Fitzpatrick: Tennessee Criminal Courts “A Closed System”

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by Sharon Rondeau

(Feb. 19, 2014) — On Tuesday, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III went for the sixth time to the McMinn County courthouse with criminal accusations against grand jury foreman Jeff Cunningham, McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy, members of the district attorney general’s office, and other public officials for perpetrating crimes and corruption in the community.

McMinn County is the location of the 1946 “Battle of Athens” carried out by World War II veterans disgusted with the graft, intimidation, citizen shake-downs and election fraud taking place in their community by the sheriff’s department and his political allies.

On January 21, 2014, Fitzpatrick attempted to present a similar submission to the first newly-empaneled McMinn County grand jury for 2014.  Tuesday’s submission was made under the assumption that the group of people comprising the second grand jury, which alternates its service monthly with the first, would have the opportunity to learn of his accusations.  The full submission can be read here:  Feb 2014 GJC

Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that as they entered the courthouse, he did not recognize any of the grand jurors from his trip in January, when he observed that there was a statistically impossible number of citizens in their 60s as opposed to a cross-section of people of all ages.  Tennessee law mandates that jurors be selected by random means to avoid the possibility of “human intervention.”

On February 2, Fitzpatrick called for the arrests of Cunningham and Guy for “criminal facilitation” of the “Sovereign Citizen” training program used by Tennessee law enforcement which depicts him as a “potential domestic terrorist.”  Since 2009, the Obama regime has characterized citizens protesting government corruption, particularly veterans and Christians, as “Sovereigns.”  On January 30, 2014, Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke A. McLaurin told a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that Fitzpatrick and Darren Wesley Huff had exchanged “text messages” to plan a “courthouse takeover” on April 20, 2010.  Fitzpatrick has submitted a sworn statement to The Post & Email refuting McLaurin’s claim in addition to stating that he does not use text-messaging with anyone.

Without knowing Fitzpatrick’s response to McLaurin’s statement, Huff also refuted McLaurin’s perjured statement in response to our question posed by email.

The U.S. Constitution and numerous law cases from American history indicate that “the people” are “sovereign” over their government in a constitutional republic.  However, over many years, expansion of the executive branch, judicial corruption and legislators’ irresponsibility and political ambitions have caused government to attain more power than was envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Members of the Tennessee legislature have been made aware of the corruption in the courts which, if acted upon, would require the review of an untold number of cases of people both in and out of Tennessee jails and prisons.

While Fitzpatrick was escorted out of the courthouse by sheriff’s deputies in January, that did not occur on Tuesday.  Initial audio of Fitzpatrick’s time at the courthouse can be heard here:  DS400020

Cunningham is a licensed Tennessee attorney and member of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA).  He was appointed to be grand jury foreman by Criminal Court Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy in 2012 and is now serving his third term.  Although named in the criminal complaint which Fitzpatrick had hoped to advance to three members of the grand jury for consideration, Cunningham did not recuse himself, but rather, told Fitzpatrick that he would “never” allow a complaint from him to be advanced to the members of the grand jury.

The revised TBA Rules of Professional Conduct state that:

…[6]       A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs.  A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.  A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process…


Tennessee law requires grand juries to contain 13 members, but many, if not all, county grand juries are empaneling 12 grand jurors chosen from the jury pool. However, the foreman is chosen by the judge outside of any legally-authorized process.

The McMinn County grand jury meets in the local office of Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who has been advised of the wrongdoing taking place there routinely but not responded.

Fitzpatrick has a case on appeal arising from the question of whether or not the grand jury foreman was legally serving when it indicted him for “tampering with government records.”  Fitzpatrick based his statement on the brief filed by Tennessee Deputy Attorney General Kyle Hixson for the appeal which expressed the state’s contention that the grand jury foreman is not chosen from the jury pool and is therefore “not a juror.”  Rather, Hixson wrote that the foreman is chosen by an unknown vetting process by the criminal court judges.

The hearing, held in November, has not yet been decided by the three-judge panel, who appeared surprised when Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Van Irion, told them that Fitzpatrick had observed Reedy hand-picking jurors in open court without the required receptacle to render the selection of jurors neutral.

Irion has announced plans to run for criminal court judge against Reedy in November if he survives a runoff election in April.

While waiting to discover whether or not he would be permitted to submit his evidence to members of the grand jury, Fitzpatrick displayed a sign informing passers-by that Cunningham “is not a juror,” contrary to what they might believe.

An indictment issued by the Monroe County grand jury on June 3, 2010 states that Fitzpatrick “intimidated a juror” when he approached foreman Gary Pettway with a citizen’s arrest for over-serving his legal term.  However, the state now says that Pettway was not a juror.  Fitzpatrick was convicted on December 1, 2010 on charges stemming from that and other indictments issued by the Monroe County grand jury.  At that time, Fitzpatrick pointed out that the grand jury was illegally-constructed because of jurors, including Pettway, who were serving consecutive terms.

Cunningham has blocked Fitzpatrick’s submissions on five previous occasions.  When Fitzpatrick attempted to sign in in order to be called to present his evidence, Cunningham told him he could not do so.  DS400022  “Cunningham is named in the report but dismissed me unilaterally and said, ‘You can’t get in today.’  I don’t have anything in writing from Mr. Cunningham that says “You’re not getting in,” but he gave us enough on the recording to make the case that I have attempted to make to the grand jury,” Fitzpatrick told us.

