CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Oct. 4, 2022 – District attorney Coty Wamp dismisses the case against free-traveling Gregory Parker before beginning of what promised to be a long and nasty trial stemming from a grudge prosecution by officers of the Tennessee highway patrol.
By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network
Gregory Parker is the free traveling handyman and father of two young children whom trooper Dale Herring arrested March 29, 2021, without probable cause, according to a review of THP dashcam video. The case brought a shattered window to Mr. Parker, 12 criminal charges over an alleged wrong against the state costing it half a penny a day and the ordeal of preparing a defense in a charge-stacked prosecution.
For all two minutes, the encounter in criminal court Judge Barry Steelman’s room bulges with a sense of confrontation and indignation. Mr. Parker refuses to stand when the “All rise! Oyez, oyez” is called out and the judge makes entry. A deputy threatens him with contempt. “If you have matters before this court, draw near, and you shall be heard,” a bailiff cries in the traditional declaration.
Judge Steelman dismisses the case, without stating a findings of law or fact, according to report. Mr. Parker declares that the reason is that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Troopers enforce the state’s licensing of drivers and vehicle safety; Mr. Parker travels for pleasure and private business, not subject to the Tennessee administrative law at Title 55, motor and other vehicles, and Title 65, carriers.
Holding his ground, Mr. Parker angrily demands the court hear him in his claim of a criminal assault against him by absent Trooper Herring. A deputy serving Sheriff Austin Garret tells Mr. Parker to “go away, go away” and that he should file a complaint with Chattanooga police department. Mr. Parker says the court is “sham-assed.”
THP traps motorist
In Judge Lila Statom’s sessions court, trooper Herring testified he saw Mr. Parker speeding. He’d seen Mr. Parker’s red pickup truck, topped by a set of long ladders, on Highway 27, in the opposite direction from his parked cruiser.
The dashcam indicates the red truck is in the flow of southbound traffic. The cruiser noses around, and the cruiser races past other cars to catch up to Mr. Parker. They cross over the river, pass downtown, and Mr. Parker takes an exit toward Lookout Mountain. Mr. Herring smashes Mr. Parker’s window and jerks him to the pavement.
It appears to have been a trap to arrest Mr. Parker without a warrant and without having seen him commit a traffic infraction under Title 55 (motor vehicles) nor a crime under Title 39, the state criminal code. Mr. Parker is known to use the public right of way and the freeways apart from the privilege and tax system that troopers administer as part of the Tennessee department of safety and homeland security. Troopers are the sole agency that regulate and enforce the safety, weight and other regulations in state law applied to the transport sector.
“It must have lasted a whole two minutes,” says Jon Luman, a free spirited traveler on the people’s roads who’s had troubles with police about being a private traveler. “We refused to stand up for the judge, so he had to take time out to threaten us with contempt if we didn’t. So, that held things up. So that’s why it ran a whole two minutes.”
Two calls to DA Wamp’s office requesting comment today are not returned.
“The DA’s office has elected to drop all charges,” Mr. Luman says. “Greg did yeoman work in the court of Lila Statom declaring it void in open court, the whole thing, the arrest, the hearing, everything – void.”
“It’s just another affirmation that they will do all they can do to intimidate people to plead guilty when they actually have nothing, no evidence of anything. That’s why it’s void. I think that Greg stating that, in open court with Lila Statom, is a factor.
“Greg was the only case in that court today,” Mr. Luman says. “Greg has been dismissed on these same things in the past. *** They don’t have any evidence. No evidence was presented that he was speeding, other than Herring’s testimony. And, Herring wasn’t there, either. If there was ever going to be a trial, it seems like Herring would’ve been there.”
Judge Steelman held an April 1 hearing for the sole purpose of determining whether Mr. Parker wanted counsel or representation. The THP had charge stacked the case in an effort to put the Rossville, Ga., man into prison.
Had Mr. Parker actually been forced to stand trial, it appears unlikely he would have escaped conviction and prison.
Mr. Parker insisted he did not need assistance to handle 12 criminal counts in the Hamilton County grand jury indictment —
➤ Evading arrest, a felony, with up to four years in prison
➤ Reckless endangerment, felony, two years
➤ Retaliation for past acts, felony, two years
➤ Driving on a revoked/suspended license, six months
➤ Reckless driving, six months
➤ Expired or invalid registration of the car converting it into a motor vehicle, 30 days
➤ Texting while driving, 30 days
➤ Lack of proof of insurance, 30 days
➤ Failure to exercise due care, 30 days
➤ Speeding, 30 days
➤ Resisting arrest, six months
➤ Misuse of vehicle registration, 30 days
A June 16, 2021, letter by this reporter to safety commissioner Jeff Long is ignored. It asks about the propriety of the arrest, and whether the commissioner has legally marooned Trooper Herring so that the legal authority for the Parker arrest is upon Mr. Herring’s personal authority. The state, as do most municipalities, violates state law and effectively put the onus of abuse of power harms on officers personally.
Reporter demands trooper authority
The letter asks nine questions going the heart of fraudulent and violent activity by the department and its agents. The agency serving Gov. Bill Lee has been under Tennessee transportation administrative notice for 1,674 days. Since service March 5, 2018, it has made no apparent answer either to the public nor the issuer of the notice as regards the scope of its power to regulate users of the roads.
The roads belong to the people, not to the state. “The roads belong to the public, and the county court holds them in trust for the public, and while it is proprietor for the purposes of its trust, it is not proprietor in the sense that it is owner of the roads against the public, or any member thereof. The public road is a way open to all the people, without distinction, for passage and repassage at their pleasure.” Sumner County v. Interurban Transp. Co., 141 Tenn. 493, 213 S.W. 412, 1918 Tenn. LEXIS 112, 5 A.L.R. 765 (1919).
Judge Steelman has no other case on the docket today. “He threatened us with contempt for not standing up for his entry,” says Mr. Luman, a handyman and contractor. “What he said was, it would be contempt of the procedure, not contempt of him. So, y’know, like, gee, he should’ve gone ahead with that. How are you gonna charge us with contempt on a void procedure? They never proved jurisdiction or authority.”
Mr. Parker has emphasized his legal status. On Monday, he says, he sent out a mass email to interested officials about his status as a private American man not involved in contract with the state.
Messrs. Parker and Luman stand up, finally, during the hearing, under “threat and duress,” Mr. Luman says.
“Then, bam, the ADA did that [dismissal], and — boom — it’s over.”
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