“THE PEOPLE…HAVE TURNED THEIR BACK ON GOD”
by Sharon Rondeau
In August 2011, Raudenbush was convicted on eight original charges stemming from an altercation with Tellico Plains, TN police officer Brian Millsaps on December 30, 2010. After spending more than two years in state prison, last December an appellate court reversed the verdicts as a result of its determination that Raudenbush was denied his constitutional right to defense counsel by Judge Carroll Lee Ross.
Ross retired on August 31 of this year and is drawing a taxpayer-funded pension.
Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, also a “senior” retired judge, presided over Raudenbush’s latest trial during which the 911 calls Raudenbush made for help after encountering Millsaps were not allowed to be heard by the jury.
An eyewitness told The Post & Email that although the jury members said during the voir-dire process that they were not acquainted with anyone in the Tellico Plains Police Department, at least one juror greeted a policeman by name after the verdicts were read.
Systemic public corruption is a way of life in Tennessee as evidenced by grand juries with judicially-selected foremen who perform the bidding of the judge and sometimes serve for decades. In December 2011, then-Judge Amy Reedy was observed hand-picking the names of individuals to serve on the 2012 Monroe County grand juries in violation of state law. Reedy was not disciplined and not retained in the August 7, 2014 elections.
Raudenbush believes that because he filed a civil lawsuit against the State of Tennessee stemming from what he maintains was an unlawful incarceration, Blackwood and the jury are retaliating against him. Several weeks prior to the incident wherein Millsaps broke the window of the vehicle Raudenbush was driving and then struck him on the head and hand with his flashlight, Raudenbush and several other youth mission elders filed a criminal complaint with the Knoxville FBI against the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, which had confiscated a trailer belonging to the mission with contents valued at more than $120,000.
The trailer was allegedly taken because then-Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens claimed it belonged to Raudenbush personally and that Raudenbush owed a debt to the county. The trailer was never returned, and Bivens was never prosecuted for its confiscation.
Retaliation and defamation are common forms of retribution in eastern Tennessee, as noted by the trial eyewitness. “When your name’s foreign, you’re a foreigner, and you’re going to be judged from the get-go,” he said.
Following the recent trial last month, Raudenbush notified the Tennessee Tenth Judicial District’s public defender’s office that because they work for the state, which Raudenbush is suing, they cannot represent him properly in his case. Raudenbush is therefore again without counsel and has related that Blackwood’s assistant, Mindy, urged him to file motions with the court which normally would be done by defense counsel.
Blackwood had appeared impatient for Raudenbush’s prompt sentencing when he said following the announcement of the verdicts, “Are you ready for sentencing?” After the public defender objected, Blackwood responded, “I want this done before Christmas.”
An inquiry made to Blackwood’s office on Friday as to why sentencing was significantly expedited in Raudenbush’s case did not receive a response.
As to the causes of corruption in Monroe County, Raudenbush told The Post & Email, “The reason why we’re living the way we are is that the people in Monroe County have turned their backs on God. They go to church, but they make their drugs in their basement, they prostitute their children, and this is what they’re getting. The best thing for a person to do is shake off the dust from his feet and go elsewhere where God would have them work. That county is so evil, the people are so deceitful…”
When The Post & Email asked Raudenbush what he expects his sentence to be, he responded:
I don’t know because I don’t have an attorney to advise me, although my attorney from the public defender’s office did not advise me, either. He would not give me any information that was pertinent or helpful to my case, so I’m having to get outside counsel appointed. The court is responsible for appointing me counsel for every major part of the pre-trial, trial and sentencing. What’s probably going to happen is that the judge is going to say, “You can represent yourself,” just as Carroll Ross did. If he does that, that’s good, because we preserve the record and say, “I didn’t have counsel.” Then he’ll say, “Well, you fired your counsel,” and I’ll say, “No, I didn’t fire my counsel. I told counsel that there was a conflict of interest, and counsel told me that they didn’t have time to work on my case, so I’ve requested new counsel, but you never gave me new counsel.”
How long was your sentence the first time?
It was four years in TDOC, and he assigned me three years in the county jail. So it was seven years, but he ran it concurrent. So that means that if I do the four years, then the three years runs together and I don’t have to do the three years. But he gave me the maximum sentence. So now when they go to resentence me, I’ve already done the four years, so they can give me another three years. I don’t know about the reduced charges, though. They also fined me $5,000, which I don’t have, but they’ll convert it to jail or prison time.
Raudenbush concluded the interview by stating that he is holding all public officials accountable for their actions. “I’m willing and ready to go through whatever is necessary for the truth to come out,” he said.