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by Sharon Rondeau

Tennessee became a state in 1796. Its name is Cherokee, and it was home to Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson.

(Dec. 5, 2010) — An eyewitness present at the events of April 1, 2010 at the Monroe County courthouse contacted The Post & Email and offered his testimony as to what occurred that day as well as his thoughts on the current state of justice in his state of Tennessee and the U.S. in general.

The Tennessee constitution begins:

ARTICLE I. Declaration of Rights.

Section 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish the government in such a manner as they may think proper.

Section 2. That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

Does that mean that Walter Fitzpatrick was following the Tennessee constitution to the letter when he arrested Gary Pettway for over-serving his term as grand jury foreman?  If so, why was Fitzpatrick then arrested?  If Fitzpatrick was demonstrating “resistance” to the “arbitrary power and oppression” of Monroe County judges and their employees  on April 1, 2010, then how did the grand jury have the authority to issue indictments against him on June 3, 2010 when the jury had at least one other member who should also not have been serving?

Why is Fitzpatrick in jail if he was exercising a constitutional right, even a responsibility?

MRS. RONDEAU: Thank you for coming forward to give your account of the events leading up to Mr. Fitzpatrick’s arrest.  When did you arrive at the courthouse on April first, what happened, and to whom?

WITNESS: I was contacted before that to go down there through some mutual friends.  I had never met Walt.  I don’t think any of us had met each other, quite frankly, before that day. I was to go down there, and if there were people there, we were just going to discuss the situation and talk to the press and get information about what was going on as far as a citizen’s arrest, the legality of that in the state of Tennessee, a citizen’s rights and how strongly a citizen’s arrest is supposed to be valued in the state of Tennessee.  When we got there, I met everyone at the little coffee shop across from the courthouse, and we discussed the situation.  Things had changed a little bit, obviously, because there really were not many people there.  You couldn’t have very many people there because we didn’t want it to be a bad scene as far as causing trouble.  So it was requested that we just be there as witnesses.

It was a small, tiny little town when I first saw it.  The first thing I noticed upon going through there, because I missed where I was supposed to park, was that there were an awful lot of police.  I came to pay more attention to that later.  For a town of what I thought was around 14,000 (I may be incorrect with that) in east Tennessee, I thought there was an awfully big presence of police.

We hadn’t discussed what the situation was.  There was paperwork that Mr. Fitzpatrick needed to do a citizen’s arrest.  Mr. Pettway, the grand jury foreman, was still holding court, as it were, and basically, we went through and videotaped it.  When we went in, it was hard for me to hear much because I was in the back, and we went around the courthouse to get our bearings and see where the upper floor was.  I guess you know what happened as far as Mr. Fitzpatrick going in and arresting Mr. Pettway.

After that, I believe there were about four or us there; I might be wrong – it’s been a while – and there was a discussion outside the courthouse because we were asked to leave the inside.  The discussion was with a detective and a few other people about what a citizen’s arrest is, and about how long you’re allowed to sit on a grand jury in Tennessee and how long Mr. Pettway had been sitting on the grand jury.

MRS. RONDEAU: You’re the first person who has told me that it was discussed in a civil way with anyone at the Monroe County courthouse.

WITNESS: Oh, very much so.  We had probably three or four officers outside.  There’s one in the videotape; if you’re looking at it, Mr. Fitzpatrick was on the right; and a detective was on the left.  He seemed to finally understand that “we have a situation here” because either the citizen’s arrest is valid or not.  It’s just one way or the other, but if it is, then by law, they have to act upon it.

It was very quiet, and there really was not much discussion.  The only person who was speaking was Walt.  I made a little commentary but stayed out of it for the most part.  There was the discussion with Walt and the detective, and other people were there filming.  Again, there were not very many people.  If we had that many people at a rally for anything, I think you would call it a huge failure.

MRS. RONDEAU: They called it a “riot,” but what you’re saying is that it was a small group of people gathered around talking to some police officers.  Was this before Walt went in and tried to effect the citizen’s arrest, or was it afterward?

WITNESS: This was after that.  There was no contact with any officer before that.  This was when they had verbally asked us to step outside the premises, and that’s when we complied.

I believe there were some handwritten papers at some point sent down to Mr. Fitzpatrick.  He was told that he couldn’t go back in, but apparently that’s not what was written on the paper; it was something else.  The thing that really got me at this point was the fact that everything seemed to be handwritten on blank sheets of paper, scraps, as if they were making it up.  There was nothing with any formal documentation that I witnessed, nothing that I could see that bore a symbol of the city or of the county.

MRS. RONDEAU: So you saw no official police report?

WITNESS: No.  When they did produce the arrest paperwork, that, too, was just like a handwritten piece of paper.  It looked as if it had been faxed over.  It was basically scribble.  I remember someone saying “Mr. Fitzpatrick is now being placed under arrest,” and I could tell, because of the seriousness of the look on the officer’s face at that point, the mood changed dramatically from one of a civil discussion, albeit not agreeing, but a discussion; to “everything’s changed.”  You could feel it change, and that’s when the process started of Mr. Fitzpatrick being placed under arrest.

