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BUT SHOULD HE REPRESENT THOSE HE CLAIMED WERE CRIMINALS?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 24, 2016) — A trial scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 26, in Monroe County, TN of defendant Marvin William Young may be postponed as a result of the prosecutor, Paul D. Rush, having joined the judicial district’s public defender’s office within the last several weeks.
Young had originally been represented by Atty. Steve Hatchett, who left the public defender’s office in November for private practice. Upon making that discovery, Young contacted the public defender’s office on “five or six” occasions, receiving no response.
Young later discovered that Rush has replaced Hatchett and is expected to assume all of Hatchett’s former cases. Of those, 12, one of which is Young’s, are now pending defense by the same person who had prosecuted them.
Having received no response to telephone calls, Young then sent a certified, restricted-delivery letter to the head public defender, Richard Hughes. Dated January 7, 2016, the letter informs Hughes of Young’s impending January 26 trial of his case, #13-222, and states that the public defender’s office is ill-prepared to represent him. Young cited Hatchett’s departure and a lack of witness subpoenas having been issued among his claims of inadequate representation to that time.
Young called the charges “malicious and frivolous.”
Young has been accused of “especially aggravated burglary” and “especially aggravated kidnapping” by Larry David Godwin. Young maintains his innocence and has reported that the accusations against him arose after he discovered that his father’s last will and testament contained a forgery of the signature. After speaking with Tenth Judicial District authorities without result, Young attempted to speak with Godwin, who assumed ownership of all of Young’s father’s estate, on the matter.
Later that day, Young found himself arrested on several charges on which he reports he was framed by Godwin and several of his relatives.
Rush had taken over Young’s prosecution after Assistant District Attorney General A. Wayne Carter, who prosecuted Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III in 2014, retired. Carter had sought the revocation of Young’s bond resulting from Young’s request for a restraining order against Godwin.
Over the last six years, The Post & Email has reported on systemic corruption within the Tennessee courts which begin with hand-picked, judicially-selected grand jury foremen who sometimes serve for decades. An 1883 Tennessee Supreme Court case describes the grand jury as a group of 13 citizens from the county, one of whom becomes the foreman.
A 1919 statute passed by the Tennessee legislature which allowed the hand-picking of the foreman “within the judge’s discretion” was repealed in 1979, but the practice and justification thereof have continued unabated.
On Saturday, Young told The Post & Email that Hughes contacted him last week by phone and indicated that he thought Young’s case should not be defended by Rush. Young said that Atty. Jeannie Wiggins, who works under Hughes, then contacted the state Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR) about the conflict, with the Board indicating that it agreed with Wiggins’s assessment.
On Monday, Wiggins is expected to present the matter to Judge Andrew Freiberg, who was elected in August 2014 to replace then-retiring Judge Carroll Lee Ross. However, Young said that “the prosecutor has filed a motion asking that all 12 cases be removed from the public defender’s office and go to private attorneys.”
The hearing will take place at the Madisonville courthouse at 105 College Street beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Post & Email has been told that members of the public attempting to attend hearings with which they are not personally connected are routinely told to leave the courtroom. “They tell you if you’re not on the docket, you don’t get to be there,” a source told us.
On January 2, 2014, Rush was officially censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for “ethical misconduct in the prosecution of a criminal case.” In its ruling, the Court wrote that “A public censure is a rebuke and warning to the lawyer, but does not affect the lawyer’s ability to practice law.”