A major problem with the operation of extralegal government in Tennessee appears in the operation of the Tennessee highway patrol, whose duties are limited to commercial enforcement but whose practice includes frequent interactions with members of the private traveling public.
The department is under transportation administrative notice, and is not reported as having altered its practice and pared back its enforcement actions to solely those parties subject to the state shipping and freight law.
The commissioner of safety, the THP’s overseer, has made no steps to prevent city police departments and sheriff departments from exercising police power under the freight, shipping, trucking, hauling and transportation law, either. There appears no proper delegation of authority from the DOS and the THP to, say, CPD (Chattanooga police department) or HCSO (Hamilton county sheriff’s office).
This lack of a legal delegation is worth exploring, especially among criminal defendants who are looking for a way to block false arrest, false prosecution and abuse from ultra vires police activity against the citizenry under what transportation administrative notice makes clear is a law misapplied in the locales such as Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
Two-fold duty of troopers
According to state law, its duties are twofold, with each one connected with the other. Its job is to enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the department of transportation.
Which ones? Those regulating traffic on and use of the roads of the state by parties subject to the department of transportation. There are two such departments — one state, one federal.
A second duty is connected with the first. The law says the second duty is the collection of taxes and revenue from those in the previous provision — those subject to the department of transportation.
This duty of tax collection is upon and against those who use the roads as common or private carriers. These parties use the road for hire and private gain, whose cars and trucks must be registered with local county clerks as motor vehicles.
Traffic enforcement = tax enforcement upon privileges
State law also requires these taxed parties be properly licensed as qualified persons subject to training and verification of skills. Commercial drivers and operators must have a license proper to the weight of their vehicle. The Class D driver license is for operation of any motor vehicle up to 13 tons.
Think I am making all this up? Here’s how the law reads:
Tenn. Code Ann. 4-7-104. Duties.
It is the duty of the members of the Tennessee highway patrol, under the direction of the commissioner of safety, to:
(1) Patrol the state highways and enforce all laws, and all rules and regulations of the department of transportation regulating traffic on and use of those highways; and
(2) Assist the department of revenue and the county clerks of the state in the collection of all taxes and revenue going to the state, and in the enforcement of all laws relating to same.
In Chattanooga free users of the roadway are harassed and taken to court. The sheriff of Hamilton County, Jim Hammond, effectively stole the work truck of one such victim, Jon Luman, whom he has charged with “driving” without proper permissions under Title 55.
Mr. Luman’s defense is that he is not under the department of transportation as a vehicle for hire because he is a carpenter and handiman, not a trucker using the public right of way for private profit.
Sessions judge Lila Statom recently dismissed one of the cases against him, though another is pending in the criminal court of Judge Don Poole.