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Buford Terrell

Bufford Terrel was Gordon Kahl's attorney in Texas who along with his
uncle represented Gordon at his original wilful failure to file income tax
returns trial: These transcripts are notes we used in the editing of Death
& Taxes. For effeciency we did not transcribe the interviewer questions.
You will have to extrapolate that yourselve. (Or, I suppose if you are interested
we could make a VHS video copy of the entire interview, this would cost
you about $75)
These transcripts are being made available for those who want to go much,
much further into the life and times of Gordon Kahl...
TAPE #14
I'm buford Terrel ...starting in 1970 I had a solo practise in Lubbock
TX and I was sharing offices with my Uncle...
02/00 as I read Bitter Harvest I was struck by the invetiablility of
it all. It was almost like a Greek drama where it had to play itself out
03/08 ...he was probaly the most resolute person as I've ever met...
3/25 ...at that time I had been practising 3 to 4 years. he , my uncle
had some tax clients...he got invovled with the tax revolt group...
04/00 so when Gordon was indicted down in Midland...the nat. taxpayers
union suggested he come and talk with my uncle...so Gordon came down with
a bunch of taxpayers and we met and it went from there. ...
04/47 he was a very hard man to get to know.. at the first meetintg there
were several other people invloved and GK had less to say than any of them...I
thought he might be a tool of these other people...as time went on I could
see he was a whole lot more solid character than that...
05/40 ...actually I heard of Posse C. for the first time while talking
to GK...I think one of the things we discussed was whether he should wear
one of the hangman's noose in his lapel during the trial...as a trial lawyer
I didn't want that... I
06/15 and for the first time ran into IRS agentys who wore firearms and
insisted on going in pairs because of claimed threats by the Posse...
06/36 it struck me as one of his strange ideas on taxes...he had what
to me was a very incorrect view of medieval history as the posse as a law
enforcement body. to me at the time it was his rather strange view of the
Constitution than it was an active group he was invovled with...
07/30 GK's attitude, I'm not sure he ever thought he'd be indicted.
I felt like at the time that he thought he was too small for them to be
messing with...he really wanted to win the case in court... I felt like
Gk really felt he deserved a an acquital...he seemed very willing to take
my suggestions on trial strategy... even to he decided not to testify because
the govt. hadn't established their case...
08/54 ...I had my main stategy was forst this was a case of selective
prosecution by the Govt. GK was the kind of taxpayer that the govt. would
normally not even bother with...they were after him because he went on TV
in midland and second that he didn't probaly owe any money...so that was
our double thrust going in, that first he was a victim of selective prosecution
and second that they couldn't prove that he owed any tax in the first place.
10/30 ...I saw a tape of it (TV show) and I don't remember much except
thinking this was a very minor thing for the govt. to have gotten disturbed
about. ...it seemed no more radical than people protesting dog ordinances
or anything elese.
12/32 ...I don't recall much about it, except it seemed rather innoucous...this
was not someone calling for the downfall of the govt. immediatley ...I thought
it was a strange interpretation of the constituion but it was not outside
of the normal...he was definately being singled out because of his protest,
not because he was someone who failed to pay income tax. ...
13/28 ...who knows what would have happened...I still feel if we'd have
been able to go ahead with the appeal we may have been able to reverse it
on that., because of several things that happened...looking back on it,
I think the seed had grown quite a bit not because of anything GK and I
did, but because in each of the things we tried to do in his defense the
reaction of both the govt. and the court were just really out of proportion.
the response that my reaction should have called for, it surprised me all
the way through the trial. ...the way the judge treated me as if I was
an obstructionist, when in most instencse they would have been normal defense
efforts. there were several times during the course of the hearing that
he would instruct me to have briefs to him at eight the next morning....any
of my motions I felt like I was really fighting uphill to have him listen
to them, let along consider them. ...
15/04 ...the IRS struck me as out to get someone at that time and GK
happened to be in their path. For instance, this happened one of the interesting
little side bits , in one of my motions to the judge I quoted from Playboy
Magazine because that was the time Johnny Walters the Internal Revenue Commissioner
had been interviewed by Playboy and statements in that interview where he
said they really were looking to pick out some protesters and quash the
movement. This indicated to me that the govt. really had full steam up
and they were going after this movement. Gordon happened to be there...
