Deposition Of Sheriff Nathan Garrett By Austin Attorney Iris J. Jones

Publisher's Note: The entire deposition will be posted as quickly as possible. Please be patient since it has to be entered keystroke by keystroke. The document will be presented in its entirety because it raises extraordinary issues, allegations, and questions regarding the Sheriff's competence and fitness for office.

In the 1970's, Mr. Garrett by his own admission was twice arrested and jailed. In addition, he was interrogated by Ms. Jones regarding allegations of wife-beating involving alleged subsequent physical injury to his wife, Connie. He was also questioned regarding alleged bigoted statements and physical threats allegedly directed against Ms. Jones.

The bulk of the questioning, however, probed his performance as Sheriff overseeing jail operations as well as the rape investigation. Since the deposition is damaging and raises numerous additional questions, the decision was made to publish it in its entirety so readers could judge for themselves.

Once the Sheriff's deposition is published, the deposition of Holland Ligon will be presented next. It's also extraordinarily damaging. These two depositions are just the beginning. Sadly, there's much more. The people indeed have a right to know what went on, what was tolerated and, most importantly, what was never prosecuted by our illustrious District Attorney. T.C.

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(Before the deposition commenced, four instruments were marked for identification as Exhibits Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.) The Videographer: This is the videotaped deposition of Nathan Garrett taken in the matter of T.W. vs. Llano County, Texas, Llano County Sheriff, Nathan Garrett, in his individual and official capacities, Holland Ligon, Jailer, in his individual and official capacities, John Overstreet, Jailer, in his individual and official capacities, Don Stewart, Jailer, in his individual and official capacities, and Johnny Joe Pesina, held in the offices -- oh, Civil Action No. 97-CA-887-SS, In the United States District Court for the Western District, Austin Division, held in the offices of Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Kever & McDaniel on Saturday May 9th, 1998. We're on the record at 10:14 a.m.
Will counsel please introduce themselves?
Ms. Jones: Iris Jones, attorney for T.W.
Ms. Lemanczyk: Lisa Lemanczyk, also attorney for T.W.
Ms. Lockhart: Bonnie Lockhart, attorney for Llano County and the individual
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county employees, Sheriff Garrett, Don Overstreet and -- I mean, John Overstreet and Don Stewart.
Mr. Nelson: Tony Nelson, attorney for Defendant, Holland Ligon.
Mr. Crenshaw: And William H. Crenshaw, Jr., attorney for Llano County.
The Reporter: Would you raise your right hand? (At this time, the witness was placed under oath by Lydia L. Edwards, Court Reporter.) Nathan Garrett was called as a witness for the Plaintiff and, after having been duly sworn to tell the truth, testified as follows:
Questions By Ms. Jones:
Q. Please state your full name for the record.
A. Nathan Garrett.
Q. And what is your position with Llano County, Mr. Garrett?
A. Llano County Sheriff.
Q. Have you ever had your deposition taken before?
A. Once.
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Q. How long ago was that?
A. Four years ago, five. I don't know.
Q. You do understand that your testimony is being videotaped as well as taped by stenographic means today?
A. Yes.
Q. And you do realize that you're under oath?
A. Yes.
Q. I want to go through a couple of ground rules with you, Mr. Garrett --
A. Okay.
Q. --even though you have had your deposition taken before, and I'm sure you've been counseled with your competent counsel. I just want to make sure we have a few ground rules to make the deposition go a lot smoother hopefully.
A. Sure.
Q. Can we have an agreement that since the stenographer cannot take down both of us speaking at the same time that you will wait for me to complete my question, even though it's common for you to anticipate what the question is and be prepared to answer it before I finish asking it? Can we have an agreement that you'll let me finish my question before you answer it?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And I will agree to let you finish your answer
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before I ask the next question.
A. Thank you.
Q. It's also very common in everyday language and conversation that we nod our heads for yes and we shake our heads from left to right for no. But you do understand that all of your answers and responses must be audible so that the court reporter can hear you and, therefore, take down what you say?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Can we -- thank you.
A. I understand.
Q. Can we have an agreement that you will not nod your head for your responses but will speak out loud and audibly?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Can we also have an agreement that you will attempt to avoid uh-huhs and huh-uhs? Because they're so closely tied. It's very difficult for the court reporter to distinguish between that meaning a yes or huh-uh meaning a no. Can we have yes and no when that's appropriate in lieu of an uh-huh or an huh-uh?
