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by Sharon Rondeau

Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III McMinn County jail photo

(Mar. 24, 2014) — An eyewitness at an arraignment hearing for Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III on Monday contacted The Post & Email at approximately 1:18 p.m. EDT to share her observations on the proceedings, which began at noon and ended approximately 45 minutes later.

Fitzpatrick is currently housed at the McMinn County jail, which is part of a larger “justice center,” on a $50,000 bond.

Fitzpatrick was arrested last Tuesday by McMinn County sheriff’s deputies after attempting to present evidence of criminality regarding the grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Cunningham, and other court and judicial personnel to include the District Attorney General, R. Steven Bebb, who signed the indictments.

Instead of accepting Fitzpatrick’s submission made on a total of seven visits to the courthouse, Cunningham claimed to the grand jury that Fitzpatrick had harassed and stalked him as well as committed “aggravated perjury” and “extortion.”

In February and March, respectively, Fitzpatrick had sought a restraining order against Cunningham, who had threatened to have him arrested by a deputy last month.  Both restraining orders were denied by two different judges.

Eastern Tennessee is well-known for systemic corruption which dates back decades, including in Monroe County, which has also prosecuted alleged crimes against Fitzpatrick which were issued by compromised grand juries and long-serving grand jury foremen.  Fitzpatrick has described the corruption, which includes sheriffs’ departments, judges, grand jury members, grand jury foremen, court clerks, local police, and law enforcers up to and including the local FBI office, as “a criminal syndicate.”

The eyewitness also was called to the witness stand to testify under oath as to Fitzpatrick’s character, along with three other such witnesses.

Atty. Van Irion, who is running for criminal court judge against a Republican challenger and could eventually face Amy Armstrong Reedy, also named in Fitzpatrick’s numerous criminal complaints, provided Fitzpatrick’s defense.

“Bond was reduced to $20,000,” the eyewitness reported.  “The prosecuting attorney brought up a bunch of bogus stuff…half-truths, you-name-it,” she said.  “We had a good group there for him.  Van Irion called me up to the stand.  He had four of us come up and testify, and of course, that prosecuting attorney tried real hard to disqualify us, that we didn’t know him [Fitzpatrick] long enough, we didn’t know all the facts, he had been convicted of all kinds of things, and Van Irion brought out afterward that those convictions were not so, that allegations may have been made, but there were no convictions.”

When we asked the witness what she said on the stand, she replied, “Just that I fully believe he [Fitzpatrick] was as honest as the day is long…They asked me about somebody lying, and I said that if it had been one of my kids, they would have had their mouth washed out.”

“All in all, I think it went reasonably good,” she said.

We asked her about Fitzpatrick’s appearance, to which she responded, “Pretty good.  Like before, he has not shaved.  But you know what?  Before they took him back to the jail, they let us have probably close to a half an hour fro him to talk to those who had come to support him.  We had conference time with him and talked with him…so it went well.”

Update, 3:08 p.m.:  Sherry at the McMinn County courthouse stated that Wayne Carter represented the State of Tennessee during the hearing, while Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood presided.  Blackwood is clearly compromised, having presided over a previous case against Fitzpatrick in Monroe County and denied Fitzpatrick’s March request for a restraining order against Cunningham.


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