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by Sharon Rondeau

A Tennessee law from the 1970s updated in 1999 protects judges and other public employees with “immunity” for violating citizens’ civil rights, jailing them falsely, defaming them and robbing them of their privacy

(Sep. 12, 2014) — Over at least several decades, the Tennessee legislature has worked to protect judges and other public employees from liability by passing laws which provide them with immunity in the course of their duties.

In an interview with Tennessee defendant Arthur Hirsch, who filed a federal lawsuit against Lawrence County prosecutors and Judge Patricia McGuire over the summer, he pointed out that TCA 29-20-205 exempts judges from liability for abusing their power, specifically in the act of issuing a mittimus, which McGuire effected against him in what he described as an ex parte meeting with a Tennessee Highway Patrolman.

While the law in question is titled “removal of immunity for injury caused by negligent act or omission of employees…,” it contains a lengthy list of exceptions which include:

(1) the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function, whether or not the discretion is abused;

(2) false imprisonment pursuant to a mittimus from a court, false arrest, malicious prosecution, intentional trespass, abuse of process, libel, slander, deceit, interference with contract rights, infliction of mental anguish, invasion of right of privacy, or civil rights;

(3) the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or by the failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke, any permit, license, certificate, approval, order or similar authorization;

(4) a failure to make an inspection, or by reason of making an inadequate or negligent inspection of any property;

(5) the institution or prosecution of any judicial or administrative proceeding, even if malicious or without probable cause;

(6) misrepresentation by an employee whether or not such is negligent or intentional;…

 A mittimus is defined as “A court order directing a sheriff or other police officer to escort a convict to a prison.”

The exceptions to the “removal of immunity” appear to explain why the Tennessee judiciary operates its own form of government “not found in our United States Constitution.”

After Hirsch was arrested on December 10, 2013 without a warrant or indictment, he found that the “plea” entered on his behalf by McGuire against his wishes was not recorded anywhere as he gathered information and evidence in his own defense.

“She said she was entering it on the record, but it’s not on the record; it’s nowhere,” Hirsch told us.  At what Hirsch expected to be a probable cause hearing on January 24, neither the state trooper who conducted the custodial interrogation and arrest nor the district attorney general was present.

Hirsch was jailed without an initial hearing in front of a magistrate as required by Rule 5 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure while his terminally ill, 96-year-old mother was home alone.  Hirsch also found that McGuire or an underling instructed a bond company not to do business with him with the intent to keep him jailed indefinitely.

Regarding the mittimus, Hirsch told us:

The state legislature – and they should just be whipped for this – made the judge immune from every kind of lawsuit you could dream up over the issuing of the mittimus.  They went through a list of everything:  all the tort actions, civil rights violations, abuse of power and authority, every possible cause of action.  But the Supreme Court has said that there can be no rule-making that’s contrary to your rights recognized and secured in the Constitution.  So if a judge lies and makes things up and causes you great harm, you can’t say that your rights have been violated?  The law is totally unconstitutional.

Hirsch said he used the mittimus in his federal lawsuit “to support that she [McGuire] is a liar.”  “I think I used enough words that cover my allegations.  You actually have to say that the actions of the person you’re suing were willful,” Hirsch explained.  “I have to show that they violated the law, which they did, that it was willfully done, and they continued to perpetuate the fraudulent hearings.  They’re not entitled to immunity when they operate outside the law.  It’s only when they’re working within the law, if they make a mistake or use bad judgment, that they’re granted immunity.  But when they clearly are miles apart from those laws – and they continue on and they know better – then that’s a different story.  I’m going to have to argue the ‘immunity’ issue.  If I can show criminal activity, then they lose that argument; they’re going to have to go through discovery and everything else.”

Hirsch told The Post & Email that he grants anyone the liberty use any of the material contained in his federal lawsuit, the various pleadings of which are embedded in Part 3 of our initial series about his case.

