(Aug. 15, 2019) — In a follow-up letter dated July 15, 2019, inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, wrote to Tennessee to convey his observation that Tennessee Department of Correction () Commissioner is prohibited by state statute to serve as American Correctional Association () “” while also serving as the state’s highest-ranking corrections officer.
A letter dated March 25 of this year communicated to Lee, who is serving his first year as governor, Harmer’s citation of TCA §4-3-603, which states that the commissioner “shall devote” his or her “entire time and attention to the duties of the commissioner’s position.”
The ACA is the accreditation organization for Tennessee prison facilities, among others.
“If you check with your legal team the courts have said ‘[w]hen approaching statutory text, courts must also presume that the Legislator says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there,” Harmer wrote, citing the case of , by the Tennessee Middle Court of Appeals in 1997. [sic]
“Being TDOC commissioner is a demanding and, at best, a very difficult undertaking because prisons are not easy to govern and control,” the 25-year inmate continued. “It takes the full attention and time of anyone to serve as TDOC Commissioner. There are different reasons why the Legislator enacted § 4-3-603(a). One reason is it is extremely demanding job. Another reason is to try and ensure there is no impropriety, also known as corruption.” [sic]
Harmer enclosed a hard copy of the TDOC Employee Code of Conduct dated March 1, 2014, which does not appear to be online.
A 2018 TDOC annual report the significance of the oath all corrections employees take when assuming their positions (p. 13). As it pertains to the interdiction of contraband in the state’s prisons, the section reads, in part, “Any employee who violates the oath and disregards their duty will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Harmer has reported that the introduction of contraband to MCCX is frequent and aided and abetted by correction officers.
(Aug. 14, 2019) — Tennessee inmate Jerome L. Johnson has written a book titled “The CORRUPT Grand Juries: A True Story” which is now available at in Kindle format.
Johnson became interested in the composition and function of Tennessee grand juries in 2015 after then-inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III informed him of his research and findings showing that Tennessee grand jury foremen are handpicked by criminal court judges and often serve for decades in contravention of state law.
Johnson was indicted in Shelby County, on which this publication has reported for more than two years after Fitzpatrick, followed by numerous local jail inmates, brought to our attention the long-standing grand jury foremen and reported systemic corruption within the prosecutor’s office.
Many Shelby County jail inmates have related their arrest, without indictment, and long-term jailing without trial for periods exceeding a year.
The guarantees that “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.”
It was in 2009 that Fitzpatrick discovered that the Monroe County, TN grand jury foreman had been serving continuously for more than two decades and that no documentation of his appointment or vetting was on file with the chief clerk’s office in Madisonville.
Shelby County and Rutherford County have similarly failed to provide documentation through Public Records requests concerning the grand jury foreman’s appointment or how long he or she might have been serving.
Johnson claims that because the foreman is personally selected and appointed by the judge, at present there is “no true grand jury in Tennessee that is convened (assembled) as prescribed by law (p. 5). “The Creation Of The Office Of Grand Jury Foreman,” Johnson wrote, deprives Tennessee defendants of their constitutional right to due process.
Johnson is currently housed at the Northwest Correctional Complex (), on which The Post & Email has reported extensively for more than four years based on inmate letters we have received as well as public reporting.
LONG-TERM INMATE FEARS OVERWORKED STAFF INCAPABLE OF HANDLING POTENTIAL EMERGENCY
(Aug. 12, 2019) — On Friday The Post & Email received a copy of a letter dated August 5, 2019 to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee from inmate Grenda Ray Harmer reporting “a severe staff shortage of officers” creating what Harmer sees as a “crises type situation.” [sic]
Harmer, who has been incarcerated by the State of Tennessee for approximately a quarter-century, has been housed at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (), the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (), the South Central Correctional Facility (), and the current facility in Morgan County, TN.
The second paragraph of his letter begins, “At every facility I’ve been transferred to and kicked out of are experiencing a severe shortage of correctional officers for various reasons. One reason is the long hours they are required to work that is affecting their family lives. Many correctional officers are spending more time at a prison, such as MCCX, then at home and I have been told MCCX officers have a high divorce rate because of it.” [sic]
Hearkening back to the previous Department of Corrections Commissioner, Derrick Schofield, Harmer correctly reflected that Schofield instituted a schedule whereby correction officers longer shifts, with overtime pay harder to acquire. “This started the exodus of correctional officers who have seniority and experience, which is now drastically reduced,” Harmer wrote of that time. Further, he claimed that current Commissioner Tony Parker “is continuing to force correctional officers to work up to 16 hours per day.”
Harmer provided several alleged examples of such prolonged hours.
“The long hours correctional officers are required to work causes them to be drowsy and even fall asleep at work,” his letter continued. “This happened at TCIX, Trousdale, South Central, and here at MCCX. I have seen it. I am concerned is because if a riot or disturbance broke out at, say MCCX, I do not believe the officers could handle the immediate threat because they are so tired from working long hours. One staff told me they go through a draft list of 25 names within two days.” [sic]
Lee, who took office in January of this year, included “” in his campaign platform.
