Administrative noticeFree people vs. police state

County lets Venmo scammer jail victim

Tamela Grace Massengale is one of hundreds of people prosecuted in Hamilton County under an illegal arrest warrants custom and usage. (Photo David Tulis)

Magistrate Lorrie Miller appears before Hamilton County commission to ask for more money and another magistrate to staff “uncovered” hours at the jai. (Photo David Tulis)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Tuesday, April 30, 2024 — Policy enforced by Hamilton County magistrate Lorrie Miller lets scammers use police and jail to enforce claims upon their victims.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio Network

The policy came into sharp focus Monday at a hearing in which Tamela Grace Massengale, 60, faces criminal charges of theft in an aborted dog sale using the Venmo app and a refund “hold” feature used in fraud.

The alleged scammer, a female named “Regina Lawton” in Murphreesboro, Tenn., halfway between Chattanooga and Nashville, was buyer in March of an $800 dog, making a $400 deposit. The moment the deposit was complete, Mrs. Lawton demanded a full refund and made arrest threats, and when Mrs. Massengale didn’t immediately pay the full refund (under which she was no obligation), Mrs. Lawton called Chattanooga police department and complained to officer Brandi Siler.

Officer Siler conducted no investigation. She made no call to Mrs. Massengale to get her side of the story. Mrs. Massengale is a divorcee, widow, disabled following injury in a truck wreck, unemployed; she lives on a $804 a month government check.

Instead, the cop went to Blake Murchison, one of four county magistrates, who accepted with limited examination the narrative that became the affidavit of complaint and the arrest warrant. The law requires “examination” to weed out liars, perjurers and frauds.

Police imposed a “traffic stop” on Mrs. Massengale, seized her car, put her in Silverdale jail 14 hours. Mrs. Massengale is too poor to have redeemed the car from H&D Wrecker. In an affidavit, she places her losses at F$3,000.

The show cause hearing Monday was before general sessions judge Larry Ables. Judge Ables assigned her a public defender.

‘Bad faith’ in courts system

Lorrie Miller is chief magistrate and is part of the judicial system of Hamilton County according to Judge Ables. Her arrest policy implicates the entire judiciary in aiding the Venmo racket. The case highlights a repeated problem that burdens the court system. Hearsay-only arrests such as that created by cop Siler puts void cases on the DA’s workload. It burdens the public defender’s office, overworked and underpaid, run by Steve Smith with offices on Cherry Street, a block from the courts building.

The Miller arrest warrant policy violates state law, due process rights and clear constitutional requirements for the use of police power.

The abuse of Miss Grace is a despotism and tyranny, one of several scams in which local government participates. Public concern is for Miss Grace, but also for the taxpayers who face lawsuits for this process which the county has allowed to fester for years. This reporter put Mrs. Miller on notice about her breach of law Dec. 26, 2023, and soon thereafter put Hamilton County commission on notice of official misconduct and official oppression, Tenn. Code Ann. 39-16-402, 403. ‡

Miss Grace’s arrest was in March, so it happened under the county’s leave, indicating bad faith, malicious and evil intent to allow harm to its people. This description is a legal standard of official misconduct and official oppression; oppression is proveable when the official knowingly and intentionally acts beyond the law or fails to act as the law requires. Notice has put that official on awares.

Shameca Burt is a victim of the illegal Lorrie Miller arrest warrant protocol, having been jailed on a hearsay warrant sworn by an officer alleging theft of discarded pallets. (Photo David Tulis)

Redcoat warrants just as bad

Separately, the commission’s 11 have made no step to halt the wrong of Redcoat warrants, or general warrants in violation of Tenn. const. Art. 1, sect. 7, “That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of the fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named *** .”

Sheriff Austin Garrett runs the Redcoat program knowingly and intentionally, in bad faith and in malice. Redcoat warrants reject the public offense standard in the exceptions to the constitutional requirement regarding arrest warrants. 

The public offense standard means that for most misdemeanors, the officer cannot make an arrest until he has a warrant in hand. However, by deleting half of the phrase “public offense” into “offense,” the county lets officers face one test in making a warrantless arrest rather than two. The “in the officer’s presence” is easy. The second test is “public offense.” A public offense is one that has a public face and is one that affects the public and intimidates people, makes them fear for their safety, is in the nature of a disturbance or breach of the peace. If a particular offense is not a public offense, the officer must get a warrant.

Chattanooga truck driver Michael James is falsely arrested and criminally charged with two felonies in a bogus Hamilton County criminal case, dismissed, for which he is suing the city and a cop for damages. (Photo David Tulis)

Police power has created THOUSANDS of false arrests and false imprisonments in Hamilton County, and statewide.


All traffic offenses without an accident are outside of the public offense standard and must be done under warrant. Deputy Brandon Bennet’s “traffic” arrest of this reporter Nov. 22 was breach of my constitutionally guaranteed right for arrest under warrant.

‘Would-be problems’

The cancer of police power abuse has metastasized across the judiciary, and the State v. Tulis and State v. Massengale cases have the same origin.

Mrs. Miller tells me if she does not create arrest warrants her way there “would be problems.” Filtering every crime allegation through a cop or deputy may prevent headaches for the magistrates. Dealing with an ill-spoken semi-literate member of the public schooled public may drag out time devoted to a single case. The law requires crime allegations be put into written form. The magistrate cannot help create the narrative, but accepts or rejects it. 

A debased culture is peopled by those with weak scruples, lack of articulation, little knowledge of law, no sense of how wrongs are delivered for relief in the courts. Having such person in the magistrate’s office might create a backlog, a space problem, a time-management and staff problem. A crime victim who cannot articulate facts might be a real drag against efficiency.

But Tenn. const. Art. 1, sect. 17, says “That all courts shall be open,” which means the public has right of access to the magistrate to swear out commission of a crime.

We have reported abuse of a senior citizen rape victim; of Shameca Burt, the falsely arrested pallet businesswoman; of Michael James in the “911 call from hell” story; and now Mrs. Massengale — all subject to Mrs. Miller’s criminal enterprise dressed up as public justice.

The law allows hearsay in creating an arrest warrant. The hearsay should be as much as possible attached to reliable persons, or actual facts. Allowing only hearsay arrest warrants is a breach of law, the crime of barratry. Creating false and mischeviouis litigation such as State v. Massengale. The law requires fact witnesses to secure the rights of the people, and the person of the arresting officer, who is personally liable for harms done, especially since master and agent are under administrative notice as to the law’s requirements.

§ 39-16-403. Official oppression

(a) A public servant acting under color of office or employment commits an offense who:

(1) Intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, stop, frisk, halt, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment or lien when the public servant knows the conduct is unlawful; or

(2) Intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity, when the public servant knows the conduct is unlawful.

(b) For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of office or employment if the public servant acts, or purports to act, in an official capacity or takes advantage of the actual or purported capacity.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class E felony. [emphasis added]

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