In the past several months I have encountered three people whom I have offered to encourage in their defense of criminal traffic charges under the state’s transportation law at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55.
The Hispanic construction worker with two children, caught in route to the downtown job site without a driver license. The young black Volkswagen worker who has never had a driver license but is charged with “driving on revoked.” The woman who is charged with driving on revoked even though she says she has never had a license.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
These individuals decided to face city traffic court on their own without any legal knowledge or means of counterattack.
The best use of my time is always to deal with people who want encouraging words and who are glad to have me on their side. One such individual is Hanson Melvin of Hixson, who stood his ground as a walking while black victim. The cop David Campbell perjured himself twice to get an indictment against this Christian father of three, who in the end got Mr. Campbell fired and a settlement from the city.
The others simply appeared not to care about their distressing situation under criminal charge.
The VW worker, Ommerieal Woods, was charged with driving on revoked. This status is the result of an illegal state practice within the department of safety and homeland security to assign driver licenses to people apart from their application and then to revoke the license so that there might be some way of making a criminal charge against the individual. The practice appears to be something in the nature of an “administrative necessity,” because the department has no legal means to bring free travelers under its jurisdiction.
That fraudulent practice is under judicial scrutiny in testimony by then-commissioner David Purkey and the Trauger memorandum. Federal judge Aleta Trauger cites his testimony in her memo excoriating the state for its practices against people too poor to pay court fees and fines and fees in which they are effectively given a civil death sentence by the state — banned from use of the roads under the presumption that all travel is transportation, the latter of which alone the state has authority to regulate.
Misapplied statute snares immigrants
Rudi Soto-Rodriguez was charged under 55-50-351, a statute that cannot possibly be applied to people who do not have a driver’s license, but only to people who have one. The wooden language of the statute should be indications clear enough as to whom it is aimed.
55-50-351. License to be carried and exhibited on demand — Arrest and penalty for violations.
(a) Every licensee shall have the licensee’s license in immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display it upon demand of any officer or agent of the department or any police officer of the state, county or municipality, except that where the licensee has previously deposited the license with the officer or court demanding bail, and has received a receipt from the officer or the court *** .
(b) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor. [italics supplied]
But Mr. Soto declined to offer resistance, partly because the penalty can be no more than F$50 in traffic court with fees being less than F$200. The use of this statute against immigrants and others shows the state has no authority to regulate private travel, and its laws are voluntarily obeyed as to private noncommercial users, and that the law is not the problem at all — but policing is the problem.
Thirdly, Christina Wright gave unclear statements about whether or not she ever had a driver license. The mother of two is a shift manager at the Brainerd McDonald’s restaurant. She says she has been unable to pass the department of safety test to get a driver license because the questions keep changing and they are confusing. But she uses a car to get around, out of necessity.
I won’t bemoan the situation facing these people, for clearly there indifference is rational from their perspective. However, my intent is always to do good to people who are in a lesser station than me, and who don’t know the system that in a Christian mercy interest I have studied.
These people are not acting rationally from my perspective. But I don’t condemn them.
Because the system has a certain mildness about it, they figure it is easier not to worry about details or to try resistance and standing their ground. It is easier to play along, and the problem will go away soon enough of itself if they don’t stand on their rights, but see how things turn out under Judge Russell Bean or Sherry Paty in Chattanooga or Cris Helton in East Ridge city court, Johnny Houston in Red Bank or Marty Lasley in Soddy-Daisy.
Trying to help people
My own goal is to glorify God in the details of my work as a reporter and advocate. I always want to put first my radio listener, most likely a common person.
We clearly are not a free people who care about liberty and ending state abuse. The state is the biggest abuser in society. Private criminal acts are scattered and sporadic. Public criminal acts, doings not authorized by law, are systemic and pervasive.
The state with its police and officials regularly violates the law and regularly violate people’s God-given, constitutionally guaranteed, unalienable and inherent rights and immunities.
That the people don’t resist suggests that they implicitly worship the state and rely on it and don’t view it as the enemy. It is a troubling ally or friend, a provider who has sharp edges, perhaps, a temper, who is perhaps inconsistent in his oversight, care and management. The lack of a fight tells of their pragmatism, their care for convenience over principle, their unwillingness to stand apart and become someone whom everyone notices.