A Republican governor and his attorneys have marshaled technical arguments against an appeal by a defendant whom a jury criminally convicted for exercising his “God-given, constitutionally guaranteed rights” to travel by car and to self-defense.
Arthur J. Hirsch, 65, known as “the Fiddle Man of Lawrenceburg,” will make oral arguments Tuesday in Nashville seeking to overturn Tennessee’s commercial government’s abusive extension of a 1937 driver license act to all users of Tennessee roads, even against those not involved in commerce as common carriers.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM
The hearing in the “case of first impression” will be at 9 a.m. in the chambers of the criminal court of appeals. Mr. Hirsch, a devout Christian bachelor, argues that circuit court Judge Stella Hargraves made innumerable plain errors in denying a hearing on his challenge to jurisdiction, and that the state didn’t prove he was using his red-cabbed truck for the commercial purpose of hauling people or goods for hire under the pre-World War II act originally titled the uniform motor vehicle operators and chauffeurs’ license act.
State ignores travel, gun-right claims
The arguments raised in a reply brief are that Mr. Hirsch did not follow court rules, namely that his appeal is meritless because he did not file a motion for a new trial after he was convicted in December 2015 on three counts of traveling privately as a matter of right and one count of having a pistol in his truck cab without a carry permit.
The state ignores a large body of substantive issues that Mr. Hirsch raises in his defense, not only on the right of travel but the right to bear arms. Mr. Hirsch challenges the “intent to go armed statute” as unconstitutionally vague and says it is based on efforts of the white legal and political establishment to suppress blacks after the Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.
Mr. Hirsch believes that God has given him and all other people in Tennessee the right of property in is free movement and that it has become his duty to assert it as against 80 years of abusive treatment by police and sheriff’s departments and the Tennessee highway patrol.
If he is not engaging in commerce as a common carrier, Mr. Hirsch says, he and everybody else — including tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking immigrants in Tennessee — are free to travel on the public right of way without entering into the special state privilege of operating a motor vehicle or transporting people or goods by registered and insured car or truck.
The idea of the driver’s license act is to regulate the for-profit use of the people’s roads, he says, and that as he is not nor has ever been a common carrier for hire. The commercial statutes requiring licenses for drivers, state registration of VINs and mandatory insurance on all motor vehicles do not apply to his free exercise of his rights of travel and movement by car, truck or motorcycle
The state attorney in his brief ignores all the substantive issues that if properly raised and properly considered would overturn an important aspect of commercial government in Tennessee. Commercial government operates on the premise of total state jurisdiction through commerce. In other words, the state can own a particular activity by deeming it subject to regulation in commerce.
Driving vs. travel
In practice, though not in law, state government pretends that all use of the public right-of-way is commercial and that no one may be there without a driver license, state registration of car or truck as a vehicle in commerce, and compulsory insurance to protect the public interest. So enculturated is this argument in the public mind in Tennessee by police stops and marketing in the public schools that even the judges hearing the appeal, no doubt, have a relationship with the department of safety to obtain and keep up driver licenses, as if they were haulers or cabbies.
The state says “defendant has waived all of his arguments because he failed to file a motion for a new trial raising the issues he wanted preserved for appeal.
But the rules for appellate review allow appellate judges be generous: “For good cause shown, this court may suspend the requirements of these rules” (Rule 2).
The state also says Mr. Hirsch “simply was not prejudiced by the trial court’s decision not to provide him a separate hearing [on jurisdiction] prior to trial.” As for Mr. Hirsch’s demand to know the nature and causes of the criminal claims against him, the state says Mr. Hirsch’s argument “is not at all clear, nor is it clear precisely what happened in the trial court.” He is thus not deserving of “plain error relief.”
The main argument in defense of Mr. Hirsch is that the statute is erroneously imposed on him. To Mr. Hirsch’s claim that he is not subject to the commercial driver license rules as a private traveler, the state says he is arguing that a Lawrence County circuit court doesn’t have jurisdiction over a criminal matter in Lawrence County — a rebuttal that doesn’t reach the Hirsch argument about the scope of the statute and whether that statute authorizes any criminal action whatsoever before circuit court judge Stella Hargrove.
If someone is accused under a statute whose scope does not reach the activity of the accused, the judge cannot be shown to have jurisdiction, even though the disagreement occurs in her county.
Clearly, statutes have an operating scope and limit. Mr. Hirsch says the driver license act applies only to for-profit businesses that are common carriers for hire. These might include long-haul trucking outfits, cab companies, courier services and dump truck contractors.
Biggest liberty case in 80 years
Mr. Hirsch is a practicing Christian with a heart for the poor and weak, known for his mercies to shut-in elderly and inmates in the county jail in Lawrenceburg. He says he represents tens of thousands of Tennesseans too poor to buy the privileges connected with operating a vehicle in commerce, and who are thus in the state’s theory banned from getting about in cars and trucks and prohibited from earning a living. The state’s routine abrogration of the right to travel contributes to the dire state of many poor people, who often are ensnared into the legal system through traffic enforcement.
The rights of all private users still exists, though enforcement of the Tennessee motor vehicle code pretends for decades of harassment of the public that they do not.
“The TMVC is voluntary by application and commercial in nature and deals exclusively with state taxable privileges granted by application for a fee to those who are engaged in commerce, i.e., transporting people or goods by motor vehicle for hire on the public highways. It has nothing to do with individuals exercising and enjoying their non-statutory, inherent, unalienable rights (outside of commerce) which are secured by state and federal constitutions. (In fact, unalienable constitutionally secured rights of the people of Tennessee are not mentioned in the TMVC.)
“It should be noted that the TMVC of 1937 did not abolish the inherent, unalienable rights of Tennesseans in their private, constitutional status which they had before the TMVC enactment into statutory/administrative law. Rather, the legislature instituted the TMVC to control those engaged in taxable privileged commercial activities (which the legislature has authority to do), i.e., those transporting goods and people for hire on the public highways, through licensure, rules and regulations enforced by police.”
The licensing regime is discriminatory and harsh, especially among poor Tennesseans, Mr. Hirsch says.
“State granted privileges are fee-based favors from the government that regulate taxable, commercial activities and are by nature and definition discriminatory and show respect of persons, i.e., they —