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by Sharon Rondeau

Photo taken by filmmaker William F. Fain following the sentencing of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III

(Aug. 22, 2014) — Lt. Col. Field McConnell, USMC (Ret.), host of the Abel Danger radio show and intelligence-gathering network, will be discussing his recent trip to Athens, TN to attend the sentencing of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) in the case of State of Tennessee v. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, 14-CR-69.

Fitzpatrick was arrested on March 18 after submitting a petition containing criminal allegations against public officials, including the former grand jury foreman, Jeffrey Cunningham.  The previous month, Cunningham had threatened Fitzpatrick with arrest if he should return to submit anything to the grand jury, knowing that he was named in Fitzpatrick’s numerous petitions.

In 2009, Fitzpatrick discovered inadvertently that Tennessee grand juries contain judicially-appointed foremen who serve for years, if not decades, at the pleasure of the criminal court judge.  Believing it his constitutional duty to point out the criminality of a long-serving foreman who was necessarily biased in favor of the judge, Fitzpatrick spoke with local, state and federal law enforcement officers, including the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  None would take action.

On April 1, 2010, Fitzpatrick attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of then-Monroe County, TN grand jury foreman Gary Pettway but was himself ordered arrested by Judge Carroll Lee Ross, who was not present at the time.

On June 3, Fitzpatrick was indicted on several misdemeanor charges by a grand jury which contained a new foreman, Angela Davis, who was on the grand jury despite having served as a petit juror the year before, in violation of state law.  The Post & Email has copies of court records which show Davis on the payroll for both 2009 and 2010.

At an arraignment hearing on June 28 of that year, Ross told Fitzpatrick that he was forbidden to speak with town officials, to access court documents, or in any way interact with anyone in government in preparing his defense.

Ross also denied George Raudenbush his constitutional right to defense counsel in August 2011, sending him to state prison for more than two years until the case was reversed by an appellate panel on those grounds.

Fitzpatrick was jailed six times by Monroe County.  In February 2012, after his last discharge there, he moved to McMinn County, which, along with Monroe, Polk and Bradley Counties, comprises the Tenth Judicial District.

The Post & Email has investigated judicial corruption within the district and in others within Tennessee and found that judges and clerks routinely violate state law.  Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood decreed at one time that “the grand jury foreman is no different from any other member of the grand jury,” but abundant evidence exists which shows that Blackwood has appointed numerous foremen who served for years or decades under his signature, whether or not they were lawfully qualified to do so.

After moving to McMinn County, a case Fitzpatrick had appealed through his attorney, Van Irion, to the Tennessee Court of Appeals was decided against him after the attorney general’s office filed a brief stating that the grand jury foreman’s role is “administrative and ministerial,” thereby justifying his hand-selection by a judge with unlimited terms of service.  In Monroe County, however, Fitzpatrick had been indicted for “intimidating a juror” in reference to the citizen’s arrest of Pettway.

Fitzpatrick wanted to inform the McMinn County grand jury of “the Hixson brief” which stated that the grand jury foreman is not a juror, as grand jurors are led to believe.  Over the course of approximately 18 months, although not every month, he submitted petitions explaining the state’s position on the grand jury foreman to clerks in the McMinn County courthouse with a request that the information be given to the grand jury for its review.

After the new grand juries were empaneled in 2014, Fitzpatrick attempted to submit written evidence of wrongdoing on the part of judges, clerks, the foreman, and McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy, who was directing his deputies to effect arrests based on what Fitzpatrick believed were false indictments because of the illegally-serving grand jury foreman and the state’s assertion of the foreman’s legitimacy contradicting state law.

The Tennessee District Attorney Generals Conference describes 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.”

In February, Cunningham threatened to have Fitzpatrick arrested if he were to return to submit anything to the grand jury.

On March 18, Fitzpatrick submitted another evidence packet to the court clerk and sat down to wait as to whether or not he would be called to testify to the grand jury.  At approximately 12:20 p.m., he was arrested by two sheriff’s deputies after the grand jury indicted him for “aggravated perjury,” “extortion,” “harassment,” and “stalking.”

During his June 23-24 trial, Cunningham denied having filed a formal complaint against Fitzpatrick, and the state was unable to produce police reports or evidence stating that Fitzpatrick had stalked anyone.  The case was admittedly without an accuser, but Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood continued it anyway.

On June 24, the jury found Fitzpatrick guilty of the perjury and extortion charges, having acquitted him on the harassment charge.  On June 23, Blackwood had dismissed the charge of stalking.

However, during the trial, no one could identify anything perjurious in Fitzpatrick’s petitions, a great deal of which were read aloud in the courtroom.

Blackwood said at Fitzpatrick’s sentencing on Tuesday that he is “sick and tired” of people invoking their “constitutional rights” in his courtroom and rhetorically asked, “Who cares if the grand jury foreman is serving illegally?  So what?”

Having sentenced Fitzpatrick to three years in prison, Blackwood insulted Fitzpatrick’s military record, character, intentions, and personal actions.  Blackwood said that he would rather someone “slap him in the face” than accuse him of things he “did not do.”

However, Blackwood did appoint and reappoint the same grand jury foreman in several counties:  Hardeman, Roane and Tipton, over the course of his 30-year career.

McConnell’s Friday show is titled “In Contempt Of America, Blackwood-TN.”

Filmmaker William F. Fain took footage of the prayer breakfast and barbecue hosted by McConnell on Monday and positioned his cameramen outside the courthouse on Tuesday, as they were not allowed inside as official “media.”  However, Channels 9 and 12 were permitted inside and issued reports later that day.

Fain hopes to make a documentary detailing the uncovering of judicial and other public corruption by Fitzpatrick in the coming weeks.

On his website on Friday, McConnell posted that “United States Marine Field McConnell has linked his sister Kristine ‘Con Air’ Marcy – the co-custodian of the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund since 1984 – to bribes allegedly paid to jurors in Monroe and McMinn Counties in the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee and the spot-fixed finding of guilt of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) after he had been charged with “extortion” and “aggravated perjury”.

Abel Danger airs from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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