- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 27, 2013) — On February 8, 2013, The Chattanoogan reported that a Norman Bruce Arp was arrested for theft and misconduct by members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
Arp had been employed at the Monroe County, TN courthouse as an administrative assistant and had testified at the trial of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III on December 3, 2012 on a charge of “tampering with government records.”
When Arp was asked why he was no longer employed by the county, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. When questioned by Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Van Irion, Arp stated that he did not understand what he had done in signing the charging documents.
Fitzpatrick, however, was denied his Fifth Amendment right to have been found by a presentment or indictment of a legitimate grand jury likely to have committed a crime, as the Monroe County grand jury is not lawfully convened and has no officially-appointed foreman.
A Davidson County grand jury foreman was recently found to have had a felony conviction in his history, necessitating the retrying of possibly hundreds of cases in which he had been involved. In Tennessee, the foreman is chosen by the presiding judge and sometimes serves for decades, bringing into question his or her impartiality. Grand jurors take an oath to perform to the best of their “skill and ability” but not to the Tennessee or U.S. Constitutions.
The members of the grand jury were not told that Arp had signed the name “Martha M. Cook” on the documents used to arrest Fitzpatrick and seize his computer and other electronic equipment on the evening of December 7, 2011. Judge Walter C. Kurtz, who presided over Fitzpatrick’s case as a special judge, admitted that whoever signed Cook’s name to the charging documents acted improperly but allowed the charges to stand. Kurtz contended that “the indictment cures”
The Fifth Amendment allows a defendant to challenge the legitimacy of any grand juror, but in the Tenth Judicial District, the judge declares law from the bench in violation of state and federal statutes.
The jury took only several minutes to deliberate and then obediently emerged with a guilty verdict after Fitzpatrick’s attorney was not allowed to present a defense for his client, a violation of the Sixth Amendment.
At the time of the trial, The Post & Email had been told, but it was not confirmed, that Arp had stolen $10,000 from the county government and could have charges pressed against him.
In 1984, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a set of laws which directed the county courts to cede criminal matters to district-level courts to be formed from the combining of several counties in most cases. Large counties such as Knox and Sullivan were to form their own respective district criminal systems. The laws ordered that at least two grand juries be convened each year.
The Tenth Judicial District and possibly the entire state of Tennessee ignored the laws and continued to try citizens accused of crimes in county courts, often impaneling jurors in successive terms in violation of a specific law, TCA 22-2-314. Kurtz contended in court that the law did not say what it said.
Judge Amy Reedy and others within the Tenth Judicial District hand-pick members of juries openly, although the law states that human intervention in the selection of jurors is prohibited.
The Chattanoogan also reported that the “10th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate” the allegations against Arp last September. In August, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that an investigation had been launched among the Comptroller’s Office, Tennessee Attorney General, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to include the District Attorney General’s office, whose members had been accused of financial misconduct as it related to the operation of an area drug task force. District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb had pledged to step down while the probe went forward but remains in his position today.
Arp bonded himself out of the Monroe County jail directly following his arrest in February. The TBI and other outlets are reporting in almost identical articles that Arp made restitution for the $10,000 he took from funds collected by the court.
The TBI has not returned phone calls from The Post & Email regarding whether or not an investigation is ongoing. Likewise, the Office of the Comptroller and Attorney General’s office will not confirm or deny that they are involved in an investigation.