Church Fights for Access to Sealed Court Records Concerning Judge’s Alleged Bigotry Against its African-American Female Pastor
DENVER, COLORADO, UNITED STATES, February 16, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — As a pastor for 40 years and widow of a retired U.S. Army veteran who served 21 years, Pastor Rose Banks of the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church (CSFC) has built a legacy of empathy and showing love and kindness to those who protect, serve and provide care for the people of our community as evidenced from the following letters and memos of appreciation from police, firefighters, military, schools, hospitals and others (See https://bit.ly/3a6BuZd & https://bit.ly/3758wHw & https://bit.ly/2LDNMPs ) and a video of Pastor Banks giving a mother of nine children $1000.00 for her kids Christmas on behalf of the church (https://vimeo.com/510932730). But in a U.S. criminal justice system that was shaped during the Jim Crow era, it should be no surprise that Pastor Banks (a non-defendant) could become a victim of systemic racism and religious bigotry in the federal courts.
The alleged judicial bigotry against Pastor Banks stems from a case concerning African-American felon Gary L. Walker of Colorado Springs, Colorado who was convicted by a federal jury of a six-man conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in 2011 and sentenced by Judge Christine M. Arguello to 11 years in prison (Case Number: 09-cr-00266-CMA). After spending two years in prison, Walker (52 years-old) petitioned Judge Arguello for early release from prison based on the absurd claim that he was not responsible for firing his attorney or committing crimes because he was under a ‘religious spell’ that was cast on him by his mother-in-law of thirty years, Pastor Banks. The Colorado U.S. Attorney spoke about Walker’s scheme to get out of prison in its opposition brief.
“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,” says the government brief. “Mr. Walker alleges that he was bowing ‘to pressure from a third-party exercising undue influence,’ he 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,” added the Government. (See full Government answer brief online at http://bit.ly/2Oe82Y3)
Any self-respecting federal judge would have balked at inmate Walker’s cockamamie ‘my Pastor made me do it’ epiphany which is why Lamont Banks, Executive Director of justice advocacy organization, A Just Cause, believes Judge Arguello’s decision to entertain Walker’s obvious skullduggery was motivated by both vengeance and bigotry.
“I believe Judge Arguello had a vengeful and hateful axe to grind against Pastor Banks and African-American CSFC parishioners who had staged numerous First Amendment protected protests against her outside the Denver federal courthouse on behalf of Walker and his innocent codefendants (previously known on the Internet as the IRP6),” says Banks. “From what we’ve seen and heard from sparse court records and witnesses to proceedings, Judge Arguello transformed her courtroom into a kangaroo court of religious vilification against Pastor Banks and CSFC after Walker suggested that Pastor Banks, not him, was the leader of the conspiracy of which he was convicted,” adds Banks. “And then to conceal her misdeeds, Judge Arguello sealed virtually every court record from public view including Walker’s petition and affidavit and the government’s answer brief after it was initially open to the public,” adds Banks.
According to court records and witnesses, Judge Arguello publicly stated that Pastor Banks was a “vindictive and mean-spirited” prophet of God who not only controlled the mind of Walker, but also controlled the minds of the entire 300+ person congregation, including Walker’s wife and son—none of whom has Judge Arguello ever met or were parties to the hearing. Court records also show Judge Arguello stating that Pastor Banks, Walker’s wife and son, his codefendants and 300+ CSFC parishioners didn’t “espouse the values consistent with Christianity.” Court transcripts also show Judge Arguello had a racist predisposition to believing that blacks are criminals.
Transcripts show that when addressing David Zirpolo, the only white codefendant of Walker, Judge Arguello said the following:
“Instead of using your God-given talents to advance yourself legally, as you had done up to the point that you got involved with THIS GROUP, you chose to use those talents in a way that was fraudulent and criminal.” (See transcript at https://bit.ly/3jr7fiF). “Like Mr. Zirpolo, all of the black codefendants had successful IT careers and no criminal record which is why Judge Arguello’s ‘THIS GROUP,” aka ‘THOSE PEOPLE’ reference is racist at its core,” says Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause.
In response to a very detailed brief filed by CSFC (https://bit.ly/3rDklMG), a 10th Circuit panel vacated Judge Arguello’s sealing order for not acknowledging the PUBLIC’S right of access to court records and ordered her to correct it. (https://bit.ly/3rB5DWw). After Judge Arguello snubbed the 10th Circuit for a year and half, CSFC appealed to the 10th Circuit requesting that Arguello be recused from the case (https://bit.ly/2YW1eB9).
On December 2, 2020, 10th Circuit Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich issued an opinion that glossed over or didn’t even mention much of Judge Arguello’s bigoted remarks against, Pastor Banks, her faith and the church, stating that Judge Arguello shouldn’t be recused for being “ill-disposed” toward Pastor Banks because, in essence, she couldn’t control her desire to vilify Pastor Banks and CSFC parishioners based on what she heard in Walker’s hearing (https://bit.ly/39VwtCV).
In 2012, federal Judge Richard Cebull was forced to resign after using the federal court email system to make racist jokes about President Obama, yet in his opinion, Judge Tymkovich suggests that Judge Arguello’s attacks on Pastor Banks and religious freedom are understandable and shouldn’t be disqualifying.
“Either Judge Tymkovich, and by association the entire 10th Circuit, shares the racist and religious bias of Judge Arguello, or this is an example of systemic institutionalized racism in the courts or a corrupt act of cronyism,” says Banks. “People may feel my language is kind of harsh but they have no idea about the many dark acts of government misconduct that occurred in this case, not only to wrongly convict and imprison the ‘IRP5’ and destroy their innovative black software company (IRP Solutions) from competing for million and billion-dollar law enforcement contracts, but to destroy their church and Pastor,” adds Banks.
“Judge Arguello fancifully claims she’s denying public access to Walker’s proceedings to protect Walker and his disgruntled former church member witnesses from potential or future harassment by CSFC members,” says Banks. “But if you review the comprehensive detailing of facts and law in CSFC’s original appellate brief (https://bit.ly/3rDklMG), Judge Arguello doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on which is why the original 10th Circuit panel vacated her sealing order,” adds Banks. “The continuing blackout of Walker’s proceeding is Judge Arguello’s and Judge Tymkovich’s latest act of collusive malevolence to cover wrongdoing and overtly reinforce the systemic racism and bigotry that plagues the criminal justice system,” concludes Banks.