- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 7, 2010) — One of our readers requested a brief summary of the Fitzpatrick Monroe County grand jury story to send to an upper-level Tennessee government employee through an intermediary. I encourage anyone attempting to publicize the story with the intent of gaining media attention to use this document to facilitate the explanation of this complicated case. This summary can be posted in its entirety on blogs as well, and it contains all of the necessary supporting links for background information.
Even better, why don’t readers of The Post & Email send the letter by email to every news outlet, Tennessee Senators Robert Corker and Lamar Alexander, Rep. John J. Duncan, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department? Other suggestions are Amnesty International, the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), and Judicial Watch. And where is the United Nations on the blatant abuse of human and civil rights occurring at the Monroe County detention facility?
The only way we will change the situation in Monroe County is for many, many people to make the effort to get the word out. That is what has propelled the Obama eligibility question forward from a scant 2% of voters being aware of it before the 2008 election to approximately 60% today and growing.
When our fellow Americans are hurting, have been abused, had their constitutional and civil rights trampled, and when there has been wrongful death and destruction of people’s lives and livelihoods, we need to step in and do something about it.
Here is the letter you can send:
In March 2009, Mr. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick had attempted to file a criminal complaint with the Monroe County grand jury, which a citizen is permitted to do in the state of Tennessee. During this process, Fitzpatrick discovered that the grand jury foreman had been serving in his capacity for 20 years, although the foreman himself had stated that he had actually been serving for 27 years, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated which states that jurors must be chosen by an automated, random system every six months. While state law allows for the foreman to be chosen by the judge, it does not allow for the same person to serve as foreman for years on end.
Fitzpatrick is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, a Naval Academy graduate, class of 1975, and holds a master’s degree in Business Administration. To this writer’s knowledge, he has no criminal record.
During 2009 and early 2010, Mr. Fitzpatrick attempted to rectify the situation with the grand jury foreman in many ways. He went to the D.A. He went to the sheriff and deputy sheriff in his town. He went to the TBI and FBI. All of these individuals and agencies said that it was not their responsibility to correct the situation. It became evident that the judges were allowing jurors to serve consecutive terms, as at least one other regular juror in Monroe County has been found to have served in 2009 and again in 2010, while the statute mandates a 24-month break for any juror who has served. Fitzpatrick suspects that it could be many more than these two aforementioned jurors, and he also believes that a juror currently serving could be an illegal alien.
Finally, after having been turned away by all law enforcement, Fitzpatrick attempted a citizen’s arrest of the grand jury foreman on April 1, 2010. While the incident was over within several minutes and no one was hurt, Fitzpatrick was himself arrested and spent five days in the Monroe County detention center. However, no document with charges and an accuser was produced until he demanded it on June 10. At that time, the Madisonville Police Department was unable to produce the arrest report and prepared it hastily with the wrong birth date, last name, sex and numerous misspellings of words in the narrative of alleged events.
Similar corruption in Roane County led to harassment, murder and incarceration of men who were eventually exonerated but lost their livelihoods, health and property in the process. The grand jury foreman there has been in his position for 23 years.
A hearing for Fitzpatrick on June 28, 2010, yielded a trial date of December 1, 2010, even though Fitzpatrick maintained that without a legal grand jury, the “case” could not go forward. In fact, he stated that there was no case against him because he had done nothing wrong other than attempt to expose the corruption within the Monroe County courthouse and grand jury. Fitzpatrick hired a lawyer to expose the illicit grand jury, but the arrangement did not work out. On October 19, 2010, Fitzpatrick filed papers with the Monroe County courthouse which stated that he was dismissing the attorney, but that the attorney would remain on the case for another two weeks.
Fitzpatrick has stated that he has never received transcripts of court hearings, despite a promise from the local attorney made to his attorney of record both verbally and in writing. Moreover, the documentation of the court hearings contains numerous significant errors.
Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood had been brought in to preside over Fitzpatrick’s case, as both Judges Carroll L. Ross and Amy Reedy had to recuse themselves due to conflict of interest from previous motions. Blackwood is a retired judge from Roane County, where the grand jury foreman mentioned above has been serving for more than 23 years. Blackwood had refused to repair the grand jury which Fitzpatrick had claimed was “fatally flawed.” On October 22, Blackwood ordered that Fitzpatrick be arrested and jailed without bond for failing to appear at a hearing about which Fitzpatrick claimed he knew nothing. At that time, the attorney he had dismissed was still technically on the case, but there reportedly had been no contact between them. The “Capias and Bond” document was dated 10-22-10 but appears to have no legal signature on it.