A. Yes.
Q. Thank you. There are times when attorneys are thinking and anticipating their next question, and the previous question or the question I'm about to ask you
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may not be as clear, you may not understand it or, for some reason, you're not really sure what I'm trying to ask you. If my questions are unclear to you, if you do not understand my question, would you please ask me to repeat it or rephrase it?
A. Yes.
Q. And I'm sure that Ms. Lockhart has already told you that in the event that you need a break -- we all have water and coffee next to us. In the event that you need a break for any reason, please ask and we will accommodate you.
A. Thank you.
Q. I would like us to accommodate everyone's need for a break if that arises. However, if we take too many breaks --
Mr. Nelson: We'll be here all day.
Questions By Ms. Jones:
Q. --and we all take them at different times, we will be here for a very long time.
A. Yes. I understand.
Q. And that goes for everybody, not just specifically toward you. Did you receive a notice of intent-- an amended notice of intent to take your
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deposition today, a written notice?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. All right. Now, along with that amended notice of intention to take oral and videotaped deposition, there is also a subpoena duces tecum attached. Did you see that --
A. Yes.
Q. -- as well? Did you bring any documents with you or produce anything through your attorney in response to the subpoena duces tecum?
A. No.
Ms. Jones: Ms. Lockhart, would you like to put on the record at this time your reasons for not doing so? I did receive in writing, but I'd like for the record --
Ms. Lockhart: Certainly.
Ms. Jones: --you to state why there's no documents here today.
Ms. Lockhart: Right. In reviewing the subpoena duces tecum, it was clear that they were duplicative of earlier requests for production
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either to Llano County or to Sheriff Garrett, and we have made a diligent effort to produce to you everything that we consider nonprivileged; and you should have all of those documents in your possession. And I guess the most recent document that was produced to you was Mister -- Sheriff Garrett's report, and I believe I sent that to you during the week. So --
Ms. Jones: I believe I received that on Thursday.
Ms. Lockhart: Okay.
Ms. Jones: And is that it?
Ms. Lockhart: Right.
Ms. Jones: Okay. Thank you.
Questions By Ms. Jones:
Q. Can you please tell me, Mr. Garrett, what the type of case was that you testified in before, the deposition? You did say you had a deposition taken four or five years ago.
A. It was in reference to county judge's race where that is -- there had been some allegations made, and I was asked to testify.
Q. Were you a party to that particular case or lawsuit?
A. It wasn't a lawsuit. They just wanted to take
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my deposition on what I knew about the situation.
Q. All right. And have you ever been a party to a lawsuit, either a plaintiff or a defendant in a lawsuit, other than the lawsuits involving T.W. and Kathy Maynard?
A. Yes.
Q. Can you please name those lawsuits?
A. It was Danny Edwards vs. Llano County.
Q. And what did that case involve?
A. It was over a couple of my officers being at a location where the IRS was seizing some property, and they sued us.
Q. Is that the only lawsuit that you've been involved in?
A. Yes.
Q. Have you ever sued anyone?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Where did -- where were you born, Sheriff Garrett?
A. Burnet County.
Q. And what's your date of birth, please?
A. 8-9-46.
Q. And what is your social security number, sir?
A. 452-82-3660.
Q. And where do you reside at this time?
A. A small community named Tow, T-o-w, Texas.
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Q. Is that in Llano County?
A. Yes, ma'am. It's on the upper end of Lake Buchanan.
Q. And you are married --
A. Yes.
Q. -- at this time? And your wife's name?
A. Connie.
Q. How long have you been married to Connie?
A. Twenty -- 29 years --
Q. Is this your only --
A. -- in July.
Q. Excuse me.
A. In July.
Q. Is this your only marriage?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you have any children?
A. Yes, ma'am. I have three.
Q. And their names?
A. Nalene, Natasha and Lance.
Q. And how old are they?
A. Nalene is 28, Natasha is 26 and Lance is 23.
Q. Do any of them live with you at this time?
A. Not at this time.
Q. Are they -- do they all live in Llano County?
A. It's kind of hard for me to answer that. My
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son lives in Burnet, but he's back and forth. He still resides at my residence, but he's living with his girlfriend in Burnet part-time. So --
Q. I see. And Nalene?
A. She lives in El Paso.
Q. And how about Natasha?
A. She's living in El Paso, also.
Q. We've already covered whether or not you've been a plaintiff or a defendant in a lawsuit. Have you ever been charged with discrimination either with a state agency or a federal agency?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Have you ever had a grievance filed against you?
