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by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 10, 2014) — Over the last several weeks, The Post & Email has reported on the case of Arthur Hirsch, who was arraigned in Lawrence County, TN in January without an indictment or arrest warrant, subjected to a subsequent humiliating hearing in April by Judge Patricia McGuire, and then filed a federal lawsuit against Lawrence County officials over the summer.
In the lawsuit, Hirsch documented numerous instances of violations of his due process and civil rights, naming as defendants McGuire, District Attorney General Mike Bottoms, several assistant district attorneys general, and two Tennessee Highway Patrolmen involved in his arrest last December.
Over the last five years, The Post & Email has reported on systemic corruption in Tennessee criminal and family courts, particularly the longstanding practice of judges appointing grand jury foremen who serve for years and even decades.
Other examples of misconduct identified by victims of the corruption include hand-picked jurors, forged charging documents, compromised judges’ refusal to recuse themselves from cases, and denial of defendants’ access to court records.
After being jailed without first being taken to a magistrate for a probable cause hearing, as Rule 5 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure (TRCP) mandates, in mounting his defense, Hirsch discovered that Lawrence County does not use arrest warrants or maintain a record book containing the pleas of defendants. Court records also contain no time of day as to when a particular event occurred, and, in Hirsch’s particular case, stated the wrong day on which he was custodially interrogated and incarcerated in the county jail for six hours while his bedridden, terminally-ill mother remained unattended.
Hirsh told The Post & Email that Lawrence County is well-known for being “the most corrupt county in the state of Tennessee.” However, victims in Monroe, McMinn, and Tipton Counties have made identical statements about their own respective counties.
The Tennessee legislature is aware of the judicial corruption throughout the state but taken little, if any, action to correct it. An account of the 1946 “Battle of Athens” describing a shootout between World War II veterans disgusted at the corruption in their community and the perpetrators at the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office reports that “The laws of Tennessee provided an opportunity for the unscrupulous to prosper.”
Hirsch told us that his address to the grand jury under subpoena “pertained to official misconduct and oppression in our county.” He added, “I furnished a packet of information for each juror and for the foreman. It was quite substantial. I also had some copies of organic documents. Most people don’t even know what organic law is.
“The way it basically went is I had asked for a subpoena to be called to them. I didn’t want to take a risk of just knocking on the door trying to get in and see them or meeting them in the parking lot. I know a lot of people have done that; I don’t see anything wrong with that, but the establishment usually has a problem with that and makes up charges. So I wanted to be actually asked to come before the grand jury.”
The Post & Email asked Mr. Hirsch how he was able to obtain a subpoena from the grand jury, to which he responded, “I found out who the foreman was. Of course, the people in the court clerk’s office didn’t want to say who it was. I had a friend who called the newspaper, and of course, the newspaper knows everything. So I called them and they gave the name of the foreman. I got his address and wrote him a letter, and I sent him some material on a lot of official misdeeds and misconduct here and also told them that my particular case would be coming to them most likely in the very near future. I wanted to be able to speak, but I didn’t want to just presume upon them; I wanted to have a subpoena.”
The Post & Email asked Hirsch if he knew how the grand jury foreman was selected, to which he replied, “My understanding is that there are people who can be chosen from the pool, and it seems that many of the people in the jury room chose the foreman, and I guess he’s given approval by the judge.” However, Hirsch said he was not positive if that was the procedure used. Hirsch then quoted from the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 6(g), which sets the guidelines for how the grand jury foreman is selected.
We explained that in the Tenth Judicial District and other jurisdictions in Tennessee, judges pick the foreman “from wherever they choose,” not from the jury pool which is presumably lawfully empaneled. However, Rule 6(g)(2) of the TRCP states that “the foreperson shall possess all the qualifications of a juror.” Jurors in the state of Tennessee are prohibited from serving consecutive terms by TCA 22-2-314.
When we told Hirsch that some Tennessee grand jury foremen “serve for 28 years,” referring to former Monroe County grand jury foreman Gary Pettway, he responded, “Oh, boy, isn’t that something.” Hirsch said he was seeking “access” to the grand jury so that his words to them would not be viewed as “hostile.” “Otherwise, they make up charges against you and all. That’s why I wrote the letter and asked to be subpoenaed,” he explained.
When The Post & Email raised the recent conviction of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) on two felony counts based upon his several attempts to submit evidence of criminal conduct on the part of judges, court clerks, and prosecutors to the McMinn County grand jury earlier this year, Hirsch responded, “In small counties, it’s almost like an incestuous relationship…everybody’s married to everyone else, works for everyone else, and they just disregard the rule of law. Someone who is not part of their community and is considered an outsider – they just abuse them, run them through a sawmill,” he said.
Of his presentation to the Lawrence County grand jury, Hirsch further told The Post & Email:
My letter had gotten there just after they had gotten my case. It reached the grand jury from the General Sessions Court, which had lost jurisdiction months and months before due to multiple violations of the statutory rules of procedure, of constitutionally-secured right, for actual criminal acts, and also, one that people don’t think of often, acts of fraud on the court. The fraud on the court may have its impact upon you, the defendant, but it’s not aimed specifically at you. Because they throw the rulebook out and proceed under color of law, they basically destroy the impartial and fair machinery of the court.
The fraud on the court is not the same as common-law fraud even though it’s fraud. My understanding is that common-law fraud is directed at a person, but if there are material facts that are concealed intentionally from the person and lawful procedure is bypassed by operating under color of law, then that is fraud on the court. That needs to be reported because that is a serious crime in Tennessee.