When you talk about resisting arrest or things of that nature, I didn’t witness anything.  I certainly did witness Mr. Fitzpatrick looking shocked for a second when the officers kind-of grabbed him and asked him to hand over his items.  But I didn’t see any resisting arrest, although I’m not a professional.  It was very peaceful.  Shall I say “tense?”  – yes.  You’re talking about law-abiding citizens who don’t go and effect a citizen’s arrest.  We work our jobs; we live our lives; we just want to be.  So the situation, as far as I was concerned – and I know there’s a greater situation or issue revolving around Obama – but my situation was, as a Tennessean, if there’s corruption in the state, and there appears to be corruption from their own paperwork that I saw, if I don’t stand up and do something, then who will?

MRS. RONDEAU: I think what we’ve learned is that corruption is a local issue everywhere, and that’s where we have to begin rooting it out.  Whom do you think it was who came out with the sheet of paper with scribbling on it which said that Mr. Fitzpatrick would be placed under arrest?

WITNESS: I don’t know exactly by name who the person was, but I know he’s on video handing it to someone, I believe, who was behind Fitzpatrick and then also the detective who was facing Fitzpatrick.  I think it was one of the deputies.  It could have been the sheriff, but I’m not familiar with him.  I probably wouldn’t know him by face.

MRS. RONDEAU: But he could be identified on a video?

WITNESS: With all of the video that was there, he should be able to be seen coming out and at least handing it off to the other officer.

MRS. RONDEAU: Would you question the validity of the scribbled paper?

WITNESS: I would question why it was done in such a manner:  first of all, why he was arrested to begin with, because they didn’t arrest him earlier.  He complied when they asked him to leave.  They didn’t say anything about arresting him at that point anyway; they were just talking about the citizen’s arrest.  But I question why they came back and arrested him when he didn’t do anything else.  I’m not an attorney; I’m not law enforcement, but it certainly didn’t look like an official document from the state, county or from the city.  It was certainly a handwritten piece of paper, possibly signed by a judge, and appeared to be on fax paper, although I’m not positive.  It was nothing with an official seal or anything that I saw.

MRS. RONDEAU: You said that Mr. Fitzpatrick left the courthouse when they asked him to, but the arrest occurred after that?

WITNESS: He did.  He left the courthouse, and we were all standing outside on the steps.  When they brought the paper that said that we were not to come back in, he read it and said, “It doesn’t say that.”  He opened the door, and said, “This doesn’t say that;” he may have stepped inside, but I don’t think so.  He said, “This doesn’t say that we can’t come back in; it says something else,” and you should be able to pick that up on video, too.  And they said, “No, you can’t come in.”  He stepped back outside, and a few minutes later was when the arrest was made.

MRS. RONDEAU: It sounds as if the arrest was unexpected.

WITNESS: Very much so, in that sense, for me, because I would have thought that if there was an issue, they would have arrested him at the time that he was in the courthouse.  That’s the thing:  they basically were talking to him saying, “You can’t be doing this; you can’t do this, you can’t legally walk into a grand jury.”  I understand that, but there was no discussion of it.  The other thing that you’ll notice with the arrest is that when they said that they were placing him under arrest, he literally walked down the steps, calmly.  He walked down the steps and was standing there, talking to the officer, so it wasn’t like at that moment they arrested him; he asked him to come down, and the officer was asked a couple of questions.  They allowed one, I think; maybe two, and then that was it.

MRS. RONDEAU: How did the arrest take place after that?

WITNESS: As I remember, and it’s on video, there was an officer in front of him, and then two officers, one on the left and right of him, and Mr. Fitzpatrick was facing me.  He was handing off some of his items to someone who was there; I don’t remember who it was.  He was holding his notepad in his hand, to his chest, saying, “May I ask one more question?” and they said, “No, that’s it.”  And that’s when they started to take him. I know that Mr. Fitzpatrick’s wallet fell out in the process and I asked if I could pick it up, and one of the officers said, “No, don’t touch it.”  So I think another officer picked it up at that time.  Then I noticed that when they were taking him down the sidewalk, they stopped and had to readjust and pick him back up and take him again.  So I don’t know what happened there, but they had to pick him up.

MRS. RONDEAU: At that point, was Mr. Fitzpatrick taken right to the jail, that you know of?

WITNESS: Correct.  I would presume that it’s the same jail that he’s in now, and they started the booking process at that point.  We knew then that there was nothing more that we could do; we also knew that really, it would do no good to do anything else, because we weren’t going to cause any trouble.  We went back into the coffee shop at that point and tried to get our bearings on the arrest, what has to happen, what do you do…I wasn’t expecting that, personally.

