MPD documents from ACLU Lawsuit.

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In the witness room at the ACLU trial, from left: Spencer Kaaz, Earle Fisher, Keedran Franklin, Fergus Nolan, Paul Garner.  Photo and artwork by  Elaine Blanchard.  The book in the bottom left corner is my copy of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, which I bought just for the trial.

The 2018 lawsuit which ACLU fought and won has produced tens of thousands of pages of documents.

“On March 2, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee intervened in Blanchard v. City of Memphis, a lawsuit challenging the City of Memphis’ creation of a list of people, including multiple members of the Black Lives Matter movement and other local political activists and organizers, who require a police escort while visiting City Hall.”

ACLU won the case and a court monitor was tasked with supervising changes at MPD.  Documents from the case can be found on the ACLU website, the Court Monitor website, and on the City sitePACER contains all the publicly available documents from the case.  It requires a free registration and they will bill you after 150 pages in a quarter.   There are more documents here.

All those documents

We viewed the wealth of documents produced by the trial as the added bonus, over and above the effects of the judgement.   The documents offer a new and unique insight into the corrupt nature and practices at MPD.  But who had time to download and read through tens of thousands of pages of dry legalese?

To provide a narrative, and to avoid further torment to people already maligned in the police material, I provide a personalized romp through the papers focused on what they say about me.   The other people mentioned have given permission to use their mugshots.

The Saul Alinsky Thread

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From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 177.   This is from a section titled “Blue Suede Shoes Post-Investigation Follow-up”, about the August 2016 Graceland police riot.   I was not at Graceland for either of the two protests that July and August.

And I never read the Alinsky book.   But facts are not a requirement for a Joint Intelligence Bulletin.

These JIBs were circulated daily to law enforcement and to commercial firms in the Memphis area.   They have resulted in all sorts of problems to the people featured, including difficulty in finding employment.

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From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 186.  This is from a section about the July 2016 Bridge protest.   I wasn’t at this protest either.   I was out on bail, with a long court date, from the Memorial Day Greensward arrest and I was avoiding protests on the advice of my attorney.   I have never met Dana Asbury, and I knew Spencer Kaaz and Maureen Spain casually from that Greensward protest.  We did not embarrass MPD and pit them against the citizens of Memphis.  MPD did that to themselves.

Paul Garner’s Book Review

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This post by Paul Garner of Mid South Peace and Justice Center was featured in an email by Det. Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.   It is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 213.   Garner posted a book review, 58 people “liked” it and Reynolds included the Facebook avatars and names of all 58 in a JIB.  JIBs were widely circulated among law enforcement and a list of Memphis businesses.

This sheds light on the previous two images, both showing quotes from the Alinsky book.   The thing is, I have never read the book.   I ordered the book in August 2018 just before the trial, when I saw the above material.  While in the witness room during the ACLU trial, I made a point of carrying it around.   But I was never able to finish it.  The writing is poor and the insights trivial.

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Saul Alinsky in 1968 (Getty Images)

As this article in Vox, by Dylan Matthews explains, Alinsky was literally demonized by the far-right.  “(Ben) Carson explained (erroneously), Alinsky dedicated his book Rules for Radicals to none other than … Satan himself!”.  The book was dedicates to Alinsky’s mother.  Because Hillary Clinton wrote a thesis about Alinsky, and because  Rudy Giuliani attacked Barack Obama for being “educated in the Saul Alinsky methods.” Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, Andrew Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Monica Crowley and Bill O’Reilly repeatedly ranted about Alinsky.

Bob Smith AKA Tim Reynolds is using coded far right ideology when they invoke Alinsky.   Never mind it was just a few people reading a book review, as protected by the First Amendment.

The truth of the matter is that Saul Alinsky was an old, non violent white man and we old, non violent white men are harmless and impotent.

At the Greensward.

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Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 222 to 251 lists 30 people Bob Smith friended  since July 2015.  Names of mutual friends are redacted.

Bob Smith friended me on Facebook in May 2016, the same month as Spencer Kaaz.   Prior to this, Bob Smith friended Tami Sawyer, Paul Garner, Ian Jeffries, Bradley Watkins and Athena Palmer between July and November 2015.  This time coincided with the killing of Darrius Stewart, the campaign to restart CLERB and Garner’s false arrest for photographing police at Manna House.

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This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 178, in a section titled “Blue Suede Shoes”, a reference to the Graceland protests, which I did not attend.   The only group I was a member of at the time was Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which engages members of Congress on climate change policy.   That and the Greensward constituted my ‘radical agenda’.

The “reliable source” was far-right police infiltrator Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.

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This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 179.   It contains a lie.   I spent the entire morning taking photographs of the protest and the events preceding it.   I have 211 photos to prove this.  I never sat down or blocked Zoo officials, as the arrest ticket confirms.  Photographing police activities is protected by the first amendment and MPD photo policy.  At no point did any Greensward protest prevent a single visitor from accessing the Zoo, and Zoo attendance was up in the 2016 fiscal year ending June 30th 2016.   In fact, the Free Parking Brigade helped visitors find free parking in the area surrounding the Zoo and probably increased attendance.

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This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 180.   I was arrested while  I was “at the rear of the police van, attempting to take pictures”.  Bizarrely it goes on to say that I was arrested because the crowd started shouting after I was arrested.

