TWO FELONY CONVICTIONS WITHOUT A POLICE REPORT?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 30, 2014) — On June 24, 2014, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick was convicted of “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” by a McMinn County jury of his “peers” after attempting to submit a petition to the grand jury detailing evidence of crime on the part of public officials.
Those named in the petition included the grand jury foreman, criminal court judges, and prosecutors working within Tennessee’s Tenth Judicial District, which encompasses McMinn, Monroe, Bradley and Polk Counties.
While the First Amendment specifically includes the right of a citizen to petition his government for redress of grievances, the jury declared by its verdicts that that right does not exist in McMinn County and, by extension, anywhere else in the country.
The Tennessee judicial system has been called “hopelessly corrupted” by a former attorney of Fitzpatrick’s, Stephen Pidgeon, who as lead counsel of the North American Law Center (NALC), authored Articles of Impeachment against the person calling himself “Barack Hussein Obama” which were made public on Friday. The Knoxville News Sentinel article which quoted Pidgeon’s comment about the Tennessee courts in October 2010 has since been removed.
Fitzpatrick’s current attorney, Van Irion, has been a guest on The Roth Show and Liberty Works Radio Network (LWRN) to discuss the verdicts and their meaning to the rest of the country. “I’m now afraid to go to the grand jury,” Irion told Roth early last week.
Local media has shown no interest in the judicial system and do not perform investigative reporting.
After the alleged accuser and former grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Cunningham, said in sworn testimony that he had not accused Fitzpatrick formally of anything, there existed no evidence that a complaint against Fitzpatrick had ever been filed with local police or the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department.
Cunningham is a licensed attorney and CEO and President of Athens Federal Community Bank whose law license Fitzpatrick had stated in his grand jury petition should be revoked for his illegal service as foreman of the grand jury.
Tennessee code 22-2-314 states that no juror can serve a consecutive term. However, since at least 1980, criminal court judges in Tennessee have been selecting the grand jury foreman “from wherever they choose,” at least once resulting in a convicted felon serving as foreman in violation of TCA 22-1-102. TCA 22-2-301 states that prospective jurors are to be selected by “random automated means.”
Other flaws in the proceedings were that Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was compromised from having denied Fitzpatrick’s petition for an order of protection against Cunningham the day before he was arrested and yet presided over the trial; the Bill of Particulars had been vague, lacking dates, times, and specific incidents alleged against Fitzpatrick; deputy prosecutor A. Wayne Carter attempted to malign Fitzpatrick’s character for his wearing of his Navy uniform to the trial, which is allowed by congressional statute; the grand jury which issued the presentment, thereby triggering Fitzpatrick’s arrest on March 18, was compromised, as in January Cunningham had informed the members of Fitzpatrick’s “history” and asked that they be escorted out of the building so as to avoid contact with Fitzpatrick after he had attempted to submit a similar petition at that time; and Irion told the court during the trial that several grand jurors had related certain things over the phone and then said something different during sworn testimony.
Blackwood and other judges have insisted from the bench that the practice of the foreman serving for as long as the judge desires is not a violation of law. Last fall, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office issued a brief to an appellate court which affirmed the practice of judges hand-selecting the grand jury foreman without any basis in law.
No police report or criminal complaint was produced to show the jurors that Fitzpatrick had committed crimes against Cunningham or anyone else over the alleged time frame of August 2012 to March 2014. Interestingly, the jury found Fitzpatrick “not guilty” of the charge of harassment.
With court cameras in operation, Fitzpatrick was arrested on March 18, 2014 while sitting quietly outside the court clerk’s office in the McMinn County courthouse reading a book entitled “The Last Juror” by John Grisham, awaiting a decision on his petition submitted to the grand jury.
The grand jury’s Fifth Amendment function is to act as a buffer between the citizens and government prosecutors who may be abusing their power or carrying out a “vindictive prosecution,” as Irion claimed was done against his client. The Sixth Amendment to the Bill of Rights provides defendants to “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
Fitzpatrick first began exposing Tennessee’s corrupt judiciary in late 2009 when he discovered that the Monroe County grand jury foreman had been serving for at least 20 consecutive years. Cunningham had been serving his third consecutive term when he resigned in early March.
Court clerk Pat Newman made the list of jurors available to The Post & Email after we requested it in writing following the trial. Neither Newman nor clerk Sherry Anderson responded to The Post & Email’s question as to whether or not their phone numbers could be provided to the press.
A third count of “stalking” was dismissed by Blackwood on June 23 after a full day of testimony.
