IS THE GRAND JURY “LAWFULLY CONVENED AND CONSTRUCTED?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 22, 2014) — A preliminary hearing will be held on Monday at 12:00 noon at the McMinn County, TN courthouse for CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), who was arrested on Tuesday on charges of “extortion,” “stalking,” “harassment,” and “aggravated perjury” of the McMinn County, TN grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Lane Cunningham.
Fitzpatrick had attempted on seven different occasions to advance criminal evidence against Cunningham to the new sitting grand juries for McMinn County following their empaneling in January. On February 18, Cunningham had approached Fitzpatrick in the courthouse and threatened to have him arrested, although Fitzpatrick had said nothing to nor approached Cunningham that day.
Cunningham is a licensed attorney and member of the Tennessee Bar Association as well as president of a community bank. Cunningham expresses his area of interest in law as “criminal law – prosecution.” In his February complaint, Fitzpatrick asked the grand jury and other authorities to investigate “official misconduct,” “official oppression,” and “coercion of a witness,” among other allegations against Cunningham and court personnel for operating an unlawful grand jury.
Fitzpatrick addressed the criminal complaint he intended to submit last Tuesday to “a lawfully convened and constructed McMinn County grand jury for the 18 February 2014 term.” Tennessee law calls for grand juries to have 13 members chosen randomly and “up to five alternates,” but the Tenth Judicial District uses 12 members plus the judicially-appointed foreman, who often serves for decades.
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email in January that based on the grand jurors he observed entering and leaving the courthouse, their selection could not have been random. On December 7, 2011, Fitzpatrick observed Judge Amy Reedy hand-picking jurors from papers placed on her desk when state law commands that they be placed in a box and chosen blindly in the final round of juror selection. Reedy’s ruling in a stunning case of Monroe County public corruption was reversed by an appellate court, which described the transgressions by District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb, Det. Pat Henry and Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens as “so egregious that it simply cannot go unchecked.”
For approximately two years, The Post & Email has been in direct communication with the inmate and “jailhouse informant,” Todd Sweet, who pretended to be an attorney to another inmate at the reported urging of Bivens and Bebb. Reason.com reported that “Assistant District Attorney General Bebb then successfully persuaded Judge Reedy to overlook it all.”
The state of Tennessee, through its attorney general, has represented that the grand jury foreman is not a juror, but rather, a functionary of the court, as he or she is selected by a judge via an undisclosed vetting process, or perhaps no vetting at all. As a result, a Davidson County grand jury foreman was found last year to have been a convicted felon, serving in violation of Tennessee code. Fitzpatrick’s recent visits to the courthouse have been in an attempt to submit to the grand juries that their foreman is not a juror as they have been led to believe in accordance with the attorney general’s brief. HIXSON-BRIEF
The argument on behalf of the attorney general was made to an appellate panel in a case arising out of Monroe County, TN against Fitzpatrick in which he was convicted of “tampering with government records.” Fitzpatrick’s attorney argued on appeal that the grand jury foreman, Faye Tennyson, had over-served her term and was therefore acting illegally upon signing the indictments, thereby justifying a “necessity” defense for Fitzpatrick.
Special Judge Walter C. Kurtz was made aware of the irregularities with the charging documents but said that “Once the indictment comes down, that’s just the end of it.” Kurtz also denied Fitzpatrick’s defense attorney, Van Irion, an opportunity to present his case to the court.
Monroe County, which, like McMinn County, is part of the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee, maintains that the grand jury foreman is a juror by an indictment issued against Fitzpatrick and Darren Wesley Huff on June 3, 2010, which resulted in charges against both men and for which Fitzpatrick served time in the Monroe County jail. Monroe County and the attorney general are now at odds over the role of the grand jury foreman.
On April 1, 2010, Fitzpatrick had attempted a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the Monroe County grand jury foreman for over-serving his term as a juror as defined in Tennessee code but was himself arrested and jailed.
As with the U.S. Congress’s refusal to investigate Obama’s forged birth certificate and Selective Service registration form, the Tennessee General Assembly has refused to discipline rogue judges and law-breakers within the judicial branch. The legislature reportedly was considering removing District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb, who signed the latest indictments against Fitzpatrick, from his post for misconduct and corruption, but as of yet has not done so.
The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference describes a grand jury as “a group of thirteen citizens chosen from the jury panel. One of these thirteen is the fore person and will preside over the grand jury.”
The function of the District Attorney’s office is to “prosecute all criminal cases on behalf of the citizens of the State of Tennessee,” although Fitzpatrick and others have demonstrated that the grand jury, laws, court personnel and grand jury foreman are often used against the citizenry to effect incarcerations out of revenge or a desire to line the coffers of the local jails with funds from the state government.
In both February and March, Fitzpatrick had requested a restraining order against Cunningham, both of which were denied. The indictments claim that Fitzpatrick has “intimidated” and “knowingly annoyed or alarmed” Cunningham since January “by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication…”
Fitzpatrick does not use text-messaging and has never spoken to Cunningham by phone.
On Friday, after receiving word of the hearing, a Fitzpatrick supporter distributed the following email:
All who are close enough to make an appearance at the McMinn County Courthouse, to support Walter Fitzpatrick, please be there just before noon on Monday. Those who are not close enough PLEASE be in serious prayer at that time. The charges against him are so laughable it is pitiful and some of those charges are the ones that should be charged against the corrupt judicial workers in McMinn. We will see you there and bring some friends as well so they can be educated on how the court system is working these days.
The Post & Email’s understanding is that Atty. Van Irion will be representing Fitzpatrick on Monday. An Air Force veteran, former medical researcher, certified EMT, and constitutional attorney, Irion has launched a campaign to run for Criminal Court Judge against Amy Reedy, who has served for eight years after being appointed due to a vacancy in 2006, as permitted by Tennessee code, then elected. Irion faces an runoff election next month against a Republican opponent and has garnered support from the Tea Party of Southeastern Tennessee.
Irion has appeared on the Fox News Channel’s “On the Record” hosted by Greta van Susteren and has challenged the constitutionality of Obamacare and Obama’s occupation of the presidency based on Obama’s lack of a U.S.-citizen father. Irion founded the Liberty Legal Foundation and unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Chuck Fleischmann, who now represents the Second District of Tennessee.
Irion has represented Fitzpatrick pro bono and mentioned the case in which Kurtz denied him the chance to offer a defense in his address to the Tea Party group. Irion believes that with his law degree and experience, he can be effective in dismissing any cases brought before him which he perceives are based on unconstitutional laws.
Donations to help defray Irion’s expenses in representing Fitzpatrick can be made here.
Irion is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Tenth Amendment and “nullification.” Before his arrest, Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that Irion has based his run for Criminal Court Judge on the corruption within the grand juries and judiciary within the Tenth Judicial District.
Unlike any other state in the Union, the Tennessee attorney general is appointed by the state Supreme Court rather than elected by the voters and serves an eight-year term. The position taken by the attorney general in Fitzpatrick’s case on appeal therefore represents a collision among the judicial, executive and legislative branches of Tennessee government.
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.