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The Greensward, parking on the grass.   Photo:  Fergus Nolan

In any event, my case was dismissed and expunged so public officials should not be using these records and mugshots for any reason.

MPD used a conspiracy theory inspired by far-right media to imagine I and other dissidents were in some radical organization inspired by the hated Saul Alinsky, using the Zoo protest as a front.   They don’t seem to get it that saving a prime and priceless park is a legitimate end in itself.

In fact, contemporary police sources reveal, Maureen’s and my arrests were due to a police error.   All our activities on the Greensward were protected by the First Amendment.

Before my arrest, I cared about the environment and a patch of precious City grass.   Since being forcibly introduced to the workings of the criminal justice system, I have spent some time exposing its internal workings.   I have never been radicalized, as I work within the system and under the protection of the first amendment, but I have gone from a few hours per week in the Park to full time exposing corruption.   I did not choose MPD, they picked me.  And dozens of innocent people who care about our city.

My role in the Greensward

I was active in the Greensward movement.   I worked with the media operations, photographed events at the park; helped analyze the Zoo finances and distances traveled by Zoo visitors; and critique the Zoo’s Economic Impact Study.   I organized the Chuck Brady Limerick Competition and various weekend activities to help get crowds to the park in April and May.  I am admin of “The Fringe Element” facebook group.

The Greensward arrests.

Certain police sympathizers in the Park Protectors (Greensward) movement objected to comments I made in the social media.  I wrote about the massive police presence on April 2nd and 3rd when 75 officers, with armored vehicles, helicopters, horses, three paddy wagons and a command center, threatened peaceful park users at a cost of $38K.

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Black-clad paramilitary MPD officers with AR-15 ammo pouches, at Latino Fest on the Greensward, May 7th 2016, photo Fergus Nolan

I also wrote about the Latino festival in early May which was attended by TACT officers and their Lenco armored vehicle.    I also made other first amendment protected comments about MPD and police in general.

My work in the Greensward protests was only about the Greensward protest.

I have never been a police fan, and the police intimidation on the Greensward did not dispose me more kindly.  Growing up in Northside Dublin, we knew that “all pigs are scum” and I repeated this bon mot frequently.  After interacting with MPD I now realize that the Garda Siochana of my youth were not so bad.

In 2016, police sympathizers were highly mobilized in reaction to the 2015 City actions on reducing retiree benefits and after MPA president Mike Williams lost his run for Mayor.   These cop fans infiltrated the Greensward movement.

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Maureen Spain is arrested 5/30/2016 Photo: The Commercial Appeal.

Kathy Hurley, a police fan and Mike Williams’ former campaign manager,  published a post with my photo and shared it with the MPA facebook page, saying that I intended to attack police at the Memorial Day protest, which was a complete lie.   Due to my immigration status I decided not to sit down at the protest and instead spent the morning taking photos.   Some cops apparently noticed me photographing the paddy wagon, recognized me from Hurley’s photo, and jumped me six or seven minutes before the end of a notice period that MPD Major Reynolds had given in an ultimatum.

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Officer Richard Rouse dispensing doughnuts at the “Cop Stop” before the protest.  Photo Fergus Nolan

Police fans had organized a “cop stop” for the protest.   The idea was to bribe the police at the protest with doughnuts so they would not intervene.   This hare-brained idea was countered when the police brass ordered their members not to attend the cop stop.    They made an exception by appointing Richard Rouse as “liaison” to the park protectors.  Rouse dispensed doughnuts, schmoozed with Park Protectors all morning, reported what he found to police brass and later arrested Maureen Spain.  This demonstrates the futility of community members engaging with police, even with doughnuts.

We spoke to people knowledgeable about MPD regulations, who said that, if the police suspected I had a weapon, they should have jumped me, patted me down, and cut me loose.   Instead, they over-reacted, disobeyed Rudolph’s order to wait out the deadline, and retaliated.

In short, I was arrested because police and their supporters objected to my first amendment protected speech.  It is legal to criticize the police.

Bob Smith appears.

bob_smithBob Smith friended me in May 2016.   After the May 30th arrests, the Park Protector groups were in uproar and many of them wanted more direct action.  As admin of “The Fringe Element”, I was worried about some people, including Bob Smith, who were openly advocating more direct action.   Not wanting to have people planning things in an open group, I created a secret Facebook group on June 5th entitled “Kessler Associates” and added Bob Smith and about six other people to the group.

It had been standard practice among Park Protectors in April to internally manage any direct action, because we were fighting a PR battle in the media and it took six or seven weeks to get the media mostly favorable to us.   We had a group of marshals trained by Mid South Peace and Justice Center and took militants off-line into secret groups to let off steam.  This kept the media focused on moms and kids with balloons, and the like.

Kessler Associates discussed some possible actions, and was mainly a way for people to let off steam.   The main actions discussed were a possible “slow drive” to jam up traffic already bottlenecked at the Zoo parking lot entrance.  These plans require secrecy to stay legal.    It is legal to drive up to the Zoo window and count out 500 pennies, but if it is part of a plan to obstruct the entrance to a business, maybe not.   A vehicle might break down in traffic and hold things up quite innocently unless it is planned.  In the event, this group broke up on June 15th without executing any action, because operational security had been breached and we could not maintain plausible deniability.

