Judge John Westley McClarty of the Tennessee civil court of appeals has breakfast almost every Friday at the Panera Bread store in Hixson.
Entering with long coat and beret, he usually reads an edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and has bread and coffee.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
He is always by himself, having arrived in a black sedan with judiciary plates
Since I have just finished my administrative notice writing, I think to bring up the subject with him and ask him if I could give him a copy of the 20-page review. I’m at a nearby table, enjoying my usual blueberry bagel, well toasted, with three butters and a small coffee, the perfect order for any listener or reader who wants to join me.
I ask permission to sit, which he grants. I ask my sunny question: Is there is a distinction between transportation and travel? And is it not possible for there to be an increase in reedom and liberty in a recognition of that distinction?
The first point judge McClarty makes is that as an appellate court judge he can say nothing about law or policy. When he speaks, his words are law and so he cannot use words outside of his office.
Judicial words are law
I agree with him, but try to soften the claim, saying that when he applies the law to the facts that makes the law live in a new way with a new clarity, and is effectively the law. I make that comment as a rebuttal, as it implies that court rulings are not law, just opinion, as legislators create law, and God himself, but courts only apply it.
How many people in the state of Tennessee are subject to police violence because are they disregard at this distinction? I ask. I say the supreme court in the Fiddle Man of Lawerenceburg case rejects reform, there is no political impetus for reform in the general assembly to restore the right of travel, I assert.
In the opinion of Justice Roger Taney in the Dred Scott case in 1857, I go on, black people could not be manumitted because that would allow them to travel on the roads freely, and such an idea is untenable in a slave society. Blacks have to have licenses to be on the road, then and now.
Fate of blacks under commercial government
I complain that black people, immigrants, and the poor are ground up in the state’s “judicial-industrial complex” because they are in violation of the transportation statute that does not apply to them.
I ask Judge McClarty if there is not some way that liberty might not be given to descendants of these former slaves so that they are not subject to the state. He refuses to answer, and appears to be uneasy with my sitting across the table from him. He’s been in law too long, on the bench too long, to believe such concepts matter or reach his high calling, perhaps.
I say I have had been taking a long study on this question and that it is important for people such as mayor Andy Berke and chief David Roddy to be made to understand this distinction by way of administrative notice. I ask him if he would be willing to take a document from me. He declines. (I could always mail it.)
Clearly, Judge McClarty can’t be seen taking any document or hearing any appeals or petitions on a legal matter apart from a proper judicial setting and proper procedure.
He says that the governor and other people would need to hear about anything I might have to say on the matter.