In a case chillingly reminiscent of the Southern Poverty Law Center's successful judicial terrorism against former Arizona rancher Casey Nethercutt, a group of Mexican-American hunters who were apprehended and detained on private land back in October 2004 by Arizona rancher and longtime immigration reform activist Roger Barnett (pictured at left courtesy of Ranch Rescue) are suing him in civil court. The group known as Border Action Network is behind the suit. Testimony began on Tuesday November 14th, 2006. Full story of the first day of trial published in the Douglas (AZ) Dispatch. Excerpts reproduced below. Discussion of this story on Phxnews.com.
Arturo Morales, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, was the first to testify, and began to sob as he told jurors how he tried to console his young granddaughter and her friend as a furious Roger Barnett, handgun holstered at his side, told them to get off his property or he would start shooting. "They were asking, 'Why does he want to kill us?' and I just held their hands," said the 59-year-old Morales. "I could not stop them," Morales continued, "honest to God, I could not stop them, they were crying so much."
Morales told the Superior Court jury that he and his son, Ronald Morales, were taking his two granddaughters, ages 9 and 11, and an 11-year-old friend on their first hunting trip when he encountered Roger Barnett's brother, Donald Barnett, in an undeveloped area northeast of Douglas. "I tried to explain to him that we had permission, that we had a pass (to be on the land)," Arturo Morales said. "But he said I was in the wrong place." [Ed. Note: Morales has also previously stated that since the land in question is merely state trust land leased to Barnett, he (Morales) could legally hunt there without securing Barnett's prior permission.]
Donald Barnett told Arturo Morales to leave the property, which he said belonged to the Barnetts. But Morales explained that his son and one of the girls had gone off looking for deer, and that he couldn't leave until they returned. Donald Barnett then drove off to examine an access gate that the elder Morales told him had been left open. A few minutes later, as Arturo Morales waited for the two hunters to return, Roger Barnett drove up. "He said, 'Get the (expletive) out of here or I'm going to start shooting," Arturo Morales said. "He accused me of taking down his (no trespassing) sign, and he said that I was an (expletive) ignorant Mexican."
Arturo Morales said he told Roger Barnett that he was waiting for his son and granddaughter, and he began honking the horn of his truck to get their attention. When they finally arrived, Ronald Morales asked Barnett what his name was. At that point, according to plaintiffs' attorney Jesus Romo Vejar, Barnett ran to his truck, took out an AR-15 assault rifle, chambered the weapon, and said: "My name is Roger (expletive) Barnett and I'm going to shoot you."
The family then left the area, called 911 and later filed a complaint with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. When the county attorney decided not to press charges in the case, the Morales', with the help of the Tucson-based civil rights group Border Action Network, filed a civil claim against Barnett. The suit accused Barnett of assault, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and asked for $200,000 in damages.
Arturo Morales testified Tuesday that since the run-in with Roger Barnett on Oct. 30, 2004, he has suffered loss of sleep, sexual dysfunction, an aversion to guns and a general sense of anxiety. He said his granddaughters continue to live in fear of Barnett and refuse to hunt again.
However, during cross-examination, Barnett's defense attorney John Kelliher asked the elder Morales why, if the episode had affected his life so adversely, he had never sought medical or psychological treatment. And he pointed out that while Arturo Morales testified that he was now afraid of guns, he acknowledged he had gone on hunting excursions since the 2004 incident. Kelliher also noted that Morales had made previous statements that his 9-year-old granddaughter started crying not because she thought Barnett would shoot her, but because she was afraid her grandfather was going to be arrested. And the attorney hammered away at the fact that Morales, an experienced hunter with a long history in the area, was never certain as to whose land he was on.
During his opening remarks to the jury, Kelliher said only one member of the Morales party had a valid license to hunt on Oct. 30, 2004. He noted that the date marked the first day of hunting season, and that Roger Barnett has a long-established history of not allowing hunters to use his land without written permission. Furthermore, Kelliher said Arturo Morales had had a previous encounter with Roger Barnett in which he was cited by a sheriff's deputy for hunting on Barnett's property. Therefore, the attorney said, Morales knew well before the 2004 confrontation that Barnett restricted hunting on his ranch.
As for the confrontation between Roger Barnett and Arturo and Ronald Morales, Kelliher acknowledged the situation became heated and that it involved people carrying guns. But he said evidence would show the dispute was a two-way exchange that did not incriminate his client more so than the Morales adults. "I don't doubt that there were words exchanged," Kelliher said. "What I do doubt is that Roger Barnett threatened to kill anybody."
This Just In: The Sierra Vista Herald has just published an account of the second day of the trial, taking place on Wednesday, November 15th. Plaintiff Ronald Morales gave his testimony. No cross-examination took place because the defense lawyer was called away early, causing an early recess.
Analysis: The possibility that Roger Barnett is being singled out and targeted for judicial terrorism primarily because of his immigration reform activism cannot be dismissed. Barnett estimates he has made citizen's arrests of more than 12,000 illegal border-crossers who have trespassed on his ranch since 1996. Furthermore, Border Action Network and other civil rights groups began targeting Barnett with civil claims such as the Morales suit in an effort to drain the rancher's coffers (economic warfare) and expose what they say is a pattern of racially motivated vigilantism. The photo in the upper left represents the environmental warfare waged against us by these pigs. Look at all the garbage they leave behind. Courtesy of Desert Invasion.