There are two things I want to tell you.  The first thing I noticed, when we went into the coffee shop around noon,  was you would think that with an arrest taking place outside of a restaurant which faced where it had all happened, and has big windows, that some kind of notice would have been taken.  I would have thought it would have been different.  What I noticed was that everyone behaved and acted as if nothing had happened, as if it was commonplace.  I didn’t pick up on it until I was driving home.  To me, that was an odd response; it was as if nobody saw anything, they just went about their business; it was an everyday occurrence, just something else going on.  In a small town, I would think that that would not be an everyday occurrence.  So I had a really odd feeling about that, and I believe I mentioned that to CDR Fitzpatrick at one point later on and to Darren, as well, that it didn’t sit right.  You would think that they would look at you oddly, or they wouldn’t want to serve you, or possibly they would be nervous, or even when I asked a question, they said nothing.  They pretending like nothing happened.  It wasn’t even like they were pretending; they didn’t even respond.

It was very strange.  We were sitting in a separate area, but it’s a small café; you walk in, and you’re at the front counter.  So it’s not as if it’s a big place; they just had a partial room off to the side that we were in.  I would have thought in a small town that it would have gotten a larger reaction than it did.

I also called the police myself, and I said, “There’s a citizen’s arrest taking place at the courthouse.  Would you please come to assist?”  The responder who answered the phone certainly didn’t seem to understand what I was saying.  She said, “What do you mean?” and I said, “It’s a citizen’s arrest.” And I believe she asked, “Can you do that?”  I’m not positive, but I think I recall that.  And I said, “Well, yes, it’s legal in the state of Tennessee.  We need officers here.”

Of course, we came to find out that the officers didn’t help us.  You could tell that they looked like they didn’t know what to do.

MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think that they really didn’t know that a citizen’s arrest is permissible in their state?

WITNESS: I believe Mr. Fitzpatrick showed them the statute declaring that it is.  When we told them that Mr. Pettway was what we knew then, by their own information, grand jury foreman for 27 years, we had some audible gasps and a couple of people who said, “What?” and we said, “You didn’t know that?” and they said, “No, what are you talking about?”  So I have a feeling that the situation has gone on for an awfully long time, and it’s the way it’s always been.  That’s when it can become dangerous.

As I mentioned before, I knew there was a lot of police presence driving around when I was there, but when we went to the jail, I saw city police, sheriffs, and a SWAT team.  From what I’ve heard, sometimes counties will share a SWAT team, but I still feel that that’s an awfully large presence for a town that small which you couldn’t find unless you were going there on purpose.  So to me, it was an odd situation.  I will say that the officers with whom we spoke, for the most part, were polite; we were also told that Mr. Fitzpatrick would be well taken care of, that he’d be fine.  And again, this was in April.  There are a lot of things we know now that we didn’t know then.

MRS. RONDEAU: If you’ve been reading the reports at The Post & Email and perhaps some other places, the conditions in the jail are apparently abhorrent.  It’s as bad as it can be.  This has all been reported to the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

WITNESS: When I got back the next day, I contacted Channel 4, Channel 2, and Channel 5 in Knoxville, TN with emails and phone calls; I contacted Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and I contacted Glenn Beck.  I contacted Steve Gill, a radio person here; I even sent the paperwork to Steve Gill and to Governor Bredesen.  I’ve heard nothing.  No one ever responded; no one did anything. I was very shocked that no one responded at all.  I actually sent paperwork that had the entire process of what had gone on:  the grand jury information, the information about citizen-assisted arrests; I even called some of the investigators for the network with the information.  No one ever responded.

Since then, I did contact an officer from the FBI, and they were looking at investigating but they couldn’t say anything about it.

MRS. RONDEAU: Did he give you the impression that there was an investigation or that they would launch one?

WITNESS: He gave me the impression that they were looking into it, but he said, “I can’t tell you anything.”

MRS. RONDEAU: I understand that that’s the way they have to work.

WITNESS: As long as they’re doing something.  I fear that everyone thinks this case is just another situation where they’d like to call you crazy because someone wants to question Obama’s eligibility, but in truth…let’s forget everything about that.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that there’s huge apparent corruption in the grand jury process, not only in this county, but in other counties in Tennessee as well as in other states around the country, and no one seems to care to do anything.  That’s the part that’s probably the most frightening.

MRS. RONDEAU: I think people are starting to realize that if you don’t have local grand juries which are truly independent of the judge, the process will be tainted, and the people will not have adequate representation as guaranteed by their state and U.S. Constitutions.

WITNESS: And don’t forget also:  who appoints judges?  Judges.  And who are judges?  Lawyers.  And the people trying the case in front of the judge:  lawyers.  You have a fox watching the hen house.  How are you supposed to get even an attorney to do the right thing when he or she may have aspirations to be a judge?  They’re not going to go against the judge because the judge is the one who appoints them.  It’s completely backwards.

There’s one other thing that’s pretty important.  I don’t believe they got my name and information when I was there.  However, no one has ever contacted me.  No police officers or any kind of law enforcement ever contacted me about anything.  I find that interesting.

MRS. RONDEAU: Based on the lack of response from the news media, do you get the impression that corruption is an everyday occurrence in Tennessee, or is it something else?

