“THE JUDGE CAN PICK THE FOREPERSON FROM WHEREVER THEY CHOOSE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 25, 2011) — A local Tennessee newspaper is reporting that the Monroe County grand jury foreman has been “quietly replaced.” The article states that “turmoil” had arisen after Walter Fitzpatrick, a resident of Monroe County about whose case The Post & Email has covered extensively, had “declared Pettway was serving illegally.”
The Post & Email reported over a month ago that the Monroe County grand jury had a new foreman after 20 years. At least several counties in Tennessee have also utilized the same person as grand jury foreman in numerous consecutive terms, including Roane County, where Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood had worked before his retirement. Blackwood was a special judge on Fitzpatrick’s case last year.
Recently the Chattanooga Times Free Press published a story about the Hamilton County, TN grand jury forewoman, Ms. Marsha Crabtree, who was dismissed after 20 years of consecutive service. Crabtree wrote a letter in response to her dismissal, to which three Hamilton County judges replied, citing “objective and impartiality” as essential to the position of grand jury foreperson.
The Advocate & Democrat article states:
Grand juries are selected every December and serve for one year, but the foreperson is appointed by the judge and doesn’t necessarily have to come from the jury pool.
But where in the law does it say that?
The article also quotes Chief Court Clerk Martha Cook as saying, “The judge can pick the foreperson from wherever they choose. And they serve for two years unlike the other jurors.”
But on which statute does Ms. Cook base her statement?
Regarding juries, the Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 22-2-314 states:
22-2-314. Limitation on jury service. — [Effective in Certain Counties. See the Compiler’s Notes.]
A juror who has completed a jury service term shall not be summoned to serve another jury service term in any court of this state for a period of twenty-four (24) months following the last day of such service; however, the county legislative body of any county, may, by majority vote, extend the twenty-four-month period.
[Acts 2008, ch. 1159, § 1.]
The law cites no exception for the grand jury foreman. The remainder of Tennessee code which discusses jury service reads as follows:
22-2-310. Impaneling jurors — Additional jurors. — [Effective in Certain Counties. See the Compiler’s Notes.]
(a) The members of the grand and petit juries shall be made up as provided by law from the jury pool. In the event the original jury pool does not include a sufficient number of jurors, courts shall follow the procedures in subsection (b) for securing additional jurors. These additional names shall supplement, not replace, the original jury pool. These procedures shall be repeated, as necessary, until the grand and petit juries are completed.
(b) (1) Regardless of whether a county utilizes the automated or manual method of jury selection, additional names shall be selected for the special jury pool in the same manner this part provides for the selection of the original jury pool. Likewise, these members of the special jury pool shall be summoned in the manner specified in § 22-2-307.
(2) In the event the presiding judge of the judicial district is unavailable for good cause, any judge of the court for which the jury pool is being selected may perform the duties required of the presiding judge.
(c) (1) If a judge presiding over a trial discovers that the number of jurors constituting the panel, or venire, assigned to the trial is not adequate to secure a petit jury and that the jury pool has been exhausted or contains an insufficient number of jurors, the judge shall direct the jury coordinator to comply with subsection (b) unless the trial is pending in a county that utilizes the manual method of jury selection. In that event, the judge shall direct the jury coordinator to produce the jury box in open court, the judge shall open the box, and there shall be drawn from the box, as directed by the judge, the number of names deemed by the judge to be sufficient to secure a petit jury for that trial. These prospective jurors shall be summoned by personal service pursuant to § 22-2-307(b) if time constraints preclude compliance with the notice requirement in § 22-2-307(a).
(2) If a judge causes the jury box to be unlocked pursuant to subdivision (c)(1), the judge shall cause it to be relocked and sealed by the jury coordinator, and the judge shall write the judge’s own name across the seal. The box then shall be returned by the jury coordinator to its place of keeping.
(d) In the event the names of jurors are selected pursuant to subsection (c) for service in a particular trial, the jury coordinator shall make a list of such names, but the names shall not be removed from the jury list and, in counties utilizing the manual method of jury selection, shall be returned to the jury box. Service on a jury pursuant to subsection (c) does not constitute jury service for purposes of § 22-2-314, and shall not disqualify or excuse any person from service on the regular juries if the person’s name is regularly drawn.
