CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2019 — Today in sessions court in Chattanooga Judge Clarence Shattuck sends the case against Diana Watt to the grand jury. At least one of the a charges against her is being dropped, that of retaliation against officer or official for past action.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Mrs. Watt, who had rejected the idea of having a public defender, accepted an attorney from that office speaking for her at a hearing in which she faced for the 7th time charges stemming from a commercial transportation law arrest off Wilcox Boulevard in July of 2018.
At the hearing in the notorious viral traffic stop, officer Brian McClard was present after having skipped out six times apparently without an excuse and without there having been notice given to the other party, pursuant to court rules.
Mrs. Watt has done the best she’s been able to do if one believes her to be properly in the jurisdiction of Judge Shattuck and sessions court. Her case has gone to the grand jury, the traditional defense of the people as against the state and her accusers, all of whom are state actors..
Still, legally, the entire affair of this prosecution is a void action because the judge has no jurisdiction, having lost it primarily in a showing of partiality in favor the police.
Denial of due process
Without due process for Mrs. Watt, any action other than outright dismissal appears to be a void act and done as a violation of oath. All that follows is a hoax and a sham. The office of district attorney Neal Pinkson knows full well that whatever pitch its staff or officer McClard makes by way of sworn statements to the grand jury is a sham and void. Not only on the loss of jurisdiction by plain partiality, but by the defect in the initial claim of jurisdiction through Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55, abusively used by officer McClard to run Mrs. Watt’s plates.
But the claim of partiality is first in significance, with the abuse of Title 55 secondary. Mrs. Watt makes these claims in a motion to dismiss, saying she “has been prepared to move forward since the first court appearance demanded by the prosecution” but that “Prosecution was not prepared to move forward as prosecution’s witnesses failed to appear.”
She says she is entitled to a speedy trial which has “been denied as evidenced by the fact that after six court appearances, prosecution was still not prepared to move forward.” She says she didn’t get discovery and that “partiality is forbidden by Rule 2.2 in state code of judicial conduct.”
Egregous violation in a casual court
Anything other than immediate dismissal of all charges seems like egregious partiality, violative of the canons of judicial ethics. The 14th amendment to the federal constitution giving equal rights to slaves after the war to prevent southern independence today gives Mrs. Watt the right to equal treatment under the law. The refusal of Hamilton County sessions court to dismiss the charges, thus, violates federal law and deprives her of a federal immunity.
These claims stand even if the matter in dispute is in a casual, inferior so-called corporation court such as Hamilton County sessions. These courts operate mostly by habit and custom, as if in legal theater, with very little law in them and constitutional rights of the people downplayed as troubling and inconvenient.
The partiality and repeated absence of the officer from the court — six times — is without cause. He could have told the court, and also Mrs. Watt, that he couldn’t make it on account of a flat tire, or his mother going to the hospital, or his wife giving birth. But she was summoned to the court six times under the presumption that she wasn’t ready to proceed. She apparently was not asked if she was ready to proceed, and did not insist on it.
Judge Shattuck had no authority to bind case over, because of lack of due process. Many court rulings over decades have made this assertion beyond question. Judge Shattuck’s rules of court says criminal cases must be disposed of within 120 days “unless good cause is shown” (Local sessions rules, Page 9).
“A void judgment is one in which the judgment is facially invalid because the court lacked jurisdiction or authority to render the judgment.” State v. Richie, 20 S.W.3d 624 (Tenn. 2000)
“Void judgment is one rendered by court which lacked personal or subject matter jurisdiction or acted in manner inconsistent with due process.” U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14, Matter of Marriage of Hampshire, 896 P.2d 58 (Kan.1997)
“Void judgment may be defined as one in which rendering court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, lacked personal jurisdiction or acted in manner inconsistent with due process of law.” Eckel v. MacNeal, 628 N.E. 2d 741 (Ill. App. Dist. 1993)
By Judge Shattuck’s controlling authorities, the Watt charges should have been thrown out.
Discussions on my show on 92.7 NoogaRadio over the past few days have focused on whether it would be to her advantage to seek dismissal in judge Shattuck’s court or to have the case sent the grand jury.
Mrs Watt had filed a motion for dismissal, but that gave the court jurisdiction which observers said was a bad idea in a transportation stop going bad . Apparently, at the hearing, some of the issues were discussed
Judge Shattuck asked to see the video of the arrest, a 3 minute presentation that went viral on Facebook with more than 300,000 views. But Mrs. Watt’s public defender discouraged that, telling her that Jayla Johnsonn’s noisome work covering her mother’s arrest would give cause for Jayla to be possibly accused for harassment or obstruction.
The officer said his body cam was not working, Mrs. Watt says. “The body cam was knocked off. He didn’t get that footage. He didn’t get it. *** He said I fell to the ground, I sas not drug. He said I fell to the ground and he was the only one that helped me up. There was him and another cop who assisted me off the ground. *** He said I kicked him when I fell against the car.”
She says Judge Shattuck “was very nice and very understanding.”
Though Mrs. Watt says not running the video in sessions court was a mistake, she is happy about the results of the day. “The cop told only lies,” Mrs. Watt says. “He told a lot of lies, a lot lies. The officer didn’t want to show his video, and we didn’t want to show ours. The judge wanted to see the video. *** ‘We could just save a lot of time if we could play the video.’” Mrs. Watt says Judge Shattuck had already seen it, and wanted the public defender to present it.
The debate among observers of this case the has centered on the grand jury and Mrs. Watt’s likely protection under it. Though the case has a charges, including disorderly conduct, assault, and transportation Title 55 accusations, it is possible that it is too small an affair to be noticed. It is also possible that the police department, key member in the “fellowship of the finger” of the judicial-industrial complex, will decline to pursue the matter, or that Mr. Pinkston will take any interest in the viral case.
It is my understanding that traffic cases may easily perish when “sent upstairs” from sessions court because they don’t — or won’t — come to its members’ attention. If every person with a traffic case demanded his right to indictment in traffic charges, the number of traffic arrests and citations filed by cops and deputies would be slashed.
Mrs. Watt says a grand jury may take two months to issue a bill in her case (true bill, or a no true bill). “They got way more important things to weigh than a traffic stop,” she says.
That Mrs. Watt’s arrest is captured in a video has been an important protection for her. She said she met with a high police official regarding her case, and has been the focus of many conversations. My suggestion is to always answer no questions and make an audio and video record of any police encounter, so we might study local procedures.