Biggest enabler of police state: Sessions, city courts

Gerald Webb, center, a Chattanooga attorney, greets well-wishers moments after having been named sessions court judge for Hamilton County in a quick, near-unanimous vote by county commission. At right is county commissioner Greg Martin. (Photo David Tulis)

I like to propose solutions to problems rather than just complaining. Here is a problem for Christian people to think about — with the solution being societal and personal, rather than being rooted in repair of a system or government entity.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

The problem is the very idea and practice of sessions courts in Tennessee, a continuing sore on justice.

Sessions courts are corporation courts run by counties that are not constitutional courts or state courts. They are county courts of convenience of high service more to the state than to the people.

They are presided over by judges such as Alex McVeagh, one of five sessions judges in Hamilton County. The judge is able to try cases himself, without a jury. He is finder of fact and determiner of law against — or on behalf of any — who agree to enter his jurisdiction, either for trial or preliminary hearing.

Named today to sessions court: Gerald Webb, an attorney voted to replace retiring judge Clarence Shattuck, who is 83 and highly regarded. In a brief statement to the commission, Mr. Webb says he will follow Judge Shattuck’s example of trying to help people and “temper[ing] justice with mercy.”

On-spot judicial action

The volume of cases is great in these courts because of their summary protocol, their ways of dispatching hundreds of cases in a kangaroo-type setting. Fifty thousand a year, Judge McVeagh says, which includes civil cases.

The word kangaroo is a reference to Soviet-era courts which were show trials where the result was determined based on the accusation of a political sin by the government. It is an unofficial court set up by a group of people, especially in a prison,trade union, according to Cambridge dictionary, or other organization, to deal with a disagreement or with a member of the group who is considered to have broken the rules.

Sessions courts uphold the practice of the judiciary in the bar ignoring the mens rea statue to Title 39-11-301 which requires every criminal charge to allege and to prove guilty intention or guilty mind. If running a stoplight is a crime, then allege criminal intent on the part of the defendant who ran the stoplight. The defense is necessity, accident, mishap, mistake or oversight. A proper enforcement of the guilty mind law would make most minor “crimes” unprosecuteable.

Respect for this law would dry up much of sessions court docket.

Sessions courts allow for the police state the function smoothly and efficiently because they equate constitutional rules as mere niceties. If sessions courts did not exist, the accuser — the police and the district attorney — would have to argue every case pursuant to the barrier raised by the constitutional rights of the defendant. But in sessions courts these rights are not in view and the defendant effectively waives them to have his matter adjudicated in short order. The accused has an advantage, too, in the possibility of a summary trial and an easy exit with maybe a small fine of F$25 and court costs of around F$100.

Constitutional government blessedly inefficient

Under constitutional government, there is no cause of action apart from an eyewitness affidavit of a crime and/or indictment by the people via the grand jury.

Defendants in sessions courts are not indicted. They consent to being there. They accept the proposal that they yield their rights, and not assert their right to an indictment by having the claims made against them sent to the grand jury for review. A grand jury issues a true bill or a no true bill after its filtering each case.

Smoking and chuffing at this juncture in a defendant’s new career is the plea bargain factory, with its toxic mix of acids, poisons and carcinogens.

If the defendant is poor, the plea bargain factory is a state-created system with two sides, one against the individual, the other for him, ostensibly, securing his right to counsel in a criminal matter. He has a right to counsel, but he also has a right to plea bargain with the DA’s office and agree to criminal charges which routinely false, perjured, carelessly filed by the officer.

Sessions is where defendants plea bargain, whether poor or rich.

The plea bargain factory in sessions courts blights the legal standings among tens of thousands of people in Hamilton County and across the state.

Most criminal matters, more than 90 percent are plea bargained as a grace to the defendant. However, the problem here is that many people, unable to withstand the harassment of pleadings, hearings and the like, plead guilty to charges falsely applied. Without the toughness of actual trial for nearly all cases filed by cops, sloppy work rules, as does “testilying” on charging instruments, plus vagueness, imprecision and refusal to state all the elements of the charge.

State as a private interest

Sessions courts therefore are a workaround and convenience to the state. They operate almost as a matter of principle against the constitutional rights of a free people pursuant to that phrase in the Tennessee constitution which recognizes Tennessee is as a free people served by a free government.

Free government implies freedom from private constraint and private or personal interest. However, sessions courts create a system in which the state is the private interest, this state merchant, this state business party, the state as predatory capitalist.

Sessions courts allow for the police state. Without their pressure-relieving function, the police state could not operate as against the poor types of working people and African-Americans who are dragged into this jurisdiction.

Many of the victims of sessions courts are victims of Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55 enforcement, which is routinely applied ultra vires, or outside the scope. This point we have developed elsewhere in detail.

Sessions courts allow for state efficiency and have become part of American culture, and the culture of life in Hamilton County, with everyone used to their operation. They serve the interest of expedience among the people, and among state actors (the judges, bailiffs, clerks, jailers, sheriff’s department staff, deputies and the rest).

They allow for low penalties and myriad dismissals, and so are below any threshhold of pain that might prompt a revolt or any sort of serious resistance.

Why sessions court is essential to the status quo

The David Tulis show is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.

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