(e) Jurors selected pursuant to this section may be excused for good cause.
[Acts 2008, ch. 1159, § 1.]
When The Post & Email asked the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts why so many grand jury foremen were serving multiple, consecutive terms, despite the law cited above, the response was:
Thanks for your note.
The statute you cited does not apply to grand jury foreman as this role is appointed by the judge per Rule 6(g) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. In other words, the judge appoints the grand jury foreman for a two-year term. There are no term limits. For your convenience, I have provided the language from Rule 6(g) below. You can also find it on our website here: http://www.tncourts.gov/OPINIONS/TSC/RULES/TNRulesOfCourt/03crim.htm#6
The other jurors are selected via the statutory jury selection process. The statute you cited is a part of that.
If you have any questions, please let me know and I will be happy to assist you.
Rules of criminal Procedure – Rule 6(g)
(g) Appointment, Qualifications, Term, Compensation, Vote, and Duties of Foreperson.
(1) Appointment of Foreperson. The judge of the court authorized by law to charge–and receive the report of–the grand jury shall appoint the grand jury foreperson. When concurrent grand juries are impaneled, the court shall appoint a foreperson for each grand jury.
(2) Qualifications of Foreperson. The foreperson shall possess all the qualifications of a juror.
(3) Duration of Appointment. The foreperson shall hold office and exercise powers for a term of two (2) years from appointment. In the discretion of the presiding judge, the foreperson may be removed, relieved, or excused from office for good cause at any time.
(4) Duties of Foreperson. The grand jury foreperson has the following duties:
(A) to assist and cooperate with the district attorney general in ferreting out crime, to the end that the laws may be faithfully enforced;
(B) out of term, to advise the district attorney general about law violations and to furnish names of witnesses, whom the district attorney general may, if he or she deems proper, order summoned to go before the grand jury at the next term;
(C) in term, (in addition to the district attorney general who also has such authority) to order the issuance of subpoenas for grand jury witnesses; and
(D) to vote with the grand jury, which vote counts toward the twelve necessary for the return of an indictment.
(5) Compensation. The county legislative body determines the foreperson’s compensation, which must not be less than ten dollars ($10.00) per day for each day the foreperson’s grand jury is actually in session. The foreperson’s compensation may not be diminished during the term of appointment. The foreperson shall receive no other compensation for these services. The foreperson’s compensation shall be paid out of the county treasury in the same manner as jurors are paid.
Public Information Officer
Tennessee Supreme Court
Administrative Office of the Courts
511 Union Street, Suite 600
Nashville, TN 37219
Office: (615) 532-6047
Cell: (615) 440-2555
Why does the statute passed by the Tennessee legislature not apply to the grand jury foreman? Where does it say that? Do Court Rules trump a law passed by the legislature, or is it the other way around? If the foreman “shall possess all the qualifications of a juror,” then that would mean that he or she could not have served in a prior term, as the statute mandates.
On April 1, 2010, after speaking multiple times with local law enforcement, the district attorney general, the TBI, FBI, and the U.S. attorney for his district, all of whom refused to act, Walter Fitzpatrick entered the Monroe County courthouse to arrest Gary Pettway, the grand jury foreman of 20 years, for violating Tennessee Code Annotated 22-2-314. However, Fitzpatrick was himself arrested by law enforcement personnel and charged with interrupting a meeting or procession, resisting arrest, and other charges.
Fitzpatrick has stated that the grand jury which indicted him was unlawfully seated due to the foreman’s reappointment year after year as well as the repeated service of another juror, Angela Davis, in violation of Tennessee code. During his December 1 trial, a juror was dismissed by Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood for having served on a jury too recently to qualify under TCA 22-2-314. There were originally four misdemeanor and two felony charges. The prosecutor dropped two of the felonies and Fitzpatrick was found not guilty of the other two. However, he was convicted of two misdemeanors. He has filed an appeal with the Appellate Court and District Attorney’s office.