WITNESS: You know, if you had asked me that question a year ago, I would have said “Of course not.”  With what I’ve seen happen in Monroe County and what I see happening in other areas, I have to think that at the very least, they’re turning a blind eye, and I think they’re doing so for monetary reasons.  Can you imagine the costs of retrying 25 years’ worth of cases just in that one county and what’s going to happen with lawsuits when it comes up that that happened?

We have a new governor coming in; I have not contacted him yet, because he’s not in, and I know there’s a transition that has to happen. But I’m shocked that nothing has been done.  There has not been even a peep from anyone about “Well, we should look into this.”  It corrodes the entire foundation of our state constitution, and that comes to the U.S. Constitution…that if the people have no recourse, you’re set up in a very dangerous position for the people and for the government.  And it’s not the way it was intended from our Founders, and certainly from the people of Tennessee.  It was never meant to be that way.  I think in that particular area, there’s a lot of fear, and a lot of people who just want to be left alone.  That was my impression of that day, because it just didn’t make any sense that no one said anything to me about it.

MRS. RONDEAU: You mentioned that cases from 25 years ago or even more might or should have to be retried because of an illegally-serving grand jury foreman.  Even Judge Blackwood has said in open court that the foreman is “just like any other jury member.”  So that would seem to say that the foreman should be chosen from the new jury pool each year, which itself must be chosen by automation according to the Tennessee Code Annotated.  If the grand jury has been tainted for 20 or more years, then there could be hundreds or even more convictions and acquittals that need to be revisited.

Editor’s Note: Observers of the trial on December 1 reported that a member of the trial jury admitted to having served during the last 24 months and was immediately dismissed by Judge Blackwood.  How, then, can the same problem with Angela Davis be overlooked by that same judge?  Should the judge be on trial for allowing rigging of the juries?  If not, why not?

WITNESS: That’s just it.  My understanding is very similar to yours:  that the jury itself is pulled from an automated, randomly-drawn system, and from that pool of jurors, your grand jury foreman is chosen.  If Mr. Pettway has been automatically been pulled, and we know that there’s a limit you can serve, and he’s been serving for 20 years, I want to know why he’s not playing the lottery, because something really good should be going on for him.  For him to automatically be pulled for that many years and serve that much time…that’s really what was on my conscience when I went down there in April.  It’s bad enough if someone who’s guilty goes free, but what really got to me and made me do this was thinking about the innocent people who are in jail.

MRS. RONDEAU: I’ve heard stories of this.  There is a man who was regularly communicating with Walt who is now at the  Morgan County Correctional Facility in Wartburg who maintains his innocence.  He says he has a learning disability and that the DA from that area is supposed to be nullifying his conviction because the inmate says he has proof that the grand jury was tainted when he was indicted.  That letter was published at The Post & Email.  And what about all the others who said they were innocent, too, and were convicted by a tainted jury?

WITNESS: Let’s say we have this one grand jury that is guilty of doing this, but you have possibly 20 cases which were affected, as a minimum.  From what I’ve gathered, there are three or four other counties in Tennessee with the same situation.  Now that’s three or four out of 99 counties.  How many more do we have here?  Now multiply that by the number of counties where it’s going on, then you multiply those 20 by 99, then you take the counties in the other states where we know it’s possibly going on…it’s a huge situation such that if it got out, certainly, with the financial crisis that we’re in now, it would be the death knell that would crush the states.

I just have a feeling, although I have no evidence, that it’s being brushed aside, and I think it’s been brushed aside now because we have an outgoing governor, but also because of the enormity of the cost.  Plus the fact that you can’t get an attorney to come in and do anything; I know that one was attempted recently for Mr. Fitzpatrick.  But you’re not going to get a local one to help you. You’re not going to get anybody who’s been appointed to you by the court.  If you have that kind of a system and then you’ve got men who are in power, they’re going to do everything they can to keep this down.  I am just amazed at how much information has come out that wouldn’t spark one investigation.

You know there are good police out there.  You know there’s an FBI agent somewhere who’s honest.  Ninety-nine percent of them have to be solid people.  But why would not even one item be scrutinized and looked into?

Then we have the gentleman who was murdered.  I’ve been reading your articles, but what’s going on with that?  Common sense would tell you to look into “Does this tie into this? Is this why this has happened?”  And when you have federal officials who aren’t willing to look at it, state officials who aren’t willing to look into it, and I know that Mr. Fitzpatrick, before any of this went on, went to everyone, and everyone handed the ball off and said, “It’s not my area.”  At some point, though, it’s going to have to come from someone there.

Neither Darren Huff nor Mr. Fitzpatrick is crazy.  These are not men bent on self-destruction.  These are people who are better than most of us.  They see something happening and can’t not do something about it.  These are men who are doing what they know is right.  Everything that I’ve seen, read and studied within the law shows me that they are correct and accurate with this, and I pray that someone from inside the system will step forward with honor and integrity to take this on and look into it to protect the citizens, not just in Tennessee, but citizens everywhere.  Because if we lose this, there is no recourse.  The rest doesn’t matter, because then you can get jailed for anything.  I just pray that someone in authority will step up and do the right thing:  help the people help the country.