(Aug. 7, 2019) — A letter received Tuesday from an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex () in Tiptonville, TN focuses on what he believes to be deceptive practices within the prison’s educational program.
The inmate had recently written to us to report what he said is the “militarization” of the facility through the use of a “Strike Force.”
“A major topic of national discussion is prison reform and reentry,” the inmate wrote. “A huge part of this topic has to do with educational/vocational programs being provided for inmates to increase the likelihood of getting a decent job to make a living to hopefully stay out of trouble upon release. But in order for programs to be effective, the programs cannot be a sham operation like the one here at NWCX.”
As was reported by former NWCX inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III and current inmate Jerome L. Johnson, the writer reported that federal monies flow into the prison system “based on student attendance.” He then alleged that “The Principal, Ronnie Lanier, is instructing his teachers to cook the books when it comes to attendance, so the money keeps on rolling in. They make it seem on paper the inmates assigned to the school are actually attending. Textbooks and materials are being bought, but students are not seeing them. Where are these materials going? The library has not seen a new book purchased in several years…”
Fitzpatrick, Johnson and another Tennessee inmate not at Northwest, Grenda Ray Harmer, all reported that they were placed in the Pro-Social Life Skills (PSLS) class despite their ineligibility for various reasons. Fitzpatrick reported he was threatened with bodily harm were he to fail to report, while Johnson received a “Class ‘A’” disciplinary write-up.
The inmate additionally alleged that the facility “inflates the attendance records.” “As I’ve mentioned before, gangs run the school units and inflict undue amounts of violence both physical, verbal, and extortive on other inmates who are vulnerable,” he continued on page 2, with an account of how a student inmate had received a care package of clothing only to have it stolen by gang members while he attended class. “When he went to the Unit Manager, Scott Spillers, he was told that he would have to ‘join a gang’ or just ‘be a man and tough it out’ and not to return to him with these types of complaints,” the inmate alleged.
Over more than four years, The Post & Email has published a myriad of letters from NWCX inmates describing an out-of-control environment in which gang members run the prison, orchestrate attacks on inmates they dislike with impunity, and even allegedly coordinate their activity with prison staff.
Further, the writer, who describes himself as “white,” wrote that “African-American and Latino students are being disproportionately written-up and fined for not showing up, while white students get a pass. I believe in fairness and equality. This is clearly not fair. This is the definition of a money racket.”
Despite Tennessee’s new governor, Bill Lee, having campaigned on a platform of , the inmate wrote that “The tax payers of Tennessee and the federal government would scream foul if they knew HOW their tax dollars earmarked for inmate educational/vocational programs are being used. Students here at NWCX are finishing last, not because they don’t have the will of the intellect, but because the system is failing the miserably while simultaneously telling their families and the public-at-large that they are returning to them, and society, a man they have helped and rehabilitated.” [sic]
He punctuated the paragraph by stating, “This is a disgusting trend.”
(Jul. 29, 2019) — A typewritten letter received Monday tells of harsh conditions at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tennessee’s northwest corner, echoing dozens of similar reports received by this publication over the last 4+ years. However, one element that is different is what the author describes as “the continual militarization of this prison.”
At the bottom of page 1, the writer stated, “This prison has been occupied by a task force called ‘Strike Force’ for over a year. This ‘force’ wears green suits, bullet-proof vests, tactical boots, and possesses an arsenal of other tools on their belts. The reason for their occupation: shortage of staff.”
Significant staff shortages at Tennessee’s prisons have been reported frequently by inmates and their relatives to this publication and other outlets. As was noted in a November 2017 “Performance ” of the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) by the Comptroller of the Treasury, the shortages particularly affect the state’s privately-run prisons.
is not one of the privately-managed or owned prisons. By state statute, Tennessee is allowed only one privately-run prison, although at least currently exist. As explained by Dave Boucher, then of payment from the state is made indirectly to the prison manager, CoreCivic, via county government for the operation of those facilities.
Continuing on page 2, the inmate wrote, “There are many instances of these Strike Force members brutally beating up inmates on the yard, in the High Security Area out of sight of cameras, or in cells. Some of these incidents were witnessed by other staff and inmates. These Strike Force officers also tear up cells and personal property without abandon. Ironically, the one piece of their attire that is missing is the name badges. This makes holding them accountable extremely hard, a fact they know and used to their full advantage.”
In addition to the “Strike Force,” the inmate painted a picture of violence beyond that which other inmates have described to us over the years at the institution. “…gang leaders and their members are unleashing violence of all kinds on other inmates, especially white inmates like myself. Robberies, extortions, theft, physical assaults with and without weapons and routine/daily intimidation are all normal around here,” he alleged. “The animals are running the zoo sorta speak.”
