All Felonies Dropped against Walter Fitzpatrick; convictions on two misdemeanors

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by Sharon Rondeau

If a juror was disqualified today for having served within the last 24 months, how could any convictions against Fitzpatrick stand when the charges arose from a grand jury with the same flaw?

(Dec. 1, 2010) — As several eyewitnesses at Walter Fitzpatrick’s trial in Monroe County, TN reported this evening, all felony charges against the retired U.S. Naval Academy graduate and 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy have been dropped. Those charges were “riot,” “disorderly conduct,” “retaliation of past action” and “civil rights intimidation.”

He was found guilty of the two misdemeanor charges of disrupting a public meeting and resisting arrest.  The fines for the misdemeanor convictions are $2,500 and $500 respectively.

All six charges arose from an incident on April 1 wherein Fitzpatrick carried out a citizen’s arrest of the grand jury foreman, Gary Pettway, for serving for at least 20 consecutive years, in violation of Tennessee state law.

There is a 30-day period in which an appeal  and motion for a new trial can be filed.

The sentences for each of the two misdemeanors are six months in the county jail for a total of 12 months.  However, the one-year sentence was suspended except for 60 days, with time served counted toward the 60 days.  Following the jail sentence, Mr. Fitzpatrick will be on probation for a year.

The two additional charges filed from Mr. Fitzpatrick’s October 27, 2010 arrest at his home will be heard on January 19, 2011.

Co-defendant Darren Huff took a plea deal of “no contest,” no fines and no court fees.  His case was heard prior to Fitzpatrick’s.

At the beginning of the trial, Fitzpatrick was permitted to ask the jury members if they had served on a jury within the last two years, and eyewitnesses reported that there was one who said he had.  Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood then dismissed the juror for ineligibility per state law.

However, The Post & Email has previously reported that the charges against Fitzpatrick arose from a grand jury which had not only Gary Pettway serving for consecutive terms, but also Angela Davis, who served in both 2009 and 2010 and acted as foreman when the charges against Fitzpatrick were produced in the form of a “True Bill.”

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood is from Roane County, where the grand jury foreman has reportedly been serving for more than 23 years.

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