What Do Tennessee “Public Servants” Have to Say About Corruption in Their State?

“SYSTEMIC CRIMINALITY”

by Sharon Rondeau

The Tennessee judicial branch historically has been at odds with the legislature, with judges creating their own “laws” from the bench routinely

(Mar. 26, 2014) — The following letter has been sent to the Tennessee Supreme Court and the individuals noted below.

March 25, 2014

Tennessee Supreme Court
Administrative Office of the Courts
511 Union Street, Suite 600
Nashville, TN 37219

Dear Sir or Madam:

RE:         GRAND JURY FOREMEN/CONFLICT OF INTEREST

I am owner and editor of The Post & Email (www.thepostemail.com), an online newspaper which covers government corruption.

I have been reporting on corruption in your state, particularly eastern Tennessee, for the past four years.  During this time, I have learned that systemic criminality involving judges, sheriffs, court personnel, local police, members of the TBI and even the FBI works to incarcerate as many people as possible in order to glean money from state and federal coffers, which is then used for other illicit purposes, most likely drugs and the drug trade.

While this might sound harsh, it is true, and it is no secret.

A major factor in the criminal syndicate which operates in the Tenth Judicial District and most likely, other districts, is that the grand juries are wholly corrupted, put in place only to serve the local government’s desire to indict as many citizens as possible, innocent or guilty, to keep the money flowing.

While Tennessee Code states that grand jurors are chosen from a jury pool via random selection http://www.chattbar.org/downloads/Book18_2_1.pdf   http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/op/2010/op/op10-125.pdf , as you know, in Tennessee, the foreman is chosen by the judges and serves for years and perhaps decades.  Last fall, the attorney general, who you appoint every eight years, affirmed in a brief filed in the Knoxville appeals court that the grand jury foreman “is not a juror.”  http://www.thepostemail.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/HIXSON-BRIEF.pdf  Why, then, does the foreman vote with the grand jury on whether or not to indict someone? 

There is nothing in the state codes which allows for a judicially-appointed foreman http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/tennessee/tn-code/tennessee_code_22-2-304 .   If a judge were to select a trial jury foreman, the jury would certainly be considered compromised.

What are the qualifications of such a court-appointed foreman?  What about the state law which mandates 13 members to a grand jury, http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/tennessee/tn-code/tennessee_code_40-12-206 , not 12 plus a judicially-chosen foreman who serves indefinitely and votes the way the judge, his employer, wishes?

In McMinn County, for example, the grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Lane Cunningham, is a trained and licensed attorney active in the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) http://www.tba.org/profile/jeffrey-cunningham and serving his third term as foreman.  Atty. Cunningham expresses one of his areas of concentration as “Criminal Law – Prosecution.”  How could his appointment as grand jury foreman not be considered a conflict of interest and an injustice to the people of the county?

What about judges who hand-pick grand jurors’ names with all of their personal information visible rather than out of a closed box, as mandated by law?  http://www.thepostemail.com/2013/11/21/will-there-be-consequences-for-judge-amy-reedy-pb/

http://www.thepostemail.com/2013/11/21/will-there-be-consequences-for-judge-amy-reedy-pb/

It is no coincidence that the same judge, Amy Reedy, picked and installed Cunningham.

What about a judge who denies a defense attorney the opportunity to present his case, upholds forged charging documents, and opines in court that the defendant is a “self-appointed vigilante?”  http://www.thepostemail.com/2013/11/21/will-there-be-consequences-for-judge-amy-reedy-pb/

http://www.thepostemail.com/2013/01/11/judge-walter-c-kurtz-denies-fitzpatricks-request-for-new-trial-pb/  

In agreement with the legislature, the 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.”  http://www.tndagc.org/vwh.htm#jury  How, then, is a judge allowed to choose the foreman through an unknown vetting process?

