Eastern Tennessee: America’s Penal Colony

“WE’RE REAPING WHAT WE SOW AS PEOPLE”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 28, 2014) — As a result of corruption involving a Tennessee criminal court judge, the Tenth Judicial District prosecutor’s office, and a man who seized an inheritance from his wife who died under highly suspicious circumstances, Marvin Young has been falsely accused by Monroe County, TN and is facing up to 40 years in prison.

As in the criminal case brought against Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III in which he was convicted of two felonies on Tuesday, no police report or sworn statement has ever been filed.

Young made a video in February explaining the false charges issued against him by a corrupt Monroe County grand jury, displaying clearly for the viewer a myriad of documents to prove that his father’s last will and testament was fraudulent.

Monroe County is one of four counties in the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee, where public corruption has existed for so long that the citizenry has accepted it as “just the way things are around here.”  Racketeering, illegal ticketing and incarceration of citizens, police brutality, jury-rigging, murder and collusion are perpetrated routinely in an effort to continue the flow of money into the “law enforcement” system.

The other counties in the district are Polk, McMinn, and Bradley.  McMinn County is the scene of the 1946 Battle of Athens, wherein a corrupt sheriff and his deputies were driven out of the county by a group of World War II veterans outraged at the blatant corruption to which they had returned from overseas.

One historian explained the ingrained corruption in the area dating back at least seven decades:

The laws of Tennessee provided an opportunity for the unscrupulous to prosper. The sheriff and his deputies received a fee for every person they booked, incarcerated, and released; the more human transactions, the more money they got. A voucher signed by the sheriff was all that was needed to collect the money from the courthouse.

A state penitentiary inmate described Monroe County as resembling “a town in Cuba,” which has been communist since 1959 with the takeover by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.  Cuba’s prisons are full of political prisoners, and torture is reportedly used routinely.

Larry David Godwin married Young’s stepmother, Deborah Jean Grey Young, who was Marvin’s father’s widow.  Deborah Jean passed away approximately 18 months after marrying Godwin, leaving her deceased husband’s very sizable estate.

When Marvin discovered that his father’s will had been forged in 2011, he sought help from Tenth Judicial District officials, not knowing that they are thoroughly corrupt.  In 2012, former chief prosecutor R. Steven Bebb had agreed with Young after seeing his documentation that crimes had likely been committed. Failing to conduct an investigation, in 2013, Bebb signed two indictments issued by the Monroe County grand jury accusing Young of “especial aggravated burglary” and “especial aggravated kidnapping,” despite the absence of police reports, a sworn statement by an accuser, or evidence.

Grand juries in eastern Tennessee are used as tools by the prosecutors to accuse targeted citizens of crimes.  The judges, prosecutors, court personnel, and jury members work together to indict and convict as many people as possible in order to garner payments from the state’s coffers for every day that an inmate is jailed in “a closed system.”

A trial was originally scheduled for this week but was given a continuance at the state’s request. A status hearing was held on Monday during which Judge Carroll Ross refused to consider Young’s inability to pay for an attorney.

Young had retained an attorney who did not provide him with proper representation, paid him a sizable fee, and fired him just prior to Monday’s hearing. Once a successful business owner, Young is now unemployed and penniless.  When Ross learned that Young had fired his attorney, he threatened him with, “You will have an attorney when you come back here on August 25.  Do you understand me?”in violation of the Tennessee constitution and state code.

In August 2011, Ross ordered Fitzpatrick out of the courtroom where Raudenbush’s trial was taking place, complaining that Fitzpatrick possessed “a recording device.”  Ross also denied an attorney to George Raudenbush, whose convictions were reversed upon appeal based upon the denial of his constitutional right to a public defender.  Raudenbush spent more than two years in state prison and was released in late December.  His case is expected to be retried in Monroe County, and he maintains his innocence on all counts. of motor vehicle violations.

The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) states that “If you are charged with a crime which may result in jail time, and if you cannot afford an attorney, the court will usually appoint a lawyer at no charge. The lawyer who will represent you in criminal cases is either a public defender or an attorney in private practice who has experience in criminal cases and is paid through a separate fund.”

