The victim of a false report and a testy Chattanooga police officer is relieved of criminal charges today in general sessions court as Judge Gerald Webb praises the truck driver for his intelligent defense of due process rights and his clean record.
Judge Webb dismisses two aggravated assault charges against Michael James, who in his fourth hearing gains relief by pointing out that the court had no subject matter jurisdiction in a “void ab initio” (void from the beginning) case poisoned by an obvious breach by a magistrate.
The dismissal comes the moment Mr. James steps up to the chin-diapered jurist, with no oral argument exacted from Mr. James, 54, a well-spoken bachelor who once won a civil case against a cop and a F$25,000 award, all done without services of an attorney.
“I read your motion to dismiss and I read your [brief] as well,” the judge says. “Very well written pro se motions.”
Expungement, gun return orders
Judge Webb says Mr. James is a man with no record, and wants to keep it that way. In 10 minutes, he says, once the dismissal is entered into the computer system, Mr. James is to go downstairs to the sessions clerk and obtain process for expungement.
Mr. James asks for an order from Judge Webb ordering the police department to return a pistol seized in an unwarranted search of his car the night May 6 in which he was falsely accused by two teen girls in a car who crashed into a building and who concocted a story that Mr. James had threatened them by brandishing a firearm.
Judge Webb directs his staff to draft that order and for Mr. James to wait for it.
When he hands Mr. James the paper with the order on it, judge Webb says, “Mr. James, if you have any trouble at the police department contact me immediately and I will see to it that you’re taken care of.”
“This officer Hughes, Lance Hughes,” Mr. James says in an interview, “he needs to be fired from the Chattanooga police department. He has committed a felony, intentionally fabricating a document and pushing it through the court system, going around a magistrate and illegally filing a fictitious document trying to incriminate me with felony charges.”
Magistrate ‘should also be fired’
Officer Hughes believed the minor girls’ tale and pursued him after he placed a 911 call. He says they nearly pushed him off the road, and he witnessed them crash into Fowler Bros. furniture building. The officer arrested him without any sworn statement having been made by either girl. The charges were done “in bad faith” and the officer’s affidavit of complaint should not have been proffered — nor accepted — as a lawful cause initiating a criminal case.
Mr. James says magistrate Lorrie Miller “also should be fired, because what she did is illegal. As a judicial officer, especially as she is chief magistrate judge, *** she allowed that officer, and OK’d it to go to the sessions court.”
By law, Mr. James should not have been arrested, but should have been released once it became clear to officer Hughes the girls were not going to swear to an affidavit of complaint. Had a girl sworn a complaint, police would then have had a warrant, and used it to arrest Mr. James.
Magistrate Miller operates on a custom and usage in which she and police routinely violate Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103, arrest by officer without warrant. That common breach is echoed in the treatment of Mr. James, who was arrested on the spot as a convenience to the officer (so he wouldn’t have to go and find him, later, once an affidavit had been sworn).
Though 40-7-103 deals with misdemeanors, no felony case in which the officer is not a witness can go forward apart from a judicial approval based on a sworn statement and affidavit. The law considers police reports hearsay.
According to Mr. James’ brief:
3.1 Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 3 note says the magistrate is not a mere paper pusher. “It is important that any clerk issuing an arrest warrant know and fully appreciate the legal significance of the fact that it is a judicial function which is being performed. The validity of the warrant depends upon the making of a probable cause determination; a warrant must never be issued as a mere ministerial act done simply upon application. (emphasis added)
“Officer Hughes, and any other officer on that scene, did not have probable cause,” Mr. James says. “All they had was hearsay from two girls in a stolen vehicle with no driver license and no insurance. *** Rogue officers like this need to be fired.”
Police abuse victim Michael James tells listeners at NoogaRadio 92.7 FM about his 121-day ordeal as victim of false accusation and mishandled prosecution.