Thanksgiving Message from the Monroe County Jail

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by Sharon Rondeau

What does the inside of the Monroe County jail look like? It has been described as a "dungeon."

(Nov. 25, 2010) — The following calls were made last evening, November 24, 2010,  by Walter Fitzpatrick at the Monroe County detention facility.

WALT: Before I forget, let me wish you and everybody a blessed and thoughtful Thanksgiving.

SHARON: A lot of people have the same message for you.

WALT: OK.  We had our Thanksgiving dinner tonight, and the men in this facility are ever-so-grateful to you and the folks at The Post & Email for what you’ve done, because it was a pretty decent meal.  They said it was nothing compared to what it was like last year.  So you played a big part in that.

Today we had a…

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SHARON: In the audio of the November 9 court hearing, you told Judge J. Reed Dixon that he was “part of the problem.”  Would you want to expound on that a little more?

WALT: Dixon threatened the two public defenders who had been working on my case who had written a motion asking him to recuse himself.  He told them that if they filed the motion, he would issue judicial sanctions against them.

SHARON: Would the judge have had any justifiable reason to discipline them, or was he just trying to scare them?

WALT: There was absolutely no justification for it.  There is a reason for him to recuse himself.  He is the proximate cause for what happened afterward.  If Dixon had issued an arrest warrant for Jim Stutts and Gary Pettway back in October 2009, then we would have been much farther along in identifying the problem here in Monroe County.  But Dixon is part of the problem; he’s part of the process.  I said these people should be ashamed of themselves because of what they’ve been doing.  Dixon said that anything that was an action against Pettway and Stutts was all federal, and of course I called the FBI and notified them in October 2009.  So Dixon knows about these problems, and again, there’s no evidence here of a riot.  He passed these unsubstantiated charges against me to the grand jury, and he knows that the grand jury was rigged.  Dixon is up to his eyeballs in this thing.  He’s the reason why I’m sitting here tonight.  This is what preventative detention looks like.  This is what is going on right now.  This is unlawful imprisonment; that’s what’s going on tonight.  And that all began with Judge J. Reed Dixon.

It was a police officer, Darren Bivens, who came in and lied in court to establish probable cause back on the fourth of May.  Bivens said to the judge under oath that I had spit at him and that I had used foul language.  Well, the entire day’s events are recorded, and I did none of that.  The whole thing’s a setup, and J. Reed Dixon is part of that.

One of the court filings also named J. Reed Dixon as having threatened first-responder public defenders.  That’s in the court case.

SHARON: I heard him say in the audio, “That’s a patent lie.”

WALT: Yes, but he’s the one who’s lying.

SHARON: I received a message from someone in Monroe County tonight saying that the local newspapers have been publishing articles stating that there’s nothing wrong with the grand jury foreman serving consecutive terms.  I haven’t found those reports yet, but if it’s true, it’s interesting that they would be discussing that.

WALT: They’re working with the courts.  No person can stand in a jury for 20 years consecutively.  That goes beyond our common-sense experience, and by the way, it’s not allowed by law.  You pick a new jury every year; you pick a new grand jury every year, and you pick a new foreman who comes from the new jury.

No one can stand in a jury for 20 years in a row. And no judge can hand-pick a juror.  He can’t do that; it’s against the law.  People are trying to make this OK; they’re trying to legitimize something that is extraordinarily criminal, and it’s breathtaking in its criminality.  A judge is picking one person into the jury for 20 consecutive years, and it’s against the law.  You pick a jury each year, and from that jury, you get a new grand jury foreman, and by the way, it should be the grand jury body picking their own foreman instead of the judge doing it, but it’s very clear what’s going on here.  The judges are stacking the juries.

The issue regarding Angela Davis:  how did she get into this year’s grand jury after having served on the 2009 jury?  So take Pettway out of it and ask, “How did Angela Davis get into the 2010 grand jury after she was on a petit jury in 2009?”

There is no statute that allows for a juror to be in a grand jury for 20 consecutive years.  No statute provides for that.

On the fifth of October, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood said that the grand jury foreman is no different than any other member of the grand jury.  He said that twice.  So you pick a new jury each year in December; they begin their service on the first of January of the next year.  In fact, they’re going to be picking the 2011 jury here next week.  So once you pick the new jury, from that pool of people, that new group of names, you pick the foreman for the 2011 year.  The statute that deals with picking the grand jury and how they do that states that you pick a new group of people every year, and you get a new foreman.

Take the foremanship issue out of it, and just look at how Ms. Davis served in 2009 and is serving again this year. We have at least one duplicate juror besides Gary Pettway.

