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by Roy Cook, Roane County, TN Citizen

Tennessee’s Ninth Judicial District chief prosecutor Russell Johnson

(Jul. 3, 2017) — [Editor’s Note:  The following letter was sent by email on Monday evening to the Tennesse Ninth Judicial District Public Defender’s office lead attorney Kim Nelson; criminal court clerk Kathi Hamilton; and five attorneys, each of whom was appointed to represent the above-noted author at some point over the 4+-year life of a criminal case in which his twin brother Andrew accused him of “extortion.”

On June 26, after the case had entered its fifth year without trial and Roy Cook had amassed evidence which convinced Assistant District Attorney General Robert Edwards that the matter could not be prosecuted successfully, Judge Jeffery Wicks approved a motion from the prosecution to dismiss the charge.

The Post & Email’s interview with Roy Cook following the case’s dismissal can be read here, with further background here.  Cook has made public his willingness to provide assistance to others who find themselves in a similar situation as his own.

Since 2009, The Post & Email has reported that Tennessee’s criminal court judges handpick the grand jury foreman from anywhere in the community without a vetting process.  The practice has been ongoing for at least 100 years, with foremen often serving for decades at the pleasure of the judge after having avoided the screening and empaneling process required by Tennessee law of all prospective jurors.

The personal selection of the foreman from outside of the jury pool places in question all “True Bills,” or indictments, issued by the “grand jury,” which was intended by the Fifth Amendment to act as a neutral reviewer of the evidence brought by a government prosecutor against an accused.

In the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Rose v. Mitchell on the appointment of a county grand jury foreman, it wrote that “…a selection procedure that is susceptible of abuse or is not racially neutral supports the presumption of discrimination raised by the statistical showing.”

Late last summer, Roy Cook filed complaints against Edwards, Atty. Joshua Hedrick and Atty. Walter Johnson with the Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR).  The agency dismissed the complaint involving Edwards, claiming that only a judge can file an actionable complaint against a prosecutor.  The remaining two complaints are unanswered as of this writing.]

Cook’s missive to those involved in the four-year saga reads:

This letter is to all who were involved in the Tn vs Roy Cook fiasco that wasted 4 years of my time and thousands of dollars of taxpayers money. to any other defendants with similar situations that may read this……DON’T GIVE IN!!! MAKE YOUR PUBLIC DEFENDER DO THEIR JOBS!!!  if they don’t then force the court to supply you with competent representation. file a petition for a private investigator to do what the cops won’t do. if they’ve charged you then they really think you’re guilty and at that point all they want is a conviction at any cost…..  what scares attorneys most is being reported to The Board of Professional Responsibility…..their website is www.tbpr.org ….they’re not too helpful but if we all stand together and demand action we can force a backlog in the courts that will make them take notice and listen…..and don’t forget to vote…..and if you need help call me at 865 322 0984…..the law licenses they hang on their walls….don’t make them right.  Ben Franklin said it best….IT IS FAR BETTER THAT 10 GUILTY MEN GO FREE THAN 1 INNOCENT MAN IS WRONGLY CONVICTED.

oh where to begin with all of you people robbing the taxpayers …….when you receive this email the case against me will have been dismissed.no thanks to anything my attorneys did. ….if I had listened to any of you the indictment never would have been dismissed.  Craig Ward, the private investigator did more for me in the last 4 months than all of my attorneys combined over the last 4 years.  yes…..4  years of sub-standard  representation.  perhaps Craig Ward should get his fee plus half the attorneys’ fees too as a bonus.

Walter Johnson….you did NOTHING for the 14 months you were my attorney.  I didn’t ask you to do anything illegal or out of hand….I asked that you subpoena phone records and emails…..you told me I only had two things to decide…how to plead and whether or not to testify. everything else you said was up to you…..well guess what genius….the phone records and emails proved me innocent and convinced the AG to dismiss the charges.  you said you were too “weak” to handle my case….guess you weren’t too weak til I refused to let you get away with being the useless lazy ****** you are.  you’re not weak…you’re just lazy and collecting a paycheck.