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Redacted letter from Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.   From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement

Tim Reynolds literally tried to make a Federal case out of an idle comment about hacking the Zoo.  I did not say that I had recruited two hackers, because I hadn’t, and. in fact, there were no Federal or any other indictments arising from this group.   No crimes were committed during the 10 day lifetime of Kessler Associates, and no protests were organized.   No protests were needed because news coverage of the Memorial Day arrests had gone international during this time.  Our media operation was fully engaged.

I was aware of three other secret groups at the Greensward, none of which were infiltrated by Bob Smith.  Two of these group hosted early discussions about the Memorial Day protests, but the actual logistics were organized in physical meetings.  In fact, all three groups were dominated by police sympathizers and I was thrown out of them all more than a week before Memorial Day because I objected to the “Cop Stop” plan on the basis that no good can come from consorting with police.

The A-list discovered

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This letter was written by Officer Polk the day after I was told I needed an escort at City Hall.

Officer Polk, in the above memo, tried hard, after the fact, to create an offense to justify his action in requiring me to have an escort in City Hall.   The conversation I had with George Boyington was about the ineffective security at City Hall and how a determined effort to bring a weapon into the building would defeat the security.   The conversation with Boyington was overheard by Ursula Madden, the Mayor’s propagandist, but constituted free speech as no crime was contemplated and no provision of the First Amendment was violated.

There were no previous actions or threats towards the Mayor, and I was on the list because I had been falsely arrested at the Greensward because the police did not like my previous First Amendment speech directed at police.

As I wrote immediately after this notification, I was told I needed an escort because I was “on a list”.   When I asked why I was on the list, Lieut. Bonner was summoned and explained it was “because of the Mayor’s house”.    When I pointed out that I was not at the December 19th 2016 “Die-In”at the Mayor’s house, Bonner said “Then it was something you wrote on social media”.   As everything I wrote on social media was first amendment protected speech, I was listed and was being sanctioned in retaliation for first amendment speech.

I went home and wrote contemporary notes of the interaction, submitted an open records request for the list, notified the media and the rest is history.  Bruce Kramer called a meeting of blacklistees in his office, the Nashville office of ACLU became engaged and Blanchard et al, thanks to brilliant litigation by ACLU and a blustering defense by the City legal hacks, gave the people of Memphis the greatest legal win against the City since the original 1978 Kendrick consent decree.

In Summary

We saw how MPD, inspired by alt-right ideology, decided that literature fans were enemies of the state, created JIBs which slandered individuals and shared them with potential employers, accepted lies from their sycophantic supporters, breached training and discipline to arrest protesters without cause, lied about alleged crimes and escorted political opponents in City Hall in another breach of the First Amendment.

Mike Rallings sent an email to all his members in February 2017 explaining the first amendment.   He said that criticizing police is protected by the first amendment.   You’d think that the basic constitutional law of the nation would be the first thing they’d teach recruits at the academy.

I was lucky.   I was able to insulate myself against MPD slander by retiring a little early, but in the years following, dozens of City political opponents were followed, surveilled, arrested and slandered in JIBs circulated to potential employers.  Their worst “crimes” were using the First Amendment to assemble, march and speak out against injustice.  Harm was done to many young lives.

— concluded —

Thurston Smith: Liar, Bully and Worse.

Readers of our City Council Election blog may have noticed that, instead of writing about Thurston Smith, I inserted a legal disclaimer.   Now I can reveal the full story.

On the fifth of July I was served with a temporary Order of Protection (PDF) filed by Thurston Smith.   The order is a tissue of lies, but my attorney advised me not to post anything, and I don’t keep a dog and bark myself.   The protection order was lifted (PDF) and expunged (JPG) yesterday (July 29th 2019) and now I am free to post without the threat of jail time.

The provisions of the order were savage, with confiscation of weapons, compulsory anger management courses, payment of court costs and more.

SLAPP Suit

Updated 8/4/2019.  I received an email  from a friendly lawyer.

Wasn’t obtaining the Order of Protection the equivalent of a SLAPP suit?

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Wasn’t it also an abuse of process?

Lies

The first lie on the form is my height.   Smith peggged me at 5′ 7″.   The tallest I’ve ever been is 5′ 5 1/2″ and advancing age has reduced me to under 5′ 3″.

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The big lie here was that the February 24th event was private.   In fact, his announcement of candidacy for District 7 was clearly a public event.

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The Facebook event, which was posted on the public page MRYE: Memphis Raise your Expectations!!!, was marked “Public” and was widely circulated.   I replied “Going” as above, turned up at the door, signed in and was admitted.

Other lies:  “Petitioner stated that Fergus Nolan then located him through social media”. In fact, Thurston located me through social media, sent a friend request and contacted me through Facebook Personal Messengerin December 2018.  I still have records of this conversation.

He later called me, which is how I got his number.   I did not call him until June 28th.

Made Flyers.   Untrue.   I have not made a flyer since 2016.  If I want to make a flyer, I do one page with QR codes to reduce litter and paper wastage, and let people scan the QR with their phones.

I did not say “police hag”.   It would have been “Pighag” which is a movie starring Anna T. Schlegel.

“Began peeping through windows”.  Untrue.   I did not cross the zero lot line which is about 12 feet from the windows.

Pacing back and forth.   Not true.   I am mobility impaired and am economical with my movements.

Left after 20 minutes.   Not true.  I arrived at 4:40 PM, made a phone call at 4:45 and left at 4:47.    Seven minutes, confirmed by the timestamps on the photos I took.