16/12 ...I didn't realize we were going to lose until the jury came back
in with their verdict. I honestly felt all the way thru the trial that
the govt. hadn't established a case...primarily that he had taxable income
during the years in question...it really came as a surprise when the jury
came in with a guilty verdict...
16/52 ...they didn't have W2's or if he was filing outrageous W2's...I'm
assuming it wasn't the latter because they didn't have conclusive proof
of the sums of money that he earned...
18/05 ...that was the real question at the trial. My honest belief at
the time was that he probably he didn't have enough income to owe any taxes,
if he did it would have been really minimal...
18/46 ...no, the way the tax law was and still is, is that even if
you have no tax liablity, if you had certain 3earnings you still have an
obligation to file a return, and failure to file the return itself is a
misdeameanor....they chose to prosecute him for tax evasion which is the
more serious offense than the failure to file a return...
21/05 ...title 18 is the penal code, title 26 is the irs code..I 'm
not sure what GK was talking about ....as I recall he was charged under...
22/18 ... this is an information for a faliure to file a tax return...Okay,
I remember now what the situation at trial was, that this was the misdemeanor,,,
that he had specific gross earnings in the two years of $9719.90 in 1973
and $11,950.38 in 1974. that even though the charge was one of failure
to file a return...because of the allegations they were requred to prove
specified amounts.
24/02... right, in other words, title 26, the IRS code is a misdeamenor...
then you go to the penal code which is title 18 , which specifies that there
are certain penalties...
24/29... this is the type of literalist reading that's quite common among
the tax protesters and leads to a lot of their problems. in GK's mind,
since this was a civil statue that he shouldn't be penalized criminally...there
is nothing constituinally infirm with the procedure.
25/49... I think ythat most of the tax protesters like a lot of fundamenlists
give the words a literal meaning that were meant to be read in a common
sense way...
26/24 GK never struck me as being on a soapbox. At various times during
the trial, we discussed whether he would testify.. we talked about gold/silver
and the unconstitutionality... I convinced him that it would ruin the defenses
we had legally...he would back away from it in the interest of trial tactics.
28/00 I think Gordon's case never would have never arisen today. the
current IRS would think this wasn't a knat worth swatting. ...I think the
govt. is less likely to take extremes stands as is was then.
29/40 most of the ones I was dealing with then were at the end of the
chain... I normally would see someone who had gone to some meetings and
followed their advice and were now in trouble...most of the ones that I
dealt with were like ones who had gone to a tupper ware party and come back
with some plastic ware...
30/31 it wasn't working right and most of them seemed shocked that this
neat little thing they'd found out about was rebounding to hit them pretty
severely. ...and a couple of them came to see me and they were shocked that
this wasn't something that they could do...most of them were like they'd
gone to a group sales meeting and this was something they thought could
solve their problems.
03/50 I hate to call it a rigged trial most of lthe people had presuppositions,,,
the IRS saw this as a dangerous thing, they saw the tax protest things as
a major movement... the judge saw this... the IRS had conducted a series
of seminars with district judges around the country... the judge saw this
as a matter of fact, what's to argue , he made money, he didn't pay taxes...
the govt. on one side saying big movement... the judge almost losing his
temper ... coming down much harder on me than the govt... I'm not sure whether
they convinced him he was a threat or it was just me doing delaying tactics...
I certainly did, begfore and after both, I was involved with 3 o4 other
matters with IRS, with another case the court did say there was secleective
prosecutions... ...I think this shows the govts. attitude, the thrid one
of these I was involved with,,, a man refused to turn over his records...
the questions was was he concealing, he was put in jail, I was trying to
get him out, the judge that wrote an opinion described me as a tax protest
lawyer.,,, to me this was just a small part off a much bigger, but to the
govt. I was part of the tax protest moveen
It made me mad, and I think probably I would have done much more because
they made me mad... one thing that was telling, ...okay in 76, I represented,
the summer of 77 a man in the tax movement... I left private practise in
77 to teach, a year or two after, 79 or 80, I got a notive from IRS that
my 77 taxes were to be adited.. they transferred the case to NEEW orleans
and they said, niver mind we don't want to audit,.. It think it's safe to
say the gobt. tattidue was to go after even the perripheral people invlolved.
I can't remember Ralston, at the time they were using two agents for
everyting my impression was the two of them were hardnosed, much more out
to get some body, than the noarmal agetns
I think that they wre doing some targetting.
