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DO WE “LIVE WITH IT” OR DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 15, 2014) — The Post & Email will be appearing as a guest on the Abel Danger radio show on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the cases of Marvin William Young and CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), both of which emanate from the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee.
Fitzpatrick was arrested on March 18 and subsequently convicted of “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” without a police report, criminal complaint, or sworn affidavit detailing dates, times, and specific incidents in which Fitzpatrick was allegedly involved. “Victim” Jeffrey Cunningham denied in sworn testimony that he was the accuser in the case, although he said he spoke to the prosecutor’s office after Fitzpatrick named him in several petitions which he wished to submit to the McMinn County grand jury.
Cunningham, who was grand jury foreman from 2012 to early 2014, said he felt “threatened” by Fitzpatrick’s identifying him as a criminal for serving consecutive terms and wielding undue influence over the grand jurors. Cunningham is a licensed attorney with a stated specific interest in “criminal prosecution.”
Cunningham resigned the foremanship on or about March 4. The presentment issued by the grand jury claimed that Fitzpatrick “stalked” and “harassed” Cunningham, although Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood dismissed the charge of stalking and the latter charge resulted in an acquittal.
In Tennessee, criminal court judges have been permitted to select the grand jury foreman “from wherever they choose,” which has at least once resulted in the presiding of a convicted felon over a grand jury in violation of state law.
Writing for The New York Times in December 2011, former prosecutor and law professor Paul Butler stated in an op-ed that trial juries have the ability to “nullify” laws or accusations based on laws they believe are unfair or unconstitutional. Butler’s column was prompted by the prosecution of Julian Heicklen, a 79-year-old retired chemistry professor who stood outside of courthouses in the Northeast and in Florida distributing pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) on the ability of juries to nullify.
Butler reported that the prosecutor who filed charges against Heicklen for “jury tampering” claimed that “his activity violated the law against jury tampering” and that his distribution of pamphlets “is not protected by the First Amendment.”
Heicklen’s case was not placed in front of a jury because a federal judge dismissed it, stating that Heicklen had not tampered with a jury, which would have required his having “knowingly tried to influence a juror’s decision through a written communication ‘made in relation to a specific case pending before that juror.’”
Criminal defense lawyer Michael Mahoney believes that “Today, the need for jury empowerment has never been greater as prosecutors, especially Federal prosecutors, indict law abiding individuals for minor, often inconsequential, infractions of complex and confusing statutes. If the judiciary is too weak to reign [sic] in prosecutors, jurors must be allowed to fill the void. Nullification is a natural part of a community’s role in thwarting hyper-aggressive prosecutors from turning our criminal codes into traps for the unwary or a smorgasbord of opportunity for prosecutors to harass and punish the unpopular.”
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, told juries that “”You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge [both the facts and law].”
In Fitzpatrick’s case, presiding Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was compromised, as he had knowledge of elements of the case beforehand and had judged another case in which Fitzpatrick was the defendant in 2010. In February of this year, Fitzpatrick requested a restraining order against Cunningham after Cunningham threatened to have him arrested for bringing petitions to the grand jury. Blackwood had denied Fitzpatrick’s request without a hearing the day before Fitzpatrick’s arrest on March 18.
Blackwood also knew that the grand jurors who issued the presentment against Fitzpatrick on March 18 were compromised, as they were the same group of people to whom Cunningham admittedly provided Fitzpatrick’s “history” when he tried to present criminal evidence on January 21. In the Tenth Judicial District, two grand juries are chosen which alternate their months of service such that the January grand jury was again seated in March.
Fitzpatrick’s sentencing is scheduled for August 19 with Blackwood.
In the case of Marvin Young, Larry David Godwin, who has a long criminal history in Florida, brought false charges against Young after he showed Godwin proof that his father’s will had been forged. Godwin had married Marvin’s father’s widow, and seven months later, she died, leaving the sizable estate to Godwin.
Young was arrested and jailed for ten days last August on a charge of “especially aggravated kidnapping” and “aggravated burglary” based on the statement of Godwin and a relative at her real estate office.
