New questions as citizen bids to end city attorney hostage crisis over traffic stop abuse

City attorney Phil Noblett is being forced to confront what an administrative notice informs the city is a widespread illegal practice. (Photo David Tulis)

In good fun for the past 21 days I have been describing a hostage crisis at the Chattanooga city attorney’s office. That is how I describe the fate of a single question sent to assistant city attorney Keith Reisman on Dec. 18. I ask when “Tennessee general assembly [applied] Title 55 to private people traveling in their own conveyances on private business not for profit and not for private gain.” Until I get an answer, the hostage situation will continue for the bemused 92.7 NoogaRadio listener. I don’t expect an answer. The people’s representatives in Nashville didn’t expand the law to absorb private use of the road under the commercial statute. And it is embarrassing for the city to keep enforcing Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 as if it did when the only authority for such action is court opinion that REJECTS the plain meaning and scope of the law.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

In vain attempt to end the hostage crisis and get back my answer, I submit tonight at city council meeting a letter about the legal headache Chattanooga faces when it rejects the law in favor of judicial policy (the work of the state’s fruitiest and most malicious lawyers). This lively memo — with tough new questions making the same point as that posed by the prisoner interrogative — will likely end up in a wastepaper basket. But the claims made herein for the benefit of Chattanoogans and everybody else are backed by a landscape-shifting transportation administrative notice, which is settling in around the city like a minefield that Mr. Noblett will have to ping through in future years.

1-foot wide law, 2-yard wide enforcement

Dear Mr. Noblett, etc. Transportation Administrative Notice Tennessee is hardly an interpretation of the law. It is a crystalization of all relevant matters that pertain to its scope and purview, pursuant to the rules of statutory construction. TAN presents Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 as it is, and its nature and form. Transportation isn’t open to the sort of interpretation the city is giving it — nor the courts of appeal. Stretching Title 55 as do the city and the courts nowadays is as unjust and irrational as trying to squeeze every car owner in Chattanooga under authority of the city’s transportation department and make everyone subject to its rules.

No one in Chattanooga using a car for private purposes is subject to that department. That department’s power is a foot wide and no one in the city is trying to make it two yards wide.

Yet the city and the courts of appeal say Title 55 is a two-yard wide law when in fact it is a mere 12 inches wide in scope, if you will.

My goal with Transportation Administrative Notice Tennessee is to reform city practice and return to its lawful foot-wide scope of enforcement of Title 55, assuming it has that power in the first place.

The city is standing on soft ground, despite lawyers’ arguments about law being only what the courts interpret it to be. My racial reconciliation police powers reform project fully recognizes that your office takes the courts’ policy as the law. So my notice pins the city and all its employees to act obediently to the law as written to avoid oppressive conduct against the people within the city limits. By notice, I eliminate your officers’ primary defense in a tort lawsuit, “I didn’t know and I didn’t intend.”

City’s impossible legal claims

In the interest of defending the rights of African-Americans, poor people, immigrants, orphans, widows and everyone else, I ask the following questions amplify my single-question letter to Mr. Reisman of Dec. 18.

1. Can any statute or any division of government abrogate a constitutional right?

2. In what year did the general assembly give state authority over Tennesseans using the roadways pursuing private pleasures and private interests and exercising their rights?

3. Can you identify the statute requiring all private users of the road to apply for a driver’s license as a matter of duty and liability?

4. Is Title 55 constitutional?

5. What about chapter 50, the driver’s license statute? If constitutional, does it abrogate the people’s rights as they existed in 1932 or 1936 or any year prior to passage in 1938? No one needed a license to travel.

6. If the driver license act abrogates private persons’ rights, as you claim, how can it be constitutional?

7. If the driver license act does not abrogate private constitutional rights, on what authority do you enforce it as if it did? Why does the city enforce Title 55 on people attempting to exercise God-given, constitutionally guaranteed rights and immunities and thereby do violence to and abrogate these rights? Why does it pretend that Title 55 abrogates, destroys, eliminates and injures their rights?

8. Who is subject to the city’s transportation department at city code, chapter 35? Are you? Am I?


These questions, like my notice, are intended to inject a spirit of caution into the city’s doings. Chattanooga must account for the disjointure between the statute and the rules of statutory construction on one side and the court lawyers’ doctrine of depriving us of our rights and making us victim of lawless, causeless and unwarranted arrests and seizure on the other.

You say there is no distinction between travel and transportation. Yes, the courts pretend no distinction exists and that the ONLY right of travel that residents of Chattanooga and others in Tennessee enjoy is the right to relocate from one state to another.

The city runs a department of transportation the authority of which focuses exactly where it should — commercial use by vehicles for hire. The scope of the ordinance is properly framed and enforced. So why does the city enforce Title 55 as if the travel-transportation distinction doesn’t exist? It exists in ordinance — and not statute?

