Carol Gaddy emerged late Saturday morning from Sequatchie County after a two-day stay on a contempt charge at a court hearing.
Mrs. Gaddy arrived to a huddle of supporters and complained about an abusive treatment in the facility, suggesting her expressed fears of having a heart condition were ignored.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM
Also ignored, she said, was her request for edible food and potable water.
Mrs. Gaddy is embroiled in a fight with city government over its demand for inspection of her 1 acre property outside the city. A merciful God gave her grace to survive her stay, she says.
He condemned her to two days in jail when she vowed to see him in federal prison. Mrs. Gaddy shares in the defiant attitude that pushed Donald Trump into the White House, with 78.2 percent of Sequatchie County favoring him and 2.2 percent favoring libertarian Gary Johnson. Mrs. Clinton scratched 18.5 percent of the vote.
Mrs. Gaddy, 69, has a real estate and business background, and with the help of her son, Kelly, a carpenter, and husband, Thomas, she has held her ground for two years against demands for an inspection, the purpose of which is unknown.
Requests for comment were left this morning with circuit clerk Karen Millsaps for Judge Thomas W. Graham and at the Dunlap law office phone extension of Stephen Greer, city attorney.
Her time of confinement
She tells of laying on her cot in a jail cell, staring up at neon lights. “When you lie down, those fluorescents are right there, and there’s no way to shade your eyes from it. Then I laid down, and I just had this peace and tiredness, and went to sleep. I had been praying all day long, saying, ‘Lord, let me sleep, so the time passes faster.’ [choking].”
A jail deputy attendant warned her that if she went to the medical center, “the clock stops” on her two-day sentence.
She tells her hips feeling out of joint on her second night, with “pulsating pain” going to her chest and neck, and thought she was having a heart attack. Mrs. Gaddy says she heard her heart thumping in her ears and “feeling choked.” The steel bed and lack of padding may have contributed to her discomfort. She says she thought about POWs in North Vietnam, whose interests she has promoted for years at patriotic civic events.
She admits sounding angry at a deputy in grinding against “these harsh conditions. *** I am not a criminal. I am a victim being victimized twice over here. I do not deserve this, and I do not deserve to be in here.”
Courtroom flash point
I ask Mrs. Gaddy if perhaps the judge could have asked his bailiff to take Mrs. Gaddy out in the hallway and ask her to cool down rather than testily sending her to a concrete jail cell. Probably, she says.
But she describes a scene in which she provoked the judge — whose thunderclap came so quickly that Mrs. Gaddy did not have occasion to demand a jury trial on the charge had she known that was her constitutional right.
Irregularities of court
Mrs. Gaddy said, amid nods of her friends, that Judge Graham “absolutely, absolutely — all the time” violates the rules of judicial ethics by taking part in ex parte communications in which a judge shares writing or conversation with one party without the other party being present or knowing about the communications.
She brings up a letter written to her by city attorney Greer that would appear to be prima facie evidence of ex parte communications.
In court she flashed before the judge a letter in which she accuses him of favoritism and ex parte communications.
She yanked out the letter, and said, “This is a letter to you, your honor, in which Stephen Greer is telling you exactly what to do in court today. And he said, ‘Quit flagging that around.’”
“Are you calling me a liar? You do not know the law; it may do you some good to get an attorney,” Judge Graham is quoted as having said, his temper rising.
“No, your honor, no,” the witnesses recall Mrs. Gaddy’s saying.
The defendant describes a sequence of poor treatment. Mrs. Gaddy says the chancery court has stonewalled her, not answered her calls, delayed putting her on the docket. She says Judge Graham “has stonewalled the case, or dead-ended it for some reason.”
She describes court proceeding, with lawyers coming before the court. But when her turn come, “He’s not even going to allow us to present, and he isn’t even going to allow us to speak,” she says. The group was still in audience pew, and Judge Graham is talking to them across the fence. “He started talking to us while we are still in the pew. When our case is called, we have the right to walk up where the other lawyers did to the microphone to speak, but he didn’t want us up there.”
Mr. Greer had staff there, but was not present, said witnesses June Griffin and Ruth Ann Wilson of Dayton, Tenn. The judge’s plan was “to shut us up and shut us down from being able to say anything,” Mrs. Gaddy declares.
‘I will see you, mister, do 10 years’
Asked about the courtroom explosion, she said it occurred when she accused the judge of agreeing with city attorney Greer to reschedule her hearing on a motion for summary judgement for Dec. 10, and that she was not available then. Delay runs up fines against the Gaddys.
“I don’t like your attitude,” witnesses recall the judge saying. “And I am going to hold you in contempt of court, and charge you a hundred dollars,” she says. “He was already agitated. He was already angry.” She said he got angry when they approached the bench.
“Then I got my paper, pulled the file” accusing him of cooperating ex parte with the city attorney.
“Are you calling me a liar?” he demanded, according to Mrs. Gaddy. “It really flash pointed then. That’s when he started hammering — F$100 fine! Day in jail! He had motioned his officer to come over and get me. Then we’re walking to go toward the jail, and I was still speaking. I know what I said to get the last day in jail for speaking it. He was wild and emotional. I extended my arm and pointed straight to his face, and he looked straight to me, and I said, ‘I will see you, mister, do 10 years in federal prison.’ And he went, puh-wow, ‘Another day of contempt.’ By then I was at the door going into the jail.”