MONROE COUNTY TRIAL JURY PERFORMS JUDGE’S DIRTY WORK AGAIN
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 11, 2014) — “I made a choice to get out of that situation,” Christian missionary George Raudenbush said of his decision to drive away from a scene wherein a Tellico Plains, TN police officer who had been fired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) for using excessive force had stopped him and broken his driver’s side window with his flashlight on December 30, 2010.
As a result of the encounter with Lt. Brian Millsaps, Raudenbush was indicted by the Monroe County grand jury on seven charges, some of which were felonies, and convicted on eight charges in August 2011 in a 16-hour trial in which he was forced to represent himself.
Grand juries and trial juries are routinely rigged in eastern Tennessee and most likely in other regions of the state. Reports of judicial misconduct, compromised juries, forged charging documents, and illegally-serving grand jury foremen have fallen on deaf ears at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Knoxville; the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee; the U.S. Department of Justice; and the Chattanooga office of the FBI.
Agreeing with Raudenbush that his constitutional right to counsel was wrongly denied, on December 3, 2013 an appellate court reversed his convictions and remanded the case back to Monroe County. Raudenbush had filed his own appeal and told The Post & Email that he was sure that if all of the documentation he submitted had been given to the appellate court by the trial court clerk, all of the convictions would have been or vacated and not sent back to the lower court to be tried again.
At a two-day trial on November 24 and 25 with Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood presiding, key evidence was withheld from the jury, as corroborated by an eyewitness, and Raudenbush’s public defender failed to use the strategy he had discussed with his client. Raudenbush also maintains that the public defender’s office was compromised from the outset because of a federal lawsuit he had filed against the state of Tennessee, which compensates public defenders.
“There were two events where two police officers, respectively, were let go for using excessive force. There were two unarmed people who died, and the officers used excessive force. In my case, they used excessive force to the point where I would have wound up like either one of those people. I made a choice to get out of that situation. It’s called ‘fight or flight.’ It’s a natural response. Either you’re going to stay there and try to fight, or you’re going to get out of that situation.” Raudenbush told us.
“The law has what is called a defense of necessity, which says that if you’re in harm’s way, you have the absolute right to leave that situation where you’re in danger and to remove yourself from it. In fact, the Tennessee legislature gives the citizens the right to use equal or greater force when being confronted with a law enforcement officer who is using excessive force. I chose to leave the situation rather than engage the individual.”
Raudenbush suggested that observers looking at his case will see that “There were two guys killed by excessive force, and then there was a third guy, George Raudenbush, who was smart enough to get out of the situation and not allow them to do it, and now they’re prosecuting him as a victim?”
In 2006, Raudenbush was attacked at a Christian mission office where he was working during which a masked assailant nearly killed him. He suspects that former Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens was behind the assault which left him pummeled, covered with blood, hemorrhaging internally, and hospitalized. “I should have been dead,” Raudenbush told us of the assault. When The Post & Email asked if he ever discovered who the perpetrators were, he responded, “At one point I had actually taken the assailant’s mask off during the struggle. It was dark out and I didn’t get a good look at him, and he put his mask back on right away. From there, there was another guy who came out. We know who was behind it…there were around 30 people who knew what was going on.”
He added that Jeb Brown, who was working for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department as a detective at the time, “knew who took the hit out on me.” Last summer, The Post & Email spoke briefly with Brown, who was then Tellico Plains Police Chief, about his charging of Marvin William Young for carrying an unregistered handgun in August of last year. Young was also accused of “especially aggravated kidnapping” and “especially aggravated burglary” by Larry David Godwin, who now possesses Young’s late father’s Monroe County estate.
Young’s next status hearing is scheduled for January 26, 2015, with Judge Andrew Freiberg presiding.
The Post & Email commented that “everybody seems to be intent on harming somebody else” in Monroe County, TN, to which Raudenbush responded, “That’s the mentality of that area; everybody has something on somebody, so nobody tells on anybody so when something like this happens, you better be quiet or your house could be burned down tomorrow and you’ll lose everything you have.”
“Why are people so conniving there?” we asked, to which Raudenbush replied:
In small towns, people can hide things more easily. Usually you have one or two people who run everything: that could be the liquor stores, the prostitution, the drugs. In a big city, there are drug kingpins, but there are dozens of them. In the big city it’s different, but in a little town like that you have only one or two people who run everything.
The Post & Email recalled that CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) had nearly all of his personal possessions stolen by his landlady and landlord just before he was released from the Monroe County jail in February 2012. “There were eyewitnesses who reported it to the police, as Walt later did, and the Madisonville Police never did anything about it,” we said. “They took his chairs, tables, bedroom furniture, kitchen utensils and appliances, food, and cash, and they never prosecuted those responsible.”