Fitzpatrick has never been able to obtain a copy of the transcript from an arraignment hearing held on June 28, 2010, although The Post & Email obtained it almost two months after making the request. Fitzpatrick said that the transcript is “doctored,” and The Post & Email noted that in several places, the transcript identifies the location of Fitzpatrick’s hearing as McMinn County, not Monroe County, including a statement by the judge to that effect.
Fitzpatrick was arrested again by four Monroe County Sheriff’s Department deputies on October 27, 2010 for allegedly failing to appear at a hearing involving his attorney-of-record.
Fitzpatrick has stated that federal intervention is necessary to root out the corruption within the Monroe County court system. The FBI has been notified, as has Tennessee’s new governor, Bill Haslam. However, Fitzpatrick stated on February 22, 2011 that the FBI is investigating criminal activity in Monroe County.
Of the revelations in the Advocate & Democrat article, Fitzpatrick said:
This is extraordinary. Ms. Cook’s statement that “the judge picks the foreperson from wherever they choose. And they serve for two years unlike other jurors…” is breathtaking. We haven’t heard that before. This is extraordinarily breathtaking, because Ms. Cook just admitted that there’s a process, a special process, a separate set of names, involved in the selection of the foreperson that does not exist in Tennessee law.
In fact, no judge, according to the state law of Tennessee and the state constitution, is allowed to pick any juror. The selection of every single juror must be a process which disallows any human agency. Ms. Cook just said that the judge can hand-pick the foreman of the grand jury. That means that this person has not been randomly chosen; the judge can go out and pick any person that that judge wants. That is violently outrageous and obscenely unlawful, and it now shows us that the grand juries are partial. The grand juries are being hand-picked.
I’ve studied the process, and what Ms. Cook says here is different from what she has said before. Martha Cook needs to be placed under arrest. She said when you’re called in for the December “cattle call,” if you will, for jury duty, that if you sit up front, you’ll probably be picked for the grand jury. Oh, really? You can’t be picked eyeball-to-eyeball by a judge. That is obscenely, outrageously against the law.
So when you come back to about a year ago when we were at this point chronologically when I and some other folks went in to see to it that Mr. Pettway was removed from his position, it is now confirmed that we had every reason that we should have gone in and done what we did. We tried to get law enforcement to act on it, but nobody did.
In this state, as you now know, there is no one to whom you can bring a criminal accusation against a judge. This is terribly important. We do not have a constitution. The judges have taken over, and they can do whatever they want without any kind of criminal consequence. I’m hearing more and more about what the judges are doing, and it goes on and on and on. The more we report on this, the more people are coming out of the woodwork saying, “You know what? I have a story about a judge also.”
In the state of Tennessee, the protection of an impartial jury is inviolate. That comes from the constitution. Well, if you don’t get the protection of a grand jury – if the grand jury has been infected because the judge is picking a juror from the general population, who knows under what qualifications does the judge use to pick that one person whom he or she wants as foreperson – we don’t know what that process looks like. We don’t know what qualifications are used; we don’t know who else is in the running for that job. This is in a state where you’re not supposed to have that kind of criteria in place because the grand jury foreman, like every other grand juror, like every juror in the state of Tennessee, is supposed to be picked at random. They’re not.
Now Ms. Cook’s comments are profound in that she has been a court clerk for a quarter of a century as an elected official, and she has just admitted that she knows that the judges have been doing this throughout her entire career, and before that, that the judges were doing it when she was an under-clerk. The authority for it doesn’t exist.
This is of titanic significance.
[Editor’s Note: The information which follows from Mr. Fitzpatrick is taken from the letter Ms. Crabtree wrote following her replacement after 20 years of service as grand jury foreperson.]
The following is what a person who’s been in a grand jury has written. I’ll give you some select quotes:
Ms. Crabtree says that she was considered only a part-time employee. The judges are appointing people who are in a relationship which they believe is an employer-employee-type of arrangement. That defines a bias. There’s no place in a jury for that.
Ms. Crabtree said in her letter, “I was considered only a part-time employee.” Ms. Crabtree says that the moral of her story is that “you don’t criticize the system or the judges or any of the attorneys if you want to keep your job within the system (page 3).” Ms. Crabtree thought she was an employee who had to perform certain duties in a certain way in order for her to “keep her job.” It was because Ms. Crabtree stepped out of those boundaries that she says that she was “fired” or not reappointed. This is how this woman saw her position. She admits that she was a court employee, and she was not just a court employee; she was a county employee.
