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“THIS IS NOT A QUESTION FOR THEM TO DECIDE”

by Sharon Rondeau

Page 1 of 3 of TCA 16-2-506 establishing 31 judicial districts for trial courts

(Aug. 22, 2012) — On Tuesday, August 21, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III went to the McMinn County courthouse to request a meeting with the grand jury to report evidence of corruption.

In May, Fitzpatrick located laws passed in 1984 still listed as current in Tennessee Code Annotated ordering the county criminal courts to reorganize into districts and empanel jurors from the broader jurisdictions consisting in most cases of three or four counties.  The laws, TCA 16-2-506 and 16-2-510, were never obeyed by the judiciary.

A recent series on Tenth Judicial District corruption published by The Chattanooga Times Free Press revealed allegations by two grand jury members of undue influence on the part of Assistant District Attorney General Paul D. Rush and then-McMinn County grand jury foreman Joe Riley.

Fitzpatrick arrived at the courthouse at approximately 9:00 a.m. yesterday, accompanied by a witness.  The grand jury was scheduled to convene at 10:00 a.m.

Just after 9:00 a.m., Fitzpatrick went to the clerk’s office and asked for the appropriate paperwork to complete in order to request a hearing with the grand jury.  He reported that Steve Morgan, one of the Tenth Judicial District assistant district attorneys general, was present at the time with several police officers.  Morgan gave Fitzpatrick a “petition” which required a sworn affidavit witnessed by a notary similar to that which is used in Monroe County.

“Morgan was telling me about the process that I was to go through as outlined in Tennessee state law.  He said, ‘Once you submit the petition, you sit before a panel of three.’  Today I learned in McMinn County, it’s the grand jury foreman plus two,” Fitzpatrick said.  “That group determines whether or not your petition will be approved to go before the entire grand jury.”

Morgan told Fitzpatrick that “these are the laws” pertaining to proper procedure.  “‘You have to fill out one of these criminal affidavits for each person that you name,’ and he gave me a second set of forms,” Fitzpatrick said.  “By the way, counselor, what happens if I want to put your name on this complaint?” Fitzpatrick asked, to which Morgan replied, “You’ll have to talk to the grand jury foreman about that.”

“I had told policemen there that morning why I was there.  There was a patrolman named Hennessey from the Athens Police who was with a Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant named Rustkey who said he would tell the grand jury foreman that I was there.  We’re speaking about a man named Jeff Cunningham.  Cunningham, by this point in time, knew that I was there, but I didn’t know what he looked like yet.  I hadn’t seen anyone in the group of people who would stand out as perhaps being Mr. Cunningham, so I didn’t approach anybody.  Steve Morgan came out and said, ‘Here’s your paperwork. There are notaries in the building, so you’ll find one someplace.’

“They run the grand jury in the office of Congressman John Duncan.  The grand jury does not meet in a courtroom; they’re meeting in Rep. John Duncan’s office.  We’ve been reporting the corruption in John Duncan’s office, and he is allowing this to go on in his own office; that’s a federal office.  I thought that was strange,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick brought all of the articles from The Chattanooga Times Free Press plus two editorials, one of which was entitled, “Steve Bebb Negligent.”  He brought a copy of the TIME Magazine article naming Darren Huff and him as “twisted patriots” and “extremists.”  He brought a copy of the “Sovereign Citizen” DVD on which The Post & Email has reported extensively and copies of the 1984 laws which established the county courts as probate courts only, directing criminal matters to be conducted at a new district level.  “My intent was after determining whether the grand jury was legally operating, I was going to tell them that this corruption issue for which we’ve been vindicated in our reports is real,” Fitzpatrick said.  “Because people have been bringing this to the attention of the public over the last few years, we have been counter-attacked; we’ve been assaulted, we’re been injured; we’ve been illegally imprisoned.  ‘Before we get to that, ladies and gentlemen of this jury, we have to determine whether or not you’re legal.  Before I go through all of this work with an affidavit, which is a mountain of work, I need to find out if you’re legal.'”

Fitzpatrick continued:

One of the things that Morgan said was that I had to have the affidavit stamped by a notary, to which I asked, “Well, why can’t you just put me under oath in the room?” and he said, “Well, we’re going to do that, too,” and I said, “Why won’t that just be enough?” and he said, “That’s not the procedure.  State law says you have to have a sworn affidavit that has to be notarized.”  I’ve seen the law; I know what it says; I didn’t have it with me, and I’m not interested in that, because the state law that I’m bringing to their attention is TCA 16-2-510.  How about that law? Let’s deal with first things first.

