Carol Gaddy and her husband, Thomas, faced jail Monday in Dunlap, Tenn., as a judge’s deadline for a search of their house tolled just after lunch.
Circuit Court judge Thomas Graham, sitting in for a fellow jurist in Sequatchie County chancery court, had issued an order that the house be “inspected” Monday at 1 p.m. But Mrs. Gaddy and her husband continue to refuse permission for a search on fourth amendment grounds.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM
“We’re not gonna let them in,” she said.
The city is operating in civil jurisdiction, not having any warrant for a criminal search. Yet it has gotten from Judge Graham a threat of civil contempt if the Gaddys do not cede their rights to be free from search and seizure without a warrant. The city argues effectively that its administrative claims trump constitutional protections defended by these longtime residents on Main Street who live along a bend in a creek two blocks from the heart of the town.
The city’s claims are tenuously within the framework of public health, safety and welfare, premised on an allegation from external review that the house, undergoing a thorough remodeling, is a danger to the public.
She says she and Mr. Gaddy are willing to face jail because they are right in their stand on constitutional grounds under God. Sexist hostility to a determined self-directed woman seems to be part of the rationale of her family’s enemies, she said Sunday night.
“They particularly target me. I am the one the big bad bullies want to send to jail. But I have an oath before God. These men are not going to make me break it. Every woman that is in the American Legion ladies’ auxiliary, we have a preamble, and every meeting we say that, you speak that — you stand and you place your hand on your heart, and that is an oath before God that I will only support with my life 100 percent Americanism.”
The Gaddys, without aid of an attorney, have fought for nearly two years to be free of search and seizure without a warrant.
City mayor Dwain Land filed the city’s case early in 2015 in the wrong court. The city charter — Dunlap’s private law written for it by the general assembly and the city’s grant of authority — requires all actions and disputes under city ordinance to be filed in city court.
The city is claiming that the house is a danger to the public and suggests it is liable to fall down anytime, but makes its claim absent any inspection. The couple refuses to allow a search absent probable cause and has been steadily litigating its claims against city government. The Gaddys say a personal interest and secret coveting are motivating Mr. Land and his allies in city government.
City Attorney Stephen Greer did not return calls and texts Friday and Monday requesting comment.
Judge Graham’s threat is to keep the couple in jail on civil contempt until they grant permission for an inspection.
The Gaddys, meanwhile, have filed suit in federal court. Altogether, Dunlap’s aggressive claims and the Gaddys’ resistance have created litigation in five courts, including the state supreme court and the court of civil appeals, where they have entered petitions under rules of court touching on recusal of judges.
Abuse of process alleged
She indicated incredulity at the presumed outlay of tax money for the judges and lawyers to defend themselves against their federal lawsuit — 12 people named who apparently have a law firm in Chattanooga to represent them. Despite a grievous workload and heavy schedule set to be overturned by jail today, she said she is concerned for taxpayers’ footing that bill.
In a filing Monday styled “objection to search” and demanding a jury trial, the Gaddy’s say the city “has never shown just cause nor subject matter jurisdiction.”
The couple say they “will not yield their God-given rights of free will agency of choice, regarding who to allow into their home ***. Our home is grandfathered, predating all municipal ordinance enforcement. All permits and inspections mandated, by Tennessee building codes were purchased and were allowed inspections, as already proven in this case with defendants filings.”
Attorney Greer has committed fraud on the court by pursuing “a fraudulent cause, that has no merits and validity” and “has deliberately prevented and blocked all due process, provided to the aggrieved property owners by their national and state constitutional rights. Fifth Amendment (due process and equal protection), Ninth Amendment (rights to privacy and liberty) , Fourteenth Amendment (due process and equal protection).”
In a discussion about the city’s case being in a court without jurisdiction under ordinance to hear it, she was dismissive of that appealable issue.
“We don’t want it redone in city court,” she said. “We’re above that now. We’re on our way — we’re going on the offensive on this thing, and city court would be worse than where we are now. They made the mistake, and now they have to live with it.”
Three pleas to dismiss the case the case for lack of jurisdiction have been denied, Mrs. Gaddy says.
Judge Graham has breached the code of ethics several times already, she says. In a filing before the state supreme court, she says, “Judge Graham has proven incompetent, bias, prejudice, to judge appellants’ private property rights, *** and ignores important jurisdictional issues. Judge Graham’s judicial bad behavior from the bench brings disdain and distrust upon Tennessee’s sacred courts system.”