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WILL THE JURY BE RIGGED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 23, 2014) — A former Monroe County, TN resident who was sentenced to years in prison on alleged vehicular convictions and served more than two years in Tennessee state prisons will be retried on lesser charges beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday at the Monroe County courthouse at 103 College Street in Madisonville, TN.
Missionary George Raudenbush was released from prison in January after an appellate court ruled that he had unconstitutionally been denied defense counsel by Judge Carroll Lee Ross, who retired at the end of August. Ross was not sanctioned for his error.
Each of the original seven charges has been reduced to avoid the unconstitutional “double jeopardy” present in the Fifth Amendment. At his trial in August 2011, Ross added an eighth charge which had not come from a grand jury indictment.
CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), who is currently serving a three-year sentence in a Tennessee state prison for attempting to bring evidence of judicial and prosecutorial corruption to the McMinn County grand jury in March, discovered in 2009 that Tennessee grand juries are routinely staffed with a long-serving foreman selected by the criminal court judge who serves for decades if the judge desires it.
The common understanding of a Fifth Amendment grand jury is that its members, including the foreman, will examine evidence of a possible crime objectively and perform their own inquiries without influence from the government. However, grand juries in Tennessee, and most likely the rest of the country, have become tools of the government used to retaliate against citizens who it views as political enemies.
The judge who will preside over Raudenbush’s new trial is Jon Kerry Blackwood, the same judge who sentenced Fitzpatrick on August 19 and was heard to say, “I’m sick and tired of all these people demanding their constitutional rights.”
During the same proceeding, a parole officer for the state changed her stance that Fitzpatrick’s “crime” had no victim. Rather, Judith Hilton-Coffman “corrected” the record to say that former McMinn County grand jury foreman Jeffrey Cunningham, who is a licensed Bar attorney, was Fitzpatrick’s victim.
Fitzpatrick has always maintained that nothing in his multiple petitions to the grand jury was false. His attorney, Van Irion, claimed that even if Fitzpatrick had inadvertently presented false information, it would not have risen to the level of perjury. Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick was convicted of “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” by a jury which many suspect was tainted along with the grand jury which issued the indictments.
Fitzpatrick found that there is no law enforcement agency to whom misconduct and law-breaking on the part of judges can be reported with the expectation that action might be taken. The Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR) rarely sanctions an attorney or prosecutor; the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (TAOC) claims simply that each judicial district might do things differently; many prosecutors’ offices are corrupt themselves; and most defense attorneys have been found to be part of the corruption ring which jails as many citizens as possible in a “prisoners-for-profit” enterprise which Fitzpatrick observed first-hand in the Monroe County jail on numerous occasions.
In 2007, Raudenbush was beaten and nearly killed by unknown assailants who he believes were sent by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in retaliation for Raudenbush’s religious organization standing up to then-Sheriff Bill Bivens.
Raudenbush’s attorneys are Richard Hughes and Leon Shahan from the Tenth Judicial District’s public defender’s office. The Post & Email interviewed Hughes just before Christmas last year when he informed us that Raudenbush’s prior conviction had been reversed and remanded back to Monroe County for a rehearing.
Jury selection is expected to begin shortly after 9:00 a.m. ET and could take an hour, half a day, or a full day. State law allows a defendant to question jurors regarding their qualifications to serve before the trial commences. TCA 22-2-314 mandates a 24-month time period between jury service throughout the state.
Raudenbush’s motions for a continuance and a change of venue were denied by Blackwood. Irion had asked for a change of venue and argued that the Tenth Judicial District had no jurisdiction in Fitzpatrick’s case, motions that Blackwood also denied.
Raudenbush has always said that he was innocent of all of the charges.