Property rights defender Carol Gaddy remains in jail in Sequatchie County, Tenn., as her son seeks to obtain her liberty on grounds that the assertion of a right cannot be converted into a crime.
On Thursday Kelly Gaddy filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Sequatchie County circuit court, alleging irregularities and demanding a review on an order of contempt that is keeping her behind bars on a white bread and fluoridated water diet.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM
He appeals to circuit court, even though the judge in the case, Thomas “Rusty” Graham, sits for that court. But Judge Graham is overseeing the Gaddy case “by interchange” in chancery court, as that court’s judge, Jeff Stewart, has recused himself.
Judge Graham has been a judge for 27 years, with an office in Jasper. He ran a law practice 14 years, worked as Marion County attorney 13 years until 1990, and as city attorney for South Pittsburg five years during that same period.
The conflict between Dunlap and the Gaddys started two years ago by the prompting of the mayor, Dwain Land. Mr. Land declined an emailed interview request for this story. City attorney Steve Greer also refuses to acknowledge an emailed request for an interview about the Gaddy case.
Griffin follows case with dismay
Among those following the Gaddy case closely is June Griffin, a minister in the Wesleyan church and a longtime proponent of constitutional government under the God of the Bible. Mrs. Griffin, a resident of Dayton, Tenn., who with her husband, an ailing man under veterans administration care, runs a furniture store.
“When she was incarcerated in Silverdale, there were 60 people in an area sleeping together,” Mrs. Griffin says. “Everyone stays up all night and the last two pages of her Bible were torn out so they could be used to roll cigarettes for pot smoking. She is now in solitary confinement in Sequatchie. Since prior to her arrest, inmates were guilty of real crimes — murder, theft, alcohol, rape — the ordinary crimes which have been cause for arrest since the beginning of our country.
Mrs. Griffin calls Mrs. Gaddy “a political prisoner *** since her crime is against local politics. She wants people to consider their own vulnerabilities if other ordinary citizens can be jailed for invoking, asserting and defending their rights. “Citizen,” Mrs. Griffin declares, “do not think you shall escape by turning your head. If the baser elements can make havoc of our statues and heritage, what will they do to your property when it becomes cannon fodder when their reckless judiciary comes to power?”
Selfless man fights for parents
Mrs. Griffin has high praise for Thomas and Carol Gaddy’s son, Kelly. “His entire time is spent seeking justice for his parents, filing lengthy paperwork, travelling long distances night and day, giving out of his own pocket (he is a carpenter), broadcasting over the radio and Facebook posts, days spent before hard-hearted and careless judges in kangaroo courts who seek to please small-town politicians.”
She says Mr. Gaddy deserves “his parents’ greatest praise and commendation. If you were in jail for refusing to give up your property rights, what would your son do? Kelly keeps on hoping and praying for a judge who has an American heart and fear of God.”
Egregious violations of due process
The case is marked by egregious anomalies, perhaps the biggest being the lack of probable cause to authorize the city and its agents to conduct a search of the property. The Authority for a search of any private property does not arise from civil authority but from a criminal warrant. Cities do not have criminal statutory punitive authority, but merely civil authority, as indicated in two major Tennessee rulings on municipal authority, Chattanooga v. Myers (1990) and Chattanooga v. Davis (2001), whose claims appear to be widely ignored.
The case against Mrs. Gaddy has proceeded on the grounds of municipal rules trumping God-given and constitutionally guaranteed rights. For all the seeming authority exercised by Judge Graham in defense of the dignity and honor of his court in a contempt ruling, the case has wobbly Foundations at best.
Mr. Gaddy in an interview points out that his mother’s due process rights were violated at the very beginning by the city’s lack of the exhaustion of administrative remedies and a piling up of “erroneous, illegal orders.”.
“They had no right to go straight to a lawsuit. They are violating the charter, the city charter, because they went straight to a lawsuit and did not go through the ordinance 88 process, which is they have to the building inspector notifies us first that there’s a problem. So he contacts the city commissioners. The city commissioners notify us in front of a hearing.
“So we’re supposed to be presented with this notice in the mail, come to this hearing so that we can evaluate the situation and get an opportunity to resolve it. The charter states, ‘repair,’ the very first thing it says on there. ‘Repair, or vacate or then demolish.’ That process never happened.”
The city charter requires all disputes to be filed in city court. Chancery court does not have subject matter jurisdiction, Mr. Gaddy says.
The city exercises a quasi civil-criminal jurisdiction, with a F$50 fine limit and a 90-day jail term limit. It has power “[t]o enforce any ordinance, rule, or regulations, by means of fines, forfeiture, penalty and imprisonment or by action or proceedings in any court of competent jurisdiction or by any one or more of such means, and to impose costs as a part thereof, but no fine, forfeiture or penalty shall exceed fifty dollars and no imprisonment shall exceed ninety days.” City Charter, Article 3, section 29.
The charter creates city court to “try all offenses for violation of the City ordinances and bylaws” (Article 16, section 1).
David Tulis on the program of City of Dunlap to overwhelm and override the constitutional property rights of Thomas and Carol Gaddy. (Courtesy Noogaradio)