(Jul. 24, 2019) — For more than a year, The Post & Email has followed a custody case involving divorced parents from the Los Angeles area wherein the mother alleges bias on the part of not one, but now two, family court commissioners which she believes are preventing her daughter from accessing physician-recommended therapy.
Since the 2012 divorce, Commissioner Glenda Veasey of the Torrance Superior Court presided over the hearings between “Irene” and her ex-husband to determine the division of property and the girl’s custody arrangement. Irene has perceived that from the outset, her ex-husband gained an advantage with Veasey which translated into his obtaining an increasing percentage of custody from the time she was less than three years old and without proper grounds.
Irene had told us previously that she fears her ex-husband’s ultimate goal is to wrest custody from her completely.
Last year, The Post & Email spoke with a second divorced mother who alleged that Veasey acted improperly after she alerted her to situations with her ex-husband in which she believed her minor children were endangered.
In 2015, an initial formal custody evaluation was completed, giving Irene’s ex-husband 30% custody. At that point, she said, her ex-husband petitioned for full legal custody and complete authority to make educational decisions. At a hearing on that request, Veasey revoked Irene’s authority over their daughter’s education. When Irene asked the reason, Veasey responded, “Because I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s working out for you all.”
Veasey also ordered a change to Irene’s child-care arrangement during her custody time at the request of Irene’s ex-husband and awarded her ex-husband four overnight visits with his daughter each week.
In the spring of 2018, Irene’s ex-husband requested a second custody evaluation. The evaluation, Irene said, was expected to cost more than $20,000, with Irene ordered by Veasey to pay 40% and her ex-husband 60%. Irene said she found that to be “unfair” given that her husband “makes more than twice what I do and has ten times the liquid assets.” Irene related that she was compelled to withdraw money from her retirement account to fund the evaluation.
Her greatest concern, Irene said, is her concern for her daughter’s well-being and her dismay at Veasey’s stoic denial that the child would benefit from an evaluation by a child a psychologist, something Irene’s ex-husband opposed.
In May of last year, Irene told us, “In November 2016, I filed a request for a minor shift in the visitation schedule so our daughter would not have more than three consecutive overnights in a row and back-to-back visitation transitions with another overnight per week, which was because five overnights was just too much, and my daughter’s behavior and commentaries concerned me. Veasey ultimately dismissed it because my ex opposed it. She even overturned an original order she herself made requesting an assessment of our daughter by a child therapist after my ex submitted a letter to the Court saying that he opposed our daughter being seen by a therapist. Veasey did so without even holding a hearing. All of this goes entirely against the published Rules of Court. You don’t get to overturn orders by writing letters; you have to go back to court or appeal them. In response to my writing a letter of complaint to the supervising judges, one indicated that her orders were, in fact, contradictory and it appeared to be inappropriate, but no further action was taken.”
For the second custody evaluation, each parent made a list of qualified evaluators, with Veasey selecting one from Irene’s ex-husband’s list who happened to be “the most expensive,” Irene told us, while she was asking for a more affordable one. After a number of delays, the process began last summer when the child was between kindergarten and first grade, Irene told us.
The purpose of a California “” is as “an investigation and analysis of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child” by the California courts. The same states the evaluator’s responsibilities as:
According to California Family Law , “Child custody evaluators are required by law to be licensed by the Board of Psychology, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), or the Medical Board (as a psychiatrist). In contentious divorce cases, they prepare a child custody evaluation report which the court uses to help determine custody of the children.”
When their daughter was less than three years old, Irene said, her daughter began experiencing outbursts during which she would say, “Mommy, I hate you” and similar statements which Irene found alarming. Irene reports that her daughter, now six, suffers from gastrointestinal distress, sleeplessness and moodiness, among other concerns, which Irene believes are due to anxiety and stress over the schedule Veasey imposed of five days with her, five days with her father, two days with her mother, and two days with her father year-round. The schedule, Irene said, reduced her 70% custody to 57% and increased her ex-husband’s portion from 30% to 43% without the customary requirement of showing a change in circumstances.
The second custody evaluation was finished in September 2018, with her daughter interviewed once for a total of 19 minutes, Irene said. She further told us:
The evaluator did not do any testing, and he did not speak with any doctors. He spoke with one of my daughter’s previous teachers. It was done in the summer between her kindergarten and first grade. He did not talk to certain collaterals I had provided. I provided lots of recordings of my daughter’s tantrums or things she was saying. I don’t think he ever reviewed that.
He acknowledged that both parties supplied documentation, but he didn’t comment on the evidence. The report is very one-sided and stated that my ex’s view that when our daughter calls me and speaks to me in our native language, secrets are being kept from him. The evaluator said it’s not a “control” issue on his part.
