Spread the love


by Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III

(May 17, 2011) — [Editor’s Note: The report that follows depicts events as they occurred on the morning of May 16, 2011.]

On the threshold of a murder trial beginning in just hours, Prosecutor James H. Stutts argued a never-tested legal theory today that people with past federal convictions can’t legally use a firearm in self-defense against a murderous attacker.

Jury selection in the trial of Michael Dewy Ellington begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday, May 17, 2011) in the Monroe County, Tennessee Courthouse at 9:00 a.m. EDT. Ellington is charged with the March 17, 2009 murder of Julia Ann Kinsey of Lenoir City, Tennessee.

Ellington maintains he acted in self-defense. Ellington has been locked up in the Monroe County Jail for two years waiting for his day in court.

Amy Armstrong Reedy is the presiding Judge.

Senior Public Defender Richard Hughes for Tennessee’s 10th Judicial District, assisted by associate Public Defender Jeanne Wiggins, represented Mr. Ellington today in court.

In a marathon hearing that ran off-and-on into the evening dinner hour, prosecutors and defense attorneys battled over the question of whether a man not legally permitted to own a firearm was legally permitted to use any firearm in self-defense of an attack feared mortal.

Mr. Ellington is burdened by convictions regarding criminal episodes occurring in 1988 and in 1999. His convictions include past violations of firearms possession.

Prosecutor Stutts gave Ellington’s attorney notice for the first time Sunday night (8:40 p.m. EDT) that Stutts intended to use Ellington’s prior bad acts in a motion today to negate Ellington’s ability to raise the issue of self-defense at trial.

Stutts has known for fully two years that Ellington protests his innocence based on self-defense.

Stutts argues at the eleventh hour in a unheard-of prosecution theory that because Ellington wasn’t lawfully allowed to possess a firearm, Ellington wasn’t legally allowed to use an available firearm in defense of what Ellington perceived to be a life-threatening attacker.

Attorney Wiggins described Stutts’ legal theory as “inventive.” There exists no Tennessee law supporting Stutts’ invention. Wiggins reported that federal law allows all men and women, regardless of past felony convictions, to use a firearm weapon when necessary in self-defense.

Judge Reedy denied Stutts’ motion. Ellington can use the argument of self-defense during trial.

In an attempt to unfairly prejudice Ellington’s jury, it’s expected that Stutts will try to bring up Ellington’s prior bad acts again once the trial gets under way tomorrow (Tuesday, May 17).

On a related note, Judge Reedy took Carl Swensson’s case first thing this morning.

Mr. Swensson faces misdemeanor and felony charges stemming from the April 1, 2010 Citizen’s Arrest of Gary Pettway, recognized at the time as unlawfully standing as Foreman to the Monroe County Grand Jury.

Swensson appeared last in the Monroe County Courthouse last month, March 25th. Judge Reedy announced at that time the appointment of Tennessee Senior Judge Donald P. Harris to Carl’s criminal trial.

Reedy scheduled today’s hearing as a placeholder in the event Judge Harris took no action.

Reedy said today Judge Harris is still the assigned trial judge, but gave no further information. No one has heard from Harris.

Reedy sent Carl out of the Courtroom without announcing either a status or giving a date for Carl’s next required court appearance.


Editor’s Note: Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee constitution discusses the right to bear arms.  A synopsis of Tennessee gun laws is here.

Article VI, Section 6 of the constitution discusses removal of judges and attorneys from office by the legislature.

Mr. Fitzpatrick reported that one reporter from a local newspaper, The Buzz, was present in the courtroom for “moments only in the late afternoon. He came and went.”



Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. The Constitution clearly states “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms SHALL NOT BE
    Infringed”. It is a favorite arguement of liberals that no right is absolute, but how much
    clearer can “Shall Not” be?

    The Constitution also says, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.”
    In essence what this means, is even though a man can be condemned to death for his
    crimes, depriving one of his civil rights (which the supremme court did confirm the right
    to keep and bear arms to be a civil right several years ago) can not be used as a

    Any and all firearms laws are an infringement and therefore violate the Constitution.

  2. On the top of the list of the Nazi book burnings was the author Franz Kafka, who, when I first read him in high school, thought that he was just writing fiction. But now that I’ve seen, first-hand in some cases, others, like this prank that James Stutts tried to pull off, that government employees have absolutely no one to answer to, that they can make up stuff out of thin air and, irrespective of how utterly ludicrous their stunts are, continue to collect a paycheck paid for by the taxpayers is beyond words.
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised that this clown, Prosecutor James H. Stutts, will continue to be employed by the good citizens of Monroe County for some time in the future.
    Too bad Stutts is mentally unable to imagine himself in dire straits as the defendant, Ellington, was when he defended his life. I would suggest that Mr. Stutts’ replacement, whenever that’ll be, be given a test that registers common sense.