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Fighting reporter resists TN tax boss’ bid to keep hearing revenue employee as judge

A dump truck is turned over on Standifer Gap Road in Hamilton County. Trucking is regulated as a privilege, and all cars and trucks used to haul goods or people for hire must be registered with the department of revenue as motor vehicles. (Photo Tri-Community Volunteer fire department)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 —  The Tennessee commissioner of revenue David Gerregano states that his administrative judge’s circumstances “are non-implicative of a disqualifying condition” and that no circumstances of Brad Buchanan are “problematic” under Rule 10. “Administrative Judge Buchanan is not guilty of any of the above activities, nor is there any other appearance of impropriety in his assignment to this case.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network

In resisting my demand for recusal of Mr. Buchanan, Cmsr. Gerregano states there is “nothing unique about the instant proceeding that would suggest” hearing officer Buchanan “is incapable of performing this duty” to “view the Department’s actions through an impartial lens, despite the fact that the administrative judge is also employed by the Department” under the commissioner. The commissioner goes on to say he “himself was uninvolved” in the revocation, such act by agents “pursuant to a statutory mandate.” 

Brad Buchanan, chief hearing officer Tennessee department of revenue

Recusal is in order when a judge, or a hearing officer inside a bureaucracy, cannot be fair or maintain the appearance of fairness.

Mr. Gerregano through his lawyer Camille Cline says he would “have no cause to be personally affronted” by any hearing officer act — and, presumably, inversely, that the hearing officer would have no basis personally to fear affronting the superior “at the apex” of the pecking order by ruling that compulsory insurance practice in a financial responsibility state is illegal.

Case of 1st impression

In my answer to the tax boss’ objection to my filing in my contested case, Cmsr. Gerregano’s statements that this case is routine and that petitioner’s rationale would prohibit any administrative hearing officer from doing his duty fail to account for the unprecedented nature of this lawsuit. It is one of first impression, defying Gerregano TFRA enforcement in toto.

The petition empowers Cmsr. Gerregano to do the right thing, to halt a program outside the law and a mass harm upon 7 million people of Tennessee, including petitioner. Thanks to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, petitioner comes to the commissioner in person to give him a chance to heal the breach of which petitioner accuses him, to come into compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. 55-12-101 et seq and administer a financial responsibility statute.

Petitioner sees no defense under any theory of law to run such a program as the department’s, promoting abuse of criminal authority upon Tennesseans not subject to or liable for performance under the law. Ultra vires activity and fraud in agency, brought to the commissioner’s awareness and knowledge by petitioner’s administrative notice regarding § 55-12-101 et seq and by the petition, have no other source than Cmsr. Gerregano, who alone in the department serves at Gov. Bill Lee’s pleasure and who embodies the entire department top to bottom and all its actions. In the entirety of the law, the “commissioner of revenue” is charged with any and all of the harms complained of in the notice, and there is no escaping the fact that Cmsr. Gerregano oversees Mr. Buchanan in the policy itself alleged in the petition as outlaw.

Seeing that the commissioner is responsible for root and branch of the contested policy, the recusal demand upon hearing officer Buchanan is justly framed as to the appearance of partiality pursuant to Rule 10 cited in the motion. Mr. Buchanan wrote orders within acceptable department paradigms framed by Gerregano, judging by absence of case law on matters of this dispute. Mr. Buchanan has consistently upheld policy and custom, it is fair to allege. This case demands a work of statutory construction and seeing of dispositive facts that contradict Mr. Buchanan’s jurisprudential practice and longstanding presuppositions.

I demand in a filing today my recusal motion stand, and that Mr. Gerregano request an administrative judge from the secretary of state’s office stand in.


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