So I left and went to the McMinn County clerk’s office, and the clerk who came to the window was Rhonda Cooley.  I didn’t recognize her initially, and I asked for her name, and she gave it to me.  She is the “Martha Cook” from McMinn County.  I told her my dilemma.  I said, “I’m told that I need to have this stamped, but my first question is, ‘Why do I need one affidavit for each name?  This goes to the corruption which was widely reported in last week’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.'”  Everybody knows about that report.  It’s important for the readers to know that I went to a grand jury to report that corruption and I was thwarted; I was turned back.  So I talked to her some more, and she said, “There’s another clerk in the office.” She, the court clerk of McMinn County, the elected official, could not tell me if the sitting McMinn County grand jury was legally assembled.  She didn’t know.  She said, “I’ve got somebody who’s worked here in the office for 20 years longer than I’ve been here; let me go and get her.”  This is the dilemma that we face; this is the problem with our country, for goodness sakes.

So Rhonda left the window to go and get the other clerk and I waited for a while.  She didn’t come back, but Mr. Cunningham, the grand jury foreman, did.  We were on the same floor, and we went through a series of doors to go into another room where we could speak one-on-one.  In the meantime, I had found out that Mr. Cunningham is a local banker; I’m not sure which bank he works with.  I had been told that he was once an attorney-at-law.  I asked him about that, to which he said, “Well, I’m a reformed attorney.”  He was very nattily dressed, suit and tie; very professionally dressed.

I explained to him the problems that I had just described to Rhonda Cooley.  I said, “The first order of business for why I’m here this morning, and I have handouts to give to your grand jury.  How many folks are here? and he said, “We have 12 plus me, which makes 13.”  I said, “OK; I have 14 handouts; I’ll give you all but one of them.  And he told me that even he doesn’t know if they’re operating lawfully.  That’s not a question he can bring to the county grand jury because it’s not up to them to decide whether or not they’re legitimate.  He said, “That’s not a question for them to answer.”  I said, “OK,” which means to say:  1) there is a question out there; 2) it’s legitimate; and 3) it’s not their question to answer; they won’t be able to answer it; and 4) somebody else has to answer the question.

No one in the McMinn County courthouse could tell me whether or not the McMinn County grand jury is assembled constitutionally and lawfully, not even the foreman.  The question has never been brought to them before, and they can’t answer it.  But they must be able to answer it.  This is in the aftermath of all the reports that were in last week’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.  I tried to bring those reports to a grand jury, and the grand jury doesn’t even know if it’s lawfully assembled and lawfully operating.

Somebody from the community read the reports from last week and tried to bring them to a grand jury, and we do not even know if there’s a grand jury operating legally in the county of McMinn or the Tenth Judicial District or throughout the rest of Tennessee.

TCA 16-2-510, which mandated that “New grand juries shall be impaneled at least twice a year at times selected by the presiding judge of the district..”

The Post & Email asked Fitzpatrick, “Did the foreman seem worried about it?”

Mr. Cunningham was not pleased with what I brought to him, and I asked him if I had his assurance that he would give the handouts to the grand jury members.  So I said, “They’re out on the bench outside of the congressman’s office, and in XXXXX’s presence, I opened up the folder and handed him 13 copies of the page from the law book of TCA 16-2-510 and the next page, the backup page which talks about the one hearing that had been held that applied to TCA 16-2-510.  The last page was a copy of the title page from Vol. 4.  You’ve displayed these at The Post & Email.  These weren’t copies of the information from Lexis-Nexis; they were copies of pages from Vol. 4.

Mr. Cunningham said that the question would have to go to the Board of Professional Responsibility or a judge in the local court or the Tennessee Supreme Court.  I said that the government runs with the consent of the governed, and I do not consent to this government.  I said, “The grand jury is that outfit where the Constitution and We the People meet the road.  This government is not operating with the consent of the people, and I need to find a place to take this.  He doesn’t know, Sharon!  He said it’s not their question to answer; he was telling me to go to the legislature, the state supreme court…”go to somebody else, not us.”  Now the question has been posed, and it’s legitimate, and no one can answer it except somebody from the government???  They’ll legalize it for themselves because of the consequences that attach because they can’t call it legal.  The law is very clear.  It’s in Vol. 4, pages 38, 39 and the cover sheet.  those three pieces of paper were stapled together and I handed them to him:  13 of them: one for him and one for each member of the “grand jury” which was assembled in Congressman John Duncan’s office.

Cunningham said “This is not a question for us,” for who is it a question for?  If I am supposed to be able to peacefully seek redress from my community, my local grand jury, which in this case is delineated as the district, where can I go?  This question has never come up in 28 years, and they can’t answer it right now.  I can’t get in to speak with the grand jury because we cannot trust them as operating legally.  “Take it back to the judge”…well, which judge should I take it to?…the judge who is supposed to be picking the district grand juries who isn’t doing it?  Am I supposed to be taking it to Judge Walter C. Kurtz, who isn’t doing it?

