Logan County Jury Acquits Harrell 5/26/00
Logan County Jury Acquits Harrell
5/26/00 Lincoln, Illinois - Gaylon "Whitey" Harrell of rural Latham was acquitted by a 12 person jury of the 4 count criminal felony charges of willful failure to file an Illinois State Income Tax form. The actual trial began on Wednesday May 24th in the Logan County Circuit Court room, presided over by Senior Judge David "Slick" Coogan ("Slick is how the judge identifies himself) and closed on Friday after four hours of deliberation when the jury returned with four consecutive "not guilty" verdicts.
"We were in a heated debate" reported one unnamed juror, "but when the court refused, after our specific written request, to furnish us copies of the actual statutes, (that imposed the obligation on the defendant,) it didn't take long for all of us to see that something was wrong with the State's case.
"That was not all the court refused to let the jury see," added Jerry Barringer, Harrell's attorney. "The court, at the request of the Illinois State's attorney, denied the jury access to evidence that already had been introduced and accepted." "Astoundingly, even the Bill of Indictment was denied to the jury." chimed in Barringer's legal assistant Lindsey Springer, "Also denied were jury instructions sanctioned by the Supreme Court and even a VCR recorder to play the video tape that Whitey had made of his meeting with the CID agent." "I've seen a lot of tyranny in the courts, but never anything so blatant as what I saw here over the last two days," added Bob Minark, an Indiana friend of Harrell's.
The 4 criminal felony charges had been brought against Harrell in 1997 and just came to trial this past week. Harrell had submitted numerous motions in a case that saw both assigned judges and assigned state's attorneys resign or recuse themselves. All Harrell's motions were denied.
The case started back in early 1997 when Harrell was approached by Illinois Dept. of Revenue Criminal Investigation Division (CID) agent Robert Craner, who asked him for an interview. The testimony was that Harrel refused until he had witnesses present and a video camera set up at the local library where he later video taped a 45 minute meeting with Craner. On the video, which was shown to the jury at the trial, Harrel specifically pointed out that he could find no section of the Illinois statutes that obligated him to file an Illinois income tax return. He presented Craner with numerous documents which he identified as outlines of statutes and regulations and "administrative code" which he said he searched to no avail in finding any obligation that would apply to him. Craner accepted the documents. The tape showed that Craner promised Harrell at least five different times, to produce the statutes that made Harrell liable and get answers to Harrell's questions.
The testimony later showed that Craner didn't do that and instead went back to the Grand Jury to testify that Harrell was a resident of Logan County who failed to file Illinois state income tax forms. Unbeknownst to Harrel, at the time of the interview, Craner was also acting as a Grand Jury investigator. "He never told me," said Harrell, "He never read me a Miranda warning. He just promised to get me the information, but instead went back to the Grand Jury to get an Indictment." Grand Jury Transcripts show that Craner testified that Harrel, at the library meeting, had nothing to offer in his defense of why he didn't file a tax return, but the video tape brought Craner's credibility into serious question.
Harrell testified in his own defense and verified his many efforts to obtain the law that made him liable for the income tax or how his activity was privileged The prosecution brought out on cross examination that Harrell had filed many law suits in the past and that those suits were dismissed in both the state and federal courts. In an attempt to prove knowledge, the state also elicited that Harrell had previously filed tax returns previously. Harrell's Attorney Barringer likened that to believing in Santa Claus when you were a child and then gaining knowledge of the fact that Santa Claus is a fantasy as you got older and wiser. Barringer's questioning of Agent Craner as to his belief in Santa Claus brought an objection from the State's attorney which was sustained by the judge without any recognition of humor. Harrel, 62, had worked for the United States Post Office as a rural mail carrier and also received a pension from Caterpillar from where he retired in 1990.
Asked if his case will set a precedent, Harrel said, "Legally, No, but I certainly hope it sets the precedent that more people question the loss of their rights and property whenever government claims its the law. I feel sure this jury will be thinking twice."