Hirsch has filed a formal civil rights complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  “Because of some of the criminal elements, I also sent one to the Criminal Division and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  I sent not only a complaint, but my entire 52-page federal complaint, which I also sent to the chairman of the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee.  Then I sent one to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General’s office in care of the Comptroller of the Treasury General Counsel’s office.  I’ve probably sent out 6, 7, 8 of these,” Hirsch said.  “I’m also going to be preparing one for the judicial disciplinary committee.  I sent the criminal complaint to them and got a ridiculous letter back.”

In response to his complaint to the Board of Judicial Conduct, Hirsch said he received a letter which said, “It sounds as if you have a problem with the judge’s decision.”  However, he told us, “I never said anything about the judge’s decision.”

In early July, The Post & Email sent a copy of a letter to the Comptroller of the Treasury’s office about crimes in the Tenth Judicial District on the part of judges and prosecutors which received no response.  The letter was sent to the Tennessee Attorney General and the FBI in Washington, DC, which also did not respond.

“I’ve contacted the governor and lieutenant governor even though it doesn’t do any good,” Hirsch said. However, he added:

If we have enough people filing these complaints, one after the other like a tidal wave coming in, it does have an effect.  They will realize that too many people are getting informed and are bringing suit against these folks.  It’s going to have an effect.

A now-retired Tenth Judicial Tennessee judge, Carroll Lee Ross, denied a defense attorney to two indigent defendants, Marvin William Young and George Joseph Raudenbush, III, in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which stated that “defense counsel is ‘fundamental and essential’ to a fair trial.”

In 2010, Ross additionally told Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III that he was forbidden from entering the Monroe County courthouse to perform research in his own defense.  Court transcripts have also appeared in altered formats and have been denied to defendants, members of the public and media.

Since the fall of 2009, when Fitzpatrick discovered that Tennessee grand jury foremen are appointed by judges and serve for years or decades, he has called the systemic corruption “the dictatorship of the judiciary.”  Fitzpatrick is currently serving a three-year sentence for “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” after he attempted to inform the McMinn County, TN grand jury of criminal evidence against judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and the grand jury foreman.

In a discussion about the motives behind Tennessee judges’ corruption, Hirsch said, “They’re egocentric, and all they care about is money, power and control.  They don’t care how they hurt people; that doesn’t matter to them in the least.  Why wouldn’t they give me a continuance when my mother had just died?”

When The Post & Email related Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood’s comments during Fitzpatrick’s sentencing hearing on August 19 wherein he stated, “I’m tired of people coming in here talking about their constitutional rights,” Hirsch responded, “That means that he’s engaged in treason; they ought to throw him out of there.”

Hirsch related that he “never heard of a county criminal court” after we explained that 1984 laws had called for local criminal courts to combine into districts and circuit courts, something which the Tenth Judicial District never did.

In a stunning conclusion, Hirsch added:

The district attorney and the judge make up whatever they want, and law enforcement goes right along with it.  I sued the District 7 commander of the state troopers for ‘willful gross negligence,’ which is when you have a duty to train and supervise and monitor your guys, and they don’t.  The judge compliments them on how many people they’re bringing in.  They call it “Trooper Friday,” and they have hundreds of people they bring in.  They have 50 extra guys who come in outside of our county who cruise up and down, even in subdivisions, looking at license plates seeing if they can find anything.  I railed on that in my testimony at my last hearing.

I sued the commander and the trooper for not taking me to the additional appearance which the law says you have to.  It’s mandatory; it’s not optional.  I sued him and his superior for not monitoring him, and all we have to do is show that there are others to whom they’ve done the exact thing.  So he can’t hide behind his immunity.  Now, I’ve taken the stick to the hornets’ nest.  I’ve gone after all of them, and it’s substantial money.  I have $100,000 each on the trooper and his superior. Each one of the people in the district attorney’s office is $500,000; the district attorney himself is $1.25 million.

When The Post & Email asked, “Are those that the amounts you want for damages?” Hirsch responded:

It’s irreparable.  I’ll never get those hours back with my mom that they stole from me.  They destroyed my business.  I have a very good business, but I can’t get out; I’ve got to stay here and do this research to defend myself.  I have a very good reputation, but I barely worked in August.

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