And the trial judge apparently recognizes this possibility. To prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt, Judge James Conlogue issued two pre-trial rulings designed to narrow the scope of inquiry. First, Judge Conlogue precluded from evidence hundreds of pages of law enforcement reports dealing with Barnett's apprehensions of illegal immigrants. Romo Vejar may only present the documents to impeach contradictory statements by witnesses. Second, Judge Conlogue dropped Barnett's wife Barbara and his brother Donald from the suit.
To avoid prejudicing the case against himself, Roger Barnett has not discussed this case at length. However, in an interview with Frosty Woolridge on April 27, 2004, posted on the Desert Invasion website, Barnett gives us a glimpse of his state of mind. He and fellow ranchers clearly feel physically threatened by these invaders, but have sought to scrupulously obey the laws in dealing with them. You can see by the infrared picture at left (courtesy of Desert Invasion), showing one area of Arizona literally being overrun by hordes of illegals, why many local ranchers are so apprehensive - they face this sort of threat EVERY DAY. Blimey, looks like they're having a full-blown Cinco de Mayo fiesta, doesn't it? And don't tell them to pack up and move - who would buy their properties?
Frosty's Question: Have you felt endangered?
Barnett's Response: Oh, yeah. Several times you can just feel the hate in their eyes and you don't want to turn your back on them or they would hurt you. They're illegals. We don't get hold of mules [drug runners], I mean they run so much faster... I yell at them and they don't stop a bit. I've only caught one - scared the shit out of him so bad he passed out on the side of a mountain.
Frosty's Question: Do you put these people at gunpoint when you catch them?
Barnett's Response: Don't need to. Generally they give up. With authority, you just tell them to sit down, and they sit down.
Frosty's Question: And you call the Border Patrol in...
Barnett's Response: Uh, huh.
This would seem to indicate that Roger Barnett is not a vigilante who takes the law into his own hands, but is a property owner determined to protect his property against trespassers and invaders. He detains them, but then turns them over to sworn law enforcement officers. And the only reason he deployed a weapon this time is because the trespassers, being hunters, also had weapons.
Two other lawsuits against Barnett have been dismissed, while another filed by MALDEF is pending. That lawsuit names Barnett, his wife and brother, and Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, alleging conspiracy to violate migrants' civil rights.
A brief refresher course for readers unfamiliar with the Casey Nethercutt case. Debbie Schlussel posted the following on her site back on August 26th, 2005 (normally, "Dirty" Debbie obsesses with such trivialities as the famous Sharon Stone "Basic Instinct" photo where Stone shows her private area, but this time Dirty Debbie actually posted something of pertinence):
According to the New York Times, Nethercott bought the Arizona ranch, "Camp Thunderbird," in 2003 for $120,000, his entire savings. He used the 70-acre property as headquarters for Ranch Rescue, a group like (and connected with) the Minutemen, which tries to keep our borders safe--since our government will not.
In March 2003, Nethercott and Ranch Rescue caught Mancia and Leiva sneaking into the country on a ranch near the Texas border. Even Mancia and Leiva admit that the Ranch Rescue members gave them cookies, water, and a blanket, and let them go after an hour.
But they accused Nethercott of threatening them and hitting Mr. Mancia with a pistol. Instead of trying the illegals for trespassing and kicking them out, Texas prosecutors tried and convicted Nethercott of gun possession by a felon (he previously served time in California for assault), and he is now serving five years in a Texas prison.
It gets worse.
In prison for the gun possession charge, Nethercott was unable to defend himself against a civil lawsuit filed by Dees and his gangster mob of lawyers on behalf of the illegals who claimed post-traumatic stress for their hour of cookies and water.
Dees took Nethercott's ranch to pay the default judgment of $850,000 against Nethercott (in addition to $600,000 garnered against two other men). Perhaps this column should really be called, "How to Get Rich Quick for Illegal Aliens."
It gets even worse.
Dees and his SPLC also tried to get Nethercott's $60,000 in bail money transferred to the illegal immigrants. It was money Nethercott's poor mother obtained by mortgaging her home in order to post bail. Dees' lawyer mob also went after Nethercott's sister, a nursing assistant.
And you thought it couldn't get any worse? Think again.
Without filing these charges, Mancia and Leiva, the illegal immigrants would have been deported. Instead they are living comfortably in our country and have applied for visas available to immigrants who are the victims of certain crimes and cooperate with authorities. Until then, they are here on a year-to-year basis, with the help of Dees' lawyer thugs, and the approval of our irresponsible government.
The SPLC, ADL, MALDEF, and Border Action - if they're not outright traitors to our country, then at the very least, they are what Vladimir Lenin referred to as "useful idiots". Useful to the neocons - dangerous to patriots!
Tags: politics , Arizona , judicial terrorism , brrreeeport , immigration