I have written so far 3 articles about the astounding case where an attorney and her client, a mother of minor children, were charged with crimes in the State of Tennessee after the attorney has WON the case for the mother against the CPS and had had her children returned from the CPS back to the mother - for the 2nd time!
The previous articles can be read
The first article of the series - here, about the identity of the judge whose words, name and circumstances when they were said withheld, were leaked by the prosecution to the press and published - in order to taint the jury pool, send a message to the potential jurors as to what a high-ranking judge wants from them from this ver, very bad (the judge says) attorney, so bad that the mother should fire her in order to be able to get her children back.
the second article of the series - here, describing what the prosecution claims it is charging attorney Reguli and Wendy Hancock for - without filing the unsealed indictment with the court or giving a copy to the criminal defendants, as required by law
the third article - about just some of provisions of the Tennessee State Constitution that were blatantly violated by this criminal prosecution - and I did not even start on the `1st Amendment, which is all over this case - here.
I have been defending criminal cases (in the State of New York) and litigating constitutional violations by the government, civil rights lawsuits, as an attorney for many years and can testify in court - including by Tennessee Rule 702 - as an expert in the field.
What attorney Reguli described yesterday about what the judge and the prosecutor, Williamson County DA, are doing in her case - has nothing to do with the law, at all.
It is my expert opinion that both the prosecutor and the judge in this case should be impeached, removed from their respective offices, criminally prosecuted and never allowed to take public offices again for what they are doing in this criminal case.
Let me start with saying that constitutional rights of criminal defendants work the same way in all states, since they are based on federal Constitution - which every judge and every prosecutor is sworn to uphold - and on state Constitutions, which cannot take away federal constitutional rights, but can ADD more rights - not to the prosecution, but to the criminal defendants.
From the point of view of plain vanilla criminal defense what is going on in attorney Reguli's criminal case is - bizarre is not even beginning to describe it.
Violation of the 5th Amendment
Many people assume that the 5th Amendment is just for the right to remain silent - "I plead the 5th" is a famous phrase often reproduced in movies.
Yet, the 5th Amendment is about much more - including the protection OF THE DEFENDANT with the help of grand jury proceedings.
Here is the full text of the 5th Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
The very first phrase of the 5th Amendment is actually not about self-incrimination, but is about the grand jury.
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury...".
This phrase, "HELD to answer" is about JURISDICTION of a criminal court to have a person ARRESTED on criminal charges for felonies.
The court has no JURISDICTION - no AUTHORITY - to ARREST a person on felony charges other than on a "presentment or indictment of the grand jury".
Of course, states, through "state law", have - unconstitutionally - made federal constitutional PROTECTION of criminal defendants through grand jury proceedings into a mockery and its exact opposite, into prosecution's secret tool of attack, completely reversing the meaning of the 5th Amendment - I have recently wrote about this technique in detail in a law review article, here.
But, some shreds of the 5th Amendment PROTECTION of criminal defendants through grand jury proceedings still remain even in state law.
And the most important of such shreds is - that the criminal court RECEIVES JURISDICTION over a felony case only when an unsealed indictment, a public document, is filed with the court, or, a sealed indictment is filed with the court, and it is unsealed at the arraignment of the defendant on it - and the copy of an unsealed indictment is given to the defendant at arraignment and is read out loud in an open court in front of the defendant.
We do not have secret criminal charges or secret criminal proceedings in the U.S.
Well, guess what?
Attorney Reguli and her client have already been
called by the police nearly 2 WEEKS AGO (July 16, 2019),
told that there is a SEALED indictment against them and an arrest warrant (necessarily signed by a judge based on that indictment - so the judge must have seen the indictment), that
they supposedly need to turn themselves into the police on July 17, 2019 if they do not want the police to pick them up forcibly and bring them in - FOR BOOKING, not arraignment - in handcuffs,
both attorney Reguli and her client Wendy Hancock have already turned themselves into the police on July 17, 2019,
were subjected to the theatrical handcuffing by their wrists to the wall of the police station while being booked, and
were released -
Connie Reguli with a JUDGE'S STATEMENT "ROR" and the JUDGE'S SIGNATURE on - not a copy of the indictment, no - on a copy of a piece of paper describing in vague terms that she was criminally charged for something, without describing what exactly she was charged with, and
her client Wendy Hancock - on a $1000 bond, also ordered by a judge.
Now, wait a minute.
