SHOCKING CASE OF JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT IN WHICH JUDGE “MAKES UP ALL THE RULES” WITH IMPUNITY
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 30, 2014) — Lawrence County, TN citizen Arthur Hirsch has related a stunning story of judicial misconduct, violation of state law and the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure (TRCP) and criminal activity in a case which has culminated in a lawsuit filed and heard in federal court, with another to come early next month.
Hirsch described Lawrence county as “probably the most corrupt county in the state of Tennessee,” adding, “It’s known nationwide.”
Over the last five years, The Post & Email has reported on judicial corruption in the Tennessee counties of Sevier, Hamilton, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Bradley, Tipton, Sumner, Davidson, and Madison.
Hirsch’s case began when he was arrested in a parking lot last December while on his way into a grocery store to buy supplies for his seriously ill mother. “A state trooper came in behind me and called me over and said, ‘I’m curious about your license plate.’ I have a license plate from an Indian tribe. I have all the paperwork; I was naturalized many years ago,” Hirsch told us. “So he then began what is known as a custodial interrogation. By law, you have to give Miranda rights. It’s not an option; it’s mandatory. I’ve got an abundance of Supreme Court cases and Tennessee cases which say that everything said in the absence of a Miranda reading cannot be entered into evidence. So he went through everything.
“I don’t have a ‘license.'” When he asked why, and I said, ‘I don’t drive.’ And he said, ‘I just saw you driving.’ And I said, ‘No, I travel. I have a right to travel; I’m not engaged in commerce.'”
They were intimidating me, and my mom was home alone, terminally ill, and had to have care every 2-3 hours. I was getting extremely concerned about her welfare. So they demanded, “Give us any gun you have in the truck.” I had a little .22, so they got that. That was the thing that really caused the arrest, and they took me down to the jail.
“Were they justified in taking your handgun?” asked The Post & Email.
No, nothing after he began his first questions was valid. A custodial arrest is when you’re not free to turn around on your heels and walk away. It was obvious from the minute I got there that he would not have allowed me to walk away. By then, he had already called for backup and he had two other troopers who came in, one a trooper and one from the city, and a guy circling the parking lot in a patrol car, besides. So it was a really heavy appearance of law enforcement. The thing is, they never put their blue lights on. They are just like the courts; they never follow any procedure. They do whatever they want.
So he took me down to the jail and would not take me to a magistrate, which our rules say you have to. It’s mandatory, especially on a warrantless arrest. So he left me in lockup and goes and has an ex parte, private meeting with the judge. The judge hates my guts because I helped some guys get out of jail years ago. So she already had an axe to grind.
The judge in Hirsch’s case was Judge Patricia McGuire.
They had the meeting, and he did his “affidavit” thing on his citation. I have found that there is no such thing as a warrant in our county; they don’t have one. And there’s no log book for the warrantless arrest that’s mandatory, and they don’t record the pleas that people make. All the stuff that I found was just overwhelming.
They then had a mittimus, which is basically an order by the judge to the jailer to lay hold on you, take you out of the holding cell, and throw you in jail. It’s a writ of confinement. I didn’t know anything about a mittimus until a few days ago. Surprisingly, a few of the clerks are tired of all the corruption, and they kind-of muttered some things under their breath that have been helpful.
The judge signed the mittimus, which I just recently discovered, and she lied on it. She said that I had appeared before her and that she had told me what the bail was and I wouldn’t pay, so into jail I go. I have that in writing. I had accused her of some criminal acts, and she had a Freudian slip in one of my hearings with my court reporter there. She just went on and on about how she had absolutely nothing to do with my being put in jail and setting the bond…well, I found all the paperwork with her signature on it. We have her lying on the record.
Anyway, I was put in jail and went through all of the humiliation of being deloused and showered and everything else. By this time, I was frantic, because my mom was terminally ill, handicapped, and totally bedridden. She couldn’t get a drink of water; she couldn’t do anything. She was totally dependent on me for everything, 24/7. I was trying to make bail, and the judge set it at $10,000 when it should have been $1,000. They do that. The bail bondsmen love it.