Joshua Hedrick…even though I could never get Bob Edwards to admit how he knew of FBI agent Clay Anderson,  it could only have come from you. only 2 of us knew of his existence. I never even told the Post and Email til after the hearing on 11/15/15.  Why??  why would you reveal what I found to the prosecution and then not even contact the agent???   I’ve got multiple emails from 2015 where you say you will contact EarthLink, the FBI agent, and even get the missing phone records….then with less than 2 months to go before a trial date you change your mind.  btw…I filed the motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct and the prosecution finally turned over the phone records. they were forced to have Andrew resend them…..guess what??? they reveal the recordings were doctored….overlapping calls, out of order and times so far off it was obvious they were doctored. even revealed instances where Andrew called himself from his 702 number to his 901 number on the day the calls were supposedly made…that’s when he doctored the recordings…. Also, when I put Andrew on the stand ……the dumb*** told multiple lies about his 702 number. claimed he didn’t recognize it at first and that it wasn’t his anymore…..I subpoenaed the phone logs that prove he lied.  and also…why didn’t you ever call Lt. Dan Schneider about the forensic analysis of the computers???? you took the prosecution’s word that it wasn’t done???  you forgot that not everyone is as ethical as Edwards….especially Russell Johnson.  i’ll admit I was wrong about Edwards but you just wanted to go to court and show off….you don’t get it….as a defendant you don’t win in court….all you can do is break even….everyone else gets to go home no matter what…but a defendant is the one at risk. you told my PI that you wanted to try the case your way with the affirmative defense….you could have done that and attacked the phone records but like Walter….you’re just too lazy….I wanted it dismissed and my way got that done.

now  Alan Moore….didn’t want to file the motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct because you didn’t want to offend anyone.  well filing the motion and arguing it myself I got what I needed to get the prosecution to dismiss.  you wanted to have the judge order the prosecution to do an investigation.  the prosecution that I told you concealed evidence….you trusted them to get evidence and turn it over. even Edwards had to admit finally that someone whited out the name on that email and you wanted to have the prosecution do your job and then trust them to turn over the evidence??  you are a buffoon. you should stop being a lawyer and perhaps consider a  job in the janitorial arts.  the only good thing is you didn’t waste too much time before you resigned….but like your predecessors …you’re just lazy …..my way worked and it was my *** on the line.

Jedidiah McKeehan….didn’t want to file a motion for prosecutorial misconduct that ended up busting open my case.  you hire a private investigator who is close personal friends with Bob Edwards for 30 years and even though my opinion of Edwards was wrong…at the time it was reason enough to hire someone else…..are you such a control freak you have to control everything in a defense???  it was my *** on the line….not yours……then you refuse to file a motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct even when confronted with evidence of it.  you’re just another legal whore begging the State for business and praying your stupid youtube videos get you a few clients… another tool for the prosecutor’s  office.  perhaps one day you will ********** and actually work for a client.

Steve McGrath….all I can say is what you said many times….you were NOT my attorney……still it must be mentioned that you got very upset when I wouldn’t let you try to negotiate a plea deal on 3/31/17. if you were not my attorney then why would you care what I did?   if the plea bargain was good that day then it wouldn’t get any worse after putting Andrew on the stand…….especially when confronting him with so many discrepancies …I figured he would tell at least one lie…and he did.  also by putting him on the stand we showed that the records were exculpatory.  like your predecessors…you were more concerned with the prosecution’s opinion of you than you were with my defense.

Kim Nelson….all of the defense attorneys mentioned were under your supervision….you should fire everyone of them but you won’t….i’m sure they stroke your ego too much.  I sent you multiple emails complaining but you never responded……..suffice to say you will be mentioned in the Post and Email article….and when re-election time comes up I plan on giving your opponent everything I have in hopes he or she defeats you.  I think you should practice a new phrase for you next job…..”do you want fries with that?”.
All the attorneys mentioned here had a few choice words to say about you…..and yeah…they’re recorded.  most of your colleagues had the same opinion of you….totally useless and living off tax payer dollars.