It surprised me that that judge wouldn't listen to any of my arguments,..
he was elderly, canterrous, he had a reputaiton ... thhe wouldn't even allow
me to speak,,, other lawyers said they thought I was going to jail,,, he
told me to sit down and shut up... I felt like I was having to fight the
judge personally
I suspect that all the stops were out on that case
I think that -art of the reason the jury prbrought in the guilty verdic
t.. it was the times, where Goeroge Bush started ... very progovt., very
rightwing, in veiw of the time, just as we were getting over Watergate,
anyone the govt. says was bad, would get convicted by a jury.
Certainly there are kernals of truth in ther.
the judge controlled what the jury heard, he didn't give us much latitude...
one of the fascinating things of law in america, the balance of power
between the judge and jury ..up until 1820 the jury's had control over the
case. ... they're not limited to what they hear, they may know someting...
at that time the jury could hear everything... starting 1820 the judge controls
law, they jury over facts... I would want to let the juries hear more in
some cases and less in others... jury's are ke0pt from hearing things that
are a result of improper concduct by the govt.
one of the things that compolicated thew trial, during the trial I had
an infection in my foot, by the time the trial was in progesss, I was getting
out of bed in the hostipait, gtoe back and spend the lunchhour in ed, get
up and back in bed,... to some extent, I didn't hear a lot of the developemtns
with GK... after the jry delivedered the verdict... my uncle asked the judge
to send GK for psychiartriactiv exam... GK didn't want to go,,, as I recall
he refused to cooperate
actually from the time the verdict came back his attidute was they convicted
me they can't change me, they can't change me, send me to jail, ... this
was the first time I saw the internal firmness of GK..
It probably was, he probably he was to believe in the legal process,
then he followed my advice, and then he lost, that may have been a turning
point for him.
21/13 Except for, let's see, one appearance when we went back to court,
I asked the judge to let us represent him on appeal and he refused. and
possibly one more time after the sentencing hearing, I don't think I had
any contact with GK after the trial...
21/55 No he didn't turn hostile on me. I would say that his reaction,
he really withdrew into himself... very much his reaction was being resigned
to what was happening.
22/35 As I recall GK was working primarily as a machinist in the Odessa
area, for some reason, I don't remember, he didn't work steadily for one
person, he'd work one job here and one there. It didn't look like they had
any records to figure out what his income was. I don't remember whether
joan was working,,, mainly I had the feeling there was no way they could
peice together records of where he was working and I had the feeling that
the govt. never did peiece it together.
23/46 They called some of the people that employeed him. I think they
may have introduced records from businesses that had hired GK a week here
and a week there, but as I recall they could never assemble close to near
the amounts they claimed he earned...
24/49 Well, you never forget something like this. it was an unusaul
thing from the very beginning. ...
25/10 it was the kind of thing, once several years ago one of my students
wanted to do a special project, so I had him do a paper on selective prosecution...little
bits and pieces one way or another have stuck with me, I think probably
doing a lot of tax practise, I had a pretty jaudiced view of IRS to begin
with. Watching them thru these, I think has left me with a much stronger
distaste for the IRS than I would have had otherwise.
25/56 I think probably it's because they can now blame it on past administrations...
27/08 I think all of the time I was invovled with these cases. I felt
like that the revenue agents were taking them quite personally. They really
acted as if they had a vendetta aagainst these people or as if they were
attacking them directly in some way, it wasn't the same as with other tax
agents in other issues...
28/04 The revunue agents as it turned out a few months later, it was
kind of a collective ego that had come up. The tax protesters, if they
showed up at an appt....would show up as a group and always bring tape recorders.
There had been at least some intances later where people who claimed to
be posse comitatus made direct threats against revenue agents... who occasionalloy
even brandished a weapon of some kind. ... to some extent I think that the
revenue agents took this personally , I think they were physically frightened
a little bit, and they were not used to anyone from a moral standpoint challenging
their authority and that's one thing about these guys they really believed
that they were morally right.
29/14 Oh no, I mean the protesters. were very strong in this being a
religious position with them
30/15 I think that Bitter Harvest probably made the tax protest movement
sound more solid than it's ever been. ...30/22...I think what struck me
about GK was even around the other tax protesters that surrounded his case,
he was a loner and an outsider. if he did something he did it because GK
believed it, not because the group was doing or the group said to. I also
had the feeling and still believe that there were several aspects of the
tax protests, there were the true believers, there were the GK's who really
felt this way, but I also there were the others who were really in it to
make a buck. That they had fuond a way to make some money.