Article I, Sections 1-9 of the Tennessee Constitution

Article I, Section 9 of the Tennessee constitution states that “Rights of accused” are “That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath the right to be heard by himself and his counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof, to meet the witnesses face to face, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and in prosecutions by indictment or presentment, a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the County in which the crime shall have been committed, and shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself.”

Fitzpatrick has described Ross as “a criminal” for the last four years.  In 2010, Ross said during a hearing that he had “never appointed a grand jury foreman in McMinn County,” but The Post & Email has acquired an appointing order with Ross’s signature on it with “McMinn County” noted at the top.

Fitzpatrick has illustrated since late 2009 that grand juries within the Tenth Judicial District are contaminated with a judicially-appointed foreman who serves for as long as the judge decides.  State law makes no exception or special provision for a grand jury foreman, and trial jury foremen are not known to be hand-picked by the judge.  In the case decided on Tuesday, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was compromised from having denied Fitzpatrick a restraining order against the “accuser,” who in court testimony denied having filed a formal complaint against Fitzpatrick.

Young told us that on Monday, a new judge-in-training who “looked about 30 years old” was observing the proceedings in the crowded courtroom.  Ross is scheduled to retire in August.

Young related that after waiting four hours for his ten-minute hearing before Ross on Monday, his former attorney, who was there representing other clients, was called up to the judge’s bench.   “He had already been fired for a week; what’s he doing approaching the bench finding things out about this case?” Young asked.  “The judge whispered something to the D.A., and that was the end of that; it was over and done with after that.  What in the world was said?  That is what I would like to know.  He was representing another client, but he didn’t need to be up at the bench at that time,” Young told The Post & Email.

On June 6, Bebb unexpectedly resigned his post, having announced his retirement in late August.

Of the conditions in the courthouse on Monday, Young said, “They had people two deep, all the way around the inside of the courthouse…people standing in the hall, standing room only for two stories:  upstairs, down the steps, around and down the steps and waiting down at the bottom of the courthouse, not including the people who were sitting on one side of the courthouse.  There were literally probably 200 people waiting in this court system, and they do this every single week,” Young said.  “Any Monday or Tuesday I’ve ever been in there, it’s been the same way:  standing room only.  It’s the same way in Sessions Court and in Chancery Court; every court that I’ve been in so far has been standing-room only.”

On arraignment days, a courthouse rule excludes anyone from the building whose name is not “on the docket.” “They separated the wheat from the chaff right off the bat,” Young told us.  The only people left in the courtroom were people who had things against them.  And then, of course, the other half of the courtroom, another 100 or so people, were convicts, people in jail.  It’s extreme.”

Young said that Godwin is acquainted with Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens through his brother.  He also told us that a piece of his father’s property was recently sold.  “Godwin’s now driving around in a brand-new truck while I’m having to live off of somebody,” Young said.  “I don’t know what to expect next, but they’re not going to make it easy on me.”

Young also recently learned through a third party that Godwin allegedly said that “the next time he sees me, he’s going to kill me.”  He said that anyone in local government to whom he has told his story is “dumbfounded” at the level of corruption which allowed has allowed it to flourish.  However, none indicated that he or she could provide assistance to him.

“You can’t look at this very long that you don’t realize what’s going on here.  The thing that’s absurd about this is even if we had a perfect sheriff, where do we go as the people?  You can bet that the district attorney is always going to take the side of the sheriff.  That’s what they do.  The sheriff locks you up and then the D.A. prosecutes you.  To think that these people are not working very closely together is to be in denial.  So where do you go when these people are crooked?  These are elected officials.  Everybody says, ‘Well, just elect them out.’  Yeah, but do you have to wait four years?  Where do you go to report these people of wrongdoing?  They’ve got a license to do anything they want to do, and you can’t do nothing about it.

“When I went to my sheriff days after my father died, there should have been an investigation launched at that time, and that woman Deborah should have been locked in jail because I have undisputed proof of fraud.  Instead, she was allowed to live another year and a half, die in the comfort of her own home, and now this guy just picks it all up.”