“Petitioner is in fear for his life”.   At the announcement event, there were over 40 of his friends present, and I was unarmed and alone.   At his house, he was safely inside and I was again unarmed and alone.  He is not in fear for his life.   He is in fear of being exposed.   Smith knows that his police buddies like to make this claim to violate people’s fourth amendment rights against search and seizure.

The June 28th Visit to Thurston’s House

On June 27th, I noticed that, although Smith owns a nice house he bought for $200,000 in Arlington, from the address on his Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, he appeared to be living in a dilapidated house bought from a bank in 2009, for less than $25,000, by his campaign Communications Director, Lloyd Brown.   The documents are here (PDF).  This piqued my interest enough for a reconnaissance.

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Peeling paint and rotten woodwork (blight) on an upper-story window at Thurston’s official District 7 residence

After an abortive visit on the 27th, where I did not find the right house, I hung my media ID around my neck and drove to his house on Friday June 28th with the aid of a GPS.   I noticed a white Cadillac with a VA parking decal parked outside and later posted that he seemed to be present.   I also took several photos of the exterior of the residence, with peeling paint and rotted woodwork and window jambs.   I thought this was interesting in case Smith later talked about blight.  In order to allay any worries about who was at the door, I called him and he did not pick up.

If Thurston Smith had done the same at my house, or called me, this would have been canvassing.   I think of this as reverse canvassing.

Why did Smith take out an Order of Protection?

It is interesting that Thurston’s first thought, when challenged by a voter in his district, is to resort to lying and intimidation.   On Sunday June 30th, Detective Raymond Jones called me saying that Smith and Lloyd Brown had complained that I had been stalking and harassing them.   I have not heard more.  Presumably MPD would have just as hard a time proving these allegations as Smith had in court.      Hopefully Detective Jones had permission from Director Rallings to undertake an “investigation” that had obvious potential for revealing political information.

Broadcaster Thadeus Matthews claimed, in this broadcast (at hour 1 minute 20) from July 1st, and again on the 15th, that Thurston Smith had been forced to retire early from his job at the VA.   According to Matthews, this was allegedly related to alleged claims that Smith had allegedly sexually harassed another employee.  Matthews said he would have the victim as a guest on his broadcast.  We will not reveal the name of this employee, who is still at the VA, because it is our policy not to expose the names or particulars of alleged victims of alleged sexual crime.   We also can’t name our informants at the VA because the case of Sean Higgins proves that whistle blowers are savagely treated at the VA.    We would also point out that Mathews is also saying that Smith does not live in the district, which we don’t believe.  Matthews was shaking Smith down for “advertising” money at the time.

Asking Smith questions about the circumstances of his departure from the VA prompted him to reach out to me via Personal Message, by phone and caused him to be visibly angry at his campaign announcement event.   He attempted intimidation via law enforcement and the Temporary Protection Order.

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Image  Picsart.com

Smith clearly has no regard for constitutional values, truth or transparency.    Without the material in the protection order, I would not have had much to write.   How he imagined that his dubious maneuver would silence me is unclear.  His lack of judgement alone disqualifies him from office.

Thurston Smith and the Police.

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Photo: Facebook

This is Thurston Smith’s Community Outreach Program ID.   He shamelessly posted it on his Facebook page.

COP is an organization of police sympathizers and snitches.   They attend special training at Memphis Police Academy, where they are trained to spy on citizens and spread police propaganda.  We obtained emails to COP members around the time of the April 3rd, 2018 Rolling Block Party police riot, where police brass asked COP members to try to prevent their congregations from joining the protest, in which Manuel Duran and others were arrested by paramilitary Organized Crime Unit (OCU) police thugs.

At a time when candidates like Tami Sawyer and John Marek are calling for the firing of Mike Rallings and his replacement by a Director who understands community policing, Smith holds the view that MPD is fine as is and should be supported in their campaign of mass incarceration.   Evidence to the contrary includes:  The ACLU “Kendrick” court victory and court monitor, Darrius Stewart’s murder and cover-up,  the attempted murder, cover-up and incarceration of Martavious Banks, the police riot after the killing of Brandon Webber, turning off of body- and dash- cams, the Graceland discrimination case, the FightFor$15 case, numerous letters from CLERB which were stonewalled by Mike Rallings, spying by police at an actual Court Monitor public meeting, Authorization of Agency and other incidents of police malpractice and brutality too numerous to mention.

Thurston Smith is a pro-police dinosaur at a time when District 7 and the entire city is crying out for police reform.

Incidentally, Smith’s posture strengthens the Caissa Dog Whistle, which supports white control of the City.

I consider it an honor to be singled out for retribution by Thurston Smith.

— concluded —

 

   

 

 

 

Dan Rosson placed on AoA by City

We have another Authorization of Agency case to share, this time that of Dan Rosson, against whom Memphis Animal Services, in collaboration with City Chief Operating Officer Doug McEwen, have created an AoA.  Once again, the City has used AoA to silence a political opponent.

AoA and the City Blacklist.

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Mike Rallings and Jim Strickland’s Blacklist.  Photo, The Commercial Appeal.