The report made my ex look as if he was a “normal” father, that whatever he does that I think is not in our daughter’s best interest is because he feels threatened or marginalized. There is very little analysis of what is actually going on with our daughter; it’s more that I made allegations and whether or not it was supported by evidence. I felt that the evidence I provided was not analyzed because the report is so empty. It was just a lot of words.
The evaluation was missing the evidence supporting what “the mother” does and what “the father” does and what can benefit or hurt. It was more like, “The father presented this, and I think he’s good. The mother said this, and that was good.” He didn’t say, “The mother gave an example of something she thought was not good for her daughter.” As an evaluator you have to analyze whether or not what her father does or what I do is bad or good.
One of the biggest flaws and concerns about the report is that the evaluator did not recommend my daughter to be assessed by a child therapist. That was the issue that I brought to Veasey, and she denied it a couple of times. The major thing was for my daughter to get help — so that she can talk to someone other than her parents about whatever her concerns are.
He talked to her, one-on-one, for only 19 minutes, and the Board of Psychology guidelines for the custody evaluation say that 19 minutes is not enough to make a recommendation as to whether or not the child is in distress. I had the report looked at by two other evaluators, one of whom was my expert witness at the hearing.
The trial was at the beginning of May. Both of them said the report was “poorly-written and analyzed.” They said it doesn’t follow certain guidelines for custody evaluations in California. Their biggest objection my expert witness noted was that the custody evaluator reached a conclusion that my daughter is not in distress and doesn’t need to be seen by a child therapist. He did not talk to the doctors, which were part of my collaterals, and that was presented by my expert witness in court. It was dismissed at the end by the judge.
After the custody evaluation, one of us, either my ex or me, had to file for a change in custody. I did not agree with the custody evaluation, so I told my ex that I wanted to come up with a new parenting plan. He said, “No, I want the recommendations of the custody evaluation to be implemented.” However, he did not like certain recommendations, which included adding my last name to our daughter’s last name. The evaluator indicated that that would be in the best interest of the child, but my ex did not select that. So he filed for a change in custody with Veasey.
I was able to move the custody trial to the downtown courthouse, because when you request a hearing lasting two or more days, there is a court rule that you can move it from the centralized court to the main courthouse. The case was assigned to a male judge, , an older gentleman about 68 years old. He was as horrible as Veasey, to say the least, and I think I know why.
We had a three-day trial. I had six witnesses; my ex had none. He came with his lawyer; I came with mine. Everything I was saying during testimony — my witnesses; a psychologist; the custody evaluator, who broke down the issues; my daughter’s doctor; a couple of my friends who witnessed my daughter’s behavior — everything was literally dismissed. The judge said, “There’s no value in any of the witnesses; I don’t see that the child is in distress; I see a mother who wants to control things. I think the mother thinks she knows best…” The judge was so insulting and rude. He raised his voice at my lawyer and me a couple of times.
My lawyer said later that he believed the outcome was already predetermined. Everything Veasey had granted was upheld by this new judge. He believes that there are confidential notes in my case file, made by Veasey designed to prejudice this new judge, because Veasey, who has had numerous complaints against her, doesn’t want a track record of her rulings being overturned by appeal or by other judges. This is also why she refuses to recuse herself when challenged as being biased (unlike most other judges who have no problem stepping down knowing that any other judge would rule the same way), and why she illegally strikes any motion to recuse her without going through the proper procedures to determine if she is biased or not. I am not the only one complaining about her tactics and how they are affecting others who try to get away from her after such negative life-threatening experiences. Anyone can go on Yelp and see how many bad reviews are being posted on Veasey.
I am thinking about whether or not to appeal the decision. As you recall, I’ve appealed things three times, and nothing works. They try to side with the lower courts because they want to protect those judges. They know if I were to win and show the lack of due process and that judges in the courtroom make rulings without grounds, without taking into account expert opinions, it will trigger others to do the same and expose this whole system, which is cracked.
Four of my witnesses were expert witnesses, and essentially, the judge dismissed all of them. He heard their testimony, but it didn’t carry any weight. At the end, my daughter’s gastroenterologist was testifying that he examined my daughter and he didn’t think there was any physical relationship with what she’s experiencing; he thought it was psychological and that she should see a child psychologist. The pediatrician wrote a letter to the court with the same recommendation. My expert who challenged the custody evaluation said the court-ordered custody evaluator did not properly evaluate my daughter to make the determination that she would not benefit from seeing a therapist, and the overall custody evaluation does not meet the guidelines for testing; it has inadequate testing for parents and NO testing at all for the child and the custody evaluation report did not follow the standard “Ethics and Guidelines” and the guidelines as set forth by American Psychological Association and AFFC guidelines (inadequate testing).
On top of this, the custody evaluator recommended my ex and me to go to joint counseling, indicating that our conflict is dangerous for our daughter; however, failed to recommend a counseling or therapy for a young child, who is suffering the most in this.