They bound over my case to the grand jury; the grand jury indicted because they hadn’t heard me speak yet. The district attorney rushed over and made a presentation, their dog-and-pony show.
However, something very interesting happened. Early on, before this appearance to the grand jury, I had filed a criminal complaint. I couldn’t give it to the D.A. because he was named in there as one of the perpetrators.
“This happened with Walter Fitzpatrick, also,” commented The Post & Email.
So I named him. I also did a Notice of Fraud on the Court. Both of these were verified, and they were probably about 15-20 pages each. I sent those to the sheriff. I didn’t want to have to go through the attorney general’s office at this point. I was very burdened; my mother was terminally ill, and she died, and I had to deal with that. The court was very abusive and wouldn’t give me a continuance for my mother’s death. It was really a mess.
“I’m very sorry.”
They bound it over. When they did, they got a district attorney from up in Williamson County near Nashville who came in as a substitute. The reason was that there might be a “conflict of interest.” Well, the conflict was that the D.A. and all of his staff were named in my criminal complaint. They would not be able to then prosecute me and present the information. So they got a woman from Williamson County, and she made the presentation. I think she’s going to regret it, because I have filed a 52-page civil rights action in federal court under Title 42 against them. The fact that she has come and reviewed all of the substantial documents I put in the record and still wanted to play the game and perpetuate the fraud, this coming Monday, I’m naming her as another defendant.
I plan to continue doing that, and every one they send down to prosecute in the Circuit Court I’m going to just serve them when they walk in the courtroom, and they will not be able to continue. So if they want to send out 50 of them, I’ll add 50 people to my defendants list.
“The Post & Email has found that the U.S. District court in Knoxville and the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals appear to be complicit in the corruption.”
I know they are, but here’s the other thing, too. A lot of folks don’t follow strictly all the rules and procedures, and they use a lot of “patriot” stuff. If you use their terms – and I don’t like to use their terms – but if you play their game with their terms and you don’t raise red flags all the time, you can make a lot of progress even in the corrupt federal courts.
Coming back to my case, after they indicted, about a week later, I got a subpoena to appear before the grand jury. I was very happy about that. I prepared a very substantial packet and made one for each person. It had a table of contents, all kinds of exhibits, and everything else. I came in, and they were very nice, very warm and friendly. The chairman said, “What do you want to tell us?” So I started in, and I spoke for about 40-45 minutes, although they were only going to give me ten minutes. He said, “In all my years here, I’ve never seen or heard a presentation like this.” Well, of course not, because he gets it from lawyers. He doesn’t get it from the outside of the box.” So when I was finished, he said, “We’re going to have to wrap up and summarize.” Then he said something that I found surprising; he opened his arms and spread his hands out and said, “What do you want us to do?” I offered up a little prayer and thought, “I better be careful what I say here, because this could be a trap.” So I said, “I want you to do your research. Everyone, read thoroughly all I’ve provided. Do additional research on the record of how much abuse has been going on, and after you’ve really gotten a good picture of things and you’ve got all the facts, then you do what is right. You do what your conscience tells you is right for the good people of Lawrence County.” I left it at that, so the burden was on them. If I had said, “I want you to do this or that, they’d say that I was manipulating the jury in a vindictive spirit, and they would have come down like thunder, or somebody would have, and gotten me in trouble. I didn’t ask for their head on a plate; I told them to study, learn what they can, and they had plenty to start chewing on and then do what is right for the people of the county: to be just.
It was a very pleasant time; they were very cordial. Surprisingly, out of 13, there were three men, and all the rest were women. Usually it’s close to 50-50.
During the sentencing hearing, the investigator from the Tennessee Board of Parole stated that she had been “wrong” in her pre-sentencing report and that the state had found a victim after all.
Interestingly, Fitzpatrick observed that the McMinn County grand jury to which he submitted petitions for redress of grievances for 2014 contained a majority of people who were in their 60s, which at the time he stated was “statistically impossible.” In December 2011, Fitzpatrick attended the selection of the 2012 grand juries in Monroe County and reported that Judge Amy Reedy had hand-picked prospective jurors’ names from a stack of papers placed face-up on her desk in violation of state law, which requires that the final names be placed in a box and chosen blindly.
Fitzpatrick has stated on many occasions that the Tennessee courts are “operating a government that we do not find in our Constitution.”
Over five years, Fitzpatrick was never permitted to testify to a county or federal grand jury about the considerable evidence he has compiled on judicial corruption in the state of Tennessee. A letter from U.S. Attorney William C. Killian, who issued a veiled threat against anyone making derogatory statements about Islam online, in June of last year told Fitzpatrick that any additional submissions from him would be summarily dismissed and discarded.
Citizens of other states have reported that their attempts to testify to a grand jury have also been unsuccessful, as today’s grand juries are controlled by prosecutors on the county, state and federal levels.
The State of Tennessee is officially on the record as being unwilling to grant document requests under its Open Records Act to out-of-state requesters, including the media, hiding behind the wording in the law referring to citizens “of the state,” thereby furthering the secrecy and criminality of government operations. At approximately the same time in 2012 that a federal judge in Tennessee opined that Public Records requests were justifiably denied to out-of-state requesters, an attorney employed at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security stated that because The Post & Email was “a reporter,” her department would comply with our records request.
A hearing was scheduled for September 8 at 1:00 p.m. CDT in Hirsch’s case for which we have not yet received an update.