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by Sharon Rondeau

Tenth Judicial District Attorney General Robert Steven Bebb has been named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, TN

(Sep. 23, 2012) — A case stemming from a $50 traffic ticket issued to a young man in McMinn County, TN has escalated to a federal lawsuit against Tenth Judicial District prosecutors, the Tennessee Attorney General, two members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, a court clerk, court reporter, and the State of Tennessee itself.

Glenn Whiting, who filed the lawsuit and father of the young man who was ticketed, said his purpose is to “make them acknowledge what they did, correct what they did, and deal with the problems they have internally.”   The case has been filed at the U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, TN under 42 USC 1983 and 1988, claiming a violation of the plaintiffs’ due process and constitutional rights.

The lawsuit alleges a “civil conspiracy” on the part of the McMinn County clerk with the district attorney’s office and a failure on the part of the state attorney general, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., to “properly monitor the satellite offices of the various and sundried district attorney offices in the judicial districts throughout the state of Tennessee.”

The Post & Email has reported extensively on corruption within the Tenth Judicial District, including jury-rigging by the court clerk and judges in Monroe County, which is part of the Tenth Judicial District.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol has been reported to have a culture of cronyism, “ticket-fixing” and “political arm-twisting.”  Another report claims that THP officers have been rewarded for reaching quotas for issuing traffic tickets.  Like other grand jury foremen in Tennessee, the McMinn County grand jury foreman has over-served his term as stated in TCA 22-2-314.

“Judge Amy Reedy had dismissed the case without prejudice.  The officer and state attorney then went in and filed for warrants for Samuel’s arrest on the same charges the judge had dismissed,” Whiting told us.  “Then the officer changed the ‘speed’ and he changed it from a ‘rural’ to a ‘construction’ zone.'”  He told The Post & Email that the officer had been “cutting some slack” to his son the first time but had implied that if Samuel took issue with the ticket, the officer would “make it worse” on him.  “Samuel believed he was not speeding, and the dash-camera video shows that he was not doing what the officer said he was doing.  The dash-camera video confirms the fact that he was not doing 85 and could not have been doing 85,” said Whiting.

About two months ago, Whiting discovered that the District Attorney, “in his own writing,” advised the officer to file for the warrants.  “At first, we didn’t know if it was the DA or the officer,” Whiting said. “We were told by the DA’s office that it was the officer, but then the captain of the THP told me in a phone conversation that it was done at the instruction of the District Attorney. He said,’ I have a letter to prove that,’ and he sent me the letter where the DA admitted that he was the one who advised the officer to do it.  The actual letter was written by the District Attorney himself, the one who was trying Samuel.  He wrote a letter saying that he could not order the officer to do it, but he strongly advised the officer to do it.”

The letter was written by Assistant District Attorney General Andrew Freiberg, who is named as a defendant in the suit along with District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb and Assistant District Attorney General James Stutts, who have been deemed “criminals” by Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III.

Cooper, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the State Comptroller’s Office are allegedly investigating reports of misconduct made public by The Chattanooga Times Free Press on August 12, 2012, when the first of a six-part series on prosecutorial malfeasance in the Tenth Judicial District was published.  At the time, the regional newspaper claimed that it was the only publication reporting on such public corruption despite The Post & Email’s and Fitzpatrick’s frequent attempts over more than two years to draw their attention to the many examples of law-breaking which had been exposed in Monroe County.

In Count IV on page 18 of the Whitings’ filing it is stated:

87.  Upon information and belief, the county of McMinn knew or should have known of the activities of its employee and agent Rhonda Cooley, the circuit court clerk, in conspiring with the local district attorney’s offices to selective [sic] choose to fail to file and/or record as stamped for filing selective documents, intended to further the civil conspiracy to deny plaintiff, Samuel Whiting, his due process rights. (page 18)

Whiting told The Post & Email that sheriff’s deputies came to his property looking for Samuel “for over a year.”  “They went so far as to question the neighbor.  At some point, somebody sent a letter to Homeland Security, which is over the Highway Patrol..  They sent me a letter informing me that there never were any warrants and that the case was not processed.  I knew that that was not true because we had copies of the warrants.  I wanted to send certified copies of the warrants to the same office that just sent me the letter.  So I went to the McMinn County clerk’s office and was informed that there was no warrants.  Now they were there, but they said, “No, there never were any.”  So I went home and got copies of the warrants and went down and filed and got time-stamped copies.  What that shows is that they intentionally removed the warrants.  Then, to make it appear that the case was dismissed long before, they put in a motion and an order to nolle process.  Neither was time-stamped or properly dated, and there was no certificate of service.  So they back-dated the information, removed the warrants, and tried to make it look as if it never happened.”

Several months ago, the Whitings had made the prosecutor’s office an offer to make a donation to a non-profit agency in lieu of a lawsuit to settle the dispute.  “They never responded, which is a refusal.  In fact, they said they never got it, and it was sent certified.  We received the green card back.  That is why we are in federal court.  Had they just dropped it, we would have let it go, but when the clerk destroys evidence, back-dates the file for a $50 ticket, they’ll do it to anything,” Whiting said.

Mr. Whiting has successfully litigated the case Whiting v. Traylor in Florida in 1996.  His current lawsuit asks on page 21 for the following relief:

1) A jury of twelve (12) to decide the issues raised in this cause;

2) Compensatory damages in the amount of two hundred and fifty thousand ($250,000.00) dollars as against the defendant’s [sic] and all of them both jointly and severely; [sic]

3) Punitive damages in the amount of two hundred and fifty thousand $250,000.00) dollars as against each of the named defendants, both jointly and severely; [sic]

4) Attorney’s fees, costs and expenses, and discretionary costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988;

5) For such other, further and general relief as may be deemed just and appropriate under the circumstances.

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