MRS. RONDEAU: Without that, we really do have a police state.  Other residents of Monroe County have reported being pulled over for no reason, beaten, tasered, bloodied such that they needed stitches in their head, and thrown into a jail cell.  Then $3,000 or $4,000 is extorted out of them just so they can get out of that horrendous jail.

WITNESS: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  I do believe that that’s what we’re looking at.  As we said at the beginning, I had no idea what I was walking into other than the fact that we knew there was a situation with the grand jury.  I knew that there was most likely going to be a citizen’s arrest, but at the same time, I don’t think any of us could fathom the depth and breadth of the corruption that has emerged.  It just didn’t seem possible.  And when our leaders fail on this as they appear to be failing us within the state, and then our judicial system is failing us, where are the people to go?  What are they supposed to do?  It’s not supposed to be this way; it should never, ever have come down to this.

People in authority should be taking this situation seriously, investigating it, giving it at least the credibility to look into it, and see where it takes them.  I can’t fathom taking the oath that the people in law enforcement and public service have taken, and to live every day knowing that you’ve done nothing and you’ve watched this man be imprisoned.  I just cannot imagine how that must bear on their souls to do nothing when they know that what’s going on is a result of massive corruption.  It’s beyond my comprehension.

MRS. RONDEAU: It certainly reminds me of the book 1984 or Animal Farm where “everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.”  The latter was the totalitarian dictatorship that had taken over.

WITNESS: And “two plus two equals five.”  It’s something I never thought I would witness.  I’m a native Tennessean.  I never thought that I would this in my lifetime.  What I don’t think they understand is that the people aren’t going away.  We may be a little quieter right now, but we’re working in different avenues.  We’re not going away; we’re not going to stop.  We’re not going to let this go, and if we have to stand up peacefully and be beaten, we’ll all line up, we’ll stand there, and we will be peacefully beaten.  And I can promise you this:  no one who was there that day and none of the men I knew who went back after that were there to do any harm to anyone.  That was never their intention, and it was never, ever conceived that way.  For the record, I’d like it to be known that I talked to Mr. Fitzpatrick personally.  He called me because he knew I was having issues, and I said, “I cannot be a party to the first shot of something that is wrong.”

MRS. RONDEAU: What kind of issues were you having?

WITNESS: When I was asked to go down, we knew that a citizen’s arrest could happen.  We knew that if it did, there was a possibility that the police would not accept it.  My stance was that I could not be part of anything of violence, anything that was not peaceful or could have a violent overtone.  With tensions as high as they are in this country, I didn’t want to be a part of the spark that lit a situation that we could never return from.  When I spoke to Mr. Fitzpatrick, he assured me that that was not the case; that was not going to be the case; and it would never happen with anything that he was involved in.  That’s one of the main reasons why I chose to go.  I believed in what he said; I believed in him when he told me, and so all of these things about starting a riot…I was promised by him that that would never happen.  I took him at his word, and he’s an honorable man.

MRS. RONDEAU: Was that promise fulfilled?

WITNESS: Most definitely.  It has been fulfilled.  That’s been the issue with trying to get people down there; no one wants violence to happen.  And that’s why it’s so absurd that the charges against him and Mr. Huff were even brought, because if that were the case, they certainly wouldn’t have asked me to come down.  I don’t have the training for that.  Secondly, I wouldn’t have gone.  So when you know, going in, that it’s going to be as peaceful as possible, and you know that even though it’s going to be tense, there’s not going to be rioting in the street or armed conflict – that’s when I said, “OK, I can do this.”  And nothing ever happened.

That’s the whole point.  When you see the video, that’s the worst “riot” I think I’ve ever witnessed, because no one did anything.  So all of this information that’s been ginned up about “Oh, they’re here to do this” or “They’re there to do that” can’t be true.  It can’t be true because a) I was there the first time; and b) I spoke to the gentleman and was promised that that wouldn’t happen, and it didn’t.  I know the other people who were involved that day, and they never wanted anything like that.  That fallacy is one of those things that if you tell a lie long enough, it becomes true.  Neither Mr. Huff nor Mr. Fitzpatrick ever asked or even discussed violence.  In fact, it was “It will not be violent.”  There was just no way.  It’s leverage used from cities and states to prosecute people when a “riot” can have four or five people.  I can assure you that I wouldn’t have gone if there were violent intent.  None of us wished to have violent overthrow of our government.

MRS. RONDEAU: I think that’s one reason why things have been as quiet as they’ve been:  Americans take a lot of abuse, and none of us wants to see violence.  However, we want the injustices corrected.  In a recent phone call before his trial, Mr. Fitzpatrick reported that Gary Pettway has been going into the jail and trying to coerce confessions out of inmates there without an attorney being present.

WITNESS: I did read that report, and it’s one of those situations where if someone in authority will simply overturn the first law, you’ll find everything else that’s going on.  You’re exactly right. The situation was that in the course of Mr. Fitzpatrick looking to do something else within the court system, by accident, it was uncovered that this was going on.  That’s where I came in, saying, “Well, wait a second now.  If this is going on, it doesn’t matter why you were there.”