A. Yes.
Q. And when was that?
A. It was when I was a deputy, and I don't recall a date.
Q. How long ago were you a deputy?
A. 1992.
Q. Just for one year? You were a --
Q. No.
Q. -- deputy for one year?
A. I was deputy from 1982 to 1992 -- or really it was '93.
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Q. And was that with the Llano County --
A. Yes.
Q. -- Sheriff's Department?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And what was the nature of the grievance that was filed against you, sir?
A. They had contacted the FBI in reference to an alleged excessive use of force.
Q. And when you say "they," do you know who they is or who they are?
A. The subject that -- I don't understand. You want to know the name of the --
Q. The name of the complaining party.
A. -- complainant? Okay. Boone Avey.
Q. Boone Avey?
A. Yes.
Q. How do you spell Avey?
A. Avey, A-v-e-y.
Q. Thank you. Is he the only complaining party?
A. That I know of. I have no knowledge of anyone --
Q. Is that the only grievance that was ever filed against you?
A. I have no knowledge of any others.
Q. Sheriff, have you ever been arrested?
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A. Yes.
Q. And when was that?
A. '69 maybe.
Q. And what was the charge, sir?
Q. I'm sorry. DOC?
A. Disorderly conduct. [Publisher's Note: Usually means fighting. T.C.]
Q. Were you placed in Llano County jail?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you remember who the arresting officer was?
A. Yes.
Q. Who was it?
A. Frank Overstreet.
Q. Any relation to John Overstreet?
A. Distantly.
Q. What year was that, sir?
A. It was in the seventies. That's the only thing I can --
Q. All right. Is that the only time you were arrested?
A. Once -- twice.
Q. I'm sorry. When was the next time?
A. Somewhere right in that vicinity, I think, in
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the seventies.
Q. All right. And was Frank Overstreet the arresting officer?
A. No.
Q. Who was that?
A. Officer -- city policeman by the name of Chilly Childress and Officer Wilbur Grell.
Q. Grell?
A. Grell, G-r-e-l-l.
Q. All right. And what was the charge on this second arrest?
A. It's been so long ago. It's probably about the same thing, disorderly conduct or public intoxication, one or the other.
Q. Were you ever convicted of either one of those crimes?
A. I paid a fine.
Q. In both instances?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you part of law enforcement at the time that you were arrested for -- in the seventies for these two charges?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. What was your occupation at the time?
A. I worked for Llano County Road -- Road and
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Bridge Department.
Q. What is your educational background, starting with high school? Where did you attend high school?
A. Llano High School.
Q. And I could probably do the math, but perhaps you can tell me what years you attended Llano High School.
A. '52 -- 1952 till 1965. I graduated in May of 1965.
Q. You mean '62, not '52?
A. That's when I started school, in '52.
Q. High school?
A. No. Elementary.
Q. Elementary. Okay. My question was the years you attended --
A. No. I didn't stay quite that long.
Q. I'm sorry. That's why --
A. They were glad to get rid of me.
Q. That's why I asked the second time, sir.
A. I understand.
Q. So did you graduate from Llano High School?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. In '65?
A. Yes.
Q. And did you go on to college or some other
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institution of higher learning?
A. I went to the United States Army. I was drafted in 1965, December the 1st.
Q. And how long did you stay in the service?
A. Two years.
Q. Did you serve in Nam?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. How long?
A. One year.
Q. And what did you do after that?
A. I went to work for the road and bridge department.
Q. And how long did you continue to work in the road and bridge department?
A. I left several times on leave of absence and went to other jobs, and then I came back.
Q. All right, sir. And did you transition into the sheriff's department from Road and Bridge or was there --
A. Yes.
Q. You did?
A. I was contacted by the Llano County Sheriff at
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that time and advised me that he would have an opening and he would like for me to go to work for him.
Q. And what year was that, sir?
A. 1982.
Q. And you started as a deputy in 1982?
A. October 1st, 1982.
Q. And what was the sheriff's name?
A. Gale Ligon.
Q. Any relation to Mr. Holland Ligon?
A. Grandfather.
Q. And after you served as deputy approximately 11 years, you -- did you then run for sheriff?
A. I ran for sheriff in 1992.
Q. '92. And was your race for sheriff successful?
A. Yes.
Q. And you have been sheriff of Llano County since 1992?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. When is your term up for -- I believe this is your second term, is that correct?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And when is that term up, sir?
A. 2001.
Q. Is it a four-year term?
A. Yes, ma'am.
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Q. Do you know what the qualifications are for running for and for being the sheriff of Llano County?
