Does attorney know legal landscape in city has shifted?

Motor vehicles such as this tipped-over dump truck are subject to state regulation through Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 because they operate for gain on the public right of way and cause public safety risks. But private users are not subject to that statute, according to the transportation administrative notice to Hamilton County, Tenn., and area cities. (Photo Greg Vital)

Attorney Robin Flores is a lawyer who regularly engages in lawsuits against cities and counties for abusive police practices. Mr. Flores, also a member of the NAACP, may be unaware that the legal landscape in Chattanooga has shifted in favor of the citizenry and against high-handed and gangland-style cop departments. How so? The earth moved, I suggest, Feb. 20, 2018, when I put Chattanooga city government on notice about the distinction between travel and transportation in the Tennessee code. That distinction — travel being free, transportation subject to regulation — is ignored by appellate courts, however. And it is brawlingly slighted by practitioners of the arts of law enforcement. I explain how Mr. Flores can exploit this public-private action against the rights of the people by lawyers, judges and cops on one hand and the actual statute at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55 on the other.

Transportation administrative notice prevents cops from using their favorite defense at trial — the good faith defense of “I didn’t know” and “I didn’t intend to” oppress this good citizen. Cops who enforce Title 55 against noncommercial users come under a distinct disadvantage because they are acting despite notice on the actual scope of the law — and in bad faith. Here now, an alert for a busy, aggressive attorney. — DJT

[Dear Sir, etc.] I dropped by your office Friday. I’m glad that you are so busy and I understand why you haven’t called me back. I had a quick chat your legal assistant about the documents I left.

I wish to apprise you about the new cause of action in police abuse cases in Chattanooga created by transportation administrative notice, which I prepared. It is a public document intended for use when police abuse citizens after gaining access to them through the lowered search-seizure standard under Title 55.

The [Frederico] Wolfe traffic stop was a Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55 transportation stop which under law is for commercial enforcement. The city got notice Feb. 20, 2018, about the limits on the scope of the statute. It is less wide than it pretends. The notice makes clear that the origins of the statute, its construction, its scope and many court cases limit its operation to for-hire vehicles. The general assembly did not ever attempt to vote to bring private users of the road under its authority.

However, courts of appeal pretend there is no general right of self-propulsion, self-locomotion or travel by private car or auto as a matter of right. This is oppressive, unconstitutional, a violence against our rights — but cannot be undone by any appeal of any case. (See the Hirsch case.)

Was Mr. Wolfe a  for-hire user of the roads? The video indicates that Officer [Ben] Piazza made no determination that he was a commercial user of the road. He was in fact a private user, whether or not he understands the distinctions given the city by administrative notice.

The best response the city can make to transportation administrative notice is to update questions in its traffic stop protocol. The officer’s first question should be as to whether the person he is arresting is involved in transportation — the for-hire use of road.  

The cop asked no questions of Mr. Wolfe’s status as possible subject to the law. But he drew his gun, used execrable profanities and proceeded to beat him. The goal of the notice is to sharply reduce traffic stops at Chattanooga, forcing the city to direct them only upon shippers and transporters. That could cut by 90 percent enforcement activity against people on the roads, and allow department resources to focus only on those users whose activities are regulable in the public interest..

It is a question in my mind as to whether cops, who are ordinance enforcers only in the city code and charter, have any business in enforcing state regulatory laws. The department’s safety and homeland security tells the federal government every year that only the Tennessee highway patrol has that authority.

Your client is a double victim. He is a victim of assault, the tort variety and the criminal variety. In light of TAN, he is a victim of ultra vires police enforcement.

Materials I gave you are sufficient documentary evidence about the notice having been given, as well as reinforced by notorious publication via the Times Free Press classified advertisement.

I have presented the TAN claims three or four times in person before city council. I had a followup meeting with Phil Noblett about Title 55 and whether the city is abusing its authority.

Sheriff Hammond got notice March 1. I also gave it in in a legally proveable way to Red Bank, East Ridge and the governor (registered mail to [Gov. Bill] Haslam).

Reports indicate notice is already taking effect in officer ranks, with cops exercising discretion and not stopping and arresting clearly non-commercial travelers out of fear of being sued. Under the doctrine of notice, lack of a rebuttal implies acquiescence. Zero rebuttal from anyone. Notice also puts a party “on notice” to change policy or account for facts. Zero change in policy anywhere. My notice deprives cops of their standard defense in oppression cases. I have written about my notice project extensively, to better secure my rights and those of my listeners at the most amazing press platform in Chattanooga, 92.7 NoogaRadio.

I will be reporting on your case and wish you all the best on behalf of Mr. Wolfe. I’m here to make you successful, Robin.

How transportation administrative notice will liberate African-Americans, others starting in Chattanooga

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