Authorization of Agency first came to public attention when the City’s Blacklist was published on half a dozen AoA forms.  Placement on Jim Strickland’s AoA was purportedly in retaliation for a December 19th Die-In action at Strickland’s, but it contained over forty activists’ names, far more than the ten or so protesters at that action.  The list was correctly interpreted as a City action against a list of activists which MPD was managing in contravention of the 1978 Kendrick Consent Decree.   The ACLU took the City and MPD to court and won.

AoA used against Zoo critics.

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Hunter Demster being cuffed by Officer Dan Adams at the Zoo

We publish some research on Authorization of Agency, compiling almost 1,700 AoA records obtained from MPD via Open Records Request.   While 84.9% of the AoA victims were  African Americans victims of police racism, a few, featuring Hunter Demster, Maureen Spain and myself were clearly in retaliation by the Zoo and MPD for harmless political speech.  In my case, I was on two AoAs, one issued days after my 2016 arrest at the Zoo, which was judged by the courts to be a wrongful arrest, dismissed and expunged.   My second Zoo AoA was illegally created by forging my name to an existing, pre-signed AoA with Hunter Demster, after we uneventfully visited the Zoo.   Again, this was an act of political retaliation, supported by MPD files collected in violation of Kendrick.

MPD working for private employer with AoA.

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Rodney Fisher (Photo: Facebook)

Last week, we wrote about Rodney Fisher’s AoA at DHL/Nike.  In this case, Mr. Fisher’s employer used MPD to inform him that he had been fired, in retaliation for political speech at his place of employment.  The MPD Lieutentant Colonel who ordered the patrolman to inform Mr. Fisher was quoted as saying he had been targeted for non-existent “threats” made via social media, indicating that Mr. Fisher’s first amendment speech on political subjects had been investigated, and that a social media search had been performed by MPD.

New:  Dan Rosson’s AoA

Now, we have a new AoA of concern, against animal activist and dog rescue volunteer, Dan Rosson.   In this case, city employees at Memphis Animal Shelter and City Chief Operating Officer, Doug McGowan, were behind the retaliatory use of AoA.

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Dan Rosson was a long-time volunteer at Memphis Animal Services.  He was a dog foster, caring for shelter dogs at his home, and performing various tasks at the shelter.   He photographed dogs and helped document their temperaments among other valuable services that saved money for the City and the lives of many dogs scheduled for euthanasia.

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Dan Rosson (photo Dan Rosson)

Mr Rosson recounts an incident at a Collierville vet, when a dog, which had been secretly labeled as potentially vicious by MAS. attacked another dog.   Rosson subsequently, at an April 2018 MAS advisory board meeting, called for volunteers to be warned about dogs labeled as problematic.   Mr Rosson, in the following months, also shared a long list of administrative issues at MAS that he wanted addressed.

On February 13th 2019 Mr Rosson posted on Facebook about some critically ill pups who needed urgent veterinary treatment.   He had been banned from transporting animals and no-one else was available to drive the pups to the vet.

Mr Rosson, as a proponent of the humane treatment of animals, was upset at the unnecessary suffering caused by the delay in the treatment of the canines.

On February 14th, Mr Rosson circulated a petition to volunteers and others, and engaged in first amendment protected speech critical of the City administration of MAS.  The petition asked the City to promote due process and prevent First Amendment abuse by MAS officials, naming  MAS director Alexis Pugh.

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Memphis City COO Doug McGowan.  Photo: City.   We apologize for the aesthetics

On February 18th, Mr Rosson posted that City Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan had allegedly called Rosson’s former employer, University of Tennessee.  Mr Rosson is retired from UT but had availed of the customary policy of allowing retirees to continue using their UT email.   UT canceled Mr Rosson’s email account with resultant chilling effect on his ability to engage in free speech on this issue.

On the 20th, Mr Rosson received some Open Records Requests information from the City attempting to clarify the MAS policies on administering volunteers and asking for records on his own case, and the petition was delivered to the Mayor and City Council.   That was the day the AoA was signed by Alexis Pugh.

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Alexis Pugh (Photo WKNO)

On February 21st Mr Rosson was informed that he would be arrested if he set foot at MAS and was informed of other charges made by Pugh against him.   These additional charges might constitute illegal acts but were not recorded (as sometimes happens) as marginal notes on the AoA.  This suggests that MPD was maintaining other documents relating to Mr Rosson.   This implies the existence of an investigation, which, being likely to uncover political information relating to Mr Rosson’s communications with the City and MAS, should have been approved by Police Director Rallings pursuant to the Kendrick Consent Decree, which had been well aired in Federal court by this time.

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Some cute rescue puppies.  We could not leave you with those administrator photos.  

The accusations made by MAS management, if they could be substantiated, should have resulted in a police investigation.  Mr Rosson has not been charged with any offense relating to alleged incidents at MAS.

We believe that Mr Rosson’s case is an clear example of AoA being used by MPD to harass political opponents of the City, which is a pattern we have been seeing  lot of.

Note on Authorization of Agency.

If you are told, by MPD or property management, that you will be arrested if you set foot on a given property, ask if you are on an AoA.

If you are on an AoA, you can get the document for free via the City Open Records portal.  You need to specify a date range, which should be a few days before and after the date you are informed.  You need the address of the premised, and also the MPD precinct and ward in which it is located, which you can look up in the link.

Sometimes AoAs are placed without informing the victim.   In this case you find out about it at some later point, when you visit the premises.   In that case, figure out when the AoA was placed and straddle that date in your open records request.

