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Should NAACP fight abusive traffic stops?

Dr. Ann Pierre, head of the NAACP in Hamilton County, meets with David Tulis, investigative journalist at NoogaRadio 96.9 FM, at the public library downtown to discuss how to halt warrantless arrests in violation of T.C.A. § 40-7-103 and traffic arrests outside the scope of the motor vehicle code. (Photo David Tulis)

Racial reconciliation service project by NoogaRadio 96.9 FM and David Tulis, reporter

The following is a summary of the material I am asking Dr. Ann Pierre of the NAACP to review as we seek ways to bring law enforcement within the bounds of the law. The documents I gave her in a meeting Tuesday are below. — DJT

African-Americans and others face continuing abuse by police and deputies in violation of law. One law details warrantless arrest. The other is the TN law under which “traffic stops” are done.

The problem

➤ The law that grants exceptions to the constitutional guarantee, Art. 1 sect. 7, against warrantless arrest is at Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7-103. The law grants 13 instances in which a cop can make an arrest without a warrant in hand. It allows, in the case of misdemeanors, arrest on the spot if the accused person is committing a “public offense” in the officer’s presence or threatens a “breach of the peace.” Cops ignore the meaning of “public offense” and so redefine the law in such a way as to make the whole law unnecessary and void. This practice is illegal, but is protected by the bar and by some courts.

➤ Cops and deputies routinely “administer” the motor vehicle code upon members of the public who are not subject to it. The law at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles, is applicable to truck drivers and bus operators, etc., operating in commerce. It does not apply to private people, using cars and trucks for pleasure, to get to work, to church, to a meeting or to exercise a right. Cops act presumptively on every person they stop as if they were involved in commercial use of the roads. Only the for-hire use of the road, in the taxable and privileged occupation called transportation, is subject to taxation, registration, insurance and licensing requirements. Cops enforce a footwide law upon the entire traveling public as if it were a yard wide. These practices are illegal, threatening innocent people with violence and harm, enforcing racial and economic prejudice upon the poor.

Notice = basis for fighting back

I have put city and county on notice about these two evils. They persist because of the inertia of “customs and usages” in government and policing agencies. Lawyers, judges won’t overthrow habit and legal presumptions that are not properly challenged.

Notice on false arrest without warrant: I put city and county under administrative notice April 15, 2020. See attached, plus service proofs.

Notice on traffic arrest abuse: I put Chattanooga under administrative notice Feb. 20, 2018, by personal service. See Tennessee transportation administrative notice, attached, plus service proofs.

Neither county nor city officials have responded. Nor have officials in other entities such as East Ridge, Red Bank, Dayton or the governor’s office. At law, nonresponse is acceptance and acquiescence. These parties admit the claims of notice by silence. But no one in authority cares to alter practices among officers, either by making them get warrants before arrest as required by law, or by limiting traffic enforcement to “public offenses.”

Local officials are poaching. They are acting ultra vires (outside the scope of the law). They arrest people on the spot for violating a law that doesn’t apply to them. Who has authority to enforce the traffic regulations? The TN driver license law is administered by the department of safety, 55-50-201. The registration or tag law is administered by the department of revenue, TCA 55-2-101. The insurance law is administered by the safety department, TCA 55-12-103. 

Local cops/deputies are not named as agents to perform these activities. The revenue department’s agent in Hamilton County is the county clerk, Bill Knowles. That’s it.

The abuse involves a lesser jurisdiction’s agents exploiting the authority of the higher jurisdiction. No one important is protesting. Will NAACP study the issue, and resist?

Criminal defense, civil lawsuit

I have identified abuses and due process violations against the rights of the people. Improvement on this front cannot be changed by politics (voting, registration drives, creating civilian watchdogs, lobbying city council or the legislature, passing bills). These evils might be stopped by (a) legal action and, (b) highlighting noisily and publicly the violations of law and criminal acts by government actors to shame them into corrective action. 

Individual men and women fighting for relief from oppressive cops and lax government involves using administrative notice in a criminal case and as basis for punitive damages in a civil suit in false arrest.

NAACP should use my notices like an umbrella, saying roadside when it rains blue:

Officer, I am traveling under Transportation Administrative Notice, and I answer no questions and make no statements without my lawyer present.

Note, I am not an attorney, don’t give legal advice, don’t have a law business or law practice, and propose this legal strategy based on personal research and study as member of the press. David Tulis —  tel. (423) 316-2680

This 20-page legal notice lets you fight back vs. illicit ‘traffic stops’ — sue for damages, have defense in your criminal case

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