Judge Carroll Ross Admits that Public Defenders Work for the Court, not for the Defendant pb

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by Sharon Rondeau

(Nov. 15, 2012) — A Polk County, TN native who turned himself in after U.S. marshals were unexpectedly dispatched to his home in Florida last March has been released from the Polk County Detention Facility after his bond was lowered from $250,000 from $50,000.

Rex Peak was incarcerated from June 18 to November 5, the day on which he went in front of Judge Carroll Lee Ross.  Peak said that Ross admitted that the bond was “way too high.”

Peak stated that he was never charged with a crime stemming from a motorcycle accident which injured two people and himself in May of last year.  Nevertheless, marshals went to his home on two occasions last March with night-vision goggles and weapons, and, upon finding Peak not at home, questioned a cousin and his mother as to Peak’s whereabouts.

Peak had traveled back to the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee on two occasions and spoken with two attorneys to obtain advice as to what actions he should take.  One advised him not to turn himself in because he predicted that Judge Amy Reedy would figuratively “hang him.”  Reedy has stated that it is her goal to see 1,000,000 man-hours served as a result of her time on the bench.

During the hearing, Peak said he was not allowed to speak and that Judge Ross stated in court that ‘The public defender is not here for you; he’s here for us.”  “He said it two different times,” Peak said.  Ross reportedly argued that Peak had “failed to appear” on a charge, which resulted in the $250,000 bond issued by Judge Amy Reedy.  The U.S. marshals had carried paperwork with them which charged Peak with two vehicular homicides, even though no one died in the accident.

Peak said that the “Capias and Bond” document issued against Peak for allegedly failing to appear was signed by a deputy clerk, not a judge.  Documents involved in at least two cases against Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III also lacked the signature of a judge, and in the most recent case, an individual who went unidentified for months signed the name of the chief clerk without including his initials, as is customary when a person signs someone else’s name.

Peak was offered a plea deal of eight years’ probation and a year to serve in jail, with credit given for his six months served.  “I told ‘em, “I’m not takin’ nothin,’” Peak said.  “I didn’t do anything wrong.”  He said the only citation he was given as a result of the accident was “failure to yield.”

Polk County is one of four counties in the Tenth Judicial District, which was reported to be under investigation for prosecutorial misconduct and misuse of taxpayer dollars last August. Public corruption in the Tenth Judicial District and greater Tennessee has been institutionalized for decades and the courts and grand juries operated in violation of state statutes.  One of the agencies allegedly investigating the allegations of corruption is the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), which itself broke the law by failing to respond for more than two months to an open records request from The Post & Email.

A recent lawsuit against Tennessee Highway Patrolmen, prosecutors, Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, and the state of Tennessee alleges conspiracy and deprivation of civil rights.  Another has been filed against Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens and Monroe County, TN, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.

When The Post & Email asked Peak about the conditions in the jail while he was there, he responded that it was much better than the Monroe County jail in which Fitzpatrick, Raudenbush and Peak have all spent time.  However, Peak said that the one-hour outdoor exercise period which inmates are supposed to receive is not observed.  He said that a metal door opens partially, about four feet, to allow in some fresh air, but that “You don’t get to go outside.”  He described the jail as “pretty new,” as it was constructed five years ago after the fire marshal ordered the old facility closed.  Peak said that items at the commissary are very expensive and that the jail makes an exorbitant profit on coffee and other items.  “They pay $11.00 or $12.00 for a box of coffee and sell them for $50.00,” he said.

Peak told us that he was not mistreated but that the guards would often goad the inmates, who were “locked down” if they retaliated verbally.  He also reported “a lot of fights in there” and high guard turnover, sometimes for allegedly allowing the inmates to fight.

He reported that Judge Ross told him he can leave Tennessee as long as he contacts Ross by phone.  Peak stated that he will record the telephone calls and have several witnesses when he makes them.  He plans to return to the work he was doing prior to the marshals’ visits.  “They took a $70,000 a year job away from me.  I’m not sure the company will let me come back, but I have to try,” Peak said.

In a letter mailed while Peak was still in jail and received after his release, he included the artwork featured above.

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