“THEY’RE NOT PUBLIC RECORDS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 5, 2012) — A Motions hearing held on October 3 in a case brought against LCDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) for allegedly “tampering with government records” in the “Monroe County Criminal Court” revealed numerous violations of procedure, state statute, due process, court rules and the Fifth Amendment.
Fitzpatrick is represented by Atty. Van Irion of Knoxville, a private practice attorney and founder of Liberty Legal Foundation. The Post & Email interviewed Irion about his case filed with the U.S. Supreme Court last spring which the court recently refused to hear. Irion’s office has established a Legal Defense Fund for Fitzpatrick, who was left destitute after his last jail sentence which ended on February 9 of this year.
Prior to August 20, 2012, Fitzpatrick was representing himself. Judge Walter C. Kurtz of Nashville is presiding over Fitzpatrick’s case.
The Post & Email spoke with two eyewitnesses who attended the hearing. They described several factors which they believed should have been grounds for dismissal of the case. One related that Kurtz appeared “annoyed” that Fitzpatrick retained an attorney. “It appeared to me that the judge really did not want to bother with what Van Irion had to say,” the observer told us. “I think he was very annoyed that Walter has gotten an attorney now, and he let that be known by saying, ‘First of all, he was going to defend himself; now he wants an attorney and now we have to do things over…,'” the observer said.
When Assistant District Attorney Steve Morgan asked the acting grand jury foreman, Faye Tennyson, if an appointing order existed for her, she responded, “No.” “She’s 84 years old,” we were told by one of the observers. “Everything about her demeanor was, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. What am I supposed to do?'” another said. The fact that no appointing order exists “should throw it out,” was the opinion of one. Both eyewitnesses believed that it is possible that Tennyson does not understand the significance of her actions when signing indictments.
Fitzpatrick had discovered that the previous acting grand jury foreman had served in that capacity for 28 years without an appointing order.
Another person present in the courtroom on Wednesday described Tennyson as “in her 80s” and “quite frail.”
Prosecutors in the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee have been identified as being under investigation by the state attorney general, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the state Comptroller’s Office in a series published in August in The Chattanooga Times Free Press. Systemic corruption has been found throughout Tennessee’s judiciary which includes making arbitrary law from the bench, allowing convictions without proper evidence or forensics having been completed, rigged juries and the ignoring of statutes passed by the legislature.
Another development was that Monroe County Chief Court Clerk Martha M. Cook, when asked by the prosecution whether or not the documents in question were public records, Cook said, “No, they’re not public records.” The statute used to charge Fitzpatrick reads:
© 2012 by The State of Tennessee
All rights reserved
*** CURRENT THROUGH THE 2012 REGULAR SESSION ***
Title 39 Criminal Offenses
Chapter 16 Offenses Against Administration of Government
Part 5 Interference with Government Operations
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-504 (2012)
39-16-504. Destruction of and tampering with governmental records.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to:
(1) Knowingly make a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record;
(2) Make, present, or use any record, document or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it will be taken as a genuine governmental record; or
(3) Intentionally and unlawfully destroy, conceal, remove or otherwise impair the verity, legibility or availability of a governmental record.
(b) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) (1) Upon notification from any public official having custody of government records, including those created by municipal, county or state government agencies, that records have been unlawfully removed from a government records office, appropriate legal action may be taken by the city attorney, county attorney or attorney general, as the case may be, to obtain a warrant for possession of any public records which have been unlawfully transferred or removed in violation of this section.
(2) The records shall be returned to the office of origin immediately after safeguards are established to prevent further recurrence of unlawful transfer or removal.
The two observers described another anomaly in which Detective Conway Mason testified and then left the courtroom, only to be followed by a clerk who exited the courtroom by another door “right behind him.” “It was quite obvious that because that other gal got him outside and said, ‘You’ve goofed up big-time. You gave false testimony'” that Mason returned to the courtroom. “He went out one door and she started out the other door. He then got the district attorney’s attention and told him to close the door. The district attorney then said to the judge, ‘The deputy needs to make a correction; I’m going to call him back in.’ They called him back in and corrected his testimony. It was quite obvious, and he admitted, that he had talked to somebody outside.”
The eyewitnesses said that all of the witnesses to testify that day were “sitting out there together in the clerk’s office” prior to the beginning of the hearing. “You can’t tell me they’re not talking. They need a deputy out there or they need to separate them,” he said.
When The Post & Email asked why they thought the case is proceeding despite the deficiencies which arose during the proceedings, one said, “I think the judge has been ordered to not let go of this case.” “He heard enough the other day, probably about four or five times, that he should have dismissed it right then,” said the other eyewitness. “When the clerk said, ‘They’re not public records,’ the case should have been over.”
One observer believed that “He’s been told somewhere by somebody that they’ve got to keep this going. It makes no sense because for such a stupid misdemeanor charge, and the amount of money that they are pouring into this is unbelievable. It’s simply a vendetta against Walt, and somebody is pulling the strings. It could go as high as the governor.”
The other suspects that people as far away as Washington, DC have ordered the prosecution of Fitzpatrick. “My feeling is that someone in Nashville said, ‘Hey, you better keep a lid on this and make it work for us.'” Of the possibility that Fitzpatrick is committed to jail following the apparently illegal trial scheduled for December 3, one replied, “If they get him there, they’ll make sure he’s dead before they settle.”
The person who signed the charging documents had been unidentified until October 3. One of the eyewitnesses told The Post & Email, “Van asked him if he knew what he was doing. ‘The law says that you have to know what you’re doing,’ Atty. Irion was quoted as having said. ‘Did you know what you were doing?’ and he said ‘No.'”
“He [Judge Kurtz] had so many reasons to throw it out, and he wouldn’t take them. I think he’s been ordered not to toss this one,” one of the eyewitnesses said. “I think a lot of this is the federal government and FBI. They set up a sting, and they got stung.”
One of the witnesses perceived that Judge Kurtz was “very biased against” Irion. An argument had ensued between Irion and Kurtz about the number of motions which could be filed in the case, after which Kurtz mandated that “only one more motion” could be filed. Irion argued that he was new to the case and that the motion he had filed was based on “what he knew then.” After Irion reported that new information had become available, the judge allowed Irion to file “one more motion” by a deadline of November 20.
The Post & Email asked one of the witnesses if she believed that people in the community are aware of the corruption in the local courts, to which she answered, “No. There are some who are, and they have no backbone and will not speak up, but I think the community at large is ignorant.”
Fitzpatrick and others have reported that human trafficking is taking place within and without the Monroe County jail. “It’s nationwide, and it’s called the police industry. All they care about is to keep the jail full,” one of the observers said.
An audio recording of the hearing has been received by The Post & Email, segments of which will be posted in a subsequent article.