“THE JURY’S OUT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 24, 2014) — A trial in the case of State of Tennessee v. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, 14-CR-69, has ended and the jury was in deliberations as of 10:30 a.m. EDT.
The case was brought by former McMinn County grand jury foreman Jeffrey Cunningham, who alleged, but later retracted, accusations against Fitzpatrick that he “stalked,” “harassed,” “extorted” and committed “aggravated perjury” against him.
The perjury charge was dismissed by Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood on Monday. Blackwood is acquainted with Fitzpatrick from a previous case arising from Fitzpatrick’s attempted citizen’s arrest of Monroe County grand jury foreman Gary Pettway, who had served in the position for 28 years.
In late 2009, Fitzpatrick discovered that Tennessee grand juries were populated with 12 jurors and a foreman who is judicially-selected and can remain in the post for as long as the judge desires.
Cunningham was among three witnesses called by the prosecution and testified on its behalf for four hours yesterday, followed by cross-examination by Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Van Irion.
On March 18, Fitzpatrick was arrested after attempting to submit evidence to the grand jury involving Cunningham, who admitted that he blocked the submission from reaching the grand jury because it alleged that he himself was a criminal. In court on Monday, Cunningham testified that he believed he had the authority to refuse to accept a submission, although Irion read from Tennessee code a law which states that any citizen has the right to petition the grand jury if they have reasonable belief that a crime has been committed.
Fitzpatrick wanted the grand jury to know that Cunningham “is not a juror,” according to Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr.’s office in a court brief filed last fall in another case.
Blackwood has himself appointed numerous grand jury foremen who have served for years and decades, as have Tenth Judicial District Judges Amy Reedy, Carroll Lee Ross, and former criminal court judge R. Steven Bebb, who went on to become District Attorney General and signed the grand jury’s presentment against Fitzpatrick in the current case.
Bebb abruptly resigned on June 6 and applied for retirement, a story which made national news.
Judge Amy Reedy, who Bebb called upon as a witness late last month, did not testify.
Update, 3:05 p.m.: The Post & Email reported incorrectly that the charge of “aggravated perjury” was dismissed by Blackwood. Rather, the “stalking” charge was dropped.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.