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City put on notice about warrantless arrest power limits as Lee weighs travel ‘crackdown’

David Tulis, broadcast journalist and investigative reporter, waits to meet with troopers in Wytheville, Va., as he is there to file a complaint against an officer for abuse of his daughter after her trial Feb. 27 in Marion. (Photo David Tulis)

City and county governments have received a warning notice from David Tulis, an investigative reporter and broadcast journalist who fears they may ramp up what he says are continuing existing violations of the Tennessee arrest warrant law.

Tulis sent notice by email Tuesday to Hamilton County chief deputy Austin Garrett, county attorney Rheubin Taylor and to Phil Noblett, city attorney. He sent email letters and copies of his nine-page “Administrative notice [o]n limits of arrest power in Tennessee under ‘public offense’ rule” to city council members today. 

“The panic over CV-19 promises to bring extraordinary abuse of this law — Tenn. Code Ann 40-7-103, grounds for arrest by officer without warrant,” said Tulis, 60, who worked 24 years as a Times Free Press copy editor and now runs a talk-news-sports radio station. 

“This law is already widely abused despite clear rulings in the courts of appeal that ‘public offense’ cannot be misconstrued to mean ‘any crime.’ the abuse already taking place on the part of Chief David Roddy and Sheriff Jim Hammond, with agreement by county magistrates. They really think they can arrest anyone on the spot at any time without a warrant. Not so — not so, sirs.”

“If Gov. [Bill] Lee continues scorched-earth policies against the people of Hamilton County by locking them in their homes and shutting down their businesses, it is possible that he will use his presumed extraordinary plenary powers to engage in mass arrests without probable cause and without a warrant,” Tulis said. 

“The damage is already being done by current usages and practices, with consent of the judiciary. But the threat of CV-19 is putting pressure on him to worsen the state’s war against its own people through the police power. That means ‘traffic stops’ with not even the existing reduced threshold of probable cause. That means traffic arrests without cause, arrests based on arbitrary and capricious acts by officers in violation of our constitutional rights and in rejection of clear black-letter law at 40-7-103,” Tulis said.

Tulis’ show is weekdays at 1 p.m. at NoogaRadio 92.7 FM, and also on Sunday morning at 8 o’clock. He is a legal reform activist focusing on racial reconciliation and race reparations in favor of African-Americans.

Tulis is married and the father of four homeschooled children, one still at home. He lives in Soddy Daisy. He is owner of 92.7 FM, its studios in East Ridge.

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