Soddy-Daisy honors rule on New Year’s roadblocks

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Jeff Gann, acting chief of the Soddy-Daisy police department, scruples to follow a public notice rule set forth by the Tennessee supreme court. (Photo David Tulis

Jeff Gann, acting chief of the Soddy-Daisy police department, scruples to follow a public notice rule set forth by the Tennessee supreme court over the imposition of roadblocks upon innocent members of the traveling and motoring citizenry. (Photo David Tulis)

Soddy Daisy acting chief of police Jeff Gann is posting in the Chattanooga Times Free Press legal notices section a warning about coming roadblocks as required by the Tennessee high court in two legal opinions.

The Tennessee constitution outlaws searches and seizures. It allows them if their subject consents or if there is a sworn warrant with probable cause or reasonable suspicion. The law is plain about the protections of the people against state actors such as police.

By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM

The supreme court, however, rejects these constitutional protections of the citizenry under the doctrine of compelling state interest. It allows roadblocks without probable cause for any innocent traveler’s being stopped and questioned, creating a workaround of rules that limit the injury to the citizen.

The cases establishing these rules — State v. Downey, 945 S.W.2d 102 and State vs. Hicks — require  public notice so that travelers and motorists can avoid roadblocks.

Soddy-Daisy’s notice meets this minimal requirement by giving sufficient detail as to allow the citizen on the roadway to avoid the roadblock yet still be free to use the roadway. The Tennessee department of safety and homeland security and the city of Red Bank are among the state actors violating the letter and spirit of the “law” of the supreme court.

Good faith from Soddy-Daisy

The wording in the legal notice to Soddy-Daisy is as follows:

On December 30th and 31st 2016 between the hours of 6pm to 8pm and 10pm and 12am the Soddy-Daisy Police Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints in the 8800 – 8900 block of Dayton Pike and the 200 block of Sequoyah Road. There will be extra patrol saturations during the New Year holiday weekend as well. Our mission is to save lives. We want to encourage no driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

That’s four roadblocks — two in one location, and two in a second location.

Pathetic notice, indeed

The tiny notice in the Dec. 27 edition of the Times Free Press scarcely can be expected to convey anything to the public. A real advertisement would hail the threat, gain notice because it consumed more square inches of newsprint. Soddy-Daisy spends F$55 on the notice. A real notice might be a display ad two columns by 4 inches, costing several hundred dollars for a single run. But even that could be criticized as gaining too little attention.

Soddy-Daisy’s notice will be seen by few, if any, people. It’s in the bowels of the newspaper, in tiny type, on a page gray with other such headless and pictureless notices.

The Soddy-Daisy offering is minimal, but a cheap classified notice meets requirements of the rule (I don’t deign to declare the court’s opinion as law).

The detail of location is important because without it the liberty and freedom of movement of the citizen is impaired. If he wants to avoid the roadblock, he is not free to use a given road if the time and location of a roadblock announced for that road is not given. If the location on the road is given, the entire strip of tarmac is free to be used without fear of a hostile encounter with the state.

This chart from the Tennessee department of safety and homeland security identifies roadblocks by location in the Chattanooga area. (Photo department of safety)

This chart from the Tennessee department of safety and homeland security identifies roadblocks by location in the Chattanooga area, but fails to state the times so that citizens can avoid the unconstitutional blockade. (Photo Tennessee department of safety)

In September Red Bank and the department of safety in Nashville either refused to state where roadblocks were being held or gave so little detail as to defeat the supreme court’s directive on public notice.

A screengrab nearby suggests the department of safety has improved its notice by giving location for roadblocks in the Chattanooga, but it refuses to state the times so that the notice is actionable. Not stating the time is like announcing an opera at UTC on Saturday (sometime between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.)

The refusal of the high court to ban the practice effectively puts it into a position of legislating, a task granted by the people to the general assembly. The Downey and Hicks rules are effectively soft law or “public policy” and escape practical supervision and enforcement.

The supreme court’s favor of the state as against the people constitutes an important breakdown of constitutional government and another sign of alienation between Tennessee government and the people subjected to its compulsion.

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