A six-page excerpt from the custody evaluation is below.
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN GRAND JURY ABSENT DURING “MEETING”
(Jul. 20, 2019) — On Monday, The Post & Email published an article based on documents received from a former U.S. Marine incarcerated in the Rutherford County, TN jail awaiting trial on a number of charges which he maintains are false. His larger purpose in contacting us was to expose what he says is “corruption” in the criminal court system to include the county grand jury foreman, who has been in place for almost two decades.
Numerous copies of indictments included in the mailing are dated between 2001 and this year and bear the signature of grand jury foreman Karen Hudson.
James M. Parker said he is willing to face accountability for the transgression(s) he committed in 2017 but not for those he says he did not commit. Further, he told The Post & Email that when he was arrested, he was not a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, as is alleged on a subpoena, the indictment and bench warrant and which is enhancing the charges against him.
“” stands for “Murfreesboro Police Department.” Murfreesboro is the of Rutherford County, which has an estimated population of 325,000.
“Rutherford County has found a way to generate revenue by obtaining unlawful indictments,” Parker wrote in his letter accompanying the enclosures last month. “Karen Hudson’s job for either the city or the county is their media consultant. She is clearly not a qualified jury foreperson due to her attachment to the city/county. By her being a voting member of the grand jury and presence during deliberation, clearly violates my constitutional rights to an impartial jury, whether petit or grand jury…” [sic]
Included in his mailing was a copy of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts’ publication of “” contained within the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
For nearly a decade, The Post & Email has reported the “handpicking” of grand jury foremen in the state of Tennessee in violation of , which states that no juror may serve a second term until two years have elapsed between jury sessions. Rather than choosing the foreman from the jury pool, or “venire,” as was done in 1883, county criminal court judges choose the individual from the community at large with no known vetting process.
The Shelby County district attorney general’s office states that the grand jury foreman is “hired by the Criminal Court judges.”
Davidson County, TN reportedly instituted a criminal background check for all prospective jurors, including the grand jury foreman, after handpicked grand jury foreman Eugene Grayer was to have been a convicted felon and serving in violation of the law.
The grand jury’s function within the criminal justice system is mentioned only in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which :
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 offence 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.
In 2016, then-Tennessee state inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III reported that in Shelby County, which encompasses the city of Memphis, not only is a grand jury foreman handpicked, but also a second individual who serves as “grand jury foreman pro tempore,” a position not found in any Tennessee statute.
“They’re running their own government,” Fitzpatrick told us on numerous occasions of Tennessee’s criminal courts.
A federal civil-rights lawsuit claims that citizens of Shelby County are unlawfully incarcerated without grand-jury indictment utilizing a “routine ‘rubber stamp’ policy and procedure.”
In December 2014, the chief prosecutor in the district where Fitzpatrick first discovered the “handpicking” of the grand jury foreman said on a radio show, “We do not try to influence them in any way,” referring to members of the grand jury. District Attorney General Stephen Crump did not respond to phone calls and a letter from this publication to explain why judges are permitted to hand-select the foreman in the Tenth Judicial District.
In 2010, while in the Monroe County jail, Fitzpatrick related an account from a defendant that then-grand jury foreman Gary Pettway, who had been serving for more than 20 years, attempted “to extract a confession from a man named Bubba Cozart,” the aforesaid defendant. “At the time, Bubba Cozart was accused of a burglary of a local fast food chain called SONIC,” Fitzpatrick said. “Mr. Pettway, the grand jury foreman, came into the jailhouse, the booking room, and Mr. Cozart was brought to the booking room by deputy sheriffs. There were deputy sheriffs in the room at the time who observed and witnessed Mr. Pettway’s attempt as the foreman of the grand jury to extract a confession from Mr. Cozart regarding the robbery of the SONIC restaurant.”
Fitzpatrick and others have reported jurors serving consecutive terms. In Fitzpatrick’s Monroe County case, grand juror Angela Davis served on the grand jury after having served on a jury during the preceding six-month term. “Because personal information is collected by the outlawed county criminal courts in Tennessee, it should be a simple process to check if a juror has been selected in error within the 24-month time frame during which they cannot serve after having done so on either a grand jury or petit jury in the state,” The Post & Email reported in July 2012.
In May 2012, Fitzpatrick discovered a set of laws passed in 1984 by the Tennessee legislature mandating that most counties abandon their own criminal court proceedings and join with designated counties to form judicial districts. While now exist in Tennessee, individual counties, and not the multiple-county districts, continue to impanel grand juries and trial juries.
