Deputy Gregory Carson puts citizen Jon Luman in manacles and an orange jumpsuit, seizes his car and prosecutes him under a misapplied law. Now that a judge has dismissed the case, the county has a duty to unlock the impound gate to release the car.
Or so one might think.
Only Sheriff Jim Hammond, state prosecutor Alan Dunn and county government are each pointing to other parties as responsible for Jon Luman’s getting back his Ford Explorer after a “driving on revoked” case is dismissed by sessions court judge Lila Statom on Thursday in Chattanooga.
Sheriff Jim Hammond’s spokesman is stop No. 1 for press inquiries about the car seized by Sgt. Gregory Carson in an enforcement action under the shipping, freight and transportation statute — Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles. But Matt Lea says no words are available about the car held for 140 days as of Thursday, and that Sheriff Hammond will not parley with a member of the press.
“Due to numerous scheduled events today and two personnel deaths from within our HCSO personnel family,” Mr. Lea says, “Sheriff Hammond will not be able to meet with you today, Friday, October 18th. In regards to your questions, I must defer you to our legal counsel in the County Attorney’s Office.”
Says county attorney Rheubin Taylor: “Our office was not involved in this process; neither have we been consulted as to its resolution. Therefore, I would assume it’s up to either the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, or the Court as to under what conditions this gentleman can get his car.”
Mr. Taylor, presumably, will loll about, waiting for something legal to happen so he can step forward on behalf of the taxpayer.
The county’s agent in the seizure of the car is Cain’s Wrecker Service on the North Shore. Mr. Luman says his car was for many days in its lot, but no longer.
Where is the Luman work car, without which the laborer, contractor and handyman Luman, 65, is hard pressed to earn his bread?
County ignoring administrative notice
Hamilton County has been subject to transportation administrative notice 598 days as of today. I served the notice on Sheriff Hammond, Matt Lea and one other department staffer in a personal meeting in which I explained the limits of Title 55 and said that it applies to parties involved in freight, shipping and transportation. It applies, I told the county’s chief law enforcement brass, to drivers and operators of ambulances, wreckers, moving trucks, semi-tractor trailers, logging trucks, fuel haulers, bus lines, taxi lines, courier services and the like.
But not to private and pleasure users of the public way.
The notice is needed because Tennessee government has turned its back on the constitution — the state’s controlling law, and the federal one. Notice is the process by which the people once again secure their rights, and have their sheriffs respect their rights and prevent their abuse, starting with Gregory Carson and the other deputies. The sheriff has a duty to obey the law and the constitution, despite judicial policy that holds he may freely ignore these two landmarks, or even move them about as he pleases.
Choose whom you will obey: The law, or the judges, in other words, I said.
By notice I propose to overturn, one defendant at a time, one oath-bound deputy at a time, an ungodly abuse of the people’s right of communication. That right includes the right of free movement of our persons by the private use of the lane and of the highway. That right, I tell Mr. Hammond and his claque on March 1, is secured by the constitution and by the limited scope of the Double Nickel.
Title 55 is a foot wide, I remember stating to Sheriff Hammond, but you are enforcing it as if it were a yard wide. Only about 20 percent of the people on the road are subject to police power under Title 55, and that is the shipping class, those parties who make a living on the road, with the roadway being their principal place of business.
‘Knowingly and willfully’
Sheriff Hammond has such a low view of members of the public that he didn’t read the notice, nor apparently did he direct his staff to read or heed. But the laws of standing and notice are in favor of the people in this matter of police abuse of power.
Because of proper notice, every traffic stop by Sheriff Jim Hammond has a new freight of legal peril for his officers.
The deputy, personally and under his own authority, stops a citizen not subject to the law, seizes, cites or harasses him in an arrest, and that he does so knowingly and willfully. That state of knowledge, whether actual to the deputy or merely legally imputed, is oppression, and makes him personally liable to his victim.
Don’t tell that to Mr. Taylor, county attorney, nor to Mr. Hammond, sheriff.