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NO ONE WILL CONFIRM DATE OF RELEASE, EITHER
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 16, 2010) — The Post & Email has been contacting the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department since Monday to ascertain the exact date of release from the detention facility for Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, who has been incarcerated since October 27, 2010.
The person we spoke with on Monday said he thought the date was December 30, but that we would have to call back on Tuesday to speak with his supervisor, Lt. Stanley. We did so, and Lt. Stanley pulled up the computer record and said that it looked to her that the release date was December 30 also, but that she couldn’t be sure. She stated that Fitzpatrick was given a 60-day sentence from the trial court and ten days from the General Sessions court, which charged him with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer on October 27. When we asked if he was given credit for previous time served, which was five days in April and one day in June, she answered, “Yes, he was.”
When we asked Lt. Stanley if there was any allowance for “good behavior,” she said that that normally is granted at the state level, but that it is also possible for inmates at the county jail to receive such credit when they are convicted of misdemeanors rather than felonies. Since Fitzpatrick was convicted of two misdemeanors, Lt. Stanley stated that that decision would be up to Captain Pat Wilson.
We left messages for Capt. Wilson on both Tuesday and Wednesday but have not received a return phone call. We stated clearly in both of our messages that the Advocate & Democrat, a local paper which spouts the government’s propaganda, gave Fitzpatrick’s release date as December 25, 2010. Where did the Advocate & Democrat obtain the date of Christmas Day if not from the county government, and why is a different date being given now?
The Post & Email also told Capt. Wilson in the voice message left on Wednesday that he was welcome to interview with us in order to refute anything which we have been reporting about him personally, the sheriff’s department in general or the jail with which he might have taken issue. He has obviously declined our offer by completely ignoring both of our messages.
Monroe County jailers have also refused to deliver appeals forms, habeas corpus forms, and other legal materials to Mr. Fitzpatrick so that he can file an appeal within the 30-day window following conviction, half of which has already expired. Yesterday an attempt was made to hand-deliver the appropriate forms to the jail, but a sheriff’s deputy refused to sign for it, stating that it had to be sent through the mail.
The packet has now been sent via certified U.S. mail.
Previously, a reader of The Post & Email had sent a habeas corpus form on two separate occasions by certified mail, but Mr. Fitzpatrick reported that he did not receive either one. It also took a month for the jailers to advise him that $50 had been enclosed in the first mailing from the end of October.
There was a report that another inmate had completed a habeas corpus form and had been waiting to hear on its disposition for two weeks. It was alleged at the time that “nothing has been done, and it’s just being ignored.”
We have also asked Ms. Martha Cook, Court Clerk, how to get the forms to Mr. Fitzpatrick when the jailers will not cooperate. In an email exchange today, we asked Ms. Cook:
I have the charge sheets, so yes, you did fax those to me. However, I do not have the judgments. If you could fax those, I’d much appreciate it. Fax number is 203-987-7948.
What can we do when the jailers will not give the appeals forms to an inmate? Numerous parties have mailed or hand-delivered forms to be delivered to Mr. Fitzpatrick after inspection, but the jailers have either refused to accept the forms or have failed to deliver them to Mr. Fitzpatrick. Is this not against Tennessee State Code? Whom may I speak with regarding this?
and she answered:
Have faxed judgments as per your request. Sorry have no answer for remaining questions.
The Post & Email confirms receipt of the judgment sheets which were requested.
This morning we also sent the following email to Ms. Cook:
Also, did you receive a handwritten letter from Mr. Fitzpatrick this week? I believe he wrote it on Friday and asked the jailers to deliver it to you so that he could begin filling out the appeals paperwork. If you did not receive it, that is another instance in which the jailers are refusing to handle mail properly.
Thank you for your assistance.
The Post & Email, Inc.
and she promptly replied:
No the office has received nothing to date.
to which The Post & Email responded:
OK, thank you. That means the jailers did not deliver it, proving the point I made with the FBI yesterday.
The Post & Email, Inc.
We have a call in to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts Public Information Officer to ask how to get legitimate mail to inmates when the jailers will not deliver it.
When we asked Ms. Cook for a copy of the June 28 Fitzpatrick transcript, she replied:
Sorry the June 28th hearing was not in Sessions but arraignment in criminal court, transcript must come from court reporter, Denise Barnes.
Therefore, we called Ms. Barnes yesterday and asked for the transcript. We are awaiting a return call explaining how to pay for it, as we do not want the copy that was posted on the internet with the watermark “Friends of Politijab.” We desire a copy of the original which reportedly is not filed with the court.
We have asked the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts why court transcripts are maintained by the transcriptionists rather than by the courts themselves and why they are so expensive and difficult to obtain.
When we spoke with a Knoxville FBI duty agent yesterday, he told The Post & Email that inmates with information about crimes or other matters can contact the FBI directly. When we asked the agent if the FBI accepts collect calls, he said, “No, but they can write a letter.” When we presented the fact that incoming mail often does not make it to the inmate and therefore outgoing mail is also a problem, he said, “Oh, well, everyone says that.”
However, Ms. Cook has just proved it.
When we told the duty agent of the numerous complaints of police brutality in Monroe County, he asked if the complainants had filed civil rights complaints against the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. Our response was, “We have advised them that they can do so, but there doesn’t seem to be one attorney in the state of Tennessee who will take on the Sheriff’s Department because they’re all afraid of being killed.”
The agent said that police brutality is difficult, if not almost impossible, to prove if there are no witnesses. But does that make it right for deputies to beat, taser and bloody those whom they are arresting? And how about breaking the door down without announcing themselves?
This writer has mailed an Appeals form today to Mr. Fitzpatrick and will be following up with the jailers next week to see if it has been given to him.
This morning The Post & Email was informed that a package was sent by certified mail to Mr. Fitzpatrick. The email informing us of this reads:
Wanted to let you know I sent a packet to Walter Fitz yesterday,12/14/10, which included: A writ of Habeas Corpus for eastern Tenn; A Complaint for Violations of Civil Rights; A Petition for Relief from a Conviction or Sentence by a Person in State Custody and information on Sect. 1983-Deprivation of a Federal Right. In the letter I let him know exactly what I included and how many pages there were. It was sent certified priority so it should be there by Friday, possibly Saturday.
If the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts does not provide relief regarding the jailers’ obstruction of both ingoing and outgoing mail, The Post & Email will contact the Postmaster General and file a complaint with the appropriate federal authorities based on civil rights violations to ensure that Mr. Fitzpatrick’s constitutional right to appeal is upheld.