“MORE AKIN TO A NEWS BLOG”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 1, 2015) — As The Post & Email has reported, a hearing has been scheduled for November 16 in the case of State of Tennessee v. Roy Cook.
In 2013, Cook’s twin brother, Andrew, alleged to the Roane County grand jury that Roy had committed extortion against him over a number of computer circuit boards which were reported missing but later located.
The crime has reportedly never been prosecuted in the county, although Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III was convicted of the charge in nearby McMinn County, in the Tenth Judicial District.
Fitzpatrick had attempted to alert the grand jury to evidence of corruption on the part of public officials. His multiple requests to testify to the Fifth-Amendment body were not only rebuffed, but in March of last year, he was also arrested, jailed, and charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor, including the extortion charge and “aggravated perjury.”
He was sentenced in August of last year to three years in state prison, where he continues to inform fellow inmates of the corruption he discovered within the state’s county grand juries.
The upcoming Cook hearing is likely to focus on “Brady violations” alleged by Cook on the part of Ninth Judicial District prosecutors, which include District Attorney General Russell Johnson, assistant prosecutor Robert C. Edwards, and former assistant prosecutor Jeff Vittatoe, who moved to Montana in November 2013. Cook is represented by Joshua Hedrick, an attorney in private practice in Knoxville.
In the case of Brady v. Maryland in 1963, a Maryland appellate court ruled that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”
Roy Cook alleges that Johnson and former prosecutor Jeff Vittatoe withheld crucial evidence in earlier proceedings which would have exonerated him.
At the August 14 hearing, a volunteer for The Post & Email brought in a sound system with the intention of making a recording of the proceedings but was forbidden to do so by Judge E. Eugene Eblen, who is retiring at the end of the year after nearly 49 years on the bench.
It is rumored that Johnson intends to seek Eblen’s position.
Tennessee court personnel have virtually always denied The Post & Email copies of official recordings by invoking the state’s Public Records Act, which reads that “any citizen of this state” may obtain documentation under the conditions specified by the law. The Post & Email is not located in Tennessee, although many citizen reports of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct have emanated from the Volunteer State.
On August 30, The Post & Email sent a message to Johnson and Edwards asking what steps were required to making a recording of the next hearing, to which Johnson responded:
You will need to contact Judge E. Eugene Eblen about that. We have no control over those matters. Media requests for the courtroom are under his purview and are normally limited to traditional media outlets, e.g. television, newspapers, etc. I am not sure whether he would even entertain something more akin to a news blog like yours.
9th District Attorney General
(Roane, Loudon, Morgan & Meigs Counties)
1008 Bradford Way
Kingston, TN 37763
(865) 376-2145 ext. 106
(865) 376-2148 fax
Tennessee “media” has not reported on the corruption of county grand juries, which are led by a judicially-handpicked foreman, nor has it investigated reports of corruption within prosecutors’ offices, the courts, and law enforcement. Over the last six years, The Post & Email has demonstrated a lack of constitutional due process in the cases of Walter Fitzpatrick, III; George Joseph Raudenbush, III; Mike Parsons; Arthur Jay Hirsch; Heather Wilder; Karen Caldwell; Timothy Aaron Baxter; Dennis Burnett; and others, always obtaining documentation included in its reporting to support its claims.
On Tuesday, The Post & Email sent a message to Johnson asking if he is seeking Eblen’s seat on the bench but did not receive a response by press time.
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.