“That’s how people are in Monroe County; they’re very self-centered; they care only about themselves,” Raudenbush responded.
Raudenbush believes that the public defender’s office was conflicted because of the federal lawsuit he recently filed against State of Tennessee employees for intentional infliction of bodily harm and injury and deliberate indifference stemming from his convictions in August 2011, when Judge Carroll Lee Ross denied him access to an attorney, leaving him forced to defend himself in a 16-hour trial.
“Did you raise this issue before the trial?” we asked.
“Yes, I did that right up-front, and they kept telling me, ‘You can’t have other counsel; the public defender’s office has to be appointed.’ When I brought that up, they just dismissed it. I put it in writing before the trial; it went through the communication lines, which is federal. It’s under federal jurisdiction. We have records of my noticing them that I cannot have the state represent me.
“My own attorney put me on the stand and questioned me, saying, ‘Have I not done a good job for you? Are you happy with my representation?’ He wanted to look good before the jury, but he also wanted it on the record to show that I was pleased with his counsel when in fact, I was telling him all along, ‘You can’t represent me’ and he kept telling me, ‘Well, you’re stuck with me,'” Raudenbush told us.
Regarding the new convictions, Raudenbush told us:
I was essentially retried on the same charges, which is double jeopardy, on the same things I was exonerated of. They were the same charges, but they reduced them. You can’t charge somebody with “aggravated assault” in a lesser degree and say it’s not the same charge. “Aggravated assault” is “aggravated assault.”
They just reduced it down. If it was a “D” felony, they reduced it down to an “E” felony. All the charges were the same. Really, the double jeopardy rule still applies.
Right after the verdict came in, Judge Blackwood said, “Are you ready for sentencing?” I told my attorney, “You better not. Sentencing doesn’t happen for three or four months after the trial, sometimes after a year. He wants to sentence me today???”
I needed to file some pre-sentence motions, but the judge wouldn’t let me do that. So now the judge set my date for December 15, and he said, “I want this done before Christmas.” So he wants to see me in prison before Christmas.
“On what grounds did he say he needed to sentence you so soon?”
It’s basically judicial discretion, but what he’s done is crossed a fine line. He has to adhere to the law like everybody else. But when he did that, it clearly showed that he’s not only prejudiced and biased, but he wants to over-prosecute this case. He’s actually practicing law from the bench by going forward with this when everybody knows that sentencing doesn’t take place for three, four, five, six or 12 months after. I know people in Monroe County who went up to two years before they were sentenced after they were found guilty.
“Would two years be considered normal?”
No. What’s normal anywhere is up to a year, but he didn’t want that. He wanted to sentence me that day, and because we objected to it, he said, “Good. We’ll have you sentenced before Christmas.”
Raudenbush composed a letter asking the public for letters of support to be sent to Blackwood prior to Monday’s sentencing.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I count it all joy to have been convicted twice in the service of Jesus Christ.
I am to be sentenced on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm at the Monroe County Courthouse in Madisonville, TN. The court at that time will allow any and all individuals to speak on my behalf to testify of my character. If you feel lead to do this it will be a great testimony of your faith and a witness to the court. Judge Jon Blackwood will base his sentencing on testimony heard from individuals testifying of my character.
I am also encouraging you to write Judge Blackwood in sharing your faith with him and your relationship to me. This is a great opportunity to share your faith and advance the Kingdom of God.
All letters should be typed preferably on letter head and two copies sent, one to Gene Forrest’s address and one to Judge Blackwood’s address. The reason for this is to preserve the record for my appeal. Please make both copies hand-signed originals.
2545 Woodbine Ave
Knoxville, TN 37914
Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
505 Main Street
P.O. Box 444
Knoxville, TN 37902
You can also call Judge Blackwood’s secretary Mindy at (865) 594-6118 and let her know that you know me and believe that I am telling the truth and I am innocent of the charges brought against me.
Thank you for all the prayers for the judge, prosecutor, attorneys and court personnel involved.
Respectfully in Christ
George Joseph Raudenbush III
National Missions Coordinator
Appalachian Youth Missions
2545 Woodbine Ave
Knoxville, Tennessee 37914
An individual acquainted with Raudenbush wrote the following letter:
To: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Subject: George J. Raudenbush
Date: December 8, 2014
Honorable Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood,
This letter is a testimony for George Raudenbush’s behavior and lifestyle while he has been out on bond since January of this year.
George Raudenbush has been very active, working, earning money, and paying his bills, as well as doing voluntary work at a mission for homeless people.
He has made many friends and visited several churches.
We are convinced that he is innocent of all the charges that have been placed against him, and we are confident that you will show him leniency at his Sentencing Hearing.
Raudenbush’s work skills:
1. George has earned money repairing computer.
2. He has also earned money repairing bicycles, and
3. He has done carpentry work at one of the mission halls in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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.