Hugh Moore, you are foreman of the concurrent grand jury, and so I ask if you have a sense of alarm about the state of affairs in Hamilton County touching on the rights of the people.
Members of the public are concerned about the CV-19 panic and their personal health. Far more devastating to ordinary people, however, is the broad use of executive power against the public in actions I am reporting are apart from lawful and express authority.
I have grave concerns about widespread abuse by officials. I bring to your attention what appear to be violations of statute and constitutional rights.
[This letter is to Hugh Moore, foreman of the Hamilton County concurrent grand jury. I am asking whether the grand jury is responsive to the needs of the people and whether it investigates public crimes as it ought. The concurrent grand jury, led the past 15 months by this practicing attorney at Chambliss Bahner Stophel, has let many state crimes slide. I am demanding redress on your behalf after realizing that reporting state abuses as a journalist and publisher matters little to Hamilton County’s great ones. — DJT]
The violations in view would be under the purview of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-402, official misconduct, and 39-16-403, official oppression, and other laws.
Have you, in your capacity as foreman, thought about the grave damage and injury caused by Mayor Andy Berke and others all the way up to Gov. Bill Lee? Is it your job as grand jury foreman to look jealously in the interest of the people’s rights to actions by city, county and state employees that injure or damage these rights?
The grand jury belongs to the people and is intended by the framers to be their safeguard. Indictments that issue from the grand jury protect the people from crime by private parties. But private parties are not the only ones to do wrong. The grand jury has self-existing roving power to investigate wrongdoing and crimes by officials at Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-12-201(a)(4), use of investigative grand jury.
The governor and the mayors have ordered people into house arrest — people who are noncriminal and healthy, citizens whom have not been tried as being sick. They have not been convicted of any offense, yet are sentenced to house arrest. Does due process apply even in times of contagion, sir? Do we have constitutional rights, sir, only when everybody is healthy?
Gov. Lee and Mayors Berke, Coppinger et al have shut down so many businesses that they have prompted 43,000 claims for jobless benefits in our area in the past month. They have wrecked thousands of businesses across the county. The number of jobless applications statewide is 392,468 people, mostly as result of actions by these state and city employees. As many as 20,000 people in the county have lost their jobs, and businesses everywhere have been shut down by threat and warning by hirelings assigned to local police departments.
Grand juries defend, protect
The duty of the grand jury is to protect the people. It is not a state organ. It does not serve the state. It serves the interest of the people. It does not take orders from the supreme court. It does not take orders from district attorneys, and should view DAs with caution, if not distrust. It represents the people and is supposed to be an independent body safeguarding property and rights.
Is it doing so under your stewardship, sir?
The people who have wrecked businesses and put thousands of people into financial default are operating outside the scope of the law. These high officials are breaking the law. Violating the law. That would be the supreme law — the constitution — and those good laws from the general assembly in compliance with it.
The state has no power, even under the generally cited emergency powers in Title 58, to threaten criminally with house arrest people who are not sick. If this power is not within law, and if it violates the constitution, is that not pretended power, and a sequence of mighty criminal acts?
Specifically, in imposing house arrest and a halt to commerce and travel, they violate Tenn. Code Ann. 68-1-201, power to quarantine. This law clearly aims police powers upon the sick specifically and not the healthy generally. That power should operate not upon a mass, but upon individuals. That power should be directed at the dangerous, not the endangered. Mayor Berke’s stay-at-home executive order is aimed promiscuously upon people against whom no charge is made of their being epidemiologically contaminated by the CV-19 virus.
This law requires the governor’s state health commissioner to act “with the least inconvenience to commerce and travel, prevent the spread of the disease.” This provision has been ignored.
The public health statutes give a protocol for adjudicating a claim of sickness against a recalcitrant infected person who refuses quarantine. It deals with containing the spread of tuberculosis: Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-9-206. Incarceration of suspect — Procedure — Appeal — Violation of quarantine.
Police power is justly and effectively applied judicially against a contumacious sick person, under sworn warrant, the case heard in sessions, and the accused subject to accusation and evidence by doctor of being ill. He has a right to introduce contradictory medical evidence. The judge rules on law and facts upon his health, just as the priests among the children of Israel did upon the lepers in Levicitus 13.
Your personal opinion about CV-19 and how it is to be handled as a public health matter should not control the operation of the grand jury. If a law is being violated and the people are injured, you have a duty to protect the people from the continuation of that violation. I suggest this claim is true whether dealing with a single person who is a victim, or a thousand. The enormity of a violation or its scale should not be a guard against your acting or a brake on your initiative, just as the smallness of a single offense against a single person is not reason to fail to take notice as foreman in official capacity, I suggest.
No use of military power
The bill of rights section 25 forbids “the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the persons, liberties or property of the citizen” because that is “inconsistent with the principles of free government and not confided to any department of this state.” Their actions “dispose of” us citizens, dispose of you as a citizen, Mr. Moore.
Other God-given, constitutionally secured, inherent and unalienable rights touch on religion, free assembly and travel (the right of movement and communication). In article 11, section 16, the general assembly leaves these state actors no room to pretend they can get away with creating a financial collapse of business, industry and commerce and no one notice.
“The declaration of rights hereto prefixed is declared to be a part of the Constitution of the state, and shall never be violated on any pretense whatever. And to guard against transgression of the high powers we have delegated, we declare that everything in the bill of rights contained, is excepted out of the general powers of the government, and shall forever remain inviolate.”
Given that the pretense of violating our rights is CV-19, I ask you to call the grand jury to action to investigate immediately — starting Saturday — these actions with an eye to restoring the status quo ante, Mr. Moore. Our rights are not to be violated “under any pretense whatever,” and so you must look to your duty as concurrent grand jury foreman to stop the bloodletting.
As for my demand letter, I demand an audience as regards the officer’s triable, indictable offense at law, and demand details of grand jury members so to exercise my right to select the two others I wish to have interview me about this matter.
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CV-19 panic update