Share your AoA adventures with us.  If you feel that the AoA is the result of an MPD investigation not approved by the Director, or if its deficient due process is being used to threaten or intimidate you, or to impede your constitutional rights, contact the MPD Court Monitor. Read our AoA information.   If you are arrested for trespass on an unposted location without being given notice to depart, share this information with your attorney.

— concluded —

Rodney Fisher fired by MPD via AoA

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Rodney Fisher (Photo: Facebook)

Rodney Fisher made video of a visit from an unidentified MPD officer on the evening of July 25th, around 10 PM.   Fisher is admin of the Memphis (Real News) facebook page.

We transcribed the conversation.

Police Officer:  (talking on phone outside front door):  AoAs, all right. Yes, sir. (Hangs up cellphone).

Police Officer:  (talking to Rodney Fisher): Mr Fisher, I guess the lieutenant colonel wanted me to call you regarding the Nike incident or something.  You worked at Nike, correct?

Continue reading “Rodney Fisher fired by MPD via AoA”

Caissa Line-up for 2019

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Paige Walkup, Gene Bryan, Mae Bennett (formerly Yearwood), Brian Stephens and Mary Joseph (formerly Tanner). Bennett has since left the company.

We reported on the behind-the-scenes manipulations of Caissa Public Strategy back in 2017.

Our identification of the Caissa Seven at the time had predictive value, although we overestimated Kemp Conrad’s Caissa spend at a time when some documents were unavailable at the Election Commission.
We also missed a year-end 2014 contribution of $500 by Caissa Public Strategy to Edmund Ford Jr.  We are sorry we missed that, as it would have pointed to his antics around the 2018 referendum.   Essentially Ford was another Caissa paeon, voting with the Caissa whip almost all the time especially on public safety issues.

Continue reading “Caissa Line-up for 2019”

The slaying of Brandon Webber

photoLast week we had the tragedy of Brandon Webber, who was killed on June 12th by US Marshals in the driveway of his family’s Frayser home.   His bereaved parents spoke out in a June 14th vigil at the site of the killing, attended by over 600 mourners.   We are saddened by this violence.     Continue reading “The slaying of Brandon Webber”

Earley Story’s Case Dismissed

June 21st 2019: Shelby County District Court Division VIII, Memphis.

chris_craft
Judge Craft

Judge Chris Craft, recent recipient of our Hammer Award, called Earley Story to the microphone at 09:55.  Mr Story had filed a writ of Error Coram Nobis in an attempt to clear his 1998 conviction.

Tony Carruthers had been subpoenaed to attend as a witness.    He is in State prison and was not transported to the courtroom to testify.    Carruthers’ attorney was in the courtroom.

Carruthers is the death row prisoner who sent Earley Story the Confidential Informant ledger which showed no payments for the day he is supposed to have spent $850 to buy weed from Earley Story.   Ths is evidence that was withheld from Mr Story in his original trial, in an apparent Brady violation.

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Tony Carruthers

Judge: If you want Tony Carruthers to attend, you need to let me know to create an order to direct TDOC to bring him.

Earley Story: I can’t proceed without Tony Carruthers.

Judge:  Have you other witnesses?  He rambled on in an anecdote about missing witnesses.

Judge:  You need to put on whichever witness is available.

Earley Story: I am not prepared to proceed without Tony Carruthers.

Judge:  This happens all the time.   You can use Rule 106 to authenticate a witness later.   We need to have the hearing.

At 11:10 Mr Story is called to the mic again.

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Earley Story

Judge: Mr Carruthers is not here because he is in prison.  You can call him at a later date.

Mr Story goes through the gate and sits down at the defense table.

An unidentified prosecutor stands up.  At first she alleged that the State does not know when Mr Story discovered this information concerning Alfredo Shaw.

Earley Story describes how Mr Carruthers sent him the informaton in 2018 and he filed his writ timely.

The prosecutor said that this new information fails to meet the test for a court hearing.  Testimony said that Sheriff Department Agent Butler made the buy, not Alfredo Shaw, and that Shaw did not testify to buying the weed.

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Alfredo Shaw

According to the prosecutor, there is no way Alfredo Shaw’s CI ledger made an impact on the trial.  Mr Story was charged with three sales.   He was acquitted on two of the sales via alibi but he had no alibi for the third date.   Agent Butler was the purchaser, not Confidential Informant Shaw.

Judge:  We are not talking about Tony Carruthers’ evidence.   Shaw is not the one who made the buy.  The State is saying that Agent Butler made the buy, not Shaw.   Carruthers’ evidence would not make a difference to your trial.   We will hear the State’s motion to dismiss.

Mr Story: Shaw said that he gave me the $850 at the trial.  Shaw was threatened.   You can look on Youtube and see…  Mr Story trails away as Judge Craft interrupts.

Judge:   I can’t look on Youtube.   Your argument is absurd.  You are wasting the court’s time.  Stick to the facts.   Respond to the State’s argument.

Mr Story: This is a hostile setting.

Judge:  Respond to the State’s motion (to dismiss).

Mr. Story:  I can’t respond.

Judge:  I find for the State motion to dismiss.   The person who testified was not Alfredo Shaw.   I am granting the State’s motion to dismiss.