There was NO PUBLIC COURT HEARING called the ARRAIGNMENT where - in open court, in front of the public, defendants would be presented with the INDICTMENT of the grand jury.
If there was no arraignment, the court could not - BEFORE the arrest - make a determination he would have been required to do at such a PUBLIC hearing - to release defendant attorney Reguli ROR (on her own recognizance) and to release defendant Hancock on a $1,000 bond.
What the judge did was completely illegal.
A criminal case is an open court case - we are not having Star Chambers here in the United States.
Moreover, the Tennessee Constitution guarantees to the public that courts are open to the public,
all indictments must include specific wording to be valid,
and that the government - any of its branches, including prosecutors and judges - is blocked from changing that,
There is a pretense made by the state - and the press is informed about it by the prosecution - that 2 people, one of them a prominent family court and civil rights attorney who testified to the State Legislature about judicial and CPS misconduct for decades - are charged with crimes, specifically, with FELONIES.
That was NEARLY TWO WEEKS AGO.
That means that criminal proceedings have already started.
- No indictment was FILED - as an OPEN PUBLIC DOCUMENT - with the court, so that ANYBODY, including - OF COURSE - people who are the target of these charges, the two criminal defendants, attorney Connie Reguli and Wendy Hancock - can familiarize themselves with the charges;
- No public arraignment of the defendants was held by the court on that indictment;
- Defendants WERE NOT GIVEN a copy of the indictment, it remains SECRET a this time, and nobody - not the defendants, not their attorneys if they have them, not the press and not the public - know WHETHER such an indictment EXISTS, and, if it does, what it contains.
In other words, 12 days after the arrest of Connie Reguli and her client the criminal court still DID NOT RECEIVE JURISDICTION over the criminal case - and the arrest, booking and the judge's ROR/Bond release on some obscure piece of paper replacing the indictment - was utterly, completely illegal.
It gets even better, ladies and gentlemen.
Ex parte communications of the judge with the prosecution
Not many non-lawyers are familiar with the expression "ex parte communications" in relation to court proceedings.
"Ex parte communications" means - communication of one of the parties with a judge when the other party does not know about it.
Such communications are prohibited in all state and federal jurisdiction, for a number of reasons.
1. court proceedings are, constitutionally, open to the public.
2. opposing parties in court have equal rights; and
3. people have a due process right to an impartial judge reviewing their case
All these three constitutional rights disappear when one of the parties goes behind the back of the other and - secretly - negotiates with the judge assigned to the case how the case should be decided.
This appears to be the case in the not-yet-started (legally) criminal proceedings against defendants attorney Connie Reguli and Wendy Hancock.
According to what Connie Reguli received - BY EMAIL from the court, after the court negotiated ex parte with the prosecution, the prosecution, even before any kind of arraignment - approached the judge with a motion to impose a GAG ORDER (remember - court proceedings must be open by the Tennessee Constitution? remember the federal 1st Amendment right to speak out and criticize the government?
Once again, the Williamson County DA, a public officer sworn to uphold the U.S. and Tennessee Constitution,
- before and INSTEAD OF filing the UNSEALED indictment with the court that would have given the court jurisdiction to arraign the defendants and to entertain motions from both parties
- before the court obtained jurisdiction over the defendants through such an arraignment (which did not happen until now) - filed an ex parte motion with the court for a GAG order against both defendants, so that they would not openly talk to the press, on social media and with anybody at all, about the case, because that would supposedly destroy THE PROSECUTION's right to a fair trial.
That the prosecution leaked to the press portions of a transcript of a motion to recuse Judge Amy Hollars, filed by attorney Reguli on behalf of her client Wendy Hancock BEFORE she WON that case after a full trial - without disclosing
- the identity of the judge;
- the identity of the proceeding;
- that the statement of the judge leaked to the press was a part of the judge's hissy fit immediately before the judge has GRANTED the motion to recuse and RECUSED herself - which gives the judge's statement the coloring of a THREAT to the parent that, if she does not fire her attorney, Connie Reguli before trial (the attorney who has won her children back for her before, who knew her case very well and who eventually won the case for her at trial AGAIN), her children will be taken away from her by the state.
- somehow is not considered tainting the jury pool. Right?
And it STILL gets better.
The judge, of course, had no right to entertain that "motion" before getting jurisdiction over the case.