In one case in Davidson County, it was found that a judicially-selected grand jury foreman was a convicted felon, which violated TCA 22-1-102 http://franklincountycircuitcourtclerk.org/juror-information/ and resulted in the need to review approximately 900 cases in which he had been involved, at taxpayer expense.  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/jan/31/nashville-da-says-grand-jury-foreman-was-felon/?preventMobileRedirect=1 

An article in The Tennessean on the subject has conveniently been removed.  http://www.tennessean.com/errors/404/ 

According to Criminal Court Rule 6g(2), “the foreperson must possess all the qualifications of a juror,” which means that he or she must have first been selected by the random method used for everyone else.  http://www.tncourts.gov/rules/rules-criminal-procedure/6  At that point, the foreman would then be chosen from the group of screened jurors, not “from wherever they [the judges] choose.” http://advocateanddemocrat.com/story/21576

Finally, why is Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood called repeatedly to preside over cases involving CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), who has exposed much of the aforementioned corruption, at his own peril, over the last four years?  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/oct/28/grand-jury-intruder-arrested-east-tennessee/?comments_id=1533841  In the most recent case against Fitzpatrick, on March 17, 2014, Blackwood denied Fitzpatrick’s request for a restraining order against Cunningham, who threatened to have Fitzpatrick arrested just for bringing a criminal complaint to the McMinn County courthouse.   After Cunningham gave false testimony on March 18 to his “grand jury” to have Fitzpatrick arrested, Blackwood was the judge called in to preside over the initial hearing on March 24, 2014.  How could that not be considered a conflict of interest?

Blackwood has also said on the record that a juror serving consecutive terms is acceptable, which directly contradicts TCA 22-2-314.  http://www.thepostemail.com/2010/10/15/the-dictatorship-of-the-judiciary/    http://www.thepostemail.com/2012/06/22/tennessee-prosecutors-and-judges-try-to-deny-state-law/   http://franklincountycircuitcourtclerk.org/juror-information/ 

I would very much appreciate your explanation of how and why these issues continue year after year to the detriment of Tennessee citizens.  These questions continue to make headlines at The Post & Email and certainly beg answers from you as public servants sworn to uphold the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions.

Very truly yours,

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT  06076
editor@thepostemail.com
203-987-7948

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Just as this letter was being reproduced for mailing, this writer learned that Cunningham resigned from his position as grand jury foreman on March 4, which was then confirmed with Sherry at the McMinn County courthouse.

Cc:           Board of Professional Responsibility
10 Cadillac Drive
Suite 220
Brentwood, TN 37027

Rep. Jon Lundberg
Tennessee General Assembly
Chairman, House Civil Justice Committee
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 20 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

Rep. Eric Watson
Tennessee General Assembly
Chairman, House Criminal Justice Committee
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 112 War Memorial Bldg.
Nashville, TN 37243

Senator Brian Kelsey
Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee
Tennessee General Assembly
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 7 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

3 Responses to "What Do Tennessee “Public Servants” Have to Say About Corruption in Their State?"

  1. gigclick   Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I have only two questions. Are there any people in office in Tennessee that are NOT corrupt? How long have they been working on keeping any honest people out? BOINGGGGGGGGGGGGG! Business as usual! I would ASSUME we could call Tennessee “Little DC” ?? Remember, Tennessee is the state of the most decorated Veteran in American History-Sargent York. What happened there? They don’t seem to like Veterans there now but I have to wonder if Republican Commissioner Jim Miller, who was reportedly murdered by Monroe County LEO’s there, was a Veteran also and not just going against DNC Corruption there? Lots of ghosts in lots of closets. If you see prisoners doing illegal maintenance on Police Chiefs personal property there, keep on driving. I don’t think I’ll be vacationing in Tennessee any time soon, especially as a Veteran, you might be arrested just for being there or reading a book in a courthouse passing time. Just like Louisiana, I’ll make sure I drive AROUND that state just for peace of mind.

  2. John Sutherland   Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    Sharon, I agree with thinkwell, and your letter does make a written record that will be hard to ignore legally.

  3. thinkwell   Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Excellent, well crafted letter, Mrs. Rondeau. Your narrative is easy to follow, yet all the damning evidence is clearly and logically presented.

    No doubt the incriminating facts will just be ignored once again, but hope springs eternal. Corruption abhors the shining light of truth. Thank you for all that you do.

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