In perusing the Rutherford County website, The Post & Email discovered that the utilizes “Jail Mail” through which we contacted Parker on Monday to acknowledge receipt of his documentation. In a response received later that day, Parker wrote, “Hello, and thank you for responding. I currently am awaiting trial here in Murfreesboro, TN. There have been even more developments since our letter to you. We fully believe now, that there are NO Grand Jury proceedings. ‘rubberstamping.’ We had people try and testify and actually veiw the grand jury in person. They were never seen. One actually just barged into the court room were they were ‘allegedly’ meeting…..there were only 5 prosecutors in the room….NO grand jury…” [sic]
According to Parker and his wife, with whom we spoke on Friday, he suffers from diagnosed PTSD as a result of his military service. Parker’s wife told us that before he was incarcerated, her husband was receiving military disability payments and is considered 80% disabled.
The U.S. Veterans Administration’s National Center for PTSD the disorder as “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. If symptoms last more than a few months, it may be PTSD. The good news is that there are effective treatments.”
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) PTSD as “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”
Further, the APA states, “People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (), a division of the National Institutes of Health (), “Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.”
A federal determination of disability does not carry over to individual states, Parker’s wife explained, and the “” did not accept Parker into its diversion program, she said. “We have no course of action at this point. If he wanted to plead ‘temporary insanity,’ he would have to have an evaluation by the state. There is a 9-to-12-month waiting period to get into a state facility for evaluation,” she said.
Mrs. Parker said that when her husband was discharged from the Marine Corps in 2012, he was “in a downward spiral” and consumed excessive alcohol. They were not married at the time, she said, although she has known Parker for more than 20 years.
Parker was arrested for alleged domestic violence in Colorado, Mrs. Parker said, prior to their marriage, and was serving time there when he requested extradition to Tennessee through “,” which is short for “Interstate Agreement on Detainers.”
IAD was approved by Congress in , of which the U.S. Justice Department :
The Agreement applies to transfers of sentenced prisoners for unrelated trials between two States, and to transfers from the Federal Government to the States, and from the States to the Federal Government. It does not apply to transfers of Federal prisoners between the several judicial districts for trial on Federal charges. , 799 F.2d 1253
Article III of the Agreement permits a prisoner to initiate final disposition of any untried indictment, information, or complaint against him/her in another State on the basis of which a detainer has been lodged against him/her. Article IV permits the prosecuting authority of a State in which an untried indictment, information, or complaint is pending to obtain temporary custody of a prisoner against whom it has lodged a detainer by filing a “written request” for custody with the incarcerating State. Article V provides a detailed procedure for obtaining temporary custody.
“He forced them to extradite him, because then they only have 180 days from the day they receive that motion to get him in front of a jury,” she said.
However, that time has elapsed, Mrs. Parker said, since her husband was returned to Tennessee in early January. A trial is scheduled for August 6, 7 and 8, she said.
“Our attorney, who is privately-paid, has literally said that the D.A. here ‘wants to bury him under the jail,’” Mrs. Parker continued. “We’ve gotten zero counsel from him, and he hasn’t contacted any of the witnesses whose names we provided. He basically wants Jimmy to take a plea deal.”
“The first plea deal they offered him was ten years at 100%,” she told us on Friday. “Now they’ve offered him a deal for eight years at 30%. I understand accountability, but the other part of this is he is a 16-year, three-time combat veteran. He served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was a gunnery sergeant and is the last person you would expect to be in jail. There are thousands of veterans like him; their situations are not criminal. It’s a mental health issue, which is not being addressed in this country.”
Mrs. Parker said that both in Rutherford County and in Colorado, Parker was not permitted to submit evidence of his PTSD during his defense.
“No one from Rutherford County or the Murfreesboro PD have yet to ask my husband his recollections of that evening,” Mrs. Parker said. “No statement was ever requested or received from him regarding this event.”
In his letter to The Post & Email, Parker wrote, “In both 2016 and again in 2017 I was unvoluntarily pushed into uncontrolable, duressful situations that pushed me into a P.T.S.D. episode. Both episodes landed me in jail facing serious charges. Although there is explainable, clinical answers to what and how these incidents happened, no one in the Judicial System will even talk, consider, hear, or investigate the truth. In fact, in court, I have been denied a voice and any truth to the facts and circumstaces sourounding the act, have been surpressed by the prosecution.” [sic]
Mrs. Parker, who is not originally from Tennessee, said that shortly after she arrived in the state, she was stopped for an alleged dysfunctional taillight. Without any criminal history, she said, she was “taken to a jail” on the premise that she had a “failure to appear” on her record. “I was in my professional work clothes, and they brought me to a jail,” she said. “They will arrest you for anything; it doesn’t matter who you are; and if you have a bullseye on your back, forget it — if you’ve done anything, they’ll trump it up so you’re never getting out of it.”
Having come from a different part of the country, Mrs. Parker told us, “There is a good old boy system here where everybody knows everybody; everybody knows everybody’s business or what they think is their business. If you don’t have the right name, then you are pretty-much in trouble. If you do something in Tennessee and have the right name, it doesn’t really matter. Look at the : he will be getting out fairly soon. How is that possible considering what he did?”
