Affidavit of David Jonathan Tulis
In evidence for the petition in equity and for writ of mandamus
Comes now, David Jonathan Tulis, of 10520 Brickhill Lane, Soddy-Daisy, Hamilton County, Tenn., being of sound mind and body, declaring the following facts true and correct to the best of my firsthand knowledge, reserving for a later date those injuries the expression for which escapes the affiant today or as may develop to describe, as follows:
- On July 31, 2020, deputies of Hamilton County sheriff’s office threw affiant out of Hamilton County courthouse after imposing an illegal condition upon his entry, that of a “face mask,” which he reasonably understands they had no authority to impose as he exercises his rights, obligations and duties pursuant to the Tennessee constitution Article 1, section 17, such as the right to enter a public building and courtroom as a member of the public and securing that the courts will be open.
- Affiant told the officers that the county was under his duly served administrative notice as of April 15, 2020, as regards routine rejection of the state law, T.C.A. 40-7-103, arrest by officer without warrant, law enforcement officers and judges.
- Affiant, additionally, explained that he was there on a reporting assignment, being a member of the press.
- Affiant cited Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 100 S. Ct. 2814, 65 L. Ed. 2d 973 (1980) as one authority allowing his lawful presence unfettered in the building.
- Hamilton County sheriff’s department officers Craig Bodnar, Bush, Houston and unidentified officer No. 2798 and one other, unidentified, threatened affiant with arrest on the spot without first getting a warrant.
- Affiant reasonably understands such conduct would have violated Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 40-7-103, arrest by officer without warrant, that requires a warrant in such circumstances from Lorrie Miller, chief magistrate, or one of her three associate magistrates.
- Humiliated, and for his safety, affiant retreated without enjoying or fulfilling his fundamental liberty interest at the courthouse deprived by the officers despite the notice to them of the administratively challenged practice of on-the-spot arrest without warrant.
- Outside the building, Deputy Bodnar said if affiant returned that day, officers would charge him with aggravated trespassing.
- Deputies cited as their authority Mayor Jim Coppinger and county mask directive No. 1 under the state’s ostensible state of emergency called by Gov. Lee.
- Affiant’s due diligence indicates the orders are facially and substantively invalid.
- Denial of access to the court is an unwarranted infringement, being he has a constitutional right to the court and courts building. He has a right to freedom of association under the constitution and freedom from association with these officers in his lawful pursuits, as well.
- The encounter was recorded live on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/noogaradio/videos/2374419749519298.
- Affiant believes the officers threatened to commit a crime against him under color of lawful authority in violation of T.C.A. 40-7-103, and in bad faith, given the notice to the employer and to them orally by affiant of the nature of that law and the separate guarantee of open courts.
- Respondents’ actions and falsehoods about a state emergency have deprived affiant of Christian fellowship and gathering, or freedom of religious worship.
- The threats and falsehoods of the governor closed North Shore Fellowship, where affiant is a member.
- For many weeks starting in March, the church was shut in denial of affiant’s rights of access or ingress and egress.
- Affiant’s right to gather in his religious obligation pursuant to biblical tenets is being infringed. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” Matthew 18:20; “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near,” Hebrews 10:25; “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” Colossians 3:16; “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place,” Acts 2:1; and “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” Acts 2:42, have been wrongfully infringed.
- The respondent’s approved church offered “online services” “alternative” denies affiant’s right to fellowship (in-person meeting).
- When respondent’s approved gathering resumed, service to God was bereft of song and sacraments, with affiant, one Sunday, denied the most basic natural need, access to the men’s restroom since his face was bare, as his beliefs require.
- Affiant refuses to muzzle his face; it is a contravention of his religious, legal and private beliefs to do so.
- As of mid-September, affiant is denied entry into the North Shore Fellowship building without a face mask. In unverified, even unverifiable, health crisis claims by Gov. Bill Lee and local health officials against his church elders and government, he is injured therein.
Arrest threat at worship
- A second threat of arrest occurred when affiant stepped out of his car during a worship service at Metro Tabernacle in Chattanooga on or about April 12, 2020.
- In exiting his car during a “parking lot” worship service that Sunday morning, affiant was approached by a Chattanooga police officer who’d been standing at the edge of the lot.
- The officer demanded affiant to get back into his car, and said if he didn’t, affiant would be arrested as a violator of Mayor Andy Berke’s social distancing orders and of mayoral “permission” to the church for its governors to lead worship — but only in parked cars.
- This command against affiant’s liberty interests was on private property, injuring affiant in the free exercise of his religious tenets or convictions, and other secured rights, protected by the bill of rights of the Tennessee constitution.
Honest government services injury
- Affiant has a right to honest government services by health commissioner Lisa Piercey and the local health administrator, Rebekah Barnes, who refuse to obey Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 68, the health law.
- The April 2 Gov. Lee-ordered interference with commerce statewide and the declaration by mayors of lockdowns and the purported “need” to wear face masks at all times denied his right of free association to people.
- These so-called executive orders, state and local, denied affiant private contact with people in local economy whose businesses, buildings and ministries being deemed “nonessential” and forced to close.
- Refusal of these and other officials to obey the law and give honest government services, under color of lawful authority, wrongfully infringed and prohibited affiant’s right of free association or being free of interference with innumerable fellow residents of Hamilton County.
- These cancellations include visits with homeschool dads and friends during Friday morning coffees at the Panera bread store in Hixson or meetings with business prospects in his unfettered right to a livelihood at a lawful and harmless calling.
- Innumerable prospects refused to meet with him, talk with affiant or do business with affiant beginning in March because of the orders, or fear of the repercussions from disobeying respondent’s orders.
- Life under unlawful emergency orders are contributing to affiant’s overall economic decline because of the interference of local economy, to which affiant is subject and in which he is injured.
- Affiant is suffering injury buying goods and services in commerce and selling goods and services. These activities have been curtailed — with opportunities for growth and expansion lost — whether from barking store clerks, officers threatening affiant in public buildings or by billboards telling affiant, or by unwarranted ridicule, that if he doesn’t wear a mask he doesn’t care for other people.
- After Gov. Lee’s placing the people of Tennessee under house arrest, affiant finds people unwilling to meet with him at every part of life in local economy and free markets, to the growth and prosperity of which affiant is committed.
- People have shut their businesses and won’t sell to him, refusing also to buy from him in the ordinary course of business.
At every turn since March, the state’s emergency edicts and their illicit use have created the very disastrous conditions the Tennessee general assembly enactments seek to prevent in the emergency provisions of the law, of which the affiant has right to be secure thereby. The wrongful health crisis claims injuriously “impede economic growth and development” of the affiant in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 58-2-102 and of the Tennessee constitution.
Further, at this time, affiant sayeth naught.