TAPE 15:31
32/22 if I were casting it today I would probably pick Walter Matthooew....
back then, maybe a Richard Gere kind of actor.
33/10 it's hard to find anyone who's very good at, who would do GK justice...tell
you who I'm thinking of, he's been dead a long time, I think MOntgomery
Clift would have been a good GK. Someone who can both be rather soft and
inoffensive on the outside and still pretty well possessed on the inside.
34/00 . ... I think the author of Bitter Harvest really got more caught
up in the mechanixs of the chase, than the dynamics of what was reallly
going on.... one of the things that interested me about BH was the conflict
that opened up within the govt. about it. the mixed minds of the different
people involved , especially at the beggining, leading up to the shooting
in medina... there were those on the one hand who viewed this as a trivial
episode and others who were really going to grind out the full force of
the law no matter what. ...and I think too the thing that really impressed
me the most about BH was that it was just so totally inexolerable, once
that warrant was out, it was going to end in some sort of tragedy. No one
had any choice about the matter sooner or later... sooner or later there
would be a Marshal trying to serve that warrant. sooner or later GK would
resist it. I think to me that's the main thing that came thru.
35/35 When GK got back from Springfield and when the judge put him
on probation after GK's telling him, don't do it, I won't live up to it.
I knew it wasn't over. I was really hoping at the time that there was some
way that GK could do the appeal and get the trial reversed. so that at least
there would be a different starting point for the future. ...it was obvious
that GK wasn't going to change.
36/20 Okay, when we were retained to defend GK. Gordon had no $ at the
time and it was apparent that he didn't. The United taxpayers agreed to
pay $5000 for the defense at the trial stage. once we came on as trial
counsel that didn't matter our obligation was to GK. we went thru with the
I think they paid us something less than a $1000 total and they kept
promising us the rest. after the conviction, we talked to GK. We asked the
court to appoint us on appeal or to appoint another lawyer for him. The
judge wouldn't do it. Gordon had no money himself. we talked to him or
Joan... the upshot was, he agreed to release us as his lawyers, so that
he could either do the appeal himself or get the court to appoint him one.
and I honestly don't know why the appeal didn't go forward... at the time
the United Taxpayers wouldn't even come up with the money for us to have
the transcript printed to prepare the record...
38/17 I think probably my main thoughts of it are thoughts of frustration
. that I wish I could get the govt to ignore people who have something to
say no matter how crazy it is and who really don't have the power to do
any great evil.... going against GK for the back taxes he might have owed,
probablly would have done as much to protect the revenues as to start the
criminal process... most of the polarization in this, I think that the govt.
has caused , simply because they overreacted to something that I don't
think that they should have taken all that seriously to begin with.
39/25 I've used versions of it on tax protesters... I teach professional
resposniblilyty...one of the rules for instance is that a lawyer should
not present a position that he knows is contrary to law or cannot be argued
as a good faith extension... someone who claims that the constitution prohibitts
anything but gold and silver money... using GK's case cleaned up as a hypothetical,
so I still use it from time to time...

with interviews of...
Joan Kahl
Yorie Kahl
Lynn Crooks
Toots Mathis
Dennis Fisher
John Noah
Irv Nodland
Bill Kennelly
Prof. Ed Gran
Jack McLamb
Delores Everts
Scarlet Skiftu
Herman Widicker
August Pankow
Victor Seil
Marlys Klimek
Ron Perleberg
Len Martin
Brad Kapp
Robert Holiday
Tom Lee
Ed Fitzpatrick
Gene Nail
Buford Terrell
Marlene Gaysek
Bob Ralston
Darrel Graf
Steve Schnabel
Jack Swan
Loreen Dyck
Mark Stagg
Sheriff Ray Weatherby
Jack Miller
Tracy Adams
Allison Hoffman
Jeffrey F. Jackson
production design
Jim Haddon
Peter Lloyd
film editing
Tracy Adams
Martyn Hone
Jeffrey F. Jackson
original music by
Tracy Adams
sound department
Tracy Adams
Jeffrey F. Jackson
Rex Reddick
produced by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
Angela Kaye
writing by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
directed by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
A timeline of the life of Gordon Kahl, from early childhood interests, to his marriage to Joan Kahl, his decorated military experience, his outspoken tax protest, the Medina shootout, and his unusual death in Arkansas in 1983.