If Title 55 does not abrogate any common citizen’s rights, what rights do I have left after the city enforces Title 55 against all users of the roads? What rights to use the road by private conveyance does the city respect, protect and secure?


That’s right. None! Your policy holds I cannot use my car on the road apart from the taxable privileged activity of driving and operating a motor vehicle for hire. But why don’t you insist I become subject to your city transportation department if you have defined private travel out of existence?

The fact that City of Chattanooga operates a transportation department puts the kibosh on the claim by courts that no distinction exists between travel and transportation. The city department controls carriers and vehicles for hire. Only they are subject to it and liable for performance under ordinance. Nobody else is. You personally aren’t, sir.

If City of Chattanooga, operating under delegated powers, cannot offend or regulate private travelers, how can the city ALSO claim no travel-transportation distinction when considering Title 55 and harass travelers in cars and trucks on its roads, boulevards and public rights of way as do Chief Roddy’s cops daily?

Messrs. Noblett and Reisman, the city is required under transportation administrative notice to amend its practice and obey Title 55. You are personally responsible for obeying the law under your attorney ethics regulations at Rule 8. I urge you to the task of increasing respect for law and a better understanding of law, among the citizenry, and also among state actors and city employees.

You cannot escape the law itself. Under TAN, the city must act in good faith pursuant to the actual law as written, because the law controls, not court opinion and not court policy. City employees are going to held to account for injuries and torts under the transportation tax and privilege law as written.

I have support for my analysis from on high: U.S. Code § Title 49.

Federal law controls entirely the operation of Title 55, and all of the state’s activities — and the city’s. Just consult the state’s annual covenant with the federal government by which Tennessee gets a boatload of free federal money. Here’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Plan for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Fiscal Year 2017.

Only THP may enforce traffic regulations

At every point, federal definitions and federal law control what happens in Chattanooga, as TAN shows. City of Chattanooga is out of keeping with state law and federal law when it orders city police to enforce state law on transportation against people not involved in transportation, which includes you, an attorney, and me, a journalist exercising rights under the bill of rights.

ONLY the highway patrol may enforce “safety regulations” in the state. The state safety plan’s first sentence of the first answer in the document above, Page 2, makes this limit clear. “The Tennessee Highway Patrol of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is the sole agency in the State of Tennessee responsible for enforcing laws related to size, weight, and safety regulations for commercial motor vehicles. Tennessee Highway Patrol is the State’s lead agency for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, and does not fund any sub-grantees.”

Every vehicle subject to the state under the privilege and tax law is commercial, which is THP’s scope of authority for enforcement. Why are city cops “enforcing laws related to *** safety regulations for commercial motor vehicles” on every user of the road when not so authorized by the department of safety and homeland security? Where is your authorization, Messrs. Noblett and Reisman? What is your authority? And why under an ultra vires use of Title 55?

Sue cop as oppessor, defend self in traffic court: Transportation Administrative Notice

City of Chattanooga cannot have it both ways. If all use of the road is commercial, everyone must be regulated as vehicle for hire by the city’s transportation department. To be consistent with your theory, right?

If only some use of car and truck is commercial, then city ordinance and statute should work in parallel upon the same categories of people, those in commerce.

The Hirsch case is the latest opinion proving there is no defending or asserting the property right of communication and travel any longer, given court policy. The people are being denied a redress of grievance. The lawyers have taken control of State of Tennessee and are abusing the rights of the people under guise of judicial opinions. Your office appears to be cooperating with this program denying us due process.

The law, however, belongs to the people, having been written by the people’s representatives and codified at Title 55 and 65. And since the general assembly does not offend private rights with its laws regulating commercial use of the roads, city government must find a way to obey the law and halt offending the people’s rights. Transportation administrative notice gives you no excuse for continuing an illegal policy.

City under notice for actual law

City of Chattanooga is under notice of the actual law since Feb. 20, 2018, the origins of the actual law and citations of court, all of which early ones delineate the state’s health, safety and welfare interests in regulating commercial use. The courts do not make law. The general assembly does. Is it time for city government to begin acting in good faith?

Please consider the claims of the law pursuant to transportation administrative notice Tennessee, and advise city council to ordain a new traffic stop protocol update to include a question to verify the police officer’s actual jurisdiction pursuant to statute. I discuss this question elsewhere.

The individuals who bear the pain of the conflict between court-supported city practice and the actual statute are the City of Chattanooga employees who work in the police department and enforce Title 55. I suggest you advise the city that care for its employees require that you not put the burden of the discord upon their necks, and leave them personally liable for obeying your policy to oppress people at Title 55 traffic stops.

It’s time to make the crooked ways straight, to turn brambles into figs, and briars into maples.

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