Mrs. Parker said she has observed prosecutorial misconduct in the Rutherford County criminal courtroom. “On one of Jimmy’s court dates, I was sitting in the courtroom and watching two prosecutors,” she said. “These two sat there like two girls in a high school cafeteria making fun of defendants who did not have legal representation and had to address the judge themselves. They were laughing; it was as if it was a big joke to them. Anyone sitting in the courtroom doing that would literally be held in contempt of court. But the prosecutors’ behavior was completely ignored; it was as if it were completely acceptable behavior. I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe that these two women with law degrees were sitting there and making a mockery of our criminal justice system.”
Of his current situation, Parker wrote in his email on Monday, “This city/county is corrupt and so corrupt that they willfully and maliciously violate peoples rights for sake of money, convictions, and career ladders. PRISONERS FOR PROFIT! So yes, its not just about me and my situation, its about all of us being persecuted, illegally by those in positions to uphold the law. It just needs to be exposed and stopped. R/S J. Parker”.
“Jimmy is a very smart guy; you can see he’s well-written,” Mrs. Parker told us. “You don’t make it that far in the military without having some brains. Without spending millions of dollars I don’t have, I don’t know how to make a difference in this. We can say it all we want, but if no one’s listening and nobody wants to make that change and the powers that be aren’t looking at it, then how do you make that happen?”
Since the publication of our initial story on Parker, two others have come forward reporting prosecutorial misconduct in Rutherford County.
Copies of indictments Parker mailed to us demonstrating Hudson’s long-term installation follow.
FEDERAL INMATE CURRENTLY IN COUNTY JAIL IN MISSISSIPPI
(Jul. 18, 2019) — Last week a reader solved the mystery as to where federal convict Jesse Robert Coop is currently located given a lack of information in Shelby County, TN and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) last month.
In response to our June 27, 2019 article titled, “Where is Federal Prisoner Jesse Robert Coop?” on Sunday a reader left the comment, “He’s in the DeSoto County Adult Dentation Facility. Hernando Ms.”
The commenter’s information proved accurate, as Coop is noted to have entered the Desoto County on July 1 with a hearing date of July 25, 2019 on a probation violation charge.
When we spoke with Coop’s stepfather in mid-June, he said he was aware that Jesse had recently been transferred out of the Shelby County jail in Memphis but was unaware of the destination prison, which he expected to be a federal facility.
Last year Coop was convicted of eight federal counts stemming from a store robbery which both parents said was confessed to by Coop’s co-defendant, Keith Harrington. Neither could attend their son’s trial because of hospitalization, they told The Post & Email in separate telephone conversations.
It was unclear to them why their son remained in the Shelby County jail for more than a year when he was tried in federal court in Memphis. The State of Tennessee dropped all charges, Coop’s mother told us.
We became aware of Coop’s case after receiving a lengthy letter with an enclosure titled, “Affidavit of Truth,” in which Coop maintained his innocence of the charges and accused the prosecution and law enforcement of malfeasance. Coop has appealed the convictions to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and is represented by public defender Robert L. Thomas, according to documents downloaded from .
On Monday The Post & Email received a return call from , Director of Detention Services for the DeSoto County Detention Facility, in response to our message inquiring as to how Coop came to be there.
“I’m not familiar with his previous charges, but he did have a violation of probation, and we were notified by either Shelby County or the Bureau of Prisons, whichever one had custody of him, that he was ready for pickup, so we went and picked him up,” Wicker told us. “It does appear that he does have a hold to go back into U.S. federal custody, so I guess he’s still serving a sentence there.”
“He probably won’t be here very long; he’ll get sentenced and then he’ll go back to federal custody. It looks like he has a court date coming up on the 25th of July, and they’ll probably give him ‘time served’ and he’ll go back to federal custody,” Wicker added.
(Jul. 17, 2019) — WHO: Bridgeport Complete Count Taskforce Co-Chairs Maria Viggiano and Lydia Martinez; State Representative and Co-Chair of the CT Complete Count Committee, Chris Rosario; Representatives from the Office of Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau, Bridgeport Complete Count Taskforce Representatives, City Council, and community members
WHAT: Bridgeport Complete Count Co-Chairs and State of CT Co-Chair will present an information forum of the “Bridgeport Counts” U.S. Census 2020 Campaign. Bridgeport is proud to be the first city in Connecticut to pass local resolutions creating a municipally led “Complete Count Task Force” to ensure that the 2020 Census in Bridgeport is as accurate as possible.
WHEN:Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at 4:00 PM
WHERE: Margaret Morton Government Center, in Conference Rooms A and B; 999 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604
Rowena White Director of Communications Office of the Mayor | City of Bridgeport Margaret E. Morton Government Center 999 Broad Street | Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203) 576-8439 office (203) 726-0047 cell
(Jul. 15, 2019) — Several weeks ago, a former U.S. Marine and current Rutherford County, TN inmate contacted The Post & Email to expound on what he said is corruption within the county grand jury on several fronts leading to false charges in his case and possibly many others.