A witness told Young recently that Godwin threatened to kill Young “the next time he saw him,” in response to which Young filed a request for a restraining order which was denied on June 23, the same day as Fitzpatrick’s trial. As a result of Young’s attempt to protect himself, the Tenth Judicial District office sent him a letter received on Saturday stating that at his next status hearing on August 25, the county would seek to revoke his bond.
On the two trumped-up charges, Young could be sentenced to prison for the rest of his natural life.
The Post & Email has contacted Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. and the new Tenth Judicial District chief prosecutor, Steve Crump, for comment on the lack of evidence in both the Young and Fitzpatrick cases but thus far has received no response.
Former District Attorney General R. Steve Bebb signed the indictment against Fitzpatrick, and deputy prosecutor A. Wayne Carter signed the indictments against Young as Bebb’s representative. Carter was Fitzpatrick’s prosecutor in the latest case and, although allowed by congressional statute, excoriated Fitzpatrick for wearing his Navy uniform to the court.
Young told The Post & Email that he has spoken directly to Cooper about the fraudulent will bearing his father’s forged signature but that Cooper stated that he could take no action against Bebb because he was an “elected” official. However, Cooper’s statement is proven false by the investigation he publicly said he carried out against Bebb and others for alleged professional misconduct including misuse of funds, undue influence on two McMinn County grand jurors, and behavior which demonstrated a bias against certain individuals.
Following Cooper’s announcement in March 2013 that his office had not found evidence of criminal intent on Bebb’s part, members of the Tennessee House of Representatives announced that they would seek to have Bebb removed from his post, which at least some members of the public supported.
Bebb resigned two months before his term ended while Fitzpatrick’s case was pending and his attorney, Van Irion, was issuing subpoenas, one of which went to Carter.
Judge Carroll Lee Ross, who has historically deprived defendants and other citizens of their constitutionally-protected rights, told Young that he had to have an attorney by August 25, even though Young has been indigent since the charges were brought against him. The Tennessee constitution states that a criminal defendant has the right to counsel.
In another case, Ross’s denial of an attorney to a defendant who spent more than two years in prison resulted in a reversal by an appellate panel.
Over the past four years, Fitzpatrick, The Post & Email and others have requested FBI intervention in reining in abusive judges, prosecutors, and corrupted juries in eastern Tennessee without apparent result. In June 2011, Special Agent Roxane West told Fitzpatrick that “more evidence” was needed for the FBI to become involved. However, after a recording of a probable cause hearing in which the judge stated that a new grand jury would be “picked” by the judge and documents showing hand-selection of jury members were provided, Fitzpatrick again went to jail and the FBI took no apparent action.
Some agents have attempted to frame the problem of illegally-acting judges and juries in Tennessee as a state problem, but there is no agency or entity there which will investigate government officials. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has told The Post & Email and Fitzpatrick that the District Attorney General must ask for an investigation into a public official. Nearly three years ago, an assistant working in Bebb’s office told Fitzpatrick that “Steve Bebb is not about to take part in an investigation that he’s part of.”
Agents at the TBI have hung up on Fitzpatrick for reporting judges who break the law. Last week, Ross hung up on The Post & Email, even though he did not know the reason we were calling.
Last week, The Post & Email and some of its readers contacted the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees to ask for an investigation into corruption in the Tennessee courts, which appears to extend to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville and may include the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
It is unknown how many Tennesseans are presently in jails or prisons as a result of tainted grand juries and trial juries, which another FBI agent said is well-known, standard procedure in the state. “Live with it!” Fitzpatrick was told upon describing the jury-rigging which he had witnessed first-hand.
The Post & Email’s second radio appearance will be on The Roth Show on Thursday evening. The show is pre-recorded and broadcast from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. ET. Listeners can also hear the show online here.
Roth is a professional musician, former television host, radio host, published author and former presidential candidate.
Abel Danger is hosted by Col. Field McConnell (Ret.) and David Hawkins. Last week, McConnell pledged on air to travel to Athens, TN on August 17 to meet with Fitzpatrick before his sentencing and to stand “shoulder-t0-shoulder” with him in the courtroom.