She goes on to say, “I as Foreman was the only person they could get rid of (page 2).” Oh, really? Is that right? So if she didn’t do what she was expected to do by her employer, the judges, then she believes she would have been fired. She’s complaining that she didn’t get the gold watch and a retirement package, as if it were a permanent job. It is a permanent job; that’s why Mr. Pettway was arrested, because you cannot make the argument that you’re getting a fair and impartial hearing when the grand jury is being led by a person who’s been appointed into that job as an employee for 20 years in a row. It’s not just here; it’s in Hamilton County as well. This is how they think.
Ms. Crabtree, as the grand jury foreman, with others, were “tracking the criminal history of most repeat offenders,” and she says it “profoundly illustrates why the Grand Jurors so often criticize the criminal justice system.” This tells us that she has an opinion, which is one of the reasons why you’re supposed to have new juries every year, including the foreman. You’re not supposed to be able to form an opinion of a defendant. She went in and actively tracked the information on these people, and she went back and reported to the other grand jury members in her group what she saw as bad. You’re not allowed to do that. Because, you see, once a person then comes into the room, the grand jury has made its decision already or whatever decisions they make have been tainted by the fact that these grand jurors are going out and actively tracking the criminal history of people they expect to see again. That’s against the law.
The grand jury, if they’re looking at somebody as a criminal, can go out and investigate what they can find, but they cannot track somebody’s personal history this way, and they can’t use that information to decide what they’re going to do with a case once it comes to them. But this is what they’re doing.
Ms. Crabtree continues, “Seeing the online records of the defendants we CONSTANTLY heard cases on (whom some of us had heard cases for years & years), they were able to see for themselves what was meant about them rarely being punished (page 2),” meaning those coming in to the grand jury. Whom else did she know in her grand jury who had been in her grand jury before for many years? Whom is she talking about? She’s just admitted that the grand juries are being hand-picked. They have people coming back, recycled, as we know they are being recycled in Monroe County. She said, “Seeing the online records of the defendants we CONSTANTLY heard cases, CONSTANTLY heard cases on whom some of us had heard cases for years & years…” some of us…
She doesn’t say “As a foreman for 20 years “those cases that I had heard for years and years;” she’s talking in the sentence about other people joining her, the “some of us;” the other grand jury members were seeing cases as she had seen them before in previous years. That should send a chill up everybody’s back. “They were able to see for themselves what was meant about them (the accused) rarely being punished.”
They were doing homework on these people against whom they had acted, and then when they saw these people come back into the grand jury again, they did not recuse themselves, saying, “We have a history with this person and we’ve formed an opinion. We’ve done some homework on this person so as an independent body, which we are supposed to be, which requires impartiality, we have developed a bias.” That never happened with Marsha Crabtree as grand jury foreman. This is huge.
The next thing that Ms. Crabtree says is “The grand jury is not allowed to choose which cases it hears testimony on— it must address every case on its docket — and cannot act on a case without hearing testimony on it (page 2).” What she has just said here is that the grand jury has been prohibited from acting on its own authority in any case and that she recognizes she can’t hear a case on any person unless the prosecutor’s office, the district attorney general’s office, has brought it to them. Which means that when I brought the complaint for treason in, it didn’t get into the grand jury room in the fall of 2009 until the prosecutor, Jim Stutts, said it was OK. And then once it got in there, Mr. Pettway was controlling the whole thing. What Ms. Crabtree has given to us as a gift is the control that is exerted over these grand juries in the entire state of Tennessee. This is dangerously illegal and unconstitutional; this is what treason looks like.
The grand jury is not allowed to choose which cases it hears testimony on…really? Why do you think that, Ms. Crabtree? She certainly can choose; she could have created a case on her own, but she didn’t see it, because she was a flunkie. She was doing what she was told to do, and she never went out to figure out how a grand jury is supposed to work. That’s why they kept her there for 20 years, and when she started to criticize, they said, “You have to go,” and I think that her departure had something to do with Walter Fitzpatrick.