The jail is located in Murfreesboro, in the as the Sheriff’s Office, currently led by .
The mailing consists of more than 40 pages and because of its size, is not wholly reproducible here. The Post & Email will therefore present the documentation in a series of articles.
Some of the documents are copies of indictments of other Rutherford County residents which the inmate said show hastiness in the grand jury’s deliberations based on the number of cases it reviewed while empaneled.
On a cover sheet containing his contact information, James Michael Parker, #0002075, indicated that he read one of our articles and “filed complaint w/ Dept. of Justice!” The Post & Email has published hundreds and likely thousands of articles about grand jury corruption in Tennessee over the last 9+ years, and Parker did not identify which article he read.
In a two-page cover letter, Parker wrote that he suffers from PTSD, which caused him to be “pushed out of service in late 2012.” “I had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, and suicidal ideology,” he wrote on page 1. “I still struggle even to this day. (my current situation does not in any way make it easier)”. [sic]
“I write this not because of just me, but for the other thousands of US service members being maliciously prosecuted and tucked away from society, our families, our lives because its easier to hide us than to help those of us who need help and understanding.” [sic] he continued his letter.
On page 2, Parker referenced the “Veteran Court” employed by Rutherford County and other jurisdictions for qualifying individuals, known locally as the “.” He claimed, however, that the institution “will only help with alcohol and drug offenders who just want leniency for their addiction. There is no real help. There is no liaison between the courts or judicial system and veterans with mental health issues.”
A lengthier enclosure is a copy of the letter Parker presumably sent to the U.S. Justice Department in which he asked for an investigation into why the Rutherford County grand jury foreman, Karen Hudson, has been serving in that capacity for “18 plus years” and “signing indictments.”
The practice Parker identified is one of which The Post & Email became aware in late 2009 after then-Monroe County, TN resident Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III discovered that the grand jury foreman, Gary Pettway, had been serving in that role for more than 20 years and was “handpicked” by the criminal court judge.
Similar reports have been made by individuals residing in Shelby County, McMinn County, and Roane County. In 2013, headlines in various papers throughout the country were made after it was that the Davidson County, TN grand jury foreman, Eugene Grayer, was himself a convicted felon and statutorily barred from serving on a jury in the state of Tennessee.
Grayer’s selection as foreman was personally made by the judge, as was his successor, , as reported by .
On the fourth page of the letter, Parker described Rutherford County as “the definition of mass government corruption. The courthouse is the clear definition of ‘kangaroo court.’ They have no respect for peoples constitutional rights, or the Tennessee Supreme Court rules.” [sic]
In the last paragraph on that page, Parker referred to a sheriff who was “charged with racketeering, extortion, bribery and criminal enterprise.”
On May 27, 2016, WSMV in Nashville that “Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, his former administrative chief deputy Joe Russell and the sheriff’s uncle have been arrested on conspiracy and corruption charges.”
On November 19, 2015, Channel 5 quoted Arnold as having “the county’s private, for-profit probation system” which he said caused an overcrowding problem in the jail. The court-ordered jailing of persons charged with “misdemeanor probation violations” necessitated three inmates to a cell designed for one person, Arnold said.
Some individuals were jailed for failing to pay fees to the private probation company, PCC, Channel 5 reported, referencing a “federal lawsuit.” Six weeks prior to Channel 5’s report and tour of the jail, a suit filed by “seven probationers, many of them sick or disabled and living on as little as $129 a month in food stamps” claiming the company violated federal racketeering statutes.
Arnold entered a “guilty” plea to wire fraud and extortion, in February, and was sent to a federal prison in Montgomery, AL. Last year he reportedly unsuccessfully petitioned President Trump for “a full and unconditional pardon.”
Parker’s letter to the Justice Department cites corruption within the district attorney’s office. “Included in this letter are indictments from 2001 to 2019,” Parker wrote on page 1. “If you look at the signature of the foreperson, you will see the signature of Karen Hudson. She has been the grand jury foreperson for over 18 years…”
On the following page, Parker wrote, “Rutherford County has found a way to generate revenue by obtaining unlawful indictments. Karen Hudson’s job for either the city or the county is their media consultant. She is clearly not a qualified jury foreperson due to her attachment to the city/county. By her being a voting member of the grand jury and presence during deliberation, clearly violates my constitutional rights to an impartial jury, whether petit or grand jury…”
“This issue is effecting hundreds of people here in the jail waiting for trial not to mention the hundreds out on bond,” Parker’s letter concludes. “Thousands upon thousands effected in the almost 20 years Rutherford County has made it a cash cow business of maliciously prosecuting people. Maybe the Attorney General and the Dept. of Justice can look into and correct these issues, since I’m denied the right to even ask why.” [sic]