Change law to codify your desires
Midstate bureau chief Christopher Sapp defends project
First of all, thank you for showing interest in your response…we really DO appreciate the feedback. In response, we’d like to take the opportunity to provide you with more information which could change your current opinion on the matter.
In your email to David you correctly cited the TN Open Meetings Act law as found at TCA 8-44-102.
The Tennessee Open Meetings Act defines a “meeting” as “the convening of a governing body of a public body for which a quorum is required to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision.” A “governing body” is “any public body [consisting] of two or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-44-102.
You went on to suggest and opine that the judges were there voluntarily, associating together in private, as if this was a private meeting of the Tennessee Bar Association or something.
So when a bunch of judges get together to hear a lecture or take a class, that is NOT a “governing body” at all, that is just a bunch of private individuals exercising their own consitutional rights of freedom of association to pursue their educational needs, just like if all the county auditors in Tennessee got together for a meeting, that meeting would NOT be subject to the Tennessee Open Meetings Act so they would be well within their rights to regulate who is in attendance.
Had that been the case, Mr. Tulis and I would agree and would not have attempted to make entry. Just so you know, Mr. Tulis and I do our homework and engage our brains before we proceed to engage our mouths to suggest something that would mislead or misinform our listeners.
The Tennessee Municipal Judges Conference (while indeed educational) is but one of six (6) such official bodies created by the Legislature TCA 17-3-301. According Title 17 chapter 3 of the Tennessee Code, all such conferences are essentially tasked with the following mandates:
(a) The conference shall meet annually for the consideration of any and all matters pertaining to the discharge of the official duties and obligations of its several members, to the end that there shall be a more prompt and efficient administration of justice in the courts of this state. TCA 17-3-104
It is the duty of the conference to give consideration to the enactment of laws and rules of procedure that in its judgment may be necessary to the more effective suppression of crime and thus promote peace and good order in the state. To this end, a committee of its members shall be appointed to draft suitable legislation and submit its recommendations to the general assembly. TCA 317-3-107
If you’re not already aware, government officials sometimes have a tendency to lie…especially when caught, in flagrante delicto, doing something they shouldn’t otherwise be doing! If you don’t know, it is the stated public policy of our state, as declared by our General Assembly at TCA 8-44-101 that:
The general assembly hereby declares it to be the policy of this state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.
This part shall not be construed to limit any of the rights and privileges contained in the Constitution of Tennessee, Article I, § 19.
So, while John Crawford and Bryan Walker asserted to the local Franklin City Police that the conference was a “members only educational conference,” this was (at best) a material misrepresentation knowingly and willfully made as an intentional deception, deflection, and misdirection in avoidance of the truth!
Indeed, the Conference itself is a “members-only” public body no different from Congress. That said, it is STILL a “public body” which makes public policy recommendations to another public body [ie. General Assembly, Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice & Procedure, etc.] as defined by TCA 8-44-102 and previously affirmed by our own TN Supreme Court in Dorrier v. Dark, 540 S.W.2d 658. As such, the Conference IS subject to the Tennessee Open Meeting Act and attendance by the Press and Public pursuant to TN Const art 1 § 19.
In enacting the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, the General Assembly declared it to be “the public policy of the state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.” T.C.A. § 8-44-101. As recognized by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, “Our Open Meetings Law is perhaps one of the most comprehensive and extensive in the nation. There are no exceptions except those situations which may be in conflict with the constitution.” Lakeway Publishers, Inc. v. Civil Service Board, 1994 WL 315919 (Tenn. Ct. App.). Ironically, the General Assembly itself is not subject to this law. See Mayhew v. Wilder, 46 S.W.3d 760 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001).
You went on to say:
And by the way, police do NOT have to get an arrest warrant signed by a judge to arrest you for a crime that they WITNESS you committing! How do you not KNOW that? Do you think that if you were robbing a bank and the police saw you do that they would have to go find a judge to sign a piece of paper and in the mean time let you do whatever you want? Of course not! You WILL lose your lawsuit, and you looked like an absolutely crazy fool.
Police officers have 11 criteria and conditions under which they may affect an arrest without a warrant, per TCA 40-7-103. A “Public Offense” must therefore violate law. Moreover, “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot thus be converted into a crime.” Evelyn Miller, Appellant, v. United States of America, Appellee, 230 F.2d 486 (5th Cir. 1956) As such, the arrest of Mr. Tulis exercising his 1st Amendment Right as a member of the Press as well as those secured by the 9th Amendment was a violation of his civil rights, done under color of authority, color of employment, and color of law.
Lastly, we finally uncovered the “smoking gun” that evidences the fact that judges ARE in fact crafting legislation and making public policy recommendations to the General Assembly. This, I have included as an attachment, but which you can download for yourself from the official Tennessee Supreme Court website for yourself at the following link.
You may also want to take a peek at the McCaleb v. Long controversy still percolating in the Federal Courts over this very same subject. In this instance, McCaleb took our place as plaintiff in the case because the attorney involved thought Mr. Tulis was too controversial a figure to take up our cause. In fact, it was me who suggested that the Liberty Justice Center find another substitute plaintiff to lead the charge if he found me and Mr. Tulis too unsavory to be unpalatable to his firm…which he did! Sadly, the attorney lacked the testicular fortitude and backbone to take on the Tennessee Supreme Court itself, opting to target the Advisory Commission instead. Remember: Attorneys must all bow the knee and kiss the ring of fealty in exchange for their law license. Mr. Tulis and I do not have such infirmities as members of the Press, consequently, we’re having to go the course alone.
Again, I wish to thank you for your feedback and I sincerely hope that you will review the information I’ve provided and afford it the level of consideration and contemplation it deserves. Every state in the Union has enacted “Sunshine Laws” for a reason. If we are to remain a free People with a Republican Form of Government as envisioned by the “Guarantee Clause” of US Const. art. 4 § 4, we simply cannot allow judges to meet in secret conclave behind the locked doors of a private venue, under armed guard no less, conspiring together to craft public policy recommendations at public expense outside of the watchful eye of the Press and Public.
If you truly do support 1st amendment auditors with your wallet, please consider becoming an ongoing financial supporter of Mr. Tulis and this station as we continue fighting for liberty, justice, government transparency, and the accountability of our public servants. We would appreciate your support and patronage!
Mid-State Bureau Chief