There’s something else I want to talk about with regard to this grand jury issue.  The Tennessee statutes required that the process for picking any jury, either the grand jury or the petit jury, is to be a process that does not make any allowance for human agency.  The way that they pick the grand jury now is by hand, and it’s the judge who’s hand-picking the jurors.  It’s nothing but human agency that’s involved in the selection of the names of people for the grand jury.  So that’s one issue.  And then, of course, with the grand jury of 3 June, all of those people know Gary Pettway.  None of them was allowed to be hearing a case that involves Mr. Pettway, who is not only in their jury, but is their foreman.  They had to pick a new grand jury for the third of June hearing for my case, and they didn’t do that.  They were told beforehand that they had to do that, and they didn’t.  So as far as the rigging of the jury is concerned, there is no question about that, and anybody coming in and saying, “Look, it’s OK; let’s have everyone  be put in their place, and quickly,” no, it’s not OK.  This is manipulation writ large.  There can be no explanation for how Ms. Davis got into this 2010 jury except through human agency.  It wasn’t a mistake.

In the 2010 jury, she was selected as the foreman for the 3 June event.  The criminal intent by the judges is in plain view.  And these juries have been acting against people in this community for decades.  It’s a John Grisham quote:  “Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him.”  That was also part of the record of the fifth of October; I gave that quote to Steve Pidgeon and he repeated it twice, and it was the second time that he gave  out the quote  that Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood stepped in and said, “All of our jurors on the grand jury are equal in their stature.  The grand jury foreman is the same as every other juror.”  And I was sitting there thinking to myself, “No, it’s not true; you’re hand-picking the foreman.”  You can’t do that.  And they’ve been getting away with this for so long.

This is such a huge issue that they need to make this go away.  They’re trying to bury this issue; they want to continue picking guys like Pettway to be their puppets.  And he’s the leader; Mr. Pettway controls a great deal of what happens in that grand jury room.  Judge Carroll L. Ross said on the 28th of June at my arraignment, “Gary Pettway is doing a great job; he’s a stabilizing force in the community and has brought racial harmony…”  I’m paraphrasing here; I forget exactly how Carroll Ross explained it, but you don’t get a report card at the end of your jury duty; you get to go home.  You’re done.  There’s no one is this country who can explain away the 20 years; that’s obscene.

SHARON: It’s interesting that the report I received is that the local newspapers are trying to “explain” why a foreman can serve that long.  I’ve read that on some blog sites which cite those local sources, but there is no real quotation of the laws on the books.

WALT: I don’t want to get into the Rules of Procedure, which is the actual legislated law, but it’s in there that the judge can pick the foreman, and that’s against the law.  So the Rules do not reconcile themselves with the legislated law, and the act that says that a person can’t serve on the jury for two years following service is 22-2-314.  That’s a recent law, but before that, it says that you pick a new grand jury.  You cannot have a juror that gets to stand in a petit jury for 20 consecutive years.  When a jury is dissolved, it’s dissolved.  It evaporates into the air like water vapor.  Then you pick a new grand jury.  That’s what the jury process is all about.  There are no professional jurors.  Pettway has been getting away with this for 20 years, and some county foremen have been at this for 25 or 30 years.  Steve Pidgeon says this is the most corrupt system he’s ever seen in the country.  So people who are trying to make it “OK” for Gary Pettway to stand on a jury for 20 years must be put in their place, and quickly.  You get one year on the grand jury, and that’s the end of it.  Sometimes a jury can be extended for a little while because of the case; you don’t want to dissolve one grand jury and have them start all over on a case.  You can extend them a little bit, but that’s as far as it goes.

That passes the common-sense test.  This is a dictatorship; this is how a dictatorship works.

Editor’s Note: Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure allow for challenging a juror’s eligibility, which Fitzpatrick has done on the grounds that both the foreman and Angela Davis have served too recently to be on the grand jury again in 2010. However, Judge Blackwood reportedly ignored the objections of both Fitzpatrick and his attorney-of-record at the time, Stephen Pidgeon.

SHARON: So they’re setting up things the way they want them to run?

WALT: Right.  They want to be able to continue putting foremen into the juries by hand.  The judges are physically taking a piece of paper out of a box.  Human intervention is all over this grand jury selection process where human agency isn’t allowed anyplace.

SHARON: I was told by the clerk myself that the selection of grand jurors is “fully automated.”

WALT: She put that in writing; she said it’s fully automated and then we hand-pick our foreman:  two sentences together which don’t reconcile themselves, one with the other.  You can smell this; it’s obscene on its face.  And why wouldn’t you want to pick a new jury foreman each year?  Doesn’t it make sense that you’d want to do that?

SHARON: I posed that argument to her.