Stephen Pidgeon, Fitzpatrick’s attorney of record, had been quoted by the Knoxville News Sentinel as having stated that the Monroe County grand jury was “hopelessly corrupted.”
During the arrest, which was carried out on October 27, 2010, Fitzpatrick was hit over the head, tasered multiple times according to his first-hand account, had his left ear almost torn off, suffered facial contusions and now believes he is suffering from nerve damage in his hands from the handcuffs used that day. Four deputies broke down his door, although the local newspaper completely misrepresented the incident in a report dated November 3. The article could not have been accurate because no press had been allowed in the courtroom for the referenced hearing on November 1.
Although Fitzpatrick received x-rays that evening at the jail, he received no medical treatment.
During the November 1 hearing, Judge Blackwood reportedly told Fitzpatrick that he could not have another attorney from outside of Tennessee, which is a violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. A first-hand account of that hearing is here.
Since his incarceration beginning on October 27, Fitzpatrick has reported shocking conditions within the jail such as 37 men crowded into a space built for 24, with 13 of them sleeping on the concrete floor; temperature in the jail of 58-60 degrees, and men being denied necessary medication and medical treatment. He reported that on November 4, a man who had been urinating blood for three weeks and who had been denied medical care had finally been rushed to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had a bleeding pancreas. The man had not received his medication during his incarceration and is now in the Intensive Care Unit at Sweetwater Hospital. Fitzpatrick has reported that the man is in “tough shape.”
Fitzpatrick claims that if the corruption within the grand jury is exposed, all of the cases tried by that body will need to be revisited. Another man who has corresponded with Mr. Fitzpatrick currently in the Morgan County Correctional Facility has claimed that he has proof that the grand jury which tried his case was rigged.
The court clerk has refused to go on the record with The Post & Email, as has the court reporter. Judge Blackwood is on the record of the Knoxville News Sentinel as having denied another defendant an attorney.
While in jail, Fitzpatrick has advocated for better conditions for the inmates and has reported that Sheriff Bill Bivens has covered up a serious crime committed by an inmate with access to the evidence locker within the jail. Earlier this year, the Sheriff’s Department bookkeeper was convicted of embezzling money from the jail commissary.
Fitzpatrick has reported that he was ordered by Judge Blackwood to prepare for his own defense between the November 1 hearing and his December 1 trial. However, he still does not have the name of his accuser and has been told he is representing himself. Moreover, without his reading glasses, he cannot read the small print in the books contained in the law library at the jail.
This writer has been reporting intensively on the apparent corruption within Monroe and Roane Counties since July. It appears that the TBI, FBI, District Attorney, local attorneys, and court personnel are all complicit in covering up numerous crimes and violations of Tennessee statutes. I have been told that even Fitzpatrick’s “arrest warrant” was not issued by a police officer, but rather, was a dictated order scrawled on a piece of paper. Fitzpatrick suspects that Judge Carroll L. Ross issued the order to arrest him, which is not proper protocol.
Fitzpatrick reported today that Judge Amy Reedy is rumored to be under investigation for corruption. Reedy had ordered Angela Davis to be grand jury foreman for a day earlier this year, even though Fitzpatrick had made her aware that Davis had served on a jury the previous year.
Will justice be served in Monroe County, TN? Will corruption be prosecuted, or will criminals be allowed to continue meting out punishment decided by tainted grand juries and carried out by corrupt sheriffs and deputies? Is it not past time to right these wrongs? When will the people of eastern Tennessee be released from the prison in which they have lived for the past several decades while corruption has flourished? What will you do to expose it?
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Tags: ACLJ, Amnesty International, Judge Amy Reedy, Judge Carroll L. Ross, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, Judicial Watch, Monroe County, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, Naval Academy, Rep. John J. Duncan, Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Robert Corker, The Post & Email, TN, U.S. Navy, Untied Nations, Walter Fitzpatrick