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by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 8, 2014) — On Thursday, 24 subpoenas were issued and presumably served to individuals residing in Tennessee’s Tenth Judicial District summoning them to appear at a hearing in the case of State of Tennessee v. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, 14-CR-69, on Monday, June 16, 2014.
Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Van Irion, requested the issuance of the subpoenas through the McMinn County, TN court. McMinn County is one of four contained within the Tenth District.
Also on Thursday, deputy prosecutor A. Wayne Carter filed a Motion to Quash the subpoenas, a hearing for which is scheduled in the basement courtroom of the McMinn County courthouse at 2:00 p.m. on Monday and open to the public.
In his brief, Carter claimed that “the defendant’s request for subpoenas is simply a tactic for delay and is not reasonable or necessary…A motion hearing is not a place to do an investigation.”
The case arose when Fitzpatrick was waiting on a bench on the second floor of the McMinn County courthouse on March 18 after requesting an opportunity to submit criminal evidence to the grand jury. With courthouse cameras in operation, Fitzpatrick was arrested at approximately 12:20 p.m. EDT and told that he was charged with extortion, aggravated perjury, stalking, and harassment of the former grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Lane Cunningham.
A bank CEO and president as well as an active attorney, Cunningham had served as grand jury foreman at the behest of Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy for more than two years, reportedly resigning on March 4.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Bill of Rights was ratified prior to the U.S. Constitution, as many of the anti-Federalists feared that the central government which the states were about to create would not observe its responsibility to “protect the basic principles of human liberty.”
As recently as 1989, a special grand jury made up of citizens uninfluenced by a prosecutor or judge discovered evidence of a “conspiracy” among government officials to hide the practice of hazardous waste disposal at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado. In October 2001, the active FBI agent who spearheaded the Rocky Flats investigation as a result of the grand jury’s findings wrote a letter to Congress stating that his supervisor had instructed him to lie and that the U.S. Department of Justice “covered up the truth.” Members of the grand jury have reported having been intimidated by government agents as they conducted their independent inquiry.
Today, federal and special grand juries are still empaneled but are largely under the control of U.S. attorneys, who act as gatekeepers and decide which cases to take to the grand jury rather than the grand jury initiating its own investigations and issuing a “presentment” if its members believe enough evidence exists.
In Tennessee, county grand juries are presided over by a foreman who is hand-picked by a criminal court judge, sometimes serving for decades. In December 2009, Fitzpatrick discovered after attempting to submit a complaint of treason against Barack Hussein Obama to the Monroe County, TN grand jury that then-foreman Gary Pettway had been serving for at least 20 years consecutively in violation of state law.
Later, Fitzpatrick discovered that Pettway’s tenure had lasted for 28 consecutive years without an appointing order or any evidence that he ever took any kind of an oath of service.
Tennessee code states that once the term of a juror has concluded, he or she cannot serve again on a jury anywhere in the state for 24 months. Jurors also must be selected by automated means, screened for eligibility or prior knowledge of a case to be evaluated or heard, and then finalists’ names chosen blindly from a box “in open court.” TCA 22-2-310 states that both grand jurors and trial jurors are chosen from the same “pool” populated by the random selection, which is most often done today by computer.
In late 2010, Tennessee Attorney General and Reporter Robert E. Cooper, Jr. referred to Rule 6 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure regarding “the formation of the grand jury,” which states, in part: “The foreperson and the twelve qualified jurors whose names are first drawn constitute the grand jury for the term and shall attend the court until dismissed by the judge or until the next term.”
The District Attorneys General Conference’s description of 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.” However, District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb, having served as a judge in the Tenth Judicial District for 23 years prior to becoming chief prosecutor for the district, signed numerous appointing orders for grand jury foremen who were hand-selected, as documents acquired through an open records request by a Tennessee resident which The Post & Email has seen demonstrate.
For more than three decades, judges in eastern Tennessee, and most likely in the entire state, have been selecting the grand jury foreman “from wherever they choose” with the full knowledge of defense attorneys, prosecutors, clerks and court reporters.
Reedy has also signed a number of appointing orders since she took office in 2006 for individuals who she has hand-picked to serve as grand jury foreman.
Last fall, in a different case in which Fitzpatrick was convicted of “tampering with government records” which he appealed, Cooper stated in the state’s court brief that the grand jury foreman “is not ‘impaneled’ from the ‘summoned’ members of the ‘jury pool.’…The foreperson is ‘appointed’ by the trial court.”
Reedy appointed a new grand jury foreman, Thomas Balkom, just minutes before Fitzpatrick was arrested on March 18, designating the case number which had just been generated. Prior to Balkom, she appointed Larry Wallace to replace Cunningham on March 4. Both men are acquainted by their mutual board membership at the Athens Federal Community Bank in Athens, TN.
Larry Wallace’s background was unavailable to the public, but The Post & Email determined that he is the same individual who served as a police officer, Chattanooga Police Chief, and director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
The prosecution has called Reedy to act as a witness in the case, and Irion has subpoenaed Balkom, among others, to appear as a witness on June 16.
Irion told The Post & Email on Friday that Carter has no grounds upon which to base his motion.
The list of the 24 individuals receiving subpoenas includes Carter. Fitzpatrick SUBPOENAS ISSUED IN STATE v. W.F. FITZPATRICK, III ~ Case No. 14-CR-69