- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 26, 2010) — A “Capias and Bond” document has been issued by the Monroe County court for the arrest of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, a retired Naval officer, but the signature of a judge is absent and the names of court officials are printed rather than signed. There is also some type of scribbling on the document in two places.
The reason for the warrant is listed as “failure to appear in criminal court.” The document is dated October 22 and was faxed to The Post & Email upon request today along with an order signed by someone other than the court clerk, Martha Cook, although the document bears her personalized stamp.
The Post & Email has contacted Mr. Bill Poovey of the AP, whose article in the Knoxville News today cited Attorney Stephen Pidgeon saying that the Monroe County grand jury was “hopelessly corrupted,” to inquire about his research and reporting of grand jury issues in Tennessee.
Neither the AP article nor an article published on October 25, 2010 showed a copy of the arrest warrant. The Post & Email had contacted the writer of the latter piece but received no response.
The defendant in the case, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, maintains that the Monroe County grand jury is “rigged,” and that four judges are aware of it and have even orchestrated it. The Post & Email contacted the Monroe County clerk’s office to ask if the grand jury contained people who have served too recently to be jurors during the current term, but they refused to speak on the record.
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that Gary Pettway, the grand jury foreman, has been serving in that capacity for at least 20 years. Fitzpatrick claims that Pettway was in the room when he inquired of the court clerk, Martha M. Cook, how long Pettway had been serving, and that Pettway himself said that it was “27 years.”
Tennessee Code states that potential grand jurors can be disqualified from serving due to a “state of mind exists on the juror’s part that will prevent the juror from acting impartially shall constitute such cause.” Fitzpatrick claims that, because all of the current jurors knew Gary Pettway, the grand jury foreman, having worked with him before June 3, 2010, all of them should have been replaced because the issue at hand was Fitzpatrick’s contention that Pettway was serving illegally himself.
Fitzpatrick and his attorney have stated that there is at least one other person who is serving on the grand jury but should not be due to service in 2009. Angela Davis served as a petit juror during the first half of 2009, was appointed to foreperson on June 2, 2010 for one day by Judge Amy Reedy, and then relegated to regular grand juror status for the remainder of 2010. Tennessee Code states:
(a) The jury coordinator in each county shall select names of prospective jurors to serve in the courts of that county by random automated means, without opportunity for the intervention of any human agency to select a particular name and in a manner that causes no prejudice to any person.
If both Pettway and Davis are serving in violation of the law, how many other jurors in Monroe County are doing the same? How many have served prior to this term within 24 months, which the law prohibits?
A call made to Angela Davis’s home today indicated that the number is no longer in service.
Why was the existence of the “arrest warrant” leaked to the press and not been carried out?
UPDATE, October 27, 2010, 8:45 a.m.: The Post & Email has just learned that an FBI investigation has been opened into the Monroe County court system.
The contact information for the FBI in Knoxville, TN is:
FBI in Washington, DC: 202-324-3000