Two years ago, Young spoke with an investigator from a criminal investigative agency about the cronyism in the Tenth Judicial District which has spawned and sustained the collusion among “law enforcement” to advance the false charges against him.  Young’s words to him were:

I know you swore an oath.  What kind of country are we going to leave our children?  Just think:  your children could be subjected to this, or your cousin or or your nephew, and they might be able to call on you.  But not all of us can have a family member that’s employed with law enforcement.  We don’t have that ability; we rely on people like you who have sworn an oath to protect us.  We have given our protection over to you, and it’s your job to protect us. No matter what you come up against in your office:  your boss or you’re afraid to lose your job…whatever it takes; you should be willing to do whatever it takes.  That’s why we hired you.

“Maybe when he’s laying in bed at night, it will pull on his heart and he’ll say, ‘This has got to stop; I’ve known about this for decades, and I have to be the one to initiate it.’  Fantasy…? I know there are good people in this thing, and I know why they don’t do anything most of the time:  they don’t want to mess up their trust fund, they don’t want to mess up their retirement.  They have a ‘cush’ job.  Nine out of ten people in that courtroom deserve to be in the system.  Nine out of ten people in that courtroom, regardless of how corrupted the system is or not, whether the grand juries are legal or not, are prone for cooking meth or child abuse or whatever.

“I’ve been around people most all my life.  My father was self-employed; I was as well.  I’m a pretty good judge of people; I can just look at ’em and tell whether they have good intentions or not.  I don’t do that by what they’re wearing or what they have.  My mother told me at a young age, ‘We ain’t got a lot of money, son, but be proud of yourself; be proud of who you are.  Keep your kids clean; keep yourself clean.  There are certain things that don’t cost you money in life, and if you have good intentions in life, people will see that in you.’  It doesn’t matter if you have two cents to rub together or not.  You can take one person who has a bad attitude and another who has a good attitude and give ’em both the same yearly income, and they’re going to be different people.  That’s basically what she was saying.  People are going to be able to look at you and tell if you have good intentions or not.  If this person was honest and earnest, they’re going to try to do the best they can with what they have, no matter what that equals.  Nine out of ten people in there aren’t:  they’re not doing the best they can with what they have.  They all have the lame stories that every other one has; they all, for whatever reason, went the path in life that they went. Nine out of ten of ’em are habitual offenders.  They’ve all been on some kind of domestic-this or domestic-that or drugs or abuse…and this has been going on since they were teenagers, and they’re in their 40s and they’re still in the court system…

Judge Carroll Lee Ross has broken the law by denying indigent defendants legal counsel but has never been disciplined

“So, yeah, there are a lot of people in there who absolutely deserve to be in there.  But there are a whole lot of people who stood up in front of that judge who, in my opinion, were being railroaded, without a doubt.

“The thing is that unfortunately, the majority of people in society are subjected to society, and the fabric of society is torn, at the very least.  I think it’s worse than I’m saying it is; I’m giving everybody the benefit of the doubt.  I think we’re our own worst enemy in some cases.  This is the society that we have created, and we’re full of it.  They listen to Judge Judy and they think the judge can talk to you like you’re dirt…it’s social engineering at its worst.  It’s by design, I think.

“The courtrooms are a perfect example.  If you want to see the position that society is in, go to your local courthouse on arraignment day, and you’ll see that we’re reaping what we sow as people.  But they’re still people…they should be shown a better way, and they’re not.

“I guess maybe I’m lucky; I was raised by a good parent, my mother – she made it very clear what was right and wrong.  Maybe people didn’t have that; I don’t know.  But you can’t live within the world but you can’t look around and see examples all over the place of how to be.  These people have just chosen this path in life.  Regardless of that, they still deserve a just system, a just system that at least does for them what it needs to do for ’em.  Don’t just run ’em through the system again and shove ’em into a cage because that’s how you make the most money.  What that does is it conditions the court to treat everybody that way.

“Right now, we’re looking at August 25 as my next status date.  The judge made it crystal-clear that I had to have an attorney by then. I don’t know what the consequences are if I don’t; I guess he’s going to run me through the system regardless.”

A new District Attorney General for the Tenth Judicial District, Steve Crump, will be sworn in soon resulting from the departure of R. Steven Bebb, whose resignation was reported nationally on June 6.  Bebb was reportedly investigated between 2012 and 2013 for allegations of professional misconduct and criminal violations but exonerated by Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr.’s office.  Earlier this year, the Board of Professional Responsibility refused to censure Bebb at the request of the legislature, after which he wrote a scathing article in a local paper stating that he was innocent of all of the allegations made against him.

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