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TENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT CONTINUES TO PREY ON ITS CITIZENS, WHILE STATE OFFICIALS “INVESTIGATE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 24, 2012) — The Post & Email recently received a letter from Rex Peak, who turned himself in after U.S. marshals went to his former home in Florida to arrest him, although he was never charged with a crime. A bond for $250,000 was issued pending his arrest.
The marshals were dispatched by Judge Amy Reedy, who has been observed advocating for the imprisonment of defendants denied due process under the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions and presides over an illegally-serving grand jury, the members of which she has hand-picked herself. Judges in eastern Tennessee and possibly throughout the state issue orders from the bench which cite judicial opinions and Rules of Criminal Procedure rather than state statutes as their basis.
The Post & Email had placed a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Marshals’ Service months ago but were told that they could release no information without the written consent of Peak’s cousin, who had been questioned on two occasions by the marshals about Peak’s whereabouts. We have not been able to locate Peak’s cousin to seek such permission.
Polk County is part of the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee, whose prosecutors are reportedly under investigation by the Attorney General, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and State Comptroller’s office for allegations of misuse of taxpayer funds and professional misconduct, including unduly influencing McMinn County grand jury members. Cronyism, dishonesty, illegal arrests and incarcerations have been a hallmark of life in eastern Tennessee for decades. Forgery and altering of court transcripts have also been reported.
The Tenth Judicial District has defied laws passed in 1984 which mandated that grand juries be chosen at least twice yearly and that potential jurors of the “district” be selected from the four counties comprising the district. Instead, in Monroe County, they have been observed choosing two grand juries in December and rotating the two groups throughout the year. The grand jury foreman is not dismissed along with the other jury members; rather, the foreman is reportedly picked at random and retained for multiple terms, and in many cases, for decades. The practice has occurred throughout Tennessee with the knowledge of the state Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts (TAOC).
The foreman casts a vote and has been declared “a juror,” yet is treated differently in many instances by his long-term retention as an employee of the court.
An appellant in 1972 contested the legality of the longstanding grand jury foreman involved with his indictment and had been told by a judge that he could “find no authority holding and can think of no valid reason why a grand jury foreman appointed for two years…is disqualified to serve longer either by reappointment or holding over.” However, a statute passed in 2008 clarified the “authority” which the judge had claimed by mandating:
A juror who has completed a jury service term shall not be summoned to serve another jury service term in any court of this state for a period of twenty-four (24) months following the last day of such service;…
Last month, when Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III confronted the McMinn County grand jury foreman to ask whether or not the “grand jury” over which he presided were legally convened, the foreman, who is an attorney, was unable to provide a response.
U.S. Congressman John Duncan has failed to take any action on the judicial corruption in his district, as have members of the Tennessee General Assembly whose legislative districts include the Tenth Judicial District. A long-standing battle between the Judicial and Legislative branches in the state has produced dueling Rules of Criminal Procedure and state statutes, with the Judiciary ignoring the legislature and “running its own government.”
Tennessee has a history of protecting its judges from public scrutiny by the use of a review board comprising mostly fellow judges and attorneys. Only a very small percentage of complaints filed against judges result in any type of action. Judge Christy Little, who has been observed to be questionably inebriated while on the bench, is a member of the review board and makes decisions about child custody which have torn apart western Tennessee families for many years. While several members of the Tennessee House Judiciary Committee had indicated an interest in investigating Little’s behavior and resultant decisions regarding a young child placed with her father in violation of state law, they later fell silent and refused to communicate with Karen Caldwell, who had testified to the committee. It was discovered that a generous donor to legislative campaigns had implied that such donations would cease if Judge Little were investigated.
After almost three years of struggling, Caldwell regained full custody of her daughter, having told The Post & Email that the judges involved in her case were part of an “organized crime” syndicate.
Peak had been involved in a motorcycle accident on May 11, 2011, in which he and two others were injured. He told The Post & Email that he had consumed alcohol before the accident occurred but that his blood alcohol level was tested at the hospital and he was not issued a ticket. The sheriff in the Florida county where he had resided had confirmed that there were no outstanding warrants against him even after the marshals were dispatched to Peak’s home.
A hearing in his case took place on September 10 during which Peak was offered a “deal” which he told his attorney, John Fortuno, that he refused. However, Peak experienced a small victory. “After setting [sic] there all day in hand cuffs [sic] + shackles Mr. Fortuno finally called me back in a room to tell me the deal they were offering me. Well first of all the charge of DUI 2nd carry’s [sic] 45 days to 11 mo 29 days and the charge of vehicular assault carry’s 4 to 8 yrs. [sic] I don’t really know if they think Im [sic] stupid or what but they offered me 8 yrs probation after serving 11 mo 29 days + $750.00 fine – court cost- lose [sic] license for 2 yrs. Can you believe they would think for a second that anyone is that…stupid? I looked at John Fortuno and said ‘Hell no they can….’ So then I told him I would take time served + dismiss the vehicular assault because they have no case. Well he did file the motion for Amy Reedy to recues [sic] herself…After she read the motion and seen that Carrol [sic] Ross was the Judje [sic] over me in 1998…she says ‘I don’t remember that case but since Judge Carrol [sic] Ross was my first Judje [sic] that she would excuse herself from this case. So at least that happened.”
Peak related that Fortuno had not thought that Reedy would recuse herself. Peak is trying to have his $250,000 bond lowered, which Richard Hughes, a public defender present at Peak’s last hearing on July 23, had expressed was unbelievable under the circumstances. Judge Carroll Ross conducted the hearing after Reedy’s recusal but refused to lower the amount of the bond.
Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III has reported that the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Tenth Judicial District prosecutors and judges, are operating a “criminal syndicate” which involves human trafficking and money laundering. The allegations have been reported to the Knoxville, TN FBI office without result. Some inmates remain incarcerated for months or years before making an appearance before a judge, and the facility is paid a reported $35 each day for every inmate. The judges serving in Monroe County also serve in Bradley, Polk and McMinn Counties in the Tenth Judicial District.
Peak will appear before Judge Carroll Ross, also named as a criminal by Fitzpatrick and others, on November 5. Peak wrote in his recent letter that “there are no witnesses to testify against me so where do they have a case?” He added, “When I went to court on Sept [sic] 10th and listen [sic] to people’s charges and what they were sentenced, I was ‘shocked.’ You call this Justice?”
Toward the end of his letter, Peak stated that the U.S. marshals who had gone to his home in Florida had disseminated false information about him, including that he was “an ex-murderer.” “This has devasteded [sic] my charator [sic] and destroyed my reputation that took 6 yrs for me to get. Lost it all to this ***** and when I finally am released where do I start?” Peak wrote.
Rex Peak can receive mail at:
Rex A. Peak
P.O. Box 1189
Benton, TN 37307
Calls about his welfare may be made to the Polk County jail at 423-338-8215.