Sheriff Jim Hammond and chief deputy Austin Garrett, your deputies threatened to arrest me Friday at the courts building as I sought to enter the building as per my right under article 1, section 17, in the bill of rights, the covenant that the courts are “open.”
[I send this demand letter to Sheriff Jim Hammond four days after having been threatened with arrest. Sheriff Hammond and his deputies are barring entry to the courts buildings of people exercising their rights to be there under the Tennessee constitution requirement that the courts be open. — DJT]
They threatened to arrest me because I refused to wear a medical device on my face and to cover my face. They threatened to arrest me even though I told the first officer I encountered that I had a condition that prevents me from wearing a chin diaper. As I explained to him, according to either of two videos on Facebook, my condition includes religious, legal, and personal reasons.
These should be sufficient to allow him to let me pass without making demands upon my rights.
➤ He is barred under federal law from forcing me to make statements about medical condition or health or statements, and has no authority whatsoever to demand I produce doctor’s statements about my health.
➤ Religious belief and its protection under the first amendment is detailed in the case United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, 85 S. Ct. 850, 13 L. Ed. 2d 733 (1965). https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/380/163/. Your deputy could have perhaps determined the religious nature of such belief, but is not authorized to inquire into the content of it, or to pass judgment on its doctrines/
Putting condition on a right — problem
You are charged with protecting personal liberty in Hamilton County. Your duty to protect and maintain the courts and support the process of the judicial branch of government in the state and county is second to that main duty, and a principal supporting element of it. Protecting the courts is keeping them open, and keeping justice accessible to all people.
The citizenry of this county and any other person who wants to come into a courts building as a matter of right must have that right respected. There is no authority by anyone to impose a condition upon the exercise of a right.
As I informed the deputies, the moment a condition is placed upon a right, that right is denied. You, sir, denied my right Friday, and put me in fear of my person and liberty with the repeated threat of arrest as I was cast from the people’s courts building downtown.
You, Mr. Hammond, and your constabulary, are violating the rights of the people to insist and demand that they wear face masks prior to entry into the building. You are in violation of article 1 section 17, “that all courts shall be open.”
You are also violating my rights as a member of the press. “That the printing press shall be free to every person to examine the proceedings of the Legislature; or of any branch or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of man and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.” Article 1, section 19.
You shall not and must not put a condition on the openness of the court building or court rooms. As a member of the public, and in addition, as a member of the press, I have a right to be in the court building without any conditions placed upon me whatsoever.
It is unconstitutional for anyone to prevent my entry. It is unconstitutional for anyone to say to someone like you, “I delegate to you the authority to prevent people and citizens from entering into the court building or into the courtroom.”
Why the court has to be open
Though your oath of office does not require you to uphold the constitution and doesn’t articulate that duty, it nonetheless is your duty to protect the rights of the citizens under the common law. I have a right at common law to enter. You have a duty, given your office’s common law origins, to protect that right and ensure the court is open to all.
In my encounter with your 5 deputies I stated why the courts must be open. I attach for your interests the case I cited to your deputies as I stood at the security gate, Richmond Newspapers vs. Commonwealth of Virginia 448 U.S. 555, 100 S. Ct. 2814, 65 L. Ed. 2d 973 (1980)
Please read this opinion, especially the provisions regarding the history of the open court and the right of the people to attend any and all trials without limit.
Your oath of office to God
Sir, you are charged with defending the rights of the people and their right to see bustice being done. Though others may violate the Constitution, though chief justices can violate their oaths, you cannot be persuaded to join them in a violation.
You are before God required to make an independent local judgment and decision.
At Friday’s Republican party Lincoln Dinner you prayed to the one sovereign and gracious God in heaven as follows:
It is in the name of Jesus that we come before you, thanking you for your great love to us. Lord, we’re in very trying times in our country. We need you more now than we ever have. *** Lord, help us get out of here,letting this country know that we are still one nation, under God. For these things we pray, in Jesus’ name.
Since your petition is made in this prayer to the true God, it is proper here to evoke His claim upon you as a Christian, making oath in His name and under His government and providence.
Mr. Hammond, you have a duty under God and under your oath to protect me when I come into this court.
I expect this sort of threat not to happen again when I make another appearance as a member of the public in our county courts building. If I say I have a condition that prevents me from covering my mouth and nose, I demand that this explanation be accepted. That explanation must be accepted, sir, period. Your protocols of surveillance at the door must be reformed immediately to prevent further abuse.
You are under administrative notice on violations of § 40-7-103
Your employer, Hamilton County government, is under notice from me about this arrest power with which you threatened me. I told them that if they were going to arrest me, they had a duty to go to the magistrate and swear out a warrant. By all appearances, they were unwilling to do that, but arrest me on the spot.
That would have been an indictable and triable offense under the law. That law is Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103, arrest by officer without warrant. A false arrest, especially when the officer has been put on legal notice, is not just a tort and a crime, but one with an aggravating factor. And that factor is malice, bad faith and evil intent.
My quiet presence within the court building was not a “public offense” pursuant to the law, as court cases make clear.
I’m attaching for your review a copy of administrative notice given to the county commission on April 15.
I am also attaching a highlighted copy of the statute, 40-7-103, one no doubt you have thought a great deal about, since your job is keeping the peace.
This statute makes it very clear that had you sought to arrest me, you would have had to go to Lorrie Miller to get a warrant. Why? I was not committing a public offense by refusing to leave, not causing any public disturbance, breach of the peace or riot. My standing in a public building speaking quietly and making no scene is not a public offense.
To order me off the property because I’m not wearing a chin diaper is an offense against me, and a tort. No one has that authority for someone who is simply standing in a public building with his briefcase and his recording equipment.
The deputy should have asked me to wait so he could have gotten a warrant. I would have agreed to that. That I departed saved your department from imposing a tortious false arrest of a member of the press.
- I demand a response to this inquiry about whether you claim your deputies acted properly.
- I demand word about my next visit to the courts building. I plan to exercise my rights to enter without condition, as a matter of right. Will I be allowed in on statements regarding my condition preventing me from wearing an obstruction on nose and mouth? Or will you bar me again?
- Will you arrest me without a warrant, despite clear law on warrantless arrest, if I insist on the right to be arrested only under warrant?
- I demand word under open records of any document, memo, instructions or directions to your staff regarding treatment of members of the public as of tomorrow, and any reform from protocol in dealing with what the constitution calls the “free people” of Tennessee (article 1, section 24).
Respectfully yours, etc.