After the verdicts were read on June 24, Blackwood asked each juror to affirm that he or she had voted in that way. A unanimous jury was required in order to convict.
Within the Tenth Judicial District, others have been convicted of murder and other serious crimes without forensic evidence or witness testimony. Dennis Burnett, Michael Ellington, James Thunder Quill Wilson and others are currently serving prison terms without having had constitutionally-guaranteed due process.
The Knoxville and Chattanooga FBI offices have been unresponsive to repeated reports of civil and constitutional rights violations despite successful FBI sting operations and investigations having taken place in Cocke County within the last decade, resulting in arrests for racketeering and illegal gambling, among other crimes. Earlier this month, The Post & Email wrote to FBI Director James B. Comey about Tennessee corruption and the methamphetamine-dealing culture which undoubtedly extends to surrounding states.
Of the 12 members of the Fitzpatrick jury, The Post & Email has contacted Roy Grimes and left a voice message but has not received a response.
On July 29, a message was left with David Lange without a response to date.
On July 30, after having tried on July 20 and reached no voice mail or answering machine, The Post & Email left a voice message for Faye Songer asking that she contact us about her impressions of jury service for the Fitzpatrick trial.
On July 29, we left a message at the residence of David Berens but have not received a response. Two other numbers associated with a “David Berens” are no longer in service.
The phone number we located for juror Marsha McKenzie is no longer in service.
Two voice messages left with Kevin Goins on July 20 and 30, respectively, have not been returned as of this writing.
To date, we have not been able to locate Miriam Jones, Kimberly Davis, Autumn Goins, Eugene McConkey, Eric Burgess, and Bobby Gray.
Anger over the verdicts has sparked numerous calls to the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Washington, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood’s office in Nashville, and prompted a California resident, Neil Turner, to display a sign which read “Free Commander Fitzpatrick” at a Ramona, CA rally at which Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio spoke on Saturday.
It is as yet unknown if embracery, or the purposeful influencing of jurors, was employed with the Fitzpatrick jury. Two years ago, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that two McMinn County grand jurors had alleged undue influence on the part of deputy prosecutor Paul D. Rush, who was later found to have committed ethics violations by the Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR). In a follow-up article after an investigation of allegations of misconduct against prosecutors in the district, the Times Free Press wrote that the grand jurors alleging undue influence not to issue an indictment against then-McMinn County sheriff candidate Joe Guy were never interviewed by investigators from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr.’s report exonerating then-District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb of criminal wrongdoing stated, in part, “After finding no evidence he (Bebb) had been involved in the grand jury issue, ‘this Office determined that additional interviews by the TBI on this subject were not warranted.'”
Reporter Judy Walton quoted one of the grand jurors who made the allegations as “dumbfounded.”
The Post & Email has written to executive branch commissioners to report the waste of taxpayer funds appropriated to many of the trials held in the Tenth Judicial District without having granted due process to the defendant, who most often is convicted and jailed. The public defender’s office has not objected to the illegal appointment of grand jury foremen by the criminal court judges which has been occurring over at least the last 34 years.
On July 21, John Whitehead, founder of The Rutherford Institute, wrote that an “emerging American Police State” has worked to “enrich the powerful” and “is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle, meant to keep the property and the resources of the American people flowing into corrupt government agencies and their corporate partners. For those with any accounting ability, it’s clear that the total sum of the expenses being charged to the American taxpayer’s account by the government add up to only one thing: the loss of our freedoms. It’s time to seriously consider a plan to begin de-funding this beast and keeping our resources where they belong: in our communities, working for us.”
Writing in The New Yorker in January 2012, Adam Gopnik wrote that “Southern revenge” is responsible for the incarceration of many Americans in “prisons [which] are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies. The companies are paid by the state, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on the prisoners and the prisons.”
After spending time in the Monroe County jail in 2010, Fitzpatrick described a “prisoners-for-profit” scheme involving Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens; then-grand jury foreman Gary Pettway, who served for 28 years before his replacement in early 2011, after Fitzpatrick had attempted a citizen’s arrest of him; court clerks, defense attorneys, and prosecutors.
If the Tenth Judicial District is not reined in, another innocent man, Marvin William Young, will be sentenced by the corrupt judicial machine to perhaps decades in prison for discovering, and then exposing, the forging of his father’s last will and testament.
Evidence connecting Tennessee judicial corruption with federal judicial corruption has been submitted to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees by email.
On Wednesday, The Post & Email will be a guest on the Abel Danger radio show at 3:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the Fitzpatrick and Young cases further. The Manning Report has also given the Fitzpatrick case national exposure.
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.