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by Sharon Rondeau

As a “senior” retired judge, Jon Kerry Blackwood draws a pension and is paid when called back to the bench for specific cases.

(Dec. 8, 2014) — A Tennessee Christian missionary who has already spent more than two years in state prison on convictions for traffic violations from nearly four years ago is facing sentencing a second time on December 15.

In August 2011, George Joseph Raudenbush, III was convicted on eight charges stemming from an encounter with Tellico Plains police officer Brian Millsaps on December 30, 2010.

Tellico Plains is a town located in Monroe County, which is part of Tennessee’s Tenth Judicial District.  Over the last five years, The Post & Email has reported on the district’s government corruption which is a way of life, including rigged grand juries and trial juries; collusion between judges and prosecutors to secure desired convictions; hand-picking of jurors in open court; fabrication of “evidence” by police officers or an absence of evidence utilized to effect a conviction; police brutality; confiscation of prisoners’ money and other illegal activities within the sheriffs’ departments; forged signatures on charging documents; and violations of the Tennessee Public Records Act with impunity.

Millsaps had been fired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) for using excessive force but was able to secure employment with the Tellico Plains Police Department as a lieutenant.

Raudenbush has spoken out about the ingrained corruption in Monroe County by distributing literature to residents and filing an FBI complaint after the MCSD seized a trailer belonging to his mission organization which was never returned.

In 2006, Raudenbush was attacked by unidentified assailants wearing face masks and beaten until he was nearly killed.  He strongly suspects that then-Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens was behind the assault.  Another man, Jim Miller, was murdered on July 17, 2010 in Monroe County whose killers have never been brought to justice despite the likelihood of their having been identified to the FBI.

By means of the now-defunct Christian Citizens Against Corruption, in July 2011 Raudenbush reported:

On June 08, 2010 Sheriff Bivins ordered the seizure of Church property, a 45 foot Semi tractor trailer used exclusively for youth habitat mission work under the direction of the victim. No notice or writ of execution was served on the Church before or during the seizure. Church officials and attorneys have contacted Sheriff Bivins with no response regarding the unlawful and illegal seizure. Law suits are likely to be filed in federal court over the next few weeks by the Church and its members if the property is not returned this week. Recently, Officer Kenny Hope, second in command to Sheriff Bill Bivins, was being investigated as a suspect in the murder of Monroe County Election Commission Chairman Jim Miller, who was executed mafia style, three bullets to the head and burned in his vehicle, sending a clear message to the citizens of Monroe County that elections are still under the control of public officials and not the citizens of Tennessee.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has a long history of misconduct with its officers, including reports and convictions of Sexual Battery on Minors and Children, Misconduct, Theft, Embezzlement, Police Brutality, and Obstruction of Justice among numerous other charges and convictions which would warrant at least a dozen future investigative news articles.

The first step in the progression toward persecution of persons is identification. The second is marginalization; the third, vilification; the fourth, criminalization; and finally, persecution. This was the tactic Germany used against the Jews, and it is now the same tactic being used by self serving public officials in Tennessee against the Christian church.

Every American citizen is endowed with an inherent right and responsibility to hold public officials accountable.

Raudenbush told The Post & Email that the value of the trailer’s contents was more than $120,000.

No evidence was produced to substantiate Raudenbush’s alleged “aggravated assault” of Millsaps or the other charges of “frisk,” failure to wear a seat belt and signal a turn, driving an unregistered vehicle and “left of center,” driving uninsured, and speeding on December 30, 2010.

Raudenbush told The Post & Email that after Millsaps broke the window glass on his driver’s side door, he feared for his life and fled to a home where he made two 911 calls, asking for assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which ultimately was never dispatched to the scene.

At his first trial in late August 2011 with now-retired Judge Carroll Lee Ross presiding, Raudenbush was convicted of eight charges even though he had been indicted by the Monroe County grand jury on seven charges.  At the beginning of the 15-hour trial, Ross denied Raudenbush defense counsel, forcing him to represent himself.

Raudenbush was sentenced to four years in prison and appealed his convictions.  Last December the appellate court agreed with Raudenbush that his constitutional rights were violated by Ross’s refusal to appoint him defense counsel, and he was released in mid-January, with the convictions reversed and remanded back to Monroe County for retrial.

Raudenbush has filed a second lawsuit naming the State of Tennessee as having exercised “deliberate indifference” in regard to his incarceration.

