Is the Grand Jury Foreman a Juror or Not?

SOME JUDGES SAY “YES” AND SOME SAY “NO”

by Sharon Rondeau

The state of Tennessee has had a chaotic judicial system since its admittance to the Union in 1796

(Jul. 23, 2012) — According to Tennessee criminal court judges and the Tennessee Supreme Court, the “law” is whatever they say it is at any given time.  Court rules are utilized as if they were statutes.

Article I, Section 17 of the Tennessee Constitution states:

That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.  Suits may be brought against the state in such manner and in such courts as the Legislature may by law direct.

The constitutional provision makes no reference to “court rules” or “case law” in determining the citizens’ rights, but Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark has stated otherwise:

“Law” encompasses court rules as well as statutes, constitutional provisions, rules and regulations, and decisional law…”

Since when?

On June 3, 2010, an indictment was issued against Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III by the “Monroe County Grand Jury” for six charges stemming from a citizen’s arrest of Gary Pettway, then-acting grand jury foreman of 28 years.

Judges in Tennessee have stated that the foreman is both a juror and not a juror, depending on the situation and their needs at the time.  The court clerk in Monroe County has stated that “The judge can pick the foreperson from wherever they choose.”

By which standards would such a foreman be chosen?

In a hearing on October 5, 2010, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood stated that the foreman is “no different than any other member of the grand jury.”  However, Blackwood had worked in Roane County before officially retiring, where the grand jury foreman there had been in place for 23 years.

Others besides Fitzpatrick have stated that Blackwood is a compromised jurist.

On June 28, 2012, Judge Walter C. Kurtz said that he did not like to “differ with his esteemed colleague [Blackwood],” but the foreman can serve as many terms as the judge desires.  He cited case law, court rules, and unwritten rules, but not Tennessee Code Annotated, the laws of Tennessee.  In apparent violation of the Article I, Section 17 of the state constitution, Kurtz had claimed “judicial immunity” and “sovereign immunity” when a civil case was filed against him and several other judges and court personnel.  He also failed to recuse himself after having been named as a defendant.

A 2008 statute does not differentiate between the foreman and other jurors.  There is no separate statute pertaining to a grand jury foreman.  Laws passed in 1984 ordered redistricting of the state’s trial courts and indicated that “at least” two grand juries were to be empaneled each year and that the judge could choose the foreman.

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Rules of Criminal Procedure state that the foreman has a two-year term, but nothing is stated about whether or not a foreman would be compromised if he or she were to serve consecutive terms, as many have in Tennessee.

Since Fitzpatrick has been focusing attention on the construction of the grand juries, several long-standing foremen have been replaced in Hamilton County, McMinn County, and Monroe County, which was prior to his discovery of the unobserved 1984 redistricting laws indicating that county grand juries had been outlawed for 28 years.

Page 2 of six-count indictment issued on June 3, 2010 against Walter Fitzpatrick and Darren Huff which identifies Gary Pettway, the foreman, as “a juror”
Count 5, which names Gary Pettway as “a juror”

“They can’t have it both ways,” said Fitzpatrick.

The acting foreman of the grand jury who signed the June 3, 2010 indictment was Angela Davis.  Court records showed that an “Angela Davis” had served in 2009 as a petit juror, but Blackwood had said that there was “no proof” that she was the same person.  Fitzpatrick contended that every juror on the grand jury at that time was “tainted,” as each was acquainted with Gary Pettway, whom Fitzpatrick had sought to arrest for over-serving his term and that therefore a new grand jury needed to be empaneled to review any evidence against him in the case.

Blackwood responded that even if two members of the grand jury were serving consecutive terms, the indictments issued by the grand jury were still valid.

Because personal information is collected by the outlawed county criminal courts in Tennessee, it should be a simple process to check if a juror has been selected in error within the 24-month time frame during which they cannot serve after having done so on either a grand jury or petit jury in the state.

On June 28, 2012, Assistant District Attorney General Paul D. Rush, against whom an ethics complaint is currently under review by the Board of Professional Responsibility, asserted that the “Angela Davis” who served in 2009 and in 2010 were not the same person.

Early this year, State Senator Mae Beavers, head of the Judiciary Committee, sought to change the now-defunct Court of the Judiciary to a body which would have stronger oversight over the state’s judges.  Beavers had described the judiciary as having “taken on a whole new supremacy, where they’re making the policy instead of the legislative bodies making the policy.”

A public advocacy group had reported that the Court of the Judiciary took little action against rogue judges in the state.

The legislature concluded its session by abolishing the Court of the Judiciary, but the new body, the Board of Judicial Conduct, varies little from its predecessor.

Fitzpatrick has asked why lawful Fifth-Amendment grand juries cannot assume the responsibility for investigating allegations of wrongdoing on the part of judges and all public officials, as they historically did.  He has posited that if a properly-functioning grand jury were in existence today, the questions about the origins of Barack Hussein Obama would have already been answered.

The Post & Email has been told that Beavers withdrew several proposed bills because of intimidation from the executive branch.  A specific person has been named, and we are investigating further.

Both the foreman and the prosecutor have left telephone messages with Fitzpatrick when any notification or communication should have been in writing.

When a defendant is charged with an indictment in Tennessee, the state statute which he or she has allegedly violated is cited.  However, once in a court setting, case law, court rules and the judge’s opinion determine future actions in the case.  The citizens are therefore expected to obey state law, but the judges dictate their own “law” from the bench.

At least one attorney has confirmed such judicial activism in the state, up to and including the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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