She goes on to say, “The true intent of the criticism of the grand jury system was to hopefully bring about correction to the problems and improvement and restored trust of the system (page 1).” Excuse me, but Ms. Crabtree doesn’t understand that the grand jury could have gathered evidence on its own to investigate where they found prosecutors or judges not doing their jobs. The grand jury could have acted on those situations and issued a formal accusation against the judge or prosecutor, who wouldn’t be in the job much longer. That’s how Ms. Crabtree could have run the grand jury. But she didn’t understand that she was allowed to do that, and she probably would have had a fight on her hands had she tried to do that. If she had tried to do this earlier than she did, again, she would have been fired.
She then says, “If the Grand Jurors, who spend 4 months as a part of the system, cannot voice opinions about the justice system, then who can?” Again, she never once in her 20-year tenure figured out what a grand jury is supposed to do. She was being kept in the dark and in the blind by prosecutors and judges who were controlling her. She had no idea that that was against the law; she was under their thumb. That means that she was never once in her 20 years ever in a position where she was impartial. She was biased, and only because of her working relationship with the judges and prosecutors rather than having the grand jury investigate their own cases.
She said that all of this happened to her after 20 years of dedicated service and hard work. Nobody should be in the foremanship of a grand jury for 20 consecutive years. Certainly, nobody should be in a grand jury for 20 years. This is so terribly wrong.
I’m going through this because this is a common-sense observation. I knew this stuff; I knew about this stuff; I knew enough from my life experience, background and my study of history to know that anybody who’s in such a position for 20 years would think as Ms. Crabtree has and would be working with and for a judge. That’s why this relationship was as outrageously unlawful as it is. That’s why I and other people tried to have Mr. Pettway removed from the grand jury lawfully by law enforcement officials. I’m telling you why the system is broken.
So what happened to me, or anybody else who tries to go in and fix these problems as a citizen looking at this thing? This is completely unconstitutional at the state and federal levels.
Another quote: “The grand jurors… asked how much time someone would get for their most recent crime, or how much time they would serve, or why they weren’t in prison for their past crimes (page 2).” She then said, “I always told them that, based upon available court records, very little, if anything, would happen to them for the majority of their careers.” Ms. Crabtree has just admitted that she has been biased with these men and women; that she was going out and doing active research on the defendants and reporting her research to the other members of the grand jury because the grand jury members were asking questions.
Well, guess what? In this kind of a circumstance, they’re not allowed to ask those kinds of questions, and some day what they’re going to do if the accused comes back into the grand jury room as a face with a name on it, they have to stand aside. This is why you select a new grand jury every single year: so that they don’t develop these kinds of opinions and patterns; they don’t do this kind of homework. This is why you must replace the jury every single year or more. That’s why you don’t keep somebody on board for that long.
Next quote: “Because the Grand Jury was not in anyone’s budget until Sept. 2010… (page 3)” I’m going to talk at some point about the kinds of money that are going into the court system, and none of it is going into the grand jury. There’s not much of a budget. “Being in that position was such a major part of my life, and I always felt so honored & proud to serve in that capacity – it defined me for 20 years. It wasn’t just a “job” – it was my passion. It dictated how I lived my life & spent a great deal of my time. The GJ (Grand Jury) room was my “home away from home…”
Does this sound like a woman who was able to work in an unbiased way? She said that she was so upset that this destroyed her holiday season because it was such a blow to her. She was devastated because she thought she was going to be reappointed for a two-year term. And she thought that she should be there because she had done such a great job. She was “dedicated,” she was “passionate” – this is not the way that a grand jury foreman should regard the position. She said that she made the grand jury room her “home.” This is not how a grand jury is supposed to operate!
She goes on to say, “Since I was due to be reappointed on Jan. 1, 2011, they (the judges)…gave no reason for not reappointing me…(page 1).” Ms. Crabtree is not even herself aware that there’s a law that says she couldn’t serve. She then says, “I know, and I feel sure that most everyone else does, too, exactly why they didn’t reappoint me for another 2-year term as Foreman,” and she believes in her heart that she didn’t get reappointed but should have been reappointed because she had been doing such a good job and was so dedicated and so passionate about it; she didn’t get reappointed because she had brought criticism against the judges.