It’s the same thing if a policeman searches your car:  he’s looking for a weapon but he finds drugs.  So you don’t admit the drugs; they’re not there for that, so forget it?  Well, no officer would do that.  You don’t overlook that because you’re looking for a weapon.  It’s not logical.  If you’re looking for one thing, but uncover something wholly corrupt in another, common sense tells you that you look into it.  And anyone of integrity would look into it.  That’s what’s so befuddling…it’s there.  It’s in our laws; it’s written.  Tennessee has some of the strongest citizens’ rights in the country, or so we’re told.  If it’s there and the arrest was made, and it was acted upon that way, you don’t have to file paperwork to fix this.  Either the law applies or it doesn’t.  There’s no gray area; either it happens or it doesn’t.

I was actually advised that day of the steps that Mr. Fitzpatrick had taken before  then:  the advertisement he took out in the paper; he went to the sheriff, the police, the TBI, the FBI, and other governmental officials, and no one wanted to look into it.  So what do you do:  just turn your back and walk away, and say, “Well, that’s the way it is”? Or do you recognize the problem and try to effect the correct kind of changes in the correct way through legal means in the state of Tennessee?  That’s all he did.  If there’s an issue with interrupting a grand jury, OK.  However, if it’s an illegal grand jury and he cut it off, what then?

Where are the people who stood up for those who were being hurt before?  I’m amazed that we don’t seem to have anyone in the legal profession who care anymore.  They’ve lost their souls that much that they don’t even care.

MRS. RONDEAU: Tennessee lawyers don’t seem to care about citizens’ rights being violated; they seem to care only about the money they could make.

WITNESS: It’s a simple answer for simple people:  either the law applies or it doesn’t.  If those laws do not apply, and they’re in our constitution, and those statutes are not valid, then tell me what is.  Why isn’t there just chaos?  If those laws don’t apply, then which laws do apply?

MRS. RONDEAU: One wonders if it’s still illegal to rob a bank, or is that OK now?

WITNESS: Exactly.  Or if you’re hungry, can you steal from a grocery store?  Can you set up your own racket because you needed the money?  Either the laws apply or they don’t. Either it is or it isn’t.

If the attorneys are appointed by the judges, and there’s very little recourse to the judges when they’re on the bench, then we’ve come to a time in which the attorneys won’t bite the hand that feeds them.  That means the entire process at that point right there is so corrupted that without completely changing it and putting it back into the hands of the people, we’ll never be able to get a hold of our judicial system.


Editor’s Note: Further sections of the Tennessee constitution (pages 3 & 4) which have clearly been violated by the Monroe County jailers are:

Section 13. That no person arrested and confined in jail shall be treated with unnecessary rigor.

Section 15. That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences, when the proof is evident, or the presumption great.  And the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of of rebellion or invasion, the General Assembly shall declare the public safety requires it.

Walter Fitzpatrick was sent a Habeas Corpus form from a reader of The Post & Email along with a $50 money order early in November.  Mr. Fitzpatrick reported on November 29 that he had just been made aware of the $50, which had been placed without his knowledge or consent in the “commissary” account.  To the best of our knowledge, he never received the writ of Habeas Corpus.  Mr. Fitzpatrick also told us on November 5 that another inmate had completed such a form two weeks before but that it had been “ignored.”

Section 16. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.

Why, then, did Mr. Smith, who maintains his innocence, have to pay $3,000 in court costs?

What about Trent Prock and Sonny Smart tasering people on the road and in the jail for no reason?  What about Captain Wilson hitting Walter Fitzpatrick over the head and ripping his left ear?  What about citizens’ constitutional rights being violated left and right and not one attorney in the state being willing to assist in recovering damages for pain, suffering, possible permanent disabilities, loss of income, mental anguish, impugning of their reputation, and violation of their civil rights? What has happened in the state of Tennessee?

Section 17. That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial, or delay.  Suits may be brought against the state in such manner and in such courts as the Legislature may be law direct.

What about the court employee who reportedly told a reader of The Post & Email that Walter Fitzpatrick’s trial on December 1 was not open to the public?  (See reader comments.)

What about Rocky Joe Houston of Roane County, who was imprisoned for nearly three years, denied medical care while in jail, had the deed to his property confiscated, and was then declared innocent?

Section 25. (page 5)  That no citizen of this state, except such as are employed in the army of the United States, or militia in actual service, shall be subjected to punishment under the martial or military law.  That martial law, in the sense of the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the persons, liberties or properties of the citizen, is inconsistent with the principles of free government, and is not confided to any department of the government of this state.

And what about Judges Blackwood, Ross and Reedy, who have knowingly rigged the juries, denied defendants representation, and proceeded to hold trials on charges that are illegitimate because the grand juries which have issued them are illegitimate?  Why aren’t there any lawyers who see that they stand to make a hefty sum for both their clients and themselves due to these clear constitutional violations?

Where is the outrage?