Interestingly, even after the specific request of the jury, neither the state or the court ever did produce any statute showing Harrel had any obligation. "We don't have anything to say at this time other than Mr. Harrell was very lucky and we will be watching his activities carefully," stated an assistant State's Attorney who asked not to be identified.
Harrel plans to keep up his efforts to expose, what he says, is the one of the largest frauds ever committed on the people of Illinois. "Al Capone couldn't hold a candle to these guys," Harrell commented when talking about the State's claim of a requirement for wage earners and independent contractors to file a state income tax form.
Harrell's bail bond has been released and the funds obtained from Harrell to guarantee the bond will be returned. No further court actions are pending against Harrell at this time, but Harrell anticipates further actions by himself against both the state Department of Revenue and the federal Internal Revenue Service.
May 28th 2000
Bob's comment's -- When Whitey called and told me that the court had denied his final motion to dismiss and that he was going to trial during the week of May 22 to 26, I knew I had to be there, if for no other reason than to offer morale support. Based upon my previous courtroom experiences, I thought I might even be able to add a few things from what we had learned.
The trip to Lincoln, Illinois was 200 miles and I had 1001 things to do, but this was Whitey calling. No excuses, no B.S., just put everything down and hump it on out to Logan Co. I arrived at the court house just before the government started it's case and just early enough to meet a smiling, but still ugly Whitey and determined government butt kicker John Blevins, who introduced me to the distinguished and youthful, but graying, Attorney Jerry Barringer and the articulate para-legal Lindsey Springer. Things improve later when I got a hug form the very patient and gracious, Lois Harrell, Whitey's wife of 40 years.
Other than being amongst friends, it was not a pleasant three days in the courtroom. I had seen biased and arrogant judges before, but never one this biased and arrogant. (Slick would wait till the jury arrived and then make his entrance requiring the jury to stand for him.) I had seen stupid criminal investigative agents, but never one this stupid (he knew he had been taped and still lied to the grand jury.) I had seen cocky little prosecutors, but none like "mosey tong" (exact name unknown but it sounds like "mosey tong")
In fact, the atmosphere was so permeated with arrogance and bias and stupidity that it filtered out to the jurors who, though tentative at the beginning, woke up at the appropriate time. Even though the attitude of the court played a major role in the outcome, it would never have happened had Whitey not established the factual evidentiary foundation to present to the jurors. Video taping the meeting with the CID agent Craner and eliciting Craner's statement to offer to help was brilliant, especially having that video tape after Craner testified that he didn't do anything to find answers for Whitey.
Another thing that was very important was that Whitey testified very well. He paused after each question and answered firmly without hesitation. Even on cross where the State's Attorney questioned him about the civil cases Whitey had previously lost, Whitey didn't flinch. In my opinion, Whitey could only have done as well as he did because of the constant hours of preparation and study prior to trial.
Whitey is no greenhorn. He's been involved in the movement fighting "no obligation" tax fraud for over 20 years. In fact, I consider Whitey the most dedicated patriot I have ever met. He both inspires and pushes me. Go on the offensive, he keeps saying. File that complaint. Take it to em. Become the plaintiff!!!! (If I've heard that once, I've heard that a hundred times.) Now, I know how right he was. It's far better being the plaintiff than the defendant.
Even though Whitey is a warrior, this case took a toll on Whitey and his family. Besides the financial burden (which in itself is astronomical) the stress on the family was intense (although Whitey did his best to mask it).
Whitey is not the type of guy who is going to quit. He is going to keep on fighting to his last breath.
We need to give him a morale boost and a financial lift. A resounding "Thank You" to Whitey is in order!!
The best way to do this is for each of us to reach into our pockets or wallets or purses and pull out a 10.00 $ federal reserve note bill and write on it "Thank you Warrior Whitey!! Keep on fighting the good fight!!" Then stick that bill into an envelope and mail it to:
"Warrior Whitey" Harrell
Latham, Illinois 62543
Whitey can be reached by phone at 217-674-3586, by fax at 217-674-9086 and by e-mail at his son Rodney's e-mail address: HscooterD@aol.com