Editor’s Note: In his first interview with The Post & Email, Mr. Fitzpatrick had stated of Judge Carroll Ross:
This is a judge from the bench saying in open court that he has picked Mr. Pettway for 20 years, and he’ll pick him for 50 years if he wants to, that he’s done a fine job for them. The judge even made some comment about the racial harmony that we enjoy in this community because Mr. Pettway has been doing such a fine job.
When you come off of a jury, you don’t get a report card. It’s not a performance audit. It’s not a fitness report that you get and it’s not a fitness report that they use to say, “Well, you’ve done such a good job here that you get to come back and do it again next year.”
One grand jury foreman who is still on the job tonight is a man named Mr. Snow, who is in his 23rd or 24th year.
Ms. Crabtree talks about how emotional it was for her to go in and clean out things that she had bought for the grand jury room out of her own pocket because there was no budget (page 3). In the waning days of December 2010 when she had to clean out her desk, it broke her heart.
I’m going to use a word to describe this. In a domestic relationship, it’s known that women, because of their nurturing sense, will make a nest of their home. It’s called “nesting.” That’s what Ms. Crabtree did with the grand jury room. Now when you understand that this woman knew that she was going to be reappointed year after year after year and had this kind of emotional reaction, it was like a divorce. This was a breakup.
Her letter is profound. What it tells us is what these people are doing, what their expectations are, what they believe their function is, and we can take that letter and say, “It might just as well have been signed by Gary Pettway.” Now maybe Pettway wasn’t “nesting” in the sense that mothers and wives do, but he was working in the same capacity that Marsha Crabtree was. So when you read the Advocate & Democrat article and Martha Cook says, “Oh, it was just time for a change…” Oh, really?
And how would she know that? She wouldn’t know that. Part of the system is trying to protect herself from the criminal consequences of this. In the two-page letter in which the judges in Hamilton County responded to Ms. Crabtree’s letter, they named her as the “leader” of the grand jury. That’s an important word. There’s a John Grisham quote: “Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him.” That’s part of the court transcript that was spoken back on the 5th of October to Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, and (Atty. Stephen) Pidgeon got those words from me. I showed him the book; it’s on the jacket cover of The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. “Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him.”
These judges recognize that the foreman of the grand jury is an employee, and they’ve been picking them without any oversight at all, with particularity and specificity in a process to which nobody has been given access. Nobody knows how a grand jury foreman is chosen. What qualifications must they meet? What populations do they come from? Are there more people each year considered to be grand jury foremen? How does the judge go out and go shopping for one? How does that happen?
Because the foreman is appointed by a judge outside of a process that’s recognized in the law, how does the judge test for impartiality? We know that Judge Blackwood said that the grand jury foreman is no different than any other jury member; all jurors are the same. Well, now we know that they’re not. And we can quote Ms. Cook who has now ratified that these judges are picking the foremen. And Ms. Cook would know that because she’s been in that courthouse for 25 years as an elected court clerk, and more than 30 years altogether.
And I’m the guy who was arrested because I arrested Pettway! Excuse me; I had a reason to arrest him. The reason I’m being acted against by the government is that now this information which has been made known to us is something they didn’t want to get out. And now that I’ve been through this court process and I’ve been “convicted,” Ms. Cook thinks she has the freedom to come back and talk about it.
My frustration is that there is a tremendous amount of information which law enforcement now has to go out and start effecting the arrests of the judges. There’s no more questioning it. The citizen’s arrest has been justified. You didn’t hear these words after Mr. Pettway was arrested; I was arrested! It was all about the kind of knucklehead I was. Excuse me; Mr. Pettway was as much “nested” in that job because of the perks that were offered him because he was working with the judges; he was reappointed over and over again because of his performance; we know that because Judge Carroll L. Ross told us that on the 28th of June.
In that report, there should be the words which Judge Carroll L. Ross is quoted as saying, “Mr. Pettway has been our foreman for 20 years; he’s doing a great job. We’ll keep him here for 50 years if we want. Nothing is more settled than the fact that we can pick our own grand jury foreman.” He said that.