The Prosecutor’s Testimony

Today’s prosecutor was not testifying as a witness to the 1997 trial, so presumably she was referring to a transcript of the original trial.   Mr Story has made numerous requests to the DA’s office, during the course of his appeals, for a copy of the court transcript, which has never been produced.

The prosecutor was referring to facts not in evidence, as the transcript was not produced during this hearing.    There’s one or more Brady violations here.

Aldredo Shaw did testify at Mr Early’s original trial.   We blogged in February where Shaw was forced to testify, after recanting his initial statement to the Grand Jury.   The judge actually made him a material witness and issued a warrant for his arrest, which Shaw resisted and was eventually sentenced to 364 days for resisting.    The warrants and dockets are cited in the blog.

This prosecutor was lying.

One more thing

Judge Craft, before the prosecutor spoke, seemed pretty certain that he would not need to call Tony Carruthers.   How could Judge Craft have predicted the specific lies the prosecutor later told the court, given that it would have been unethical for him to discuss the case with the prosecutor outside the courtroom?

Of course, Judge Craft, Hammer Award Winner, would never do anything unethical.

— concluded —

 

 

Hammer Award: Judge Chris Craft

The DA’s office, long before Amy Weirich’s regime, has owned the Hammer Award.   We’ll be awarding our Hammer Award to judges as well as prosecutors.

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Judge Chris Craft

 

hammerawardOur June award winner is Judge Chris Craft, Shelby Criminal Court Division VIII.    We outline his bio towards the end of this piece, but right now we’re going to jump into why Craft gets the Hammer Award.

 

Craft’s Crowning Achievement:  Nuora Jackson

nuora
Nuora Jackson

Chris Craft played a leading role in the false imprisonment of Nuora Jackson.  Emily Bazelon, in her book “Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration” spends six chapters examining Jackson’s agonizing journey through the legal system.   Amy Weirich was the prosecutor in her 2009 trial, and hid exculpatory evidence in a Brady violation

During her closing argument, Weirich said “Just tell us where you were, that’s all we are asking, Nuora”.   This was a reference to an unexplained hour in the timeline of the night of the murder, and the fact that Nuora had not taken the stand during the trial.  Jackson’s attorney, Valerie Corder, objected on the basis that the prosecution is not allowed to use a defendant’s constitutional right not to testify as a sign of guilt.

Judge Chris Craft refused a mistrial.   In Nuora’s 2013 Supreme Court appeal, Corder played a five second video of Weirich charging across the courtroom at Jackson with her demand for testimony, and the supreme court justices wanted to see it again.   This, and a note which was “disappeared” from the evidence, formed the basis for Jackson’s eventual retrial.     Chris Craft bent over backwards to allow Weirich’s obvious malpractice.    Weirich eventually received a “private reprimand” from the Board for Professional Responsibility for her malpractice in this case.

In the Tennessee Supreme Court’s judgement, Given that the impropriety of any comment upon a defendant’s exercise of the Fifth Amendment right not to testify is so well settled as to require little discussion, it is not at all clear why any prosecutor would venture into this forbidden territory”.   

It is also not clear why any judge would allow it. 

The Earley Story case.

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Earley Story

Earley Story is a former Shelby County Deputy Sergeant jailer who was framed for the sale of marijuana on the basis of evidence by a paid confidential informant, in reprisal for blowing the whistle on conditions at the 201 Poplar jail.  After his 1998 conviction, Story, though he served no time, has constantly tried to assert his innocence.

Earley Story has a motion for a writ of “Error Coram Nobis” currently in Chris Craft’s Division VIII.   He filed a motion for Judge Craft to recuse himself.   The Post and Email blog details Story’s grounds for recusal.  “In February, Story was granted a hearing in Division VIII, where Judge Chris Craft presides.  In 2004, Craft denied Story’s post-conviction appeal; he also sentenced Story to ten days in jail after finding him in “contempt of court” for allegedly interrupting him in the courtroom.   Story has questioned not only Craft’s neutrality, but also why his recent request for a case review was not assigned to Division III, in accordance with Tennessee law, rather than in Division VIII.

Given Craft’s previous involvement, including his misrepresentation of Story as having accepted a guilty plea at a hearing of the private parole board to which Story’s case was sent.   Story has also sued Craft for alleged improprieties in the handling of his probation.

We were in court for Story’s February 11th, 2019 appearance in Craft’s court.   This was their first interaction, from my notes:

Judge Chris Craft: Do you have an attorney?
Earley Story: No
Judge Chris Craft: No What?
Earley Story: No Sir
Judge Chris Craft: No What?
Earley Story: No Sir Your Honor.
Judge Chris Craft: No What? Are you answering “is it raining”.
Earley Story: You asked if I have an attorney.
Judge Chris Craft: Sit down. (mumbles something) I’ll find you in contempt of court.

Considering that Judge Craft had sentenced Earley Story to ten days for contempt in 2004, we are inclined to take this threat at face value.

Michael Rimmer

Rimmer
Michael Rimmer

Michael Rimmer was sentenced to death three times for an alleged 1998 murder.   Chris Craft presided over the 2016 retrial. and third death sentence.

He was granted a new trial in December 2013 because Thomas Henderson, a high-placed, veteran attorney in the Shelby County District Attorney’s office, did not give relevant evidence to Rimmer’s defense attorneys, a Brady violation.  The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Office of Professional Responsibility ordered a public censure of Henderson.