On Tuesday, Fitzpatrick noted that the door to the office where the sign-in list is maintained was kept closed, which was unusual.  “It’s normally open,” he said.

According to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Rules of Criminal Procedure, the grand jury has a “duty” to ”inquire into any state or local officers’ abuse of office,” among other responsibilities.  Although the Rules state that the judge selects the foreman, Tennessee judges have circumvented the law, which mandates that grand jury members be selected randomly, by obtaining the foreman “from wherever they choose.”

“Cunningham broke the law, and he threatened me with arrest yesterday,” Fitzpatrick stated.  “Yesterday ends any effort to appear before the McMinn County grand jury, absent the convening of a special grand jury.”

An article in The Tennessean from last August reported that Stan Fossick, an often-used grand jury foreman over many years, was selected by various judges using their “personal touch.”

After Fitzpatrick was refused an audience by the grand jury, Assistant District Attorney General Steve Morgan advised him to wait until the decision on his appeal is announced.  “People know that that appellate brief is pending and they’re afraid of the outcome,” Fitzpatrick said.  “There was no lawful reason for me not to present myself there yesterday and be heard by a group of three people – none of them named ‘Jeff Cunningham’ – to hear about what took place in the federal court on January 30, 2014.  Jeff Cunningham is not authorized to do what he’s doing.  If I had accused this man of a murder, and he came out and said, ‘I didn’t commit the murder, and I’m going to bring you up on charges for falsely accusing me,’ that’s not his decision to make.  It’s up to the grand jury.  My evidence is pretty strong; he did commit these crimes, and he’s the one who is obstructing justice.”

Fitzpatrick said that Cunningham’s threat of arrest included “intimidation” and “retaliation for past act,” for which Fitzpatrick was indicted after attempting the citizen’s arrest on Pettway in April 2010.  “You can see that the prosecutors are nervous, and the police are running for a place to hide, and they just can’t find it. Instead, they’re threatening me and chasing me away,” Fitzpatrick said.  “We don’t need the  appellate court on this.  If the appellate court comes out and says, ‘All of this is fine and legal’…Katie, bar the door.  We may be at that point now.  If that is the case, then the grand jury is nothing but a puppet show.  The grand jurors have no idea of the power they command, and it’s Cunningham who reels them in and herds them and say, ‘OK, do my bidding,’ which another way of saying, ‘We’re going to do what the judge wants us to do.”

On Wednesday, prior to publication of this report, The Post & Email contacted the Tennessee Bar Association regarding Cunningham’s serving as the McMinn County grand jury foreman but was directed to the Board of Professional Responsibility.  Upon calling there, we left a message in a general mailbox which was a catchall for “all other inquiries” and identified ourselves as a member of the press.  We asked how a licensed Tennessee attorney can serve as a grand jury foreman without a conflict of interest present and left our contact information.  As of publication time, there was no response.

Before Fitzpatrick left the courthouse on Tuesday, Sgt. Heith Willis of the Athens Police Department, who was in the courthouse on official business, suggested to Fitzpatrick that he “go talk to the court clerk.” Fitzpatrick had spent three hours reporting local and federal corruption to Willis on February 3.

In an email exchange between Willis and Fitzpatrick on Wednesday, Fitzpatrick learned that the district attorney general’s office had lied to Willis when Willis wrote:

I spoke with the DA that day and was told that they had already provided you the proper procedures to submit indictment paperwork for consideration.

and Fitzpatrick responded:

You’ve been lied to. My last contact with District Attorney General’s Steve Bebb’s office was with Assistant District Attorney Steve Morgan yesterday morning after my conversation with you. Both conversations were recorded and are now in wide distribution. Before yesterday, my last contact with the DA’s office was with Steve Morgan on 21 January 2014 during my attempt to appear before the McMinn County grand jury last month. Before January 2014 I had contact with Stere Morgan on 17 December 2013 ~ same circumstances. Before 17 December 2013 I’d have to check my records to discover, if I could, when I had any direct contact with any DA working out of Steve Bebb’s office. I have never-I SAY AGAIN-I have never spoken with any “DA” regarding what the “DA” represents as “the proper procedures to submit indictment paperwork for consideration.” There are no written communications on the subject between myself or anyone in the DA’s office. There are no communications of any sort between myself and any of Steve Bebb’s DA’s regarding “the proper procedures to submit indictment paperwork for consideration.” I might add that the procedures I’ve been following in attempting to present my allegations to the McMinn County grand jury IS BUT ONE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR ADVANCING MY CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS.

Willis then responded:

If you would like I can hand carry this attachment to them.

to which Fitzpatrick replied:

Make it so.

Of Cunningham’s behavior, Fitzpatrick said, “Not only is he fighting to stay in the job; he’s fighting to be part of the accusation I’m making against him directly.  Because of his training and experience as an attorney, it just elevates this and magnifies his knowing and willful intent.  This does nothing except profile his criminal mind.  They do not want to give up any of this power, and Cunningham is every bit a player in this grand scheme, as was Joel Riley before him and Kay Riley before him, and then Kay Riley’s husband…  Then there is the felon in Davidson County and Stan Fossick.  This is what’s going on.  It’s a closed system.”

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