There were two bail bondsmen that were pretty close, so I called one, and he said since I didn’t have enough assets, I would have to get a cosigner. He said he would reduce the amount that would have to be paid up-front. So I thought, “Maybe I can work with someone else,” so I called the other company, and a lady answered, and she was very nice. She said, “If you can get your friend to pledge his property, I think we can work things out.”
So I talked to a friend and his wife, and they knew I wasn’t going anywhere because my mom was here. He said “yes.” So I called the lady back, and I said, “I think we can move ahead on this.” She said, “I can’t work with you anymore.” I said, “Well, why?” She said, “I got a call from the court…” They said that they were not to allow anybody to cosign for me so that I could not make bail and I was supposed to stay in jail.
“The court involved itself in denying you bail?”
Yes. That’s a criminal act.
I was just devastated. Fortunately, the first guy, who said I had to get a cosigner, was still available. My friend who pledged his property was one of the leaders of the Tea Party down here. I don’t have anything to do with them, but he’s a nice guy. He meets with the sheriff and a couple people from the Tea Party once a month and they chit-chat. He called the sheriff and explained how I take care of my mom and she was terminally ill and this would be a tragedy if I had to stay in jail. So they called the first bail bondsman and worked things out so that I could get released, because he had not gotten a call from the court.
Another friend had called the landlord, and he came over and got Mom some water. She had been really worried about where I was at and why I wasn’t home. She had so many physical problems.
When I was released, they gave me a little card saying that my initial appearance was January 24. The initial appearance was what they denied me while I was in lockup. That’s what they already had. But they want to play a game as if they’re being really nice to you and giving you an initial appearance. Everything was already said and done; they do this for show.
They scheduled it for January 24, but the law says 72 hours is the max. So this was 45 days past. So there was a complete violation of the Rules of Procedure. By this time, my mom was getting real sick and getting real close to dying, and she had to go in the hospital. I went to the hearing, thinking that it was a probable cause hearing. My friends all went; they read the paperwork and they all agreed this was supposedly the initial appearance for the probable cause. I wasn’t all that familiar with the rules; I was so distracted with caring for my mom that I didn’t have time to do anything.
I went in, and my big mistake was that I didn’t have a court reporter for the first one. I did for all the rest of them, but not the first one.
“Do you have to hire your own court reporter?”
At the lowest court, yes. General Sessions is kind-of like your traffic court. I went in there, and I had taken precious time that I needed to be with my mother in her last hours; I had to do research for a Motion to Dismiss and a substantial brief and supports. It all came to about 50 pages; it was a lot of work. It was a time when I really wanted to be with my mom in her last hours.
I walked in, and first I had given a copy to the court. Judge McGuire took the paperwork, held it up, and slammed it down in front of her, saying, “I’m denying all this stuff that you have filed in the court.” I started to speak, and she wouldn’t let me speak. I said, “This is a Motion to Dismiss, and the burden is now on the plaintiff to establish by facts and law that you have jurisdiction.”
She wouldn’t let me say anything, and then she tried to humiliate me in front of hundreds of people, because the state troopers have been sent down here in huge numbers. About every two or three miles you would see one, and that’s no exaggeration. It’s called “saturation patrol,” and they bring in hundreds of people, and they’re just bleeding the people dry here. So all these people have to get babysitters and leave work and everything else for all this stuff.
Anyway, she said to the audience, “Oh, Mr. Hirsch thinks that he is so special that he is above the law and doesn’t have to obey the law like everyone else here does.” Does that show a little bit of prejudice?
Here’s what happened next and what was amazing. After that humiliation, she said, very abruptly, “I’m entering a not-guilty plea for you, Mr. Hirsch.” So I said, “What is this, an arraignment?” and I said, “I object.” She said, “I don’t care if you do object; I’m entering it on the record for you.” And I said, “Well, please put down that I’m objecting.” She said, “I will.” Of course, she didn’t.
Rule 10 says that there’s strict observance, and there can be no discretion for arraignments. It has to follow a very strict step-by-step procedure. One is that you have to have an indictment before you. I had never even seen a warrant; I had never seen anything. She must have had something up there, but she never offered me a copy and wouldn’t answer about the nature and cause of the accusation. She never said, “How do you plead?” Nothing. So I guess that was her version of an arraignment.
The thing is, it was totally outside of statutory rules, because you can’t have an arraignment without an indictment. But there was nothing. She makes up all the rules.