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WHO IS TRULY “QUALIFIED?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 2, 2014) — On April 26, 2014, The Post & Email contacted Sandra Donaghy, Republican primary candidate for Criminal Court Judge in the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee currently running against Atty. Van Irion, about the Tennessee attorney general’s statement that a grand jury foreman “is not a juror.”
Primary voting in the contest began on April 25 and will conclude on May 6.
Our question to Donaghy was as follows:
From: Sharon Rondeau <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: MEDIA REQUEST
I operate an electronic newspaper and am covering this election. I would like to know your position regarding the Attorney General’s contention that the grand jury foreman “is not a juror.”
If you haven’t seen it alraedy, I can send you a court brief written by the Attorney General stating that the grand jury foreman has never been a juror; hence, grand juries in the state of Tennessee are at present illegally formed and nullified according to state law.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
Our message referred to the practice of criminal court judges’ installing the grand jury foreman “from wherever they choose” and not from the jury pool, which is mandated by law to be constructed by “random, automated means.” As a result of judges choosing their own person from the community without oversight, the foreman sometimes serves for decades, and his or her background is not made public.
Tennessee code requires that grand juries consist of 13 “members” and “up to five alternates,” but instead, they comprise 12 people who are selected allegedly by random means and the judicially-chosen foreman. The practice has resulted in at least one foreman having been discovered to be a convicted felon in violation of the law, and all of the cases he influenced to be reviewed. It has also caused undue influence on the grand jury to produce a desired result in an untold number of cases in the district over at least six decades.
Donaghy’s response reads as follows:
Subject: RE: MEDIA REQUEST
Date: Fri, 2 May 2014 09:19:34 -0400
Dear Ms. Rondeau:
If elected, I will take an oath and be duty bound to follow State and federal laws. This I will do.
I am prohibited by the Judicial Canons of Ethics from commenting on a pending case. Therefore, I cannot express an opinion or position regarding a brief of the Attorney General.
Thank you for your inquiry.
The Post & Email also contacted the incumbent, Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy, and published her responses earlier this week. Irion’s views are already known, as in December 2012, he argued on behalf of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) that the Monroe County grand jury foreman, Faye Tennyson, had over-served her legal term in a second-year appointment and therefore, her signature on the indictments issued against Fitzpatrick was invalid.
Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz disagreed, stating that there is no limit on a grand jury foreman’s term of service other than that which a judge might impose. Kurtz also denied Irion an opportunity to present a defense after the state presented its case against Fitzpatrick. Jury deliberations of approximately five minutes resulted in a declaration of Fitzpatrick’s guilt.
Upon appeal, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office issued the above-mentioned brief which classifies the foreman as “not a juror” and selected by the Criminal Court judge. However, in a previous Monroe County Criminal Court case, the foreman at the time, Gary Pettway, was identified as “a juror” in an indictment which was prosecuted.
The Post & Email then responded to Donaghy:
Hello, Ms. Donaghy, thank you very much for your response.
The grand juries throughout Tennessee are illegally constructed because they comprise 12 grand jurors allegedly selected randomly with a judicially-selected foreman, which violates state code. The Post & Email has acquired a vast amount of evidence showing that not only is the foreman compromised, but also some of the jurors serve consecutive terms, which violates TCA 22-2-314. In fact, it is likely that many, if not all, of the cases you have prosecuted emanated from compromised grand juries, most certainly if the foreman did not come from the randomly-selected jury pool.
The Hixson brief to which I referred in my initial email states that the judge picks the foreman, that he “is not a juror,” and implies that this process is perfectly fine, which contradicts state law. There should be no human intervention in the selecting of any juror.
In Monroe County, for instance, an indictment was issued against someone for “intimidating a juror,” indicating the foreman, but the deputy attorney general stated in his brief that the foreman “is not a juror.”
If the foreman is not a juror and can serve for as long as the judge wishes, then he is a court employee.
This would appear to be a constitutional crisis, but I leave that to you to decide.
A grand jury cannot comprise 12 jurors and a foreman selected by the judge by an unknown vetting process. A case in Davidson County arose last year in which it was found that the grand jury foreman was himself a convicted felon. The judge had selected him from somewhere in the community and evidently didn’t vet him. That is why state code mandates that juror selection be done “by random, automated means.”
This is just one of the problems with judges selecting the foreman “from wherever they choose:”
Even the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 6(g)(2), states that “The foreperson shall possess all the qualifications of a juror.” If a foreman is not selected randomly, as are the others, then he or she does not “possess all the qualifications of a juror,” because he or she was not selected from the jury pool.
From my four years of research into the judicial system in eastern Tennessee, the corruption in the Tenth Judicial District cannot be corrected unless the grand juries (and trial juries) are properly constructed. A study of TCA 40-12-206 explains how all grand juries are to be formed:
If you would care to speak with me on this, I can detail the following points of corruption which have been exposed by The Post & Email:
- “Doctored” court transcripts
- Denial of the constitutional right to an attorney (George Raudenbush case reversed and remanded in December 2013)
- Grand jury indictments issued without any supporting evidence, therefore indicating that they are tools of the government, not to act as a buffer between the government and the citizens as outlined in the Fifth Amendment
- Undue influence placed on the grand jury through the judge’s “pick” of the foreman
- Police brutality without any consequences
- A racketeering syndicate being operated through the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the courts, and the local police
- Deplorable conditions in the Monroe County jail, which the grand jury is tasked with overseeing (Rule “e,” Duties of the Grand Jury)
- Dishonesty throughout the district attorney general’s office (I have documentary proof)
- Rigging of grand juries and trial juries (I have documentary proof)
- Defendants convicted without proper due process or the gathering of forensic evidence.
And there is much, much more. Here is an example of the type of work I have produced which is entirely supported by documentation:
We then reproduced in its entirety, in printer-friendly format, the article “Tennessee’s Criminal Syndicate Includes Washington, DC.”
We concluded our response to Donaghy:
I have another question: Did you contact, encourage, or in any way facilitate the placement of an ad by two Athens, TN attorneys which attempted to make the case that your opponent, Van Irion, is “not qualified?” Their ad from last Friday uses many of the same talking points and a similar format which appeared in your campaign ad, hence the question. Neither Atty. Biddle nor Trew would interview with me, so I was not able to ask them.
I can supply you with more information on Tenth Judicial District corruption should you desire it.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076