night?
A. I slept in a bed last night for the first time in a while.
Q. A bed in where? Located where? In what city?
A. I guess that’s Sugar Hill.
Q. On what street was that bed located?
A. White Street.
Q. And did that location have an actual street number?
A. I object to that question. This is getting ridiculous…this has nothing to do with establishing whether or not the property is mine.
Q. Sir, did the location of which the bed you slept in last night have a street address?
A. Objection; irrelevant.
Q. So noted, now please respond.
A. Well, I’ll just invoke my—are you planning on sending an assassin?
A. I’ll invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege on that one. I don’t like that question.
Q. What is the basis for believing that the invocation of the Fifth would lead to incriminating evidence?
A. Read your opening statement. You said I could invoke it anytime. You didn’t say I had to explain it.
Q. In the opening statement, it said that all objections except to the form are preserved. That means that…you must set forth the basis for your invocation of the right.
A. I am.
Q. As the record presently stands, you have not set forth a legitimate basis that would permit the court to sustain such an objection.
A. Okay. I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege based on the possibility of self-incrimination. How about that?
Q. The mere possibility is not a legitimate basis…
A. Well, since you said anything can be used against me in a court of law…even my invocation of the Fifth Amendment could probably be construed as a crime and could be used against me.
Q. Why do you believe that, sir?
A. No. That’s what you said.
Q. When did I say that?
A. I asked you a specific question, can anything I say be used against me in a court of law; you said, yes.
Q. That is correct.
A. Like I said before, it would be better for me to say nothing, wouldn’t it, to any of this?
A. Because I don’t know what you are going to use, or when you’re going to use it.
Q. Sir, I’ve repeatedly stated to you that I am not here to respond to any of your questions. You’re here to respond to mine.
A. Since you have said that anything can be used against me in a court of law, I think the logical stance for me is to say nothing.
Q. That is your choice, Sir. And when you were not sleeping at the—in the bed on White Street, in Sugar Hill, where did you sleep?
Q. What grounds?
A. Tell me—tell me what does it matter where I sleep? What does that have to do with the claim of property?
Q. Sir, I’m not here to explain to you. I am here to ask questions.
A. Then you stick to relevant questions...you go through this list of property I claimed and ask me if I own it.
Q. I will conduct this deposition in the manner I choose.
A. Very well.
Q. And you will respond.
A. I object.
Q. So noted. What is your current occupation?
A. Who said I had one? I haven’t worked in years. I object. It’s irrelevant.
Q. When were you last employed?
A. Some people say I never have. I object to that question. Once again, it’s irrelevant.
A. Are you on a fishing expedition?
Q. Sir, you indicated that you haven’t worked in years. My question is when you did work those years ago, where did you work?
A. Objection, irrelevant.
Q. So noted, and you are now required to respond to the question.
A. I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination based on what I said before.
Q. And are you known by any other names other than James Daniel Walker?
A. Most of them are unprintable.
Q. The question remains, are you known by any names other than James Daniel Walker?
A. I object to the question and invoke my Fifth Amendment right.
Q. And what is your relationship to the defendant Kenneth David Pealock?
A. I object to the question, and I invoke my Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
Q. And what is the basis for you...
A. Because it seems that anybody that knows him is prosecuted, and you’ve already said that anything I say could be used against me in a court of law.
Q. Sir, do you know Vivian Head?
A. She’s my mother.
Q. She’s your mother?
A. At least that’s what she said. I don’t know. I presume she’s telling the truth.
Q. And so...
A. You going to prosecute her because I know her, or because Pealock knows her?
Q. That was my question to you—you said that everyone who knows Pealock has been prosecuted. Has Ms. Head been prosecuted?
A. It seems like most people that knew him have been prosecuted, or terrorized, or something. I’ve read the record.
Q. Now, what is the relationship of Ms. Vivian Head to Kenneth Pealock?
A. I think I better invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege on that one, too.
Q. And how does that relate to you, Sir, the relationship of two third parties?
A. Well, she’s my mother. Let’s listen to a little hypothetical here. If she’s my mother and she knows Pealock...that means I would know Pealock through her and...I might get prosecuted.
Q. Can you tell me whether or not you’ve ever been arrested?
A. Hasn’t everybody?
Q. That is not my question to you, Sir.
A. I object to the question and invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Q. Have you ever been convicted of any crimes?
Q. On what grounds, Sir?
A. I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination based on what you said.
Q. And so you are refusing to respond to the questions first of all as to whether or not you’ve been arrested, and secondly as to whether or not you’ve ever been convicted?
A. I’ve stated my objections and invoked my privilege. It’s obvious you are conducting a criminal investigation by the line of your questions. Am I the target of that criminal investigation?
Q. How many times must I tell you that I’m asking the questions here?
A. Am I the target of a criminal investigation?
Q. Have you not been and has that question been answered to you before?
A. Not to my satisfaction.
Q. Then too bad, Sir.
A. Well, I would like it in writing that I’m not a target of a criminal investigation and then we’ll continue with this deposition.
Q. Sir, let’s look at –
A. You are using this as a fishing expedition, I think. You are not using this to determine ownership of property at all. And I object to this entire proceeding
Q. So noted.
A. And there is no point in you asking any more questions because I’m going to invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege on each and every one.
Q. Sir, that is your right. I have a right to ask the questions—
A. Start asking.
Q. –and I am going to exercise that right.
A. Since you didn’t put it in writing that I’m not a target of a criminal investigation, by your silence you’ve admitted it. Fishing expedition.
Q. Did you file income tax returns for the 1994 and the 1995 time period?
A. I object to that question. It’s irrelevant, and I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Q. Okay. Please set forth your position as to why that question is irrelevant, the grounds.
A. It’s irrelevant what the position is. Once I invoke the privilege, it’s invoked.
Q. In response to your subpoena, you were requested to bring certain documents. Do you have any documentation with you today?
A. I have no documents.
Q. Did you receive a copy of the subpoena, Sir?
A. Yes. Can that be used against me in a court of law?
Q. My question to you once again is did you receive a copy of the subpoena that asked you to bring your tax returns?
A. Asked and answered.
Q. And what is your answer?
A. I already answered it.
Q. Sir, I get to ask the same question over and over again.
A. What’s the point?
The only “point” of Kemp’s repetitive questioning of Mr. Walker was to badger him into making incriminating statements that could be used against him. Kemp also attempted to trick Walker into committing perjury on the petition he filed to claim his property.
Q. And so you simply looked at the preliminary order of forfeiture and said that you had placed, at some point in time, firearms of this nature with Mr. Pealock?
A. Well, now you have reversed the chronology. I knew what I had put there. I used the preliminary order of forfeiture to see what the serial numbers were.
Eventually, the relevant questions concerning the property claims of Mr. Walker were asked (though the government had previously traced every firearm and already knew that he had purchased many of them). Nevertheless, Walker did advise Kemp that he was scheduled to pick up firearm purchase records that afternoon. What Walker did not know was that Kemp and Robertson had arranged for him to be arrested at the conclusion of the deposition.
Thus, as Kemp looked on with a crocodile grin, deputy sheriffs from Hall County grabbed and handcuffed Walker when he attempted to leave. The deputy had a clipboard with several arrest warrants signed by a judge without the name of the person to be arrested. Walker's arrest was for allegedly failing to appear in court on 5-year-old traffic charges in Gwinnett County where he did appear! Naturally, Walker’s property was forfeited since his arrest and detention prevented him from securing the purchase records proving his ownership. Then, after this 90-day curative detention, all bogus charges by Gwinnett County were dropped and he was released.