At his second trial on November 24 and 25, 2014, public defender Leon Shahan acted as Raudenbush’s defense counsel, after which Raudenbush was reconvicted on all seven lesser counts so as to avoid “double jeopardy” as laid out in the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, who sentenced CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) to three years in prison for attempting to take evidence of judicial and prosecutorial corruption to a Tenth Judicial District grand jury, presided over Raudenbush’s recent trial and would not permit the admission of the 911 recording into evidence for the jury to hear.

Blackwood reportedly instructed a Washington County jury “not to consider an accident scenario as a valid defense.” When defense counsel stated several reasons why their client should receive a new trial, Blackwood responded with a denial of “less than one page,” as he did when Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Van Irion, requested a new trial on October 20.

In the Washington County case, the defendant’s attorney responded to Blackwood’s order with “We’re very saddened by the lack of careful analysis by the court.”

Before the trial, Raudenbush had asked that Shahan resign from the case.  “Instead of doing what I asked him to do, he came back to me and said, ‘Do you want other counsel appointed?’ He said, ‘I’m going to tell you right up front:  the judge is going to make me represent you through this trial.  So if you go forward and do this, you’ll make the judge mad, and I’m going to have to represent you anyway.”

Raudenbush believes that Shahan was saying, “We’re going to get the outcome of this trial that we want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”  “I was in a situation before trial, being told by a member of the state that if the state is a defendant in one of my cases, there’s nothing I can do, that they’re going to try me anyway with an attorney who has not done anything that I asked him to do,” he told us.

On December 1, public defender Richard Hughes returned a telephone call made by The Post & Email regarding the outcome of Raudenbush’s second trial with a response indicating that he misunderstood the message and believed we were seeking representation within the Tenth Judicial District.

Raudenbush dismissed Shahan from his case in an email in which he told Shahan that the public defender’s office could not objectively represent him because of his pending case against the State of Tennessee.  “The public defender’s office cannot possibly represent me at this point,” Raudenbush said.  “They went through the motions, but their agenda was not to defend me because they work for the state and they get their paycheck from the state.  So their agenda was to be loyal to the state.”

He further explained:

When you file a federal lawsuit against the state, you can’t be represented by the state.  It’s a complete conflict of interest. They had to get a conviction.  Why would they go ahead and reconvict me, go through all the motions, and spend tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money when I’d already served 95% of my sentence allowable by law?  They would do that in order to cover up the crime that the officer committed, which was police brutality.  The only way they could do that was to re-prosecute me.

Police are brutalizing people and they’re getting away with it.  The police officer, out of his own mouth in two different trials, admitted he assaulted me with a deadly weapon.  A police officer has to go through about 15 different steps before he can use deadly force.  This officer never went through the 15 steps.  He said he went through two steps, but he never did.

In this trial, there was enough evidence by law that I should never have been found guilty of any of the charges brought against me.  The reason I say that is that the officers perjured themselves, and when we showed the pictures of the vehicle, the officer said that I “didn’t use the church vehicle to strike the police vehicle once, twice or three times, but four separate times, causing damage to the police vehicle.”

First of all, it was impossible, even if I did want to strike the vehicle that they said I struck, because that vehicle was an undercover Ford F150 or 250 off the ground by 24 inches.  There was no way that an ’86 Ford Escort, whose bumper and body sit about ten inches off the ground, could have ever reached that.  But, miraculously, they said it happened, and not just once, but four times.

The pictures and testimony of two different witnesses stated that the vehicle never made contact, and after the vehicle was impounded, there was no paint transfer on the mission vehicle.  There was no damage to it, not even a scratch.

The Post & Email has interviewed one of the witnesses who corroborated Raudenbush’s account of the condition of the church vehicle after the altercation.

The evidence was so clear.  The judge also did not allow the 911 recordings which showed that I was pleading for help because an officer tried to kill me. I used that term:  an officer tried to kill me.  The issue was that that happened right then; it happened that night. You can’t change that; once you say something that night, it can’t be changed.  The judge did not want the jury to hear the tape.

Despite what he sees as a predetermined outcome in his trial, Raudenbush said that he will continue to “stand for the truth.”  In expectation of the sentencing next Monday, he sees an opportunity for Monroe County public officials to “come to full repentance.”  “That’s really what it’s all about,” Raudenbush said.  “I was a victim of police brutality, and I stood for the truth.  I’m ready and willing to go through whatever is necessary for the truth to come out.  Right now it’s not important what they are doing; it’s what I’m doing – focusing on the positives – that’s important.”


Editor’s Note:  George Raudenbush’s story will continue to a subsequent installment, including a call for letters of support prior to the sentencing.

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