A. Yes, ma'am. You have to be TCLEOSE-certified within a year after you take office.
Q. Is that all?
A. That's all that I know.
Q. As sheriff, what are your duties?
A. To protect and serve the people.
Q. Anything else?
A. That's my main duty.
Q. All right. What are your specific duties on a day-to-day basis?
A. Day-to-day basis?
Q. Yes, sir.
A. What -- what do you mean?
Q. Well, what do you do as sheriff to protect and serve the people?
A. I have a patrol division, I have a jail, that I have to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Q. That's your job, to make sure everything is running smoothly?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you have hiring and firing abilities --
A. Yes.
Q. -- and responsibilities?
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A. At will.
Q. Did you hire Holland Ligon --
A. Yes.
Q. -- as a jailer? Do your recall when you hired him?
A. I don't recall a date.
Q. Do you recall a year? If you don't, that's okay, but just I wanted to see if you at least remember the year.
A. I don't know. It was sometime during my first term.
Q. Did Mr. Ligon go through a hiring process outside of the sheriff's department?
A. I -- I don't understand what you mean.
Q. Does the county have a human resources or a personnel department?
A. I do the hiring and I do the firing.
Q. And the individuals that are applying for a job with you apply directly --
A. Yes. They --
Q. -- through your office?
A. -- turn in applications to my department.
Ms. Lockhart: Be sure and let her finish her question before you start.
The Witness: I'm sorry.
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Ms. Jones: That's okay. In normal conversation, it would be fine.
The Witness: I'm sorry.
Ms. Jones: But for the court reporter's benefit --
The Witness: Yes. I'm sorry.
Ms. Jones: No problem.
Questions By Ms. Jones:
Q. When an individual seeks to obtain a job as a jailer, what is the process that that individual would go through in order to at least get to the point of being interviewed or considered by you?
A. Turn in an application with the sheriff's department.
Q. And where would they get that application?
A. At the sheriff's department.
Q. Do you advertise or have you ever advertised for a position in your jail?
A. Yes.
Q. And where would you advertise for that position?
A. We usually advertise in The Llano News.
Q. Do you know or do you recall if you advertised for the position that Mr. Ligon applied for and then
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ultimately was selected for?
A. I don't recall that.
Q. How long has it been your practice to advertise in The Llano News positions that are available in your department?
A. Since I was elected sheriff.
Q. Did you hire Mr. Overstreet -- John Overstreet as a jailer?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And did you hire Jackie Dahl as a jailer?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Who hired Ms. Dahl?
A. Gale Ligon, former sheriff.
Q. So you inherited Ms. Dahl as an employee when you came on in 1993?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Do you recall any other jailers that you hired during your first term of office as sheriff?
A. We have went through lots of jailers, and I -- I can't recall all of them's name. I can give you some of them.
Q. All right, sir. Just do your best.
A. Okay.
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Q. The ones that you recall.
A. Lee Pickett, Rudy Karen --
Q. How do you spell that last name?
A. K-a-r-e-n.
Q. -- Jim Pilcheck. I don't recall any of the rest of them.
Did you hire Melvin Lawson?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. You inherited him from --
A. Yes.
Q. -- Gale Ligon?
A. Yes.
Q. Does Lee Pickett still work in the Llano County Sheriff's Department?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Jim Pilcheck?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Other than Holland Ligon, John Overstreet, Don Stewart, who else -- and -- excuse me -- Jackie Dahl, who else works at the jail as a jailer?
A. Could you repeat, ma'am?
Q. Sure. Other than Holland Ligon, John Overstreet, Don Stewart, Jackie Dahl and Melvin Lawson,
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who else works for you as a jailer at the jail?
A. I have six jailers.
Q. Did we list them all, or is there someone missing from that list?
A. Could you give me those names again?
Q. Sure, Melvin Lawson, Don Stewart, John Overstreet, Jackie Dahl, Holland Ligon.
A. Ronny Hallmark.
Q. Ronny Hallmark.
Mr. Nelson: Just for clarity, are you asking about currently?
Ms. Jones: Yes.
Mr. Nelson: As of today?
Ms. Jones: -- who he hired and who else is there, if we've missed anyone.
Mr. Nelson: I've got a feeling there's one name on there that you don't need to be including or else I probably wouldn't necessarily be here today but anyway --
The Witness: I'm sorry.
Ms. Jones: Are you referring to Mr. Ligon's recent departure?
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Mr. Nelson: Right. He's not a jailer currently.
Questions By Ms. Jones:
Q. How long has Mr. Ligon been -- when did Mr. Ligon depart from his employment as jailer with the sheriff's department?

(Continued on Garrett Deposition V2)