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“THEY’RE RUNNING THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 17, 2012) — Assistant District Attorney General Paul D. Rush, who has accused The Post & Email of lacking “ethics” and “integrity,” has failed to return equipment no longer needed in the “investigation” into a charge against Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III of “tampering with government records.” On July 2, 2012, Judge Walter C. Kurtz had mandated that any equipment not required for the upcoming trial on September 10 be returned within ten days of the order.
Rush had stated during the June 28 hearing that the two scanners taken on December 7, 2011 in a SWAT-team raid from Fitzpatrick’s home were no longer of any value to the prosecution’s case and that additional equipment taken might also fall into that category.
In a conversation with Fitzpatrick last evening, he said that he is not surprised. Fitzpatrick stated that he is also missing “a lot of papers” and his computer as a result of the raid, during which Fitzpatrick was arrested and jailed until February 9 on the tampering charge and for allegedly under-serving his last jail sentence.
In his orders following the hearing, the judge also stated that any defect in the charging documents was “cured” by the indictment issued by the grand jury. The person who signed the charging documents has not been identified, and Fitzpatrick has contended that they are therefore “forgeries.”
“You have no guarantees about what’s going to happen in the courts here. The fact that a jury can “cure” a felony…? If anybody walks in to the grand jury and testifies and lies, it’s perjury. The grand jury can’t cure that. How could the grand jury give a waiver for a criminal act? These are the length to which people are able to go without any restriction or criminal consequence.”
“This is what they do, and there’s nothing to stop them. There’s been no crime committed here, and they’re going to extraordinary lengths to make it look as if there were. It was their negligence for leaving the papers there, or they left them there on purpose. It was evidence of their committing a crime. As a matter of fact, when the grand jury members were called upstairs, I started to walk up with them, but I was told, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ so I turned around, and my attention was drawn to the handouts on the table. Then I actually went back upstairs to talk to Marty Cook about one other thing that she had handed out, and it was already on the table, and I had asked her for it. She said, “Here,” and I took it, and it turned out to be a duplicate of something I had already had. And then I left.”
Fitzpatrick said that many members of the community do not seem to care or are in denial about the judicial corruption which has become a way of life there. “As you have captured, everybody here knows what’s going on. It’s the culture.”
At the beginning of the last legislative session in January, State Senator Mae Beavers, head of the Judiciary Committee, had vehemently stated that the Court of the Judiciary established to oversee complaints about judges needed to be abolished because of “conflicts of interest.” Beavers said that judges “who had committed felonies” had not been punished accordingly by the COTJ, which was largely made up of judges. While the Court of the Judiciary was done away with by the end of the session, a Board of Judicial Conduct was approved by the legislature which differs little from its predecessor.
Beavers had introduced four bills to reform “out-of-control courts” and then “quietly withdrawn” them. She had been quoted as having said:
As we’ve come down through the years, they’ve used case law to rule on things and we’ve gotten farther and farther from the constitution. The courts have taken on a whole new supremacy, where they’re making the policy instead of the legislative bodies making the policy.
Is that not what Fitzpatrick has been saying for more than three years?
Why did Beavers withdraw the proposals? Why did members of the General Assembly not take the opportunity to reform the courts utilizing their constitutionally-delegated authority to do so?
The Post & Email had left several email and phone messages with Beavers asking why the investigation of wrongdoing on the part of the judiciary or any other public official could not be accomplished by grand juries, to which we received no response.
A citizen who said her life was “ruined” by a judge in Williamson County said that the judge had declared that he “makes the law,” and that a lack of oversight allowed the practice to continue throughout the state.
A report titled “Summary of Oversight of Judicial Conduct in Tennessee, 1971-2011” produced by the Administrative Office of the Courts begins:
All Tennesseans have a right to have their civil and criminal cases heard and decided by fair and impartial judges who base their decisions on the law and the facts of the case.
The report goes on to say that “Only the General Assembly, acting in accordance with Article VI, Section 6 of the Tennessee Constitution has this power.” The “constitutional obligations” of both the Tennessee Supreme Court and the General Assembly are being met, according to the authors of the report, which is refuted by the citizens of Tennessee.
However, with judges deciding what the law is based on precedent or the Rules of Criminal Procedure rather than the statutes passed by the legislature, they have established their own form of government, as Fitzpatrick has stated on many occasions.
Why is the oversight of judges not placed in the hands of the people? Like other state constitutions, the Tennessee constitution states in Article I, Section 1 that “all power is inherent in the people.”
In May, Fitzpatrick found that a set of 1984 laws passed by the legislature ordering the trial courts to reorganize were never observed by the judiciary. Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that he has spoken with members of the local media about his findings with out any meaningful response.
Also at issue is whether or not a grand jury foreman is part of the jury or holds a special position controlled by the judiciary. Fitzpatrick contends that when a person serves as the foreman, he or she “is its speaker” and must have been “picked as a juror first.” The judges, conversely, contend that a foreman may serve as long as a judge reappoints him or her, even for decades. The laws contained within the Tennessee Code Annotated do not distinguish a foreman from the jury pool, but the judiciary’s Rules of Criminal Procedure, which appear to have replaced state statutes in practice, state that a foreman has a two-year term, although it references that the judge is to choose the foreman as stipulated “by law.”
In his orders from July 2, Kurtz quoted a 1972 opinion in which the judge wrote:
We find no authority holding and can think of no valid reason why a grand jury foreman appointed for two years under TCA 40-1506 is disqualified to serve longer either by reappointment or holding over.
In 2008, TCA 22-2-301 was passed ordering juror selection to take place by “totally automated means.” TCA 22-2-314 states that no juror can serve again within a 24-month time frame after having performed jury service.
“This is the condition of the nation,” Fitzpatrick said. “It started out as a snapshot of what goes on in a small community, and it has grown and grown and grown. This is what goes on in a socialist environment.”