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ATTACK AD TAKEN OUT IN THE DAILY POST-ATHENIAN CLAIMS VAN IRION “NOT QUALIFIED”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 26, 2014) — Two Athens, TN attorneys reportedly paid for an advertisement in The Daily Post-Athenian, which serves the local area, with the purpose of convincing citizens of the Tenth Judicial District not to vote for Atty. Van Irion for Criminal Court Judge in the primary. Voting began on Friday and ends on May 6.
Attys. William P. Biddle, III and H. Chris Trew, who are law partners in the firm Biddle, Trew & Parr, assert that Irion is “not qualified” for the position of Criminal Court Judge, which is currently held by Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy.
Contained in their lengthy screed which attempted to paint Irion as inexperienced and unqualified based on where his law office is located rather than where he resides, Biddle and Trew state that “We do not endorse the candidacy of Van Irion for Criminal Court Judge and urge voters to vote for either of the other candidates” after identifying Sandra Donaghy as Irion’s Republican primary contender and Reedy as the incumbent Democrat.
Reedy is ending her eight-year term after having been appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen due to a vacancy in 2006 and then running for election in her own right.
The column states that Irion’s criminal law experience is limited to his defense of “Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III” and criticizes Irion for claiming on his Liberty Legal Foundation website that the Tenth Judicial District is “known to be…highly corrupt.”
Liberty Legal was founded with the purpose of “strategically challenging flawed legal precedent to restore our Constitution.”
While Biddle and Trew denounce Irion for his office’s location outside of the Tenth Judicial District, Donaghy also currently works outside of the Tenth Judicial District as a deputy district attorney general in Tennessee’s Seventh Judicial District.
Biddle and Trew apparently do not have a website or criminal law experience themselves.
Because of its tactics, The Post & Email would reject such an advertisement outright, regardless of the political party or ideology of its intended target.
For the last four years, The Post & Email has reported on the systemic corruption within the district as evidenced by District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb’s perjury at the trial of Darren Wesley Huff, which resulted in Huff’s four-year sentence as an innocent man; Reedy and other judges’ routine rigging of the grand juries and trial juries to obtain the results they desire; the hand-picking of grand jury foremen who sometimes serve for decades but are falsely represented as jurors; the false charges and lack of due process allowed defendants by criminal court judges; the dishonesty of the court clerks and court reporters, including altering transcripts or producing inaccurate transcripts; and other violations of law.
The Post-Athenian home page displays an advertisement from Irion’s campaign describing him as “Veteran – Experienced – Constitutionalist.” Irion’s website states that he specializes in “business law, patents and general practice.” Irion resides in Monroe County, one of four counties within the Tenth Judicial District, the other three being McMinn, Bradley, and Polk.
Irion is defending Fitzpatrick in a case at the appeals level arising from Fitzpatrick’s having observed Reedy hand-picking slips of paper containing the personal information of potential grand jurors on December 7, 2011. He is also representing Fitzpatrick after Fitzpatrick was indicted and arrested on March 18, 2014 on four charges made by former grand jury foreman Jeff Cunningham while he was sitting on a bench reading a book on the second floor of the McMinn County courthouse. Fitzpatrick had hoped for a possible opportunity to submit evidence of criminality among court functionaries to the seated grand jury, including misconduct by Cunningham for blocking his previous attempts to gain entry to the grand jury with his evidence.
The criminal court system in Tennessee has shown itself to be “a closed system.”
Reedy appointed Jeff Cunningham to serve as grand jury foreman in November 2012, reappointing him in 2013 and 2014, although Cunningham reportedly resigned his position in early March. The indictments against Fitzpatrick claim that Fitzpatrick “harassed” and “stalked” Cunningham and accused Fitzpatrick of “extortion” and “aggravated perjury.”
Following Cunningham’s resignation, Reedy appointed Larry Wallace, who is acquainted with Cunningham through Cunningham’s executive position at Athens Federal Community Bank. Wallace is on the board of directors at the bank and received a $5,000 gift from the institution for the university at which he is also a high-ranking official. When The Post & Email attempted to verify if Wallace is the same “Larry Wallace” who has 40 years of law enforcement experience, we were told by Reedy’s administrative office that no “public information” on his background was available.
Reedy appointed a third foreman on the day of Fitzpatrick’s March 18 arrest just minutes before it occurred.
On Saturday, The Post & Email contacted Donaghy and Reedy through their respective campaign websites to inquire as to their position on “grand juries” which, in violation of state law, contain 12 randomly-selected members and a judicially-appointed foreman who is a county employee and functionary of the criminal court judge. In our message to Donaghy, we referenced the brief written by the Tennessee Attorney General, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., last fall and signed by Deputy Attorney General Kyle Hixson, which stated that the foreman is not and has never been a member of the grand jury despite the fact that the Monroe County Criminal Court describes the foreman as “a juror.”
We submitted our contact information to Donaghy, explaining that The Post & Email will be covering the primary and subsequent general election.
Of her opponents, Donaghy states:
Criminal Court. This is the seat I am running for. My opponent for the primary election is Van Irion who has his law office in Knoxville. He goes by the names of Van Irion, Van R. Irion, and Van Rencelliere Irion. He practices patent law. I encourage you to explore the information about his background, beliefs, and limited experience as an attorney, which is available on the Internet. From his firm’s Website, he does not appear to practice criminal law.
After a successful May primary, I will face the Honorable Amy F. Reedy, the Democrat incumbent judge. She goes by the names of Amy Reedy, Amy F. Reedy, Amy Armstrong Reedy, Amy F. Armstrong Reedy, and Amy Francis Armstrong Reedy.
I encourage you to explore the volume of information about her performance as judge, which is available on the Internet.
10th District Candidates – Van Irion – Amy Reedy – Elect Sandra Donaghy Criminal Court Judge
Donaghy admits that confidence in the judicial system in the Tenth Judicial District is compromised. “My specific purpose to be elected Criminal Court Judge is motivated by a desire to restore dignity and confidence in the Criminal Court system of The 10th Judicial District,” Donaghy states.
Donaghy contends that “it is important that your judge knows the law and follows the law.” “For the last 30 years, I have been grooming myself, and I have been mentored by others, to come to this very position,” she states.
Donaghy is a resident of Bradley County.
On Reedy’s website, it states that she “has served the 10th Judicial District in the juror impaneling process in cooperation with the Circuit Court Clerks offices in McMinn, Monroe, Bradley and Polk counties. Judge Reedy has helped to efficiently manage the time and service of thousands of jurors that serve our system of justice. Judge Reedy is a strong referee of lawyers that fight hard for their respective positions during jury trials. Judge Reedy makes sure jurors time and service to our community during jury trials is managed efficiently. Judge Reedy makes sure the hard fought battles in court are fair and not foul.”
Reedy also was a deputy district attorney general in the Tenth Judicial District. “With over 20 years experience in all positions in the criminal courtroom I hope to continue to improve the court system one case at a time,” Reedy states.
The Post & Email sent the following message to Reedy through her contact page:
Our full message to Reedy reads:
Grand juries in Tennessee are illegally formed, according to TCA 40-12-206, because they comprise 12 individuals allegedly selected by automated means and a judicially-appointed foreman who is a county employee; in some cases, a career employee. How does this situation square with the statute, and what is your position on it?
State and federal-level legislators have refused to attempt to rectify the systemic corruption of the judiciary in their state. Similarly, reporters at local newspapers have shown no curiosity about the reports of judicial corruption and rigged juries, even when there is clear evidence of bias on the part of the judges and lack of due process for criminal defendants.
McMinn County clerks have refused to take further phone calls from The Post & Email for no stated reason.