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WHAT ARE THESE TENNESSEE JUDGES AFRAID OF?
by Sharon Rondeau
Swensson appeared in the Monroe County courthouse in Madisonville, TN on May 16, 2011 for a scheduled hearing and reported that his defense counsel advised him that the judge appointed to hear his case has not yet responded. The same judge, Donald Paul Harris, is also scheduled to hear a case against Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III on two charges of resisting arrest and assault which Monroe County alleges occurred on October 27, 2010.
Both Fitzpatrick and Swensson have issued their own subpoenas to Harris as well as other judges in Monroe and surrounding counties to request court records of their appointments of grand jury foremen. At issue is whether or not any or all of the judges subpoenaed have reappointed grand jury foremen in violation of Tennessee state law.
A link to Harris’s name which was previously listed on the website of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts used in our report of May 6, 2011 no longer works (paragraph 14). The same link used here is also dead.
Has Harris retired? disappeared? Is he ignoring the subpoenas? If so, why?
Fitzpatrick has described in detail how judges throughout Tennessee have appointed and reappointed the same foremen for decades without challenge from the citizenry.
Swensson’s last hearing took place on April 25, 2011, after which Swensson reported that his public defender, Attorney Jeanne Wiggins, acknowledged the corruption within the Monroe County judicial system but refused to approach the FBI or TBI about it.
The interesting part is that neither Walt nor I have a response from Harris. The only difference is that I still have a public defender whom I was able to speak with outside. I said, “Look, you are here to defend me. You must follow up my subpoena with one from the public defender’s office, which she agreed to do. I told her, “There will be others to follow. You must submit these subpoenas.” And she agreed with that.
I then said, “I have not heard from you in over two months in regard to my case other than seeing you here at my last court hearing, and at that time, you said nothing about my defense; only that you were posturing for appeal. That is no defense.”
To that, she said, “Well, I asked him for the video files that they have as evidence.” I said, “OK; that’s wonderful. I have received no response from you; you have received no response from the DA; there has been no communication whatsoever. What kind of counsel is that?”
“…Well, I’ve been busy with a murder case…”
The Post & Email then asked, “Which murder case? Jim Miller’s?”
Mr. Swensson responded:
Nope. Mr. Ellington. As I explained to my lawyer, this judge and all subsequent judges will be getting the same subpoenas, and they will all be called to testify.
My case is a perfect case in point, because it is the judges themselves and the DAs who initiated this charge in the first place. So how do you stand to get a fair trial when the accusers are your judges? It’s not possible.
The Post & Email then said:
To which Swensson replied:
Yes, I was there to witness that, and I also was there to witness the one who presented it to Walt. I forget his name, but he said that it was faxed to him by the judge. The judge was our accuser. So now I get to call the same judge, Judge Ross, in as a material witness, as an accuser. I will get to face them.
I left that courtroom, and Judge Amy Reedy, even though she is not able to, did not establish any court date for my reappearance. So I have no idea when I am to reappear. I also told Ms. Wiggins that I am highly concerned over this because it was just such a situation that landed Walter in jail after being beaten when he wasn’t advised that there was going to be a hearing.
The Post & Email responded:
If they set a date in secret and don’t let you know, there is a question of what they will do to you. What was their response when you reminded them of what they did to Walter Fitzpatrick under similar circumstances?
Mr. Swensson replied:
Walt was there at the time. I was talking to Jeanne Wiggins when I said that, and she said, “Oh, no, oh, no, I will make sure that that information gets to you.” OK, great! That’s really reassuring (laughs)! I do not believe a word that they say because they are part of the problem. If Wiggins does not act and they find me another public defender, then Wiggins will be called as a witness. Walt reminded her that there are criminal charges out there right now against these folks. All Walt and I can do is to get the information to the people who are supposed to look into this. Walt has mainly been the one doing it, but I’m going to have to follow up and do the same thing. I’ll hammer them all: the Eastern District of Tennessee U.S. Attorney, the governor, the FBI…we’ll continue to hammer them. This time, instead of it just coming from Walt, it will be coming from another affected person as well.
I don’t even live in Tennessee, and this is the third time now since my arrest that I’ve had to drive back and forth. I’m not getting a speedy trial; I’m not getting anything. Actually, Sharon, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to stand up and be the type of man that my brothers and my mother raised me to be: not to back down in the face of this type of evil. So I’m grateful to have been given this opportunity.