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  1. Sharon,
    Can we have your e-mail? I have been a friend of Walt for a while. I am an American Grand Jury Member and Navy Veteran. Can you tell us where Walt is and what have they done with him?
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: You can reach me at editor@thepostemail.com. Walt is due out of jail this Thursday. When I spoke with him last Thursday, he sounded good.

  2. Would it be possible to mail paperwork to Tim or myself, have Walt get us on the visitors list, and hand carry it to him in the jail?
    I recall that he has access to the TN code in the jail but parts of it is missing so whatever applies still needs to be gotten in.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: I know someone has already mailed it directly to him, so we will be checking to make sure the jailers give it to him. However, I believe you can obtain a copy from the Monroe County courthouse. There is no visitors’ list at the jail; visiting days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, and only one visitor is allowed on each of those days. So if you are in the area, you could obtain the form (call the courthouse first to make sure they have it), and bring it over to him.

  3. Thank you Rocketeer. I found the Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Testificandum form for eastern district of Tennessee along with the Federal 2254 form with instructions. Also the Section 1983 info. I’ll send it all with a letter for Walter, verifying what I included and EXACTLY how many pages. And again, certified priority mail. It worked when he presented my letter to someone the last time.
    I discovered there is a Pro Bono program in Nashville which handles civil rights cases and wondered if this was something you might have already looked into to, Sharon. Let me know either way.

  4. Mrs. Rondeau,
    I wonder if the good people of Monroe County, TN are aware of the historic fact that corruption was cleaned out of Athens, TN, back in 1946, by a local uprising.

    Returning veterans from WW II got fed up, and ran most of the crooked politicians – including the Sheriff – out of town. Many local townsfolk used their personal guns to place the jail under siege, while the newly returned vets broke into the local National Guard Armory and armed themselves with military grade weapons and ammunition.

    The most amusing part of the story is when the deputy sheriffs finally surrendered; the locals (resisting a strong urge to summarily Hang them on the spot) marched them to the edge of town, stripped them naked and warned them to “never return”.

    A great patriotic American story can be found, starting here:


    “It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from error.” ~ Thomas Paine
    Those brilliant words were appreciated and “quoted” by US Supreme Court in [American Communications Assoc. v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382,442]

    (Too bad, our current crop of Supremes dishonor their Solemn Oaths, and demonstrate cowardice and “Treason against the Constitution”, per Chief Justice John Marshall.)

  5. I teach Criminal Thinking Errors at a correctional facility. From what Witness described, I perceive widespread fear and denial in the townspeople (except the brave few) and an ingrained sense of entitlement from the judges and lawyers. Walt Fitzpatrick came along and proclaimed, “The emperor is wearing no clothes!” and the staus quo, no matter how unhealthy, started to quake underneath them and made everyone VERY uncomfortable. Much like an abusive relationship, the abused has a very difficult time admitting the problem, much less taking the necessary action to confront the abuser. The people have been battered and the bullies are keeping them subdued with fear. The irony here is, that the judges and the sheriff are also living in fear. Fear of disclosure and losing what they THINK is rightfully theirs. At this point, I don’t think they would know the truth if it hit them over the head. What you got is a sick village. Of course, on a larger scale you can see how this has been happening in our country. The solution is the same too. Call them on their bullshit!
    As far as Walter not getting his writ of habeas corpus, I’m just going to send it again. Along with all those Christmas cards!!!!

    1. If you’re going to send the LCDR a habeas corpus petition, be sure to also send him Tenn. Code Annotated Title 29, Chap. 21, Habeas Corpus. (http://www.michie.com/tennessee/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=tncode) He should also consider pursuing a federal Section 2254 (post-conviction) habeas petition and a Section 1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights) lawsuit. But first and foremost someone should be trying to get him an out-of-state lawyer to help him with his motion for new trial and for his direct appeal (because he won’t win his motion for new trial). I appreciate the pressure everyone is putting on Monroe Co. and, by extension, the State of Tennessee. Our court system is horrible, particularly in East Tennessee, and we desperately need help.

  6. The more information that is reported, and they pass out the Post to the residents, maybe the decent people in that area will organize and protect their voting process. That must be why Jim Miller was killed. They have illegal voting going on that needs to be monitored by everybody to get the right people in office. They ought to start planning now….none too soon.

  7. Well just called the jail again and talked to a Pat Wilson and ask about the sewage leak in the day room and he first said they would fix it when they get around to it. I
    ask if he was admitting there was a problem and he said oh no there is no leak and where did I hear of such a thing. I told him it was reported to the post and email
    by a person incarcerated there and ask if he had heard of the post and email and he said everyone there knew about it. lol. He didn’t sound to happy to be hearing from
    me. I bet he wishes I was in his corrupt town so he could taze and lock me up.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: I don’t think Ms. Peggy Sawyer at the TCI will be satisfied with “We’ll fix it when we get around to it.” It’s a health hazard and a violation of state law! I’ll call Ms. Sawyer again today.