This case was documented in the 2017 Fair Punishment Project report.

Kendrick Watson

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Kendrick Watson

We saw the story of Kendrick Watson when we wrote about Celitria Watson, his sister, and April Malone, his significant other.   They were co-defendants in one of his cases.   A wiretap report, obtained under a warrant for Kendrick’s phone, was falsified by police and prosecutors.   This resulted in April and Celitria’s cases being severed from Kendricks, and dismissed.   Nonetheless, reports from this wiretap were used against Kendrick, and April and Celitria’s proof of evidence fabrication was not allowed in court.

Kendrick Watson had other issues with the legitimacy of the wiretap warrants, including a warrantless search of the phones of his associates following a traffic stop and some questions relating to a bank report used to obtain the warrant.

Perhaps this is a natural consequence of judges policing each other in a cozy manner, but Chris Craft, as the presiding judge of the Court of the Judiciary, rejected Kendrick Watson’s complaint against Judge Lee Coffee, despite Coffee’s acceptance of tainted evidence.

Charles Thompson

Thompson was a shot-caller for the Traveling Vice Lords who was accused of ordering the killing of Deputy Deadrick Taylor in April 1996.   This appears to be part of a spike of deputy killings that happened around the time that a massive Jobs for Cash conspiracy was being revealed by an FBI inquiry and subsequent Federal trial of two of the conspirators.   Thompson was being held on a separate charge in 201 Poplar at the time he is supposed to have ordered the murder of the deputy.

Judge Chris Craft presided over Thompson’s conviction on docket 96 11968-96621546.

Thompson was mysteriously transferred under the Interstate Prisoner Transfer Compact and he is now believed to be in a Federal institution in Arkansas.   Charles Thompson had a close association with Jason White, his deputy in a prison gang.   White, while still in prison under a previous sentence, was framed on a planted meth bust, given an additional 60 year sentence, and, a few weeks ago, spirited away on another interstate prisoner transfer to a distant state.

Just City Court Watch Blog describes Craft interaction.

An extract from the Just City Court Watch Blog.

201_poplar“April 10th, 2019 – An attorney believed to be representing the defendant pointed his finger at her and said, “Keep quiet!” as she was attempting to speak to Judge Craft and request a new attorney. When it came time for her case, the defendant wanted to be heard. After her attorney painted her as mentally incompetent, Judge Craft let her speak. She explained that there had been no communication between her and her attorney, and that she’s being ignored. As you can imagine, this is her only opportunity to advocate for herself — particularly since her attorney wasn’t. She had a difficult time staying quiet, but was never disrespectful in my opinion. After Judge Craft heard her out, there was more she wanted to say. However Judge Craft appeared annoyed at this point and said, “I’ll give you 10 days in jail for every word you say”. The defendant was quiet.”

Earley Story describes Craft intimidation

We previously saw a description of Judge Craft’s interrogation of Earley Story.  In conversation with Mr. Story, he described an interaction with Craft during the case when Craft sentenced Story to ten days for contempt.

Judge Craft would say something, then pause.   If Mr Story waited for the judge to continue, he was chided for being non-responsive.   If Mr Story spoke during the pause, Judge Craft would continue and accuse Mr Story of interrupting.

This is an excellent way of intimidating pro-se defendants, whether or not this effect is intended.

Biographical Details

Edited from noethics.net with additional details from the Daily News.

Chris Craft received his law license from the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1978 after graduating from Memphis State University.  From 1980 to 1982 he did graduate work at Memphis Theological Seminary in Law and Religion.
From 1978 to 1982 he practiced as a defense lawyer in the family firm.
Beginning in 1982 through 1994, Craft was employed as an assistant prosecutor in the Shelby County DA’s office. In 1994 he was appointed as a judge.
Chris Craft was appointed to Judge of Division VIII of the Shelby County Criminal Court in 1994 and was elected to that position in 1996.   He has been re-elected for eight year terms ever since, most recently in 2014, when he was unopposed.    He is next up for election in 2022.
In August 2011, Judge Craft was elected as the presiding judge of the Court of the Judiciary. In a lame attempt at levity in responding to Sen. Beavers’ legislation, Judge Craft said, “It’s kind of hard for laypersons to understand the code of judicial conduct.”
This hyperbolic comment doesn’t pass the involuntary laugh test. Anyone could easily understand the mandates of the code of conduct.
Chris Craft is an elder and Sunday school teacher at Second Presbyterian Church and frequently extols the virtues of faith-based organizations.

The Hammer Award.

Judge Chris Craft, as a former prosecutor, is one of a number of judges who are former prosecutors.    We believe that exposure to the corrupt culture of the Shelby County DA’s office is a red flag.  We are following several other judges in that category.

hammeraward
May 2019 Honoree Judge Chris Craft

Updates:  Chris Craft dismisses Earley Story’s writ of error coram nobis. 

Chris Craft named in article on class action suit against probation business.

— concluded —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennessee Prisoner Rendition: Jason White

In April 2019, we wrote about Jason White, who was framed for a pound of meth by Bartlett detectives and ADA Chris Scruggs, recipient of our first Hammer Award for over-zealous prosecution.  White was, until recently, serving 60 years at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Lauderdale County.

White was spirited out of state Monday May 20th in a carefully planned operation.

Continue reading “Tennessee Prisoner Rendition: Jason White”