This is huge!

The question now begs throughout the entire state of Tennessee:  “What is the status of the county grand jury?”  Nobody seems to know.

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  1. You have called the integrity of a seasoned Naval Officer for attempting to do his sworn duty. Your corruption has ranked your deeds. Now, the game will begin and continue until the Law and Truth meet at the balance line, until SOMEONE as a “public trustee” will bear responsibility to investigate “dereliction of duty” inside the “system” and to get to the bottom of who is responsible for “obfuscation” of not following state law and orders to all lower courts to carry out TCA 16-2-510. Doing this in the Military would mean immediate Courts Martial and full investigation. Why aren’t these “public trustee’s” being investigated, prosecuted and/or jailed/fined/imprisoned for allowing “willful and wanton” disobeying of the ordered laws and orders of the state? I would think that falls under “MISPRISION OF FELONY” my friends and that could get your bubble gum allowance taken away by mon and dad for a long time. Woopsy! Tonto say, “Someone make big boo boo!” What about LTCDR Walt Fitzpatrick and Darren Huff? Should they be entitled to financial compensation for ruining their lives for trying to follow duty and constitution? Maybe they should be raised to State Senators with big salaries, benefits and all the other things you can hide truth under and not have to worry? Looks like there are plenty of knowledgeable and very helpfull people working at all Tennessee County “public trustee” positions, always willing to “help and serve”. I hope they don’t give too many “job knowledge” tests down there, looks like the results won’t be “passing” on a high percentage. There are lots of good people working in law and county positions but Tennessee doesn’t seem to be hitting any high scores for “customer satisfaction” ratings. Especially in the above mentioned counties. I guess many of the “employees” there might be reading this and laughing but lots of us don’t think it’s too funny. I bet there are lots of us Veterans that would like to take their jobs tomorrow for all those benefits and pay scales that have been unemployed, under employed, or just lived a crapy existence paying taxes to keep people like these headed for a nice retirement and benefit package. How about letting some of us know when some of those “key positions” are or will be open so we can apply and maybe get some of those good ole jobs you got goin down there. Let’s “share the wealth AND benefits packages” under Obama! I bet as Veterans, we could clean up some of those messy positions and not run so well jobs too. I thought “Serpico” was just in the movies! Then again I know you don’t always like to hire people or Veterans like that. I as a Veteran have applied to many of those “government jobs” and usually got to see the types of people that were hired. I always wondered why being honest and trying to do the right thing usually got you into “trouble” or maybe even not getting hired. It always seemed you had to be someone that would “lie” to keep that “job”. If you got caught doing that in the Military, you could get in real trouble and even go to jail or worse. I guess in “regular” government jobs you don’t have to worry much about that since they will always “cover” for you. I guess you really have to be “special” to get one of those jobs. That must mean you really have to special to get one of those jobs in DC too or be a real “rich” guy. I bet if I asked Bill Clinton, he could tell me all about it. I’m not good at smokin’ cigars though but he still might tell me. I think they better stop smokin’ all those cigars in Tennessee and start doin’ some work and investigation to get to the bottom of which end is up.

  2. Lysander Spooner in his Essay titled “Trial by Jury” stated that the grand jury had been corrupted by the judiciary and was nothing more than an agent of the state. Spooner died in 1887.

    So jurors, according to interviews of local folks, are clueless as to what their responsibilities and powers really are. The Georgia constitution is quite clear that they shall judge the facts and the law. Scalia says the grand jury is the fourth branch of government. Jurors know nothing of this.

    FIJA was the great white hope for educating citizens on the jury process but seems to have fizzed out. You will be arrested for jury tampering if you pass their literature out around the courtroom, however. And a juror will be charged with contempt if he judges the law.

    It starts with the DA who sits in the jury room during deliberations and controls and directs what the jurors hear and do. And the judge “gives” the jurors the law. The system is corrupt and won’t be corrected until the jurors are educated on what the jury system is really for and about.

    Lawyers for the prosecution and defense are keyed in to hear any remark during voi dire that might imply a knowledgeable juror and will bounce him for cause.

    Reclaiming our constitutional citizens grand jury will be an uphill battle that won’t be won in the courtroom. It is up to you and I to inform and educate our neighbors before they get in the courtroom.

    Wouldn’t you like to be tried by a jury that would judge the fairness of the law?

    Or what if a grand jury actually knew that they could sit in judgement on a corrupt state official? Would that not put a stop to much of the unlawful activities in government?