“IT IS THE WAY IT IS DONE IN TENNESSEE…”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 15, 2014) — On Monday morning, after hearing from a man convicted a second time of traffic violations in Monroe County, TN that the time of his sentencing hearing had been changed from noon to 9:00 a.m. without notice to him, The Post & Email contacted Monroe County Chief Clerk Martha M. Cook to inquire about it.
At 7:33 a.m. EST, we wrote to Cook:
Was the time of George Raudenbush’s sentencing hearing changed? If so, by whom, and when? Was Mr. Raudenbush noticed about the change?
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
At 8:55 a.m. EST, Cook responded:
As of this time we thought the hearing was to be this morning and have just learned it’s scheduled for noon. I would think Mr. Raudenbush’s atty. would have notified him.
We then replied at 8:59 a.m.:
He no longer has counsel.
How could such a mistake as to the hearing time be made? Is there not a posted schedule involving a judge who must travel from out-of-town?
At 9:46 a.m., Cook responded:
Mr. Raudenbush has counsel and his attorney would have advised him.
If true, Raudenbush still was not advised by counsel that the time of the sentencing hearing had been changed from noon to 9:00 a.m. We wrote back to Cook at 9:48:
I am told that the professional relationship was severed just after the trial.
Was a notice of the hearing then provided to the counsel of record, if not Mr. Raudenbush?
The response received from Cook at 10:15 a.m. is as follows:
Mr. Raudenbush attorney was appointed by the Court and paid for by the taxpayers of the State of Tennessee and only the court can discharge his attorney. Mr. Raudenbush could hire or terminate any attorney that HE HIRED.
At 10:39 a.m., we then said:
Do you have a copy of the notice sent to the public defender’s office with the date and time of the sentencing hearing?
and received no response.
Raudenbush was convicted and imprisoned in late August 2011 after having been denied his constitutional right to an attorney by Judge Carroll Lee Ross, who announced his retirement after an appellate court reversed Raudenbush’s convictions last year. Raudenbush was freed in mid-January and appointed counsel by the Tenth Judicial District public defender’s office, which Raudenbush had said could not mount a proper defense since he filed a lawsuit against the State of Tennessee for his incarceration.
An observer to the more recent trial on November 24 and 25 told The Post & Email that the jury was rigged and crucial 911 calls Raudenbush made on the night of the altercation with Tellico Plains police lieutenant Brian Millsaps were not allowed to be played for the jury.
Raudenbush claimed that Millsaps tried to kill him. A previous attempt on his life in 2006 had left him hemorrhaging internally and nearly dead.
In October 2010, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) was not properly noticed about a hearing concerning his attorney of record and was subsequently arrested following a physical struggle and jailing until his trial on December 1 of that year. Convicted of two misdemeanors for having attempted to place then-Monroe County grand jury foreman Gary Pettway under citizen’s arrest, Fitzpatrick remained in jail until early January 2012.
Fitzpatrick later moved to McMinn County, which, like Monroe County, is part of the Tenth Judicial District. After attempting to bring evidence of public corruption to the local grand jury, Fitzpatrick was himself arrested and convicted in June of this year for “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” without evidence.
Tennessee law allows any citizen to approach his local grand jury with evidence of corruption. Despite that, Fitzpatrick is currently housed at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (BCCX) and has requested no mail, phone calls, cards, or visitors until his release.
The same “senior,” or retired, judge who presided over Fitzpatrick’s McMinn County case and Raudenbush’s recent Monroe County case is Jon Kerry Blackwood, who Fitzpatrick has described as “a criminal.”
In Monroe County, Fitzpatrick was assessed nearly $5,000 in fines and court costs which he did not remit; Raudenbush has similarly been penalized with fines totaling $5,000. Regarding Fitzpatrick’s fines at the time, Cook told The Post & Email that “it is the way it is done in Tennessee.”
Both Raudenbush and Fitzpatrick’s attorneys had requested a change of venue which Blackwood denied.
In Nazi Germany in 1994, Hitler appointed Roland Freisler to ridicule, demoralize, and automatically sentence to death anyone perceived as having opposed the Nazi regime. As many as 5,000 people were brutally killed at Hitler’s command.
Directly following Raudenbush’s convictions on November 25, Blackwood was heard to say, “Are you ready for sentencing? I want this done before Christmas.” He also disparaged “constitutional rights” at Fitzpatrick’s sentencing on August 19.
Thousands of Tennessee citizens are now imprisoned as a result of tainted grand juries and trial juries run by county governments. Raudenbush believes that the residents of Monroe County have accepted the systemic corruption in their community because of their having “turned their backs on God.”