Editor’s Note: The text of the transcript, which The Post & Email obtained last month, to which Mr. Fitzpatrick is referring reads as follows:
THE COURT: …I will tell you again, it would not bother me one bit if I had appointed Mr. Pettway. He has done a good job. I would be proud to say that I had appointed him, but in fact, as a matter of fact, I did not. I have never appointed a Grand Jury foreman in McMinn County…
All of these dots are connected. Carroll Ross has said that they have been picking this man for a reason: he was getting a performance audit and report card at the end of each of his two-year stints. There’s nothing in Tennessee law that says a judge can pick any juror, but Mr. Pettway was getting reappointed year after year after year because he was getting a straight-A report card from whom? the judge. He could pick anybody he wanted! Mr. Pettway was doing what he was told to do, and they liked him a lot.
The kind of power that Mr. Pettway commanded in this community – the prestige; he had a title…he was known as “the grand jury foreman, Mr. Pettway,” as Mr. Snowe is known in Roane County and Mr. Riley in McMinn County: “Oh, yeah, he’s our grand jury foreman.” Excuse me, but that’s not a professional position. And Ms. Crabtree is describing herself as a professional juror.
She has told us that she was in a profession. She was talking about her job as grand jury foreman as I would talk about my job as a work officer on a Navy ship – after 20 years. When I read this, I was thinking to myself, “No juror leaves that job thinking that way about it, because that’s not how it’s supposed to be.” It was as if she had been let go, as if she was due for the command of the ship or something like that; she was due for some kind of a promotion or a gold watch; she was due more than she got because she had served loyally and professionally and in a dedicated way; she put her own time, her own money, she was nesting; she built her own home here; this is where she lives…this defined her. Now does this sound to you like someone who can be impartial on any case which comes to them? She told us in her own letter that she is emotionally vested in the position.
What this means is that every case that Marsha Crabtree was involved in is now in question. If you have one law enforcement entity come in and do something, and that’s a mighty big “if,” and because law enforcement hasn’t been able to put an end to this kind of outrageous, gargantuan corruption, and now we get a report back from the FBI saying, “The problem is too big,” well, I’m sorry, you better come in here and start fixing the problem, because if you don’t do it, then other people will get the job done one way or another. We will find a way or we will make one. We don’t walk away from the problem and say, “There’s too much of a problem.” It’s their problem: the FBI and local law enforcement. They should have done something with this before, and they didn’t. So now we have this mess, and it goes back decades. I can’t fix that; I can’t undo that. What I can do is see that officials start taking action against the judges, prosecutors and corrupt officials. And in the meantime, get people like Mr. Burnett, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Winkler – the men who protest their innocence aggressively who have said that they didn’t get a fair hearing – well, no, they didn’t; nobody got a fair hearing. This is a constitutional emergency, because the state of Tennessee constitution requires that every person is protected by an inviolate claim to an impartial, unbiased jury.
Now you take Ms. Crabtree’s letter and you put it next to the Tennessee state constitution, and you tell me that cases which Ms. Crabtree touched meet that constitutional requirement. They don’t. And she kept getting reappointed. I have every reason to believe that she was fired because Pettway was fired. They were released; they didn’t get reappointed. Judge Ross said, “If we like the guy, we’ll keep him for 50.”
That transcript you have now which is the accepted, recognized official record of the June 28, 2010 arraignment is doctored. You’ve got the court reporters who are working for the judges to protect the judges, and that’s what Marty Cook is doing.
In Tennessee, the judge picks the grand jury foreman, who is the leader of the grand jury. Neither the judges nor the grand jury foremen are accountable to the law. Not only are they not accountable to law enforcement agencies; they are not accountable to the people. Neither the judge nor the grand jury foreperson has to face any consequences for their actions. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says that it can’t take any action against a judge without the approval of the attorney general, and the attorney general is not elected by the people; he is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. So he is not accountable to the people, either.
This is what treason looks like.
Editor’s Note: The Tennessee constitution states:
That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded upon their authority…
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…
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.