WAS HE LOOKING IN THE MIRROR?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 9, 2014) — As The Post & Email has been denied access through layers of government bureaucracy to an official court audio recording and/or transcript of the sentencing hearing for CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) on August 19, it has procured the recording through different, but very reliable, means.
On Friday, the court reporter contracted to record and transcribe the events of the hearing quoted a fee of $200 for the typed transcript, but The Post & Email was told that the transcript and audio are “property of the court” and that the court’s approval, and perhaps even a judge’s order, would be required for us to purchase it. However, Connie Turner of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts told The Post & Email that making a financial arrangement with the court reporter was perfectly fine while we waited for the court’s approval.
In the recordings which follow, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, who was reported to have said, “I’m tired of people talking about their constitutional rights” by eyewitnesses at the hearing, is confirmed as making the statement. Blackwood claimed that Fitzpatrick had “trampled” on the constitutional rights of others by taking petitions repeatedly to the McMinn County, TN grand jury containing evidence of crime committed by public officials, including Blackwood.
Multiple public officials in Tennessee are now on record as being unwilling to grant Public Records requests to those residing outside of their state, where grand juries and trial juries are compromised; transcripts and audio recordings which should be available to the public are not or are “doctored;” and judges “dictate” what media can and cannot do in their courtrooms.
“It’s called ‘racketeering,'” one observer of Fitzpatrick’s five-year saga of exposing Tennessee corruption told The Post & Email on Tuesday morning, referring to the appearance that the state Attorney General, Comptroller of the Treasury, court clerks, judges, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the Administrative Office of the Courts and local sheriffs are participants.
In the fall of 2009, Fitzpatrick discovered that Tennessee grand jury foremen serve at the pleasure of the criminal court judge who selects them “from wherever they choose,” without a vetting process or any particular stated qualifications. A 2008 law states that no juror can serve a consecutive term and makes no distinction between the foreman and the other grand jurors.
In Monroe County, where Fitzpatrick discovered a long-serving foreman of 28 years, jurors were also found to have served consecutive terms, which Blackwood overlooked when the matter was brought to his attention. An indictment produced from such a grand jury accused Fitzpatrick of “intimidating a juror.” Last year, however, the attorney general’s office stated in a formal brief that the foreman is not a juror but rather, has a “ministerial and administrative” assignment.
In her pre-sentencing report, Parole Board investigator Judith Hilton-Coffman wrote that there were “no victims” to the crimes of which Fitzpatrick was convicted. However, she was reported to have stated during the sentencing hearing that she had “made a mistake” and that a victim had been found. Hilton-Coffman’s admission is heard on the third audio segment.
In the first audio recording below, Blackwood refers to George Washington, the first president, who “could have been a dictator” but refused to be made a king by his supporters. Fitzpatrick has called the criminal syndicate which preys on its local communities for victims in the form of defendants “the dictatorship of the judiciary.”
After the hearing on August 19, Fitzpatrick was handcuffed and taken to the McMinn County jail. He was transferred unsuccessfully several days later to the Bledsoe county Correctional Center (BCCX), then returned to McMinn. As far as The Post & Email can determine, Fitzpatrick was moved to Bledsoe on August 26, although his registration did not appear there until recently.
In the second audio segment, Fitzpatrick’s defense attorney, Van Irion, argued that his client had attempted to carry out his “constitutional duty” to point out corruption and a threat to constitutional freedoms where he saw it. Irion also contended that Cunningham had obstructed Fitzpatrick’s attempts to report crime to the grand jury in violation of Tennessee statute. Irion also argued that Fitzpatrick had “served his country” and did not pose a threat to the community. “Citizens ought to be able to petition their government for redress of grievances,” he told the court. He claimed that Fitzpatrick “has broken no laws” and asked for a suspended sentence pending an appeal.
Irion also reminded Blackwood that Cunningham had admitted to having provided the grand jurors who indicted Fitzpatrick in March with “history” in January on Fitzpatrick’s activities in Monroe County, at which time a grand juror testified that she asked Cunningham, “Should I be afraid of Mr. Fitzpatrick?”
Prosecutor A. Wayne Carter stated that there was not “one iota” of evidence that Fitzpatrick was remorseful for having accused “Mr. Cunningham” of wrongdoing. “Mr. Fitzpatrick brought numerous petitions to the grand jury…” Carter said.
A defendant in another Tennessee case told The Post & Email that it was well-known that if a citizen asked to present evidence to the Lawrence County grand jury, “they make up charges against you.”
Carter claimed that Fitzpatrick’s actions had caused Cunningham mental anguish and threatened Cunningham’s right to own a firearm.
In the third audio, Hilton-Coffman testified about her work for the Parole Board and Fitzpatrick’s “record” from Monroe County, where he was jailed six times for various misdemeanor convictions. Fitzpatrick declined to meet with Hilton-Coffman prior to the sentencing hearing.
At 11:34, under questioning, Hilton-Coffman said, “I was wrong” when questioned about there having been “no victim.”
At 15:40, Fitzpatrick began to answer questions from his erstwhile jailers about his military history and his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Before the sentencing hearing, Fitzpatrick predicted that the issue of corruption in the Tennessee courts and specifically, illegally-acting grand jury foremen, “is going to get bigger and bigger,” particularly if he were sent to prison. He has described the Tennessee courts as “a closed system.”
Local media in Tennessee show little curiosity about the numerous reports made to them by Fitzpatrick and others of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.
In Hitler’s Germany, “The People’s Court” condemned defendants to conviction and death regardless of whether or not they were given a chance to present a defense.
According to an historical account of Nazi Germany, “Nazi ideology permeated and shaped most aspects of German political life, work, society and culture. Germans were expected to place their trust in Adolf Hitler. Democratic government at all levels was swept away, replaced by Nazi Party departments, agencies and acolytes. Other political organisations were banned; even expressing a dissenting view became a crime. The Nazis rounded up their political opponents, forcing them into exile, detaining them in concentration camps or hauling them before the notorious ‘People’s Court’. Order and security were protected by powerful police and paramilitary organisations, like the Schutzstaffel (SS) and the Gestapo.”
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.