The judge should have waited until the indictment, sealed or unsealed, be filed with the court, and until the judge unseals it at an arraignment, hands it over to the defendants, holds the arraignment and then allow parties to do discovery and motions - on the schedule set by law.
This case is too important for the State of Tennessee to follow the law. It has to be "done right". I has to achieve "the right result". The law is interfering with that goal.
So, if they cannot do it right when the press is watching, a "reasonable remedy" that they have arrived to is - to scarp defendants' rights and to block the press from ever watching.
Yes, a gag order - before the court ever got jurisdiction over the case.
And not only that.
- the ILLEGAL ex parte negotiation with the prosecution about
- the ILLEGAL motion for a gag order made based on
- an ILLEGAL (not yet filed) accusatory instrument (supposedly, a sealed indictment - but nobody saw it, so we do not really know whether it exists, what charges it contains, if any, and whether it contains the language required by the Tennessee State Constitution without which it is not valid), the judge who
- ILLEGALLY usurped the power in the case (since, again an UNSEALED indictment was not yet filed with the court), engaged in an
- ILLEGAL ex parte communication - now with defendant Connie Reguli.
You know, on what subject?
The judge appeared in the role of a NEGOTIATOR ON BEHALF OF THE PROSECUTION.
According to Connie Reguli, the judge said, in an ex parte e-mail to Connie Reguli, the following, and, of course, I give here the paraphrased meaning, not the exact words of the judge:
"Here is the deal.
Let's make an exchange.
YOU, defendant Reguli,
- WAIVE your right to discovery and motions,
- AGREE to sever (separate, cut off) your case from the case of Wendy Hancock, so that they are tried separately;
- AGREE to set the trial in just 5 weeks, on September 5, 2019,
and I, the judge - do not grant
- the ILLEGAL prosecution's motion for a gag order,
- ILLEGALLY filed with the judge INSTEAD OF filing the UNSEALED indictment with the court and then proceeding to ARRAIGNMENT, DISCOVERY and filing motions IN OPEN COURT.
That means, that the judge - before ever obtaining jurisdiction over the case, has already become part of the prosecution's team, engaging in misconduct on prosecution's behalf and using his (usurped) power to pressure defendants to cede important constitutional rights before the criminal case even officially commenced.
A judge even went so far as to negotiating a NEVER MADE MOTION TO SEVER cases.
This motion, again, could not be made - because, I will repeat even if I sound as a looped soundtrack,
- the UNSEALED indictment was never filed with the court and never given to defendants,
- the court, thus, did not receive jurisdiction over the criminal proceedings;
- no motions COULD be filed at this time; and
- the court MAY NOT FILE MOTIONS on behalf of parties - in writing or orally -
which did not deter the judge in question one bit, and he has MADE A MOTION TO SEVER on behalf of the prosecution, by sending such a "request" to defendant attorney Connie Reguli BY EMAIL, very obviously after an ex parte request to do that was made to the judge by the prosecution.
It is exceedingly obvious that NO JUSTICE can be obtained in such a - yes, KANGUROO COURT - for either of the defendants, if both the prosecutor and the judge act as if they have never gone to law school and instead engage in a backyard bullying in middle school where whoever has the bigger stick, sets the rules as they see fit.
From my point of view, the first order of things is to
- file for a writ of prohibition to prohibit the court to proceed before the UNSEALED indictment is filed;
- to request in that writ of prohibition, that the judge and the prosecutor are taken off the cases in view of their egregious misconduct;
- once the unsealed indictment is filed with the court and the arraignment on it held,
- to file motions to
- recuse the judge;
- disqualify the prosecutor;
- sanction the prosecutor for ex parte communications with the judge
- turn the judge into the judicial conduct authorities;
- turn both the judge and the prosecutor into the FBI;
- have the prosecutor sanctioned, taken off the case and criminally prosecuted by a special out-of-state counsel presenting the case to a special grand jury;
- to have the judge sanctioned, taken off the case and criminally prosecuted, also by a special out-of-state counsel presenting the case to a special grand jury.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, criminal proceedings should not be turned by people with middleschool bully mentality holding taxpayer-funded sticks into dog and pony shows.
There is procedure for criminal proceedings and laws to be observed, and the defendants, the public and the press should not be treated by the government as idiots having no rights whatsoever.
If government officials do that, they should be stopped, prosecuted, replaced and blocked from ever holding public office.
The Tennessee Constitution allows and encourages that, actually.