WALT : Because that person becomes a court functionary; they become a puppet of the court, and it works fine for them:  “He’s done a great job for us.”  You can’t hand-pick him because he’s “doing a great job.”  No foreman or juror gets a report card.  They don’t get picked again because of their performance.  That dog just won’t hunt.

The people who are trying to defend 20 years on the grand jury are the people who are scared to death about what the consequence is going to be when that practice is condemned.  That’s taking the law into their own hands, and they’ve been doing it for years and years.  Again, we need only one, but we have two people now who are in the jury who aren’t supposed to be there.  And Ms. Davis is not a foreman, so how did she get into the 2010 grand jury?  Nobody can explain it except that a judge put her there. That’s the only argument we need; a judge was responsible for putting Angela Davis into the 2010 grand jury.  End of sentence, end of argument.

That goes to intent, that goes to process; that completely defeats the argument about the statute going to the foremanship issue.  No:  Angela Davis wasn’t picked as the 2010 grand jury foreman, but she’s there anyway.  How did that happen?

There is no argument for any person standing in any jury for 20 years consecutively; that will not work.

SHARON: There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you:  do you get to go outside at all?  One of the things that the former inmate had reported was that no one is allowed any fresh air by going outside.  The stale air must be awful.

WALT: Well, it’s worse than that, but I’ll talk about that when I leave here.  They didn’t let people go outside here for months and months; in fact, years.  In fact, they’ve just started doing that since The Post & Email has been talking about what’s been going on here.  They just recently started letting people go out in the last month.  In fact, they’ve called it a holiday when they go outside, and they’ve named it after me, for goodness’ sakes.  I learned that the other day.

SHARON: So it’s “The Walt Fitzpatrick Hour,” or something like that?

WALT: Yeah, that’s what I’m being told.  I was allowed my first opportunity to go outside this week for the first time, although I said “no” because I’m not dressed for it.  It’s cold outside and I don’t have the proper clothing. The first opportunity I had was just days ago.  So yes, they’re starting to do that now.

SHARON: How about exercise?

WALT: Oh, there’s no way.  Again, I’ll talk about the conditions in here later; it’s just nothing but a dungeon.  This is medieval.  It really is.  Today they came in here to do plumbing work and when we came back to the cell, there was water all over everyplace…our bunks, blankets, bedding…they just don’t give a rip.  Their business is criminal.

I had a conversation with Mr. Ellington, who is here in the cell with me, and we had a thought that I wanted to share with you as far as it goes to local reporting.

We have known now for the better part of the last month that the property locker here has been invaded.  It’s been infected and broken into 15 times from December 2009 through October 2010.  That’s not being reported in the local press, and that affects tens of cases.  It’s not being reported that there’s a lead in the Jim Miller murder that comes back through the conduit of Mr. Richard (Rick) Joe Crawley, Jr., who is able to name someone who is admitting to the murder of Jim Miller.  That’s not being reported here in the local newspaper.  It wasn’t reported to the local newspapers that there was an arrest made of Ms. Jessica Powers and that she was held here.  There is so much here that is not being reported, and with regard to the local paper, it is nothing but a propaganda tool.

None of the information that you’ve brought forward is being reported in any local press because it’s huge stuff, the criminal conduct of this local Monroe County government.  None of it is being reported, and none of it’s being followed up on.  So I want to make it very clear that the Advocate & Democrat is not a paper to be paid any attention to.

I can tell you that Sheriff Bivens was rigging his election.  He was paying people for votes.  I have eyewitnesses, people who were in the room when he was paying money for votes in his first election.  There are reports that he did the same during his re-election campaign in 2009 in preparation for the 2010 election.  It’s one criminal event after the next.  These issues are in plain view and are not being reported.  People from the Advocate & Democrat were threatened back in 1980, I’m told, with the place being burned down should they report on the local corruption here.  And it’s been going on for another 30 years.  Just the issue with the property locker…

Automated Operator: You have one minute remaining.

WALT: Bivens let the man go. His name is Jeff Gunner.

I don’t plan to call tomorrow; I want you to rest easy, rest well, and have an enjoyable, blessed, respectful, observant Thanksgiving.  We have a lot to be thankful for.  As I said, please extend my respects to everybody out there.  And we’ll take this one day at a time.

I know I’m here for a reason, and if nothing else, than to report on the meal that we had tonight. It’s better than last year, when the guards took the food.

SHARON: They did?

WALT: Oh, she didn’t call you?

SHARON: No, this is the first I’ve heard about it.

WALT: Oh.  Someone was supposed to call you and tell you about it.  The guards ate the Thanksgiving meal intended for the inmates.  However, we’re making some progress.  I recognize completely that I’m here because there’s a reason for me to be here.

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