On May 30 sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Gregory Carson arrested tradesman Jon Luman of Red Bank in private SUV on Morrison Springs Road near the Route 27 underpass.
The arrest has put an annoying element into the life of Officer Carson, whose claims have drawn intense interest in the local press. The officer accused Mr. Luman of being a commercial user of the road without the proper proofs of having obtained the state privilege.
The officer also removed a private plate on the back of the car, as if it were a souvenir and not potential evidence, either in a criminal matter or civil. And Mr. Luman’s Ford Explorer in its entirety, all 2 tons of it, also has vanished, and the beleaguered Mr. Luman is wondering why his uncontested affidavit of ownership is not making headway in its return.
Mr. Luman says he is unclear as to the chain of custody for the car, with the parties all pointing to each other as to whom is responsible for its release — the court, the DA, the sheriff’s office.
Mr.Luman made two court appearances today. The first is before Judge Lila Statom, who appears to have dismissed the case. She said she hopes not to see Mr. Luman further in her precinct. Mr. Luman went upstairs to the court of Don Poole, overseeing one of the criminal court divisions.
Mr. Luman and the district attorney’s office square off over the work of Sgt. Carson. Mr. Luman insists that Officer Carson stopped him without probable cause, and filed criminal charges against him under a statute to which Mr. Luman has scrupulously avoided becoming subject. That is to say, Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles, a body of law regulating truckers.
Bruce Garner, spokesman for district attorney Neal Pinkston, makes no reply to an email requesting comment on the case.
Before his hearing, Mr. Luman says he is ready to “make a deal” with the prosecutors and with Mr. Carson.
“Both of these courts have already dismissed these charges in regard to me. You didn’t have jurisdiction then,you don’t have jurisdiction now. And I’m not going to give you jurisdiction. ***”
“If I want my license back, like I told [assistant district attorney Alan] Dunn last time, sure, I’m willing to pay the normal F$25 normal reinstatement fee, I guess, and just give it back to me. If you want me to register my car, if it’s that important to you, pave the road for me to get a replacement title for that car in the state of Tennessee, andI”ll register it for you.
Before court is called Mr. Dunn invites Mr. Luman into meeting in the public square, next to passing parties, families, witnesses and defendants. It is the familiar horse-trading the DA’s enters with defendants. The hallowed peace, honor and dignity of the state’s laws are a slight thing, its moral and ethical code susceptible to being swept into commerce, like dust. When this reporter appears to take photos, Mr. Dunn flees with Mr. Luman into the antechamber to the court, where he and Mr. Luman continue to talk. Neither is that a private room, but in entering it I just pass on into the courtroom, leaving the two alone.
“I wouldn’t mind having a driver license,” Mr. Luman says, “like I told him, so I can rent a U-haul truck when I need to, or to get a rental car out to California on business, when I need to, or any other state, Florida, you know. I can’t get a rental car without a license. And, in that particular instance, yes, I am a driver. So, OK. I wouldn’t mind having a license for those purposes.”
No license needed to get a ‘Mr. Goodbar’
Mr. Luman, 65, married, uses a car to get to job sites as carpenter and tradesman. “But, for my personal travel, I don’t need one. Or down to the store to get a Mr. Goodbar. I like to get a Mr. Goodbar every now and then. I like to think I am a free man living in a free country and that I can go down to the store and get a Mr. Goodbar if I’ve got a hankering. That is what we are supposed to be able to enjoy in America.”
Will Mr. Luman use transportation administrative notice?
“Well, I think not so much in my particular case, because in my particular case there is not jurisdiction. I am not a licensee at this time, and I was not a licensee at the time of the arrest. So, but I think administrative notice is important, and it’s important that they have been served with it and they’re aware of it, because they are arresting people for traffic infractions, and they aren’t drivers. They are noncommercial drivers.
“On that particular point there is no jurisdiction there, because they are not commercial drivers. They are imposing a commercial statute — a body of statutes — that are in regards to drivers — commercial drivers — and they are imposing that on just average people just going down to the store to get a Mr. Goodbar. And they are arresting people for having a taillight out. And what they should be doing is pulling up alongside and saying, ‘Hey, buddy, your headlights out. You need to get that fixed.’ But that is not probable cause for an arrest. That is improper. It’s against the law.”
Personally liable officers?
Does administrative notice put cops such as Sheriff Hammond’s deputy Carson in a position of having acted in malice and bad faith, as Deputy Carson was notified March 1 of the disabilities of the statute when I notified his boss, Sheriff Jim Hammond, of them in a personal meeting and delivery of administrative notice?
“When they arrest someone, or pull them over, and they don’t have any evidence that that individual is a commercial driver [using] a commercial vehicle for hire, they are maliciously breaking the law. It is an assault under the law. It is a policeman, or sheriff’s deputy that is doing it. So that needs to cease, more for their own good, because they are out breaking the law.”
I ask about Sgt. Carson’s taking Luman to jail in handcuffs? Is the arrest putting Mr. Carson’s personal property, assets, possessions and estate at risk for lawsuit by Mr. Luman or others getting a whiff of the breakdown in the state skimming operation?
“I believe so. To protect themselves, the municipal corporation such as Hamilton County will say, ‘He was acting in his own personal capacity.’ At the moment, he violated my rights. *** He acted in private capacity. He in his private capacity; he put the cuffs on me, took me into custody, on his own, in his own determinations, which again aren’t legal. He doesn’t have probable cause. So this is bad — bad for him It’s a bad position for him to be in.”
That’s why on at least one indictment the individual officer is named as the prosecutor, Mr. Luman says.
Should city councils, mayors and county commissions review cops’ activities and restrain them according black-letter law? “Yeah,” Mr. Luman says, “or at least inform them they are acting on their own in cases such as this.”
“It appears to me that the state is hanging the sheriff out to dry” as regards the possession of his car. It’s not clear as to the chain of custody, a legal tracing of possession and use of the car by the district attorney’s office, Sgt. Gregory Carson personally, Gregory Carson as deputy, Sheriff Jim Hammond, or Cain’s Wrecker service on the North Shore.