“TROUBLE IS ONLY GOING TO RAMP UP”
by Sharon Rondeau
Prior to his entry into custody, Fitzpatrick had expressed a desire for no letters to be written to him and no phone calls to be made on his behalf. He also said he wished to write to no one until he was freed. He is currently housed at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville.
Between August 2012 and March 2014, Fitzpatrick brought a number of sworn complaints alleging corruption among a host of government officials to the McMinn County grand jury, none of which was allowed to be reviewed by the full grand jury by then-foreman Jeffrey L. Cunningham.
Cunningham was hand-picked by then-Tenth Judicial District criminal court Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy. Although President and CEO of a federally-chartered bank in Athens, TN, earning well into the six-figure range, Cunningham apparently served as foreman from January 2012 to early March 2014 for $10 a day.
Since 2009, Fitzpatrick has been attempting to expose the lawlessness of a hand-picked grand jury foreman who can retain his position for decades if the judge so chooses. The foreman directs the deliberations of the grand jury so as to determine their outcome and votes with the others if his vote will result in the 12 needed by law to indict. By the government’s use of the grand jury as a tool, prosecutors are able to see virtually anyone indicted, tried and convicted in order to supply a steady stream of victims for an elaborate prisoners-for-profit scheme.
Prisoners-for-profit has been reported in other states as well, particularly as it pertains to privately-run prisons. On May 11, 2012, The New Orleans Times-Picayune published the first of an eight-part series titled, “Louisiana Incarcerate” (Warning: strong language in introduction). Reporter Cindy Chang said she spent “nearly a year trying to understand how we became the world’s ‘Lock-em-up Capital’ and what the consequences are of incarcerating so many of our citizens.”
The Huffington Post has also published on the topic of prisoners-for-profit.
In December 2011, Fitzpatrick observed Reedy hand-picking all of the grand jurors for the new year in open court from papers containing their personal information. State law requires that the finalists’ names be chosen from a covered box in open court.
As The Post & Email has reported, a 1919 law “allowed” judges to hand-pick their foremen “within their discretion” from anyone in the community. The law was repealed in 1979 but not replaced, and criminal court rules dealing with the grand jury appear to have been substituted. However, those rules are open to interpretation by judges, and hand-picking of the foremen has continued unabated.
Many Tennesseans themselves do not appear to understand that a foreman who essentially works for the judge, not the people, is biased and results in indictments which may not unsubstantiated by facts. The Fifth Amendment, which is the only place in our founding documents which mentions the grand jury, states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Reedy had previously expressed a desire to imprison enough citizens of the district to amount to “a million man-hours” while she held office. She was not re-elected last August after first serving a partial term at the appointment of then-Gov. Phil Bredesen and a subsequent eight-year term following her election in 2006.
Tennessee prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, grand jurors, trial jurors, court clerks, transcriptionists, and the state judicial oversight body, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (TAOC), participate in covering up the unconstitutionality of the courts, which serve as a portal to imprisonment. In recent days, TAOC spokeswoman Michele Wojciechowski, J.D. has failed to answer simple questions posed after a judge’s secretary, transcriptionist and court clerk could not or would not identify the means by which a member of the community could pay for and obtain a copy of a court audio-recording from a trial held years ago. Alternatively, Wojciechowski has provided vague answers which do not address the public’s right to know and the obscuring of records by court personnel.
Tennessee’s civil courts are not immune to corruption and have participated in defrauding local residents of their property, money, due process, and even their children. A divorce case which The Post & Email has been covering for the last several months has received the unusual attendance at a hearing of the District Attorney General, who is a criminal prosecutor, after one of the parties to the divorce reported alleged wrongdoing on the part of a former judge. The victim in that case, Clifford Rockholdt, has shown The Post & Email extensive documentation indicating that the records of the U.S. Child Support Enforcement agency and those of Sumner County, TN, where he filed for divorce and to which his child support is paid, do not match.
Other prisoners and former victims have corroborated Fitzpatrick’s reports of prison threats, abuse, and prisoners-for-profit. “Their goal is to convict you,” former inmate Mike Parsons told us in February from prison.
Since June 3, The Post & Email has received six mailings from Fitzpatrick, all expressing that a prisoners-for-profit operation is being conducted from inside the prison involving a course sponsored by the federal government. Fitzpatrick has also communicated an urgent need for medical and dental care which we relayed to TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor on two occasions.
Fitzpatrick’s latest reports detail a “Pro-Social Life Skills” course for which inmates are reportedly screened after arriving at the Bledsoe County Correctional Center (BCCX) directly after they are taken into custody. Fitzpatrick reported in his first letter that while at Bledsoe, he was deemed not to be a candidate for the class, yet over the last ten days, he was relocated to a different “guild,” or living quarters area, and forced to attend under threat of grave consequences.
The TDOC websites states that the course “is a high intensity program designed for those ranking Medium-Very High in one or more of the following LS/CMI areas: Pro-Criminal Attitude/Orientation, Anti-Social Thinking Pattern, Companions, Leisure/Recreation, and Family/Marital. Run in a full time setting, the duration is 3-4 months; while run in a part time setting the duration is 4-6 months.” The “LS/CMI” is previously described as a “robust risk/needs assessment” for each inmate.
Fitzpatrick stated that the prison is paid $3,000 for each participant who completes the Pro-Social Life Skills” curriculum. In his latest letter received on Saturday, Fitzpatrick wrote that one inmate has been enrolled three times, while another was pulled out of an “uncompleted adult basic education program/class (GED class) and put into the PSLS course robbing from federal coffers and banking into the pockets of TDOC/NWC acts officials another three-grand ($3000.00).”
He also reported that the class has been made a requirement for parole eligibility but that at least one member of the class in which he has been forced to participate “is not eligible for parole.”
In seeking Fitzpatrick’s current TDOC status, we discovered that as he claimed in hist letter received on June 3, he “declined” parole in December. In a letter from a parole board representative, a lifelong friend of Fitzpatrick’s was told that the Parole Board denied Fitzpatrick parole “and voted to have him serve his entire sentence in prison.”
The following are selected parts of Fitzpatrick’s latest letter: