A much needed legal reform in Tennessee focuses on a 100-year-old abuse by the judicial machinery of the state against the people on the operation of grand juries and criminal justice.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
The process has been effectively abolished by the U.S. Supreme Court in two decisions. But attorneys and judges ignore the rulings as irrelevant to grand juries, whose job is to bring indictments in criminal cases. The rejection of the high court rulings enshrine a pro-state and pro-government bias in every criminal case, usually impossible to detect.
The grand jury rule in Tennessee is that a child under the age of 10 or a blindfolded member of the judicial commission of a county is responsible for tapping the members of grand jury and petted juries. The selection process is to be entirely random.
The reform is one that Christians should care about, since jury power is based on a beloved Christian doctrine.
That doctrine is the priesthood of all believers which was rediscovered at the time of the Reformation and which implies a favor and high esteem for the common people in society.
‘A child under 10 years of age’
The concept of the priesthood of all believers indicates that a Christian society be highly democratic, that government be representative, that such a society governed by such a concept tends to be free, libertarian, market oriented.
One provision of Tennessee law insists jurors be tapped “by random automated means, without opportunity for the intervention of any human agency to select a particular name and in a manner that causes no prejudice to any person,” from licensed driver lists, tax records or other databases. (TCA 22-2-301).
This language is repeated in another provision that in former times offered a colorful picture of the randomness of the selection process.
Formerly, the law said “the board shall unlock the jury box and break the seal thereof, and after well shaking the same, cause to be drawn therefrom in the presence of the board and the clerk, by a child under 10 years of age or by a person who is securely blindfolded, that number of names who is the presiding judge the court shall be directed to be drawn to constitute the regular panel of grand and petit jurors for each term of court.” (TCA 22-2-304)
Your due process rights protected by people like you
The random nature of jury selection is vital for protecting the rights of due process for people accused of public sins (crimes, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 39, the criminal code) and other provisions of law. These due process rights today are sharply violated by the innovation of judicial nomination of the jury foreman.
I suspect that every criminal case coming from a grand jury can be overturned on grounds that grand jury appointments are discriminatory.
The most recent appointment orders are nearby and indicate that judges Tom Greenoltz, Don Poole and Barry Steelman have named attorney Hugh Moore and renamed longtime jury foreman Jimmy Anderson to their posts. The document is dated January 2019.
The statute requires that the grand jury foreman first be a grand jury member and that he next be selected from the pool. As it is now, the judge names the grand jury foreman. His influence and perspective put a mark on the operation of this people’s court.
Diaper washing and grand jury service
When the Holy Spirit opened men’s hearts at the Reformation, He led them to rediscover the biblical perspective on roles for the mighty and of the commoner. The Reformation elevated the common working man and common professions in a way that was a counterrevolution against the Roman Catholic concept of holy orders and clericalism. This popish view holds that valuable and godly callings in society are within the church. Occupations such as nurse, farmer, bricklayer or draymaster (driver) are lowly and no value to God or society.
Martin Luther is known for his famous argument about how the changing of a diaper or the fixing of a shoe as being as holy before God as the preaching of a sermon.
Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool — though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith — my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling — not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.
The Reformation rediscovered the biblical emphasis on the common person and the elevation of the ordinary into the majestic. All are responsible to God for obeying His command. Every man communes with God directly, and should do so apart from a human priestcraft, with its incantations, holy places, high rites and confessionals.
Elevating the ordinary
➤ God elevates a most ordinary girl, the virgin Mary, to deliver the infant Jesus; she, in her Magnificat, declares the lococentric and representative basis of Tennessee’s jury system. “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.” Luke 1:51-53)
➤ The scriptures make heroes of common people. The Hebrew midwives are named and recorded (Puah and Shiphrah) while the book of Exodus does not name the pharaoh whom is idolized in Egyptian hagiography.
➤ A whore in Jericho is the heroine of the story by hiding the two Israelite spies. Her family is saved and she is among the ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ.
➤ Samuel the prophet chooses the least of the sons of Jesse, overlooking mighty and handsome men who are the David’s seniors.
➤ The Lord Jesus in his parable of the Good Samaritan draws its hero from a despised people.
➤ The apostles such as Peter were the most common people, unlettered men who made shocking claims for their Lord and savior before councils of the mighty.
Power to nullify, judge law itself
The priesthood of all believers is connected with the doctrine of the right of private judgment. In this forgotten doctrine is the promise of God that every man is governed directly by God. God is over the individual and governs him; a man does not need another man over him to control him. In any society in which the right of private judgment and the priesthood of all believers exist, there is a better prospect for political and economic liberty, for genuine innovation and prosperity.
The right of private judgment is that conscience that jurors use to nullify bad law, reject judges’ admonitions and spare criminal defendants from abusive prosecutions from the likes of Hamilton County, Tenn., prosecutor Neal Pinkston. Jurors vote their consciences in two areas: the facts, and the law.
In a free society full of people with horizontal relationships, there is little or no controlling power from above. The United States became a global power with this decentralized and largely free political order and a population of independent small businessmen and entrepreneurs with independent livings.
In Tennessee any thinking or Christian person should lament the seizure of the grand jury by the bar — by attorneys and their cohorts in black robes. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus and his Law-Word, you should begin considering this lamentable state of affairs.
A retired naval lieutenant commander, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, was falsely accused, falsely indicted, falsely tried, falsely convicted and sentenced to 27 months in state prison on charges of perjury and stalking. Why?
He has fought for restoration of the randomly selected grand jury. Mr. Fitzpatrick was abused at the hands of the legal and police establishment in middle Tennessee, in Monroe and McMinn counties. His remarkable tale has been documented by the The Post and Email, published from Connecticut by Sharon Rondeau.
Notes from the scriptures
Our priesthood before God is a function of our sonship with God, through Christ. See Hebrews 8:10, 11 for the nature of God’s direct government of His people as individuals. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and s None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” In other words, a ditch digger and a university professor have the same access to God, and like duties to know Him and serve Him.
Calvin says, “Christ now bears the office of priest, not only that by the eternal law of reconciliation he may render the Father favorable and propitious to us, but also admit us into this most honorable alliance. For we, though in ourselves polluted, in him being priests (Rev. 1:6), offer ourselves in our all to God, and freely enter the heavenly sanctuary, so that the sacrifices of prayer and praise which we present our grateful and a sweet odor before him.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 2 chapter 15, P. 432, Beveridge edition)