Jeff Vittatoe….I just recently listened to the recorded conversation with Craig Ward…..why are you so upset you were recorded by me in December 2016???  you admit you assumed you’re being recorded every time you got a call about my case.  didn’t you once say “a man with nothing to hide…hides nothing”????  you claim I twisted your words??? how?? in the recording you clearly say, in response to me saying they weren’t going to dismiss this because I went public (meaning The Post and Email)…
“Yeah, because they’re afraid you’re going to sue them if they do.  You know, its got to be one of the two.  We talked about this once before.”

….this is your voice on the recording Jeff..and it perfectly reconciles with my AT&T phone records…..and a bit later you admit you’ve seen lousy plea bargains because of lazy public defenders…to quote you…”no, I agree. that happens every day.”……so you see this and do nothing….you know the case against me is being prosecuted for less than honorable reason…..and yet…you do nothing….remember in 2015 when you asked if I was a “person of faith” and you tried to convert me….well…how very “Christian” of you to allow injustice to happen and yet do nothing…..its Christians like you that make me glad i’m an atheist.  as for the “factual reality” about the recordings being doctored…….I guess Russell Johnson told you to shut up after reading the transcript…. so you didn’t ever review the evidence Craig Ward sent you concerning the recordings being doctored….so let me help you here…..call 3…was 9 min. long….the recording is over 11 min. long….when you’re done praying about it…do the math genius….yeah….Andrew added over 2 min…..then look at calls 1 10 and 3….if i’m on the phone with Andrew from 8:06 -8:17  how can I call him again at 8:09 and 8:13….there’s a lot more too but that’s the easy stuff you should have caught on the first day……and I thought you were a detective…but of course…as you say…you did a “half butt” investigation….maybe if you had done your job this would have ended before it ever got started…..how’s that for a “factual reality”.???  your god may forgive you but don’t ask me to do so.  you should read that little black book of yours instead of praying so much….it tells you what to do….stand up for the helpless…I had all the resources of the State working against me……I could have used some help but you keep on praying….it really is “the least you can do.” btw….your story changes from my recorded conversation to Craig Ward’s conversation….in his you deny the reason you stated in mine for the prosecution proceeding …both statements can’t be true….THOU SHALT NOT LIE….i’m sure I read that somewhere.

and we can’t forget Russell Johnson…..I must apologize to Bob Edwards….in the final months I got the idea he was not completely informed of all the facts…..however, you were or should have been…. you dismiss the indictment against Thomas but not me….I can only assume its because of 2 possibilities…1. a personal issue with me or 2. you reviewed the evidence….if its number 1 then there isn’t much to say, is there??/ but if its number 2 ….that you actually reviewed the evidence…then you’re too stupid to be Attorney General….you didn’t see the 3 calls that overlapped ??? you didn’t see an 11min. recording made from a 9 min. phone call???  did you even listen to the recordings??? and that’s just the easy stuff to find…. then if you did figure it out later and really decided to prosecute because I did some interviews…that’s even worse….you would prosecute an innocent person because you were worried about how it might look if you dismissed the indictment….I thought justice was suppose to be blind. ever heard of freedom of speech??  read the transcript from Vittatoe….even he states your reasons from proceeding were less than honorable and he likes you.  I did notice you weren’t there on 6/26/17 to apologize.  now you won’t prosecute Andrew for perjury or tampering with evidence….why??? on 4/15/16 a citizen of Roane County plead guilty to evidence tampering and got 2 years probation.  Andrew Cook doesn’t even live in this country and used the court to carry out a personal vendetta and you just let it go…….btw…aren’t you curious about who in your office whited out the name on the email??? that person would be guilty of tampering with evidence…..and that’s how innocent people get convicted.  finally….consider the costs associated with prosecuting me….I estimate it to be over 10k.  all that money wasted because of stupidity, corruption, or both.