VARIETY /   Indie documaker Jeffrey F. Jackson sticks it to the IRS and the Feds in "Death & Taxes," a hard-hitting reinvestigation of the 1983 Gordon Kahl case, about which questions still linger. Jackson's unfazed, investigative reporting-style approach and inventive handling of familiar material make this a controversial item for fests and progressive webs. Non-U.S. viewers will also get a charge out of its conspiracy theme. read more
CHRONICLES MAGAZINE /   Gordon Kahl was a simple farmer who became famous for not filing income tax returns. Imprisoned and hounded by IRS agents who never did prove he owed any amount of money, Kahl and his son were involved in a shootout with police. The son is still serving a prison sentence, but the father was surrounded and shot in Arkansas by police officers who mutilated and burned his body. read more
GUNS & AMMO /   A new video documentary, Death & Taxes, details a case of government murderously out of control that was briefly mentioned in the October 1994 Guns & Ammo article "The Ugly Truth About Gun Control." Death & Taxes is the story of Gordon Kahl, a North Dakota farmer and decorated World War II veteran, and his apparent death at the hands of federal agents. read more
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Death & Taxes (DVD)
First time on DVD (113 min)
Death & Taxes (VHS)
This is a limited edition collector's VHS in the original unbroken packaging. (113 min)
Death & Taxes Miniseries (DVD)
Set of 6 DVD's comprising the complete uncut footage from the documentary film project. (783 min)
Gordon Kahl: Godfather of the militia movement
Now Available!
This set of 6 DVD's comprises over 13 hours of uncut footage, including a 2+ hour prison interview with Yorie Kahl, and candid interviews with wife Joan Kahl. In this rich stockpile of research, you'll find many more threads than could reasonably be pursued in the final feature.
The Death & Taxes Miniseries DVD Set Includes...
01: Gordon Kahl Meets With Head North Dakota U.S. Marshal Bud Warren (60 min)
02: The Beginning: Gordon Kahl's military experience and views on a variety of subjects (93 min)
03: Gordon's Texas Tax Trial (90 min)
04: Medina Shootout (60 min)
05: Gordon Kahl Was...: A montage of over 25 people describing who Gordon Kahl was in their eyes. (50 min)
06: Mysterious Death In Arkansas (90 min)
07: Media Circus: Chronological portrayal of Gordon Kahl in the media (70 min)
08: Yorie Kahl Prison Interview (150 min)
09: Joan Kahl Uncut Interviews (120 min)
The connection between Gordon Kahl, Timothy McVeigh, and the Oklahoma City Bombing
A little-known fact regarding Death & Taxes is the surprising connection to Timothy McVeigh and the ATF / Oklahoma City Bombing. Here's a clip of Jackson sharing the story during a director's commentary on his film Postal Worker.
Manhunt in the Dakotas
The story of Gordon Kahl so captured the attention of mainstream America that it was turned into a highly-rated made-for-television movie titled In The Line of Duty - Manhunt In The Dakotas.

DEATH & TAXES is the story of Gordon Kahl, a North Dakota farmer who became America's "most-wanted" fugitive. How had a WWII war hero become the target of one of the largest manhunts in FBI history? Gordon Kahl U.S. Marshalls Most Wanted Fugitive
Gordon Kahl's charred and burned remains were reexamined after his exhumation. The island of unburned skin shows that Kahl's body was likely positioned against the floor at the time he was set on fire.
The badly burned remains of Gordon Kahl, with an island of skin that shows he was in a prone position at the time of the fire.
Was Kahl a racist, gun-toting fanatic? Or a victim of an IRS policy of harassing vocal tax protestors into silence to keep the rest of us intimidated? Did Bill Clinton conspire to cover-up the torture and execution of Gordon Kahl in Arkansas? Did federal agents mutilate and burn the body to cover-up the murder of the wrong man?
DEATH & TAXES follows the trail of Gordon Kahl as his body is exhumed for a new autopsy. Building on newsreel clips covering two fiery shootouts and hundreds of interviews -- with IRS agents and federal prosecutors as well as Kahl's family and supporters -- D&T explores the myths and controversies surrounding a man who dared to challenge the federal income tax system. Some revile Kahl as a cop killer. Others revere him as an American patriot. Which was he?