Alleging Religious Bias by Federal Judge & Prosecutor, Church Asks 10th Circuit to Unseal Records
Church To File Complaint With Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Religious Liberty Task Force
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/15/2018 --After serving 3 years of an 11-year prison sentence, convicted felon Gary Walker decided he'd had enough of the prison life and filed a motion and affidavit requesting release on the basis that he was not responsible for his actions because he was under a religious spell of his mother-in-law pastor, Rose M. Banks of the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church (CSFC). Walker also claimed that a junior attorney and close friend from CSFC (Gwendolyn Lawson), one of two attorneys on his legal team, was also under the religious control of Pastor Banks which caused a conflict of interest representing him and four other defendants during sentencing.
All the executives, known on the Internet as the IRP6, faithfully worshipped together at CSFC for 30 years and mounted a very vigorous and public campaign proclaiming their innocence from the very beginning in several online videos (http://bit.ly/2sdCTVA - http://bit.ly/2szeGIH - https://www.denveropenmedia.org/shows/just-cause-episode-3-irp-solutions-foundercto-gary-walker ). The government was aghast at Walker's religious coercion claims and discussed the absurdity of them in its answer brief (Dist. Colo. no. 09-cr-00266-CMA-3, Doc. #922, online at http://bit.ly/2Oe82Y3 ).
"Mr. Walker claims that when he made the decision to [represent himself], he was operating under the spell of Rose Banks, his mother-in-law," said the government. "According to Mr. Walker, when he waived his right to appointed counsel at trial he was convinced that Pastor Rose spoke 'with the voice of God,' and that God wanted him to waive his right to counsel," added the government. "Having time to reflect further upon the matter in the Bureau of Prisons, Mr. Walker has seemingly concluded that God did not want him to [represent himself] after all. Mr. Walker "provides no evidence of this other than his own self-serving affidavit, which asserts little more than that Sister Rose told him to fire his lawyer and that he viewed Sister Rose as the voice of God," wrote the government. (See full Government answer brief online at http://bit.ly/2Oe82Y3 ).
The government admits on pages 18 to 19 of its response brief (http://bit.ly/2E5rW2Y ) to CSFC's 10th Circuit motion to unseal, that Walker, as part of a (secret & sealed) settlement agreement, "abandoned" both his claim that Pastor Banks coerced him into representing himself and the collateral attack on his conviction. Court records show, however, Judge Arguello, violating the separation of church and state, continued using her court as a vehicle of religious persecution where she personally attacked Pastor Banks on religious grounds and applied a religious test to Lawson's representation of Walker during sentencing even though the government admitted Lawson did not "play any role" in sentencing. (See page 27 of Government Answer Brief at http://bit.ly/2Oe82Y3 )
Irrespective of Lawson not playing any role in Walker's sentencing, Judge Arguello, applying her own biased religious analysis, stated Lawson "was prevented...by her allegiance to Pastor Banks...from presenting argument and evidence that would have affected the Court's" determination that Mr. Walker was a leader in the conspiracy. Judge Arguello not only permitted former disgruntled church members to testify about how they felt about Pastor Banks' spiritual leadership at the church, but also allowed Bureau of Prisons Chaplain Henderson from the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado to testify about Pastor Banks', someone he has never met. After conducting her religious inquisition, Judge Arguello made Pastor Banks the leader of the alleged conspiracy, absolved Walker of the leadership role she assigned to him and released him from prison and left his codefendants in prison who worked under him at his companies, four of whom were NOT assessed as leaders of a conspiracy by Judge Arguello.
"You have to question Judge Arguello's motives and judgment when she first concludes from what she heard at trial that Walker was the leader of an alleged conspiracy of close friends and family who were executives at his small business only to later conclude that he was not a leader and release him from prison based on his self-serving claims that he and his attorney were under the religious control and coercion of his mother-in-law pastor," says Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. Here's what Judge Arguello had to say https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c392f0_b1c7c3a59ec3480d86aeb1c77d1b8587.pdf :
"Now during the evidentiary hearing there was evidence demonstrating the extent of coercion that you and others were subjected to by Pastor Banks, and your inability to challenge or evade directions received from her as a result of the duress that was imposed," Arguello said to Walker in his June 28, 2017 re-sentencing hearing. "But after your hearing, I have a better understanding of why you did what you did," added Arguello. "I could see the hold Pastor Banks had on you," Arguello expressed to Walker. Next, Judge Arguello viciously and publicly attacked Pastor Banks from the bench, calling her a "vindictive and mean-spirited" Christian and prophet of God. At the end of Walker's public proceeding, Judge Arguello restricted public access to virtually every document and transcript from the proceeding, violating the public's First Amendment and common law right of access to judicial records. CSFC, concerned about its clearing its name from alleged slanderous public remarks from Walker and former CSFC witnesses during an open proceeding, appealed to the 10th Circuit to unseal.
In its appellate brief (10th Cir. case no. 18-1273, Doc. #010110031010, online at https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c392f0_e6d1c0d0d34b436eb606eba04401f13a.pdf), CSFC discusses how Judge Arguello ignored a litany of constitutional law from the Supreme Court, 10th Circuit and every other U.S. federal circuit that says judicial records should be sealed in only the rarest of circumstances such as under-age rape victims and confidential informants. In its order denying CSFC and the public access to court records (http://bit.ly/2pKUqoA), however, Judge Arguello in citing cases justifying its denial compared Walker and his adult witnesses to vulnerable 16 year-old rape victims and prison confidential informants/snitch's and claimed she needed to protect them from potential serious injuries they could suffer from harassment from Pastor Banks, Walker's wife and CSFC members, none of whom have any history of such conduct. CSFC believes Judge Arguello was poisoned by Walker's affidavit and sealed proceedings to conceal the use of its court to conduct a religious attack against Pastor Banks and the improper release of Walker. Walker's five codefendants say he is a fraud who manufactured religious coercion and cowardly threw his wife and her mother under the bus to get out of prison.
"Judge Arguello and the government's religious bias against CSFC in Mr. Walker's habeas proceedings is nothing new and is just the latest malfeasance in a continuing pattern of partiality and misconduct that has permeated the IRP6 case and resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of these men," says Stewart of A Just Cause. "We are in the process of contacting Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the Colorado U.S. Attorneys religious bias, illegal seizure of church banking records, use of the grand jury as a subterfuge to persecute the church, and the attack on Pastor Banks, CSFC and its parishioners, all which are discussed in a dossier (online at http://bit.ly/2wBaCyJ) that was sent to the DOJ over a year ago seeking dismissal of the indictment," adds Stewart. "Aside from CSFC's motion to unseal, there is also a pending judicial complaint appeal against Judge Arguello concerning religious bias that was filed in July 2017 which has not been answered by the 10th Circuit Judicial Council (http://bit.ly/2vmk73J), and a letter from four members of Congress sent to the DOJ seeking answers about the allegations of misconduct in the dossier (http://bit.ly/2HuvgTc )," concludes Stewart.
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