  8. The air in the coffee shop is easy to understand. They are not serving coffee across the street from the court for public convenience but for adhering to the powers across the street in a shameless display of servitude. They are partial to their biggest spenders, the hires of the county. As the old saying goes, follow the money. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out everything said in front of them was relayed to each or all of the judge, Pettaway and Bivens. Gossip has a way of traveling in select circles and it is unwise to become a topic of gossip for that very reason when the circle is holding the power of the law hostage.

    I believe it is called a same hands faction when you have the entire system of jurisprudence run by a single group, lawyers. This was a well known danger even during our founding. Understanding what defines tyranny is all one needs to understand what a faction is or does. http://rocksteadyhistorypolitics.blogspot.com/2009/02/democratic-principles-federalism.html

    Federalist 10 explains one of the views of the founders and how the republic provides the answer to what was expected to occur in the event it took hold. Unfortunately we have discovered a flaw in that faction can overtake a people when it destroys knowledge and virtue or incites their passions repeatedly. Crisis manipulation and government education has set us up for the “progressive ” overthrow. Allowing rampant corruption in the lower courts has left the people unwilling and unable to seek redress. Also through a little known act of making of DWI, a cultural phenomena easily manipulated by appealing to passions, by the lawyers faction, into a felony disability to hold office or possess a weapon. 50% of the population suffers some degree of this and the only explanation for motor vehicle law to be twisted to deprive constitutional rights is the lawyers faction needed a method of protecting itself from citizens who might become politicians who would represent their citizenry against their faction as it grew in power. It wasn’t good enough to just rely on local faction as we see at the county level, it had to reach a national level and be manipulated by the higher justices in the system. They say the proof is in the pudding so just look at the number of lawmakers (lawyers) charged with DWI at the local level but dismissed at the higher courts if not sooner.

    1. Isn’t there a coffee shop across the street from every courthouse in the country? (And, depending on the locale, at least one bar?) I doubt it’s servitude; the coffee shop owners are following the money, too! But yes you can be sure everything that’s overheard is repeated, and a lot that’s discussed where it can be heard is staged precisely so it will be repeated.

  9. Thank you for that fascinating account of those infamous events, ‘Witness’.

    It doesn’t surprise me no one in the coffee shop noticed or reacted in any way.

    CDR Fitzpatrick and others familiar with the area tell us that people are routinely arrested for little or NO good reason.

    The poor people there are probably in some state of permanent psychiatric shock, and so seem oblivious to the events unfolding around them, e.g the ‘harvesting’ (as CDR Fitzpatrick put it) of their fellow Citizens.

    Or, perhaps they are so beaten down, they simply dare not respond, nor even ‘catch the eye’ of anyone, for fear of being ‘next’.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: And that’s exactly what happened in the book “1984” by George Orwell. People walked around like zombies, hoping they wouldn’t be picked up by the “Thought Police.” Well, now the Thought Police are in Monroe County and coming to a county or town near all of us. The government is out of control, and the people are living in fear every day.

  10. I would say that for every case that should be retried,and every lawsuit that should be
    filed the burden o cost should be imposed on all who have been enriched through
    their extortion and racketeering. That would obviously include all Tennessee circuit
    judges, county and city law enforcemen,lawyers, and any officials who cannot show
    their inflated bank accounts and any other assets are legitimately aquired.

    Also any member of the t.b.i.,f.b.i., and the governor and his office,who have been
    informed of this ongoing crime and refused to act.

    I almost forgot their mr. pettway. I am sure he has been well compensated for his
    invaluable service

  11. I called Monroe County jail and not to cause a jailer a problem I won’t say exactly when but it was over the weekend. I ask him if the jail had heat now and he said yes and commented how cold It is there. I ask if the chief jailer was still tazing prisoners and he said that was not true and didn’t know who was spreading that
    rumor. I then told him about the post and email. He said he knew about it and had read articles there. This was a very pleasant sounding man and just maybe many more in law enforcement there are checking out printed here. They can’t all be crooked, well hopefully not.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Good sleuthing. That is what all U.S. citizens should be doing right now to keep a watchful eye on government. That is what the Founders charged us with carrying out, and many generations before us failed in that regard. It is our job to watch and report on every single facet of government, whether it be local, state, or federal.

    I have heard that the heat is now working. The next thing is to go after the plumbing, particularly in the day room.

  12. Sharon, Your reporting is exemplary. The outrage is in those who read and feel as helpless as I. You may not think so but a link on other sites to P&E would sure aid in the enlightenment of many. I did not realize you are a member of PFA. That would be a great place for a link. phrowt Semper Fi
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Yes, I am currently putting away funds to have WordPress Boys (www.wordpressboys.com) install a blog roll on the site. Since we spent so much moving the site two months ago and went way over budget, it will just take a little more time until I can get it done.

  13. Also- thank you to Mr. Witness for having the courage to come forward and share your experience with us. Not a one of us can do this on our own.

  14. Thank you to the witness who has stepped forward. The only way we are going to take back our country is to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. If we are afraid to stand up for what is right and just, the injustices will continue and America will have lost. “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson