STATUTES ARE ROUTINELY SUPPLANTED BY CASE LAW, PRECEDENT, AND COURT RULES
July 27, 2012
Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Tennessee Supreme Court
401 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37219-1407
Dear Chief Justice Clark:
I am writing as the editor of The Post & Email, an electronic newspaper which focuses on government corruption as many outlets in the mainstream media have failed to do over the past several decades.
Since the newspaper’s inception in August 2009, numerous individuals from Tennessee have approached us with documentation of corruption within the state courts that at first appeared to be unbelievable in the United States of America.
However, documentation, in-depth study, interviews and communications with both sides proved the stories to be accurate. It is conclusively proven that the criminal courts are conducting business in a criminal way in collusion with court clerks, defense attorneys, prosecutors, sheriffs’ departments, and mayors. One example of judges who are out of control is Monroe County, where a man was sentenced to life in prison for murder without a police report even having been completed.
Recently a defendant in a case discovered laws passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1984 ordering the trial courts to reorganize. These laws were never amended or repealed, which appears to indicate that county criminal courts have been operating outside of the law for almost three decades. Of course, that revelation has massive repercussions, as the hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens incarcerated as a result of the trials conducted in such courts would have to be awarded new hearings.
I have read your new Ethics rule, Rule 10, and commend you for ordering judges to avoid conflicts of interest in regard to campaign contributions and other matters. The Post & Email has seen many instances of cronyism, vengeful tactics and unlawful behavior on the part of Tennessee judges, notwithstanding the aforementioned 1984 laws.
Regarding Rule 10, however, I would like to ask how your definition of “law” squares up with the provisions of the Tennessee constitution and General Assembly. Your definition states:
“Law” encompasses court rules, as well as statutes, constitutional provisions, rules and regulations, and decisional law…”
It would therefore appear that court rules and decisions are considered “law” on an equal footing with state statutes passed by the people’s representatives.
In case after case, we have seen from court documents, orders and decisions that statutory law is almost never referred to by the judges. Rather, case law and precedent are cited and relied upon to make decisions. What if a case were decided improperly by political motivation or some other outside influence? What if “precedent” is flawed legal opinion rather than reliance on actual law?
There is at least one attorney licensed in Tennessee who has told us that what I have described is, in fact, occurring in courtrooms across the state, including at the appellate level. Judges are pronouncing “law” from the bench based on tradition, court rules, case law, but not the actual law or the state constitution.
Tennessee is not the only state where this is occurring. The Ohio courts, including the Ohio Supreme Court, have also been shown to be ignoring the laws on their books.
The 1984 laws referred to above are TCA 16-16-107, wherein the legislature ordered that the county courts were to handle civil matters only; TCA 16-16-101, which describes the “vesting of judicial power” “created by law;” TCA 16-2-506, which describes exactly how the trial courts were to be reorganized into 31 districts (hence the term “District Attorney General”), and TCA 16-2-510, which describes how grand juries were to be empaneled.
We can find no indication that these laws were ever amended or repealed.
You most likely know that the history of the judiciary in Tennessee is unusual, as the original 1796 constitution did not establish a judicial branch separate from the legislative and executive branches. Judges were appointed by the legislature until a constitutional revision in 1835.
I have extensive documentation from the Monroe County courthouse indicating that grand juries and trial juries are rigged, again, notwithstanding the laws cited above which indicate that the county criminal courts should not be in operation.
While a complaint was filed against several Monroe County judges under the expired Court of the Judiciary review system, the response was that the judges’ behavior or employing the same grand jury foreman for nearly 30 years did not rise to the level of a crime and that the investigator could not look into anything beyond the state statutes. While that is a legally sound response in theory, what about the 2008 law, TCA 22-2-314, which states that jurors cannot serve repeat terms within a 24-month period? What about the proof that was submitted to show that grand jurors and trial jurors in addition to the foreman had served repeated terms?
The pattern we are seeing is that Tennessee citizens are charged with a crime or infraction against Tennessee code, but when they appear in court, the judges make decisions based on their own personal preferences, court rules, and case law as it serves them at the time. If a citizen is charged with breaking a law, how can he then defend himself against having violated court rules when such rules are unknown to him and are not understood by him or her to be law?
According to the Tennessee constitution (Article I, Section 9), a defendant has a right to “meet the witnesses face to face.” However, in many trials, the judge and prosecutor act as the accuser and witnesses, and the defendant is denied that constitutional right. The juries are also clearly not “impartial” if some of the same people serve consecutive terms.
Article I, Section 15 of the Tennessee constitution states that the right of Habeas Corpus “shall not be suspended,” but such petitions are routinely ignored by sheriffs, courts, and even the U.S. District Court in Knoxville. I have specific examples and documentation of all of these claims.
How have court rules and case law become “law,” and how is it constitutional?
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076
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.