to Kathi Hamilton….I don’t remember who in your office said it but July of 2016 one of your people forgot to put me on hold and complained because I was asking about attorney #4.  I guess it was a busy day but I would have no way of knowing that.  when I mentioned what she said when she got back on the phone she said if I would learn to get along with my attorneys I wouldn’t be in this situation….I think it was that same woman who on February of 2017 made a point of telling me that McGrath was a “very good attorney”….I thought your office was suppose to be neutral.  I wonder how  a person who has never had to be represented by one of these clowns can know how good an attorney is.  and for that woman….whoever you may be….you’re wrong…..none of these clowns I had were any good…..but if you’re going to express your opinion to defendants about the “good ones” then why don’t you take it a step further and tell us all who the bad ones are??  when I tried to hire a private attorney and found out I couldn’t afford one….3 of them I spoke with agreed that the first 3 were not very good…..one even said something to the extent of you get what you pay for and when they get paid 40-50/hr. …you get about 25% of a competent defense. I wonder what the lady on the phone thinks now……did I really ever have a good attorney??  why get annoyed at me??? I didn’t start this fight…Russell Johnson and Kim Nelson are more responsible for it than I am…..perhaps you should express your displeasure with them at the voting booth next election.

And to Bob Edwards….I really am sorry for some of the things I said…..I think if we could have met earlier, this may have been resolved a lot more respectfully and quickly.  please accept my apology….and if you ever decide to run for Attorney General …I think I could vote for you….. I think you really are an honorable man who got stuck in a bad situation.  I know some of the things I say in this email about my defense attorneys, you may disagree with and that’s fine….maybe the truth is somewhere in between as it so often is.  but even if that is the case…it doesn’t excuse bad representation. thanx again for taking the time to really review the evidence.

Judge Jeffrey Wicks…..last year you berated me for not getting along with my attorneys…you said I had 4 very competent attorneys.  I wonder how you feel about that statement now.  none of them would do what I asked them to do.  I didn’t ask that they do anything illegal or unethical.  I was wrong about Bob Edwards but still it appears Russell Johnson or someone in the AG’s office withheld the forensic analysis and the phone records and whited out an email.  at almost every hearing I attended someone would plead guilty as a result of some plea bargain and you would quiz them about whether or not they were satisfied with their public defender….a series of questions I guess so they can’t complain about bad representation at a later date when they realize they’ve been scr**ed….don’t you ever worry about the stats???….about 90% of all public defender cases end up with a plea bargain. the prosecutors have about twice the money and resources as the public defender’s office…..a defendant with a public defender walks into your court room with the deck already heavily stacked against them…. my attorneys broke attorney client privilege, refused to subpoena documents that proved me innocent, and overall did a half butt job….so Vittatoe does a half butt investigation (his words) as do my attorneys ….can you tell me where the justice is in that??  also, why did you NOT ask me after it was dismissed about how I felt about my attorneys???  worried about me speaking the truth??

in conclusion, this may have been a game to some of you but what you do effects real people and their lives.  the day I got served with a search warrant, my wife was in the hospital recovering from a kidney transplant….on 10/6/16 we celebrated because it was the first time since June of 2012 that my wife had gone 12 months without having to spend the nite in a hospital.  for most of the 4 years this ordeal was taking place my family was in a stressful state financially and physically.  I tried not to involve my wife in most of this due to her health. she knows everything now and things are better but we were going thru a tough time and then this BS got thrown at me.  please remember…the next time you deal with a defendant….we are all innocent until proven guilty and we have real lives and families outside of your court rooms.

roy cook


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  1. So few people can withstand what it takes to fight the system. This guy is a warrior. The system is so broken and the people who can change it are all profiting from its failure. So many attorneys suck. Then they become judges. Bravo to this defendant. Incredible how they make intelligent clients appear to be the problem.