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Trespass arrest expunged as TN courts tighten secrecy controls

Double-cinching the wristcuffs injured my right hand, making it partly numb. I sought treatment for this harm from false arrest by city of Franklin in a case that has been expunged.. (Photo Christopher Sapp)
A breach of law by the Tennessee judicial branch — the criminal trespass charge against reporter David Tulis for insisting on his right to attend the judicial conference in Franklin, Tenn., Nov. 6, 2021. “The charge has been dismissed,” the report says. (Photo Williamson County district court)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., June 17, 2022 — The charge against me for having crashed the secretive Tennessee judicial conference in November has been expunged. That means I can truthfully and honestly say I have never been arrested or charged with a crime.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 96.9 FM 

Officer William Orange

The criminal trespass charge was leveled against me by William Orange, a Franklin, Tenn., police officer who disobeyed the law and failed to get a warrant prior to his laying his hands on me and hurting me in my arrest. My right hand was numb for months after he overtightened the cuffs. 

The expungement arrives as the Tennessee judicial branch goes into a black-site operation of its judicial conferences, locking out the press more tightly than before, and denying operation of the first amendment, the Tennessee constitution and the state open meetings law. A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. district court in Nashville seeks to pry open these secretive meetings in violation of law.

The criminal trespass charge is at 39-14-405 in the Tennessee code. I successfully argued that the criminal charge had no probable cause, indicating in the dismissal order by Williamson County judge M.T. Taylor that the arrest was a false arrest.

M.T. Taylor, Williamson County sessions court judge

I told Officer Orange that he had to get judicial approval of my arrest BEFORE he touched me. But, typical of Tennessee cops, he is heard saying, “It’s in the presence of the officer,” and thus meeting the requirement of the law.

The law in question, however, has two tests. Presence of the officer is just one test. The other is that the misdemeanor has to be a “public offense.” What I was doing by refusing to leave the judges conference is not a public offense. A public offense is an offense with a public effect — it is in the nature of a riot, disorder, riot or affray, causing people to fear for their personal safety.

He took hold of my wrists, forced my arms behind my back, subjecting this blue-jacketed and neatly attired journalist to agony of hand, and did not act with probable cause. That legal burden for harm is now on Mr. Orange personally or assault and battery, and his employer, city of Franklin.

Had he bought the case before a judicial commissioner, aka magistrate, and that magistrate had approved of his report, put down in writing, he would have had a legal arrest. It may have been legally wrong, but it would’ve been defensible. The arrest would have had approval of a neutral party, the magistrate, with an interest in the law and obedience to the constitution and the statute at T.C.A. § 40-7-104.

I was not causing a public offense, nor any sort of negative or threatening sensation in the public pursuant to the legal meaning of public offense.  

The expungement completes the process of my prosecution and my . The exclusion at process lets me be able to say truthfully, under oath, that I have never been charged with a crime. 

Expungment is a picture of mercy as God tells of it in the Bible. It reflects the forgiveness of sin, the eviscerating of the record of the sin upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the penalty, shame and humiliation for that sin upon Himself, for the benefit of His people. Expungement goes back to the moment before the criminal charge was created, and deletes it ab initio, from the beginning, as if it had never happened.


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