County attorney Rheubin Taylor, in a one-sentence reply to a press inquiry, says “[t]hose inquiries [about the car of tradesman Jon Luman] need to be addressed to the Sheriff Department.”
The matter of rising interest among members of the public is the seizure of the car by sheriff’s deputy Gregory Carson May 30 in the arrest of Mr. Luman, who was traveling down a public road in Hamilton County and is charged with “driving on a suspended license.”
No reply to a detailed query Wednesday was received from Sheriff Hammond. His press rep, Matt Lea, and his chief deputy, Austin Garrett, were sent inquiries about the anomalous treatment of Mr. Luman and his conveyance, a rattly Ford Explorer that served him in his private business as handyman and carpenter.
Mr. Taylor’s answer is similar to one Oct. 18 asking the same question about Mr. Luman’s seized car. “Our office was not involved in this process; neither have we been consulted as to its resolution. Therefore, I would assume it’s up to either the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, or the Court as to under what conditions this gentleman can get his car.”
The taking of Mr. Luman’s car, in other words, is a legal matter about which the county attorney, has nothing to do.
It’s possible that the attorney’s office is leaving the sheriff’s office hanging in a perilous legal situation. How can Mr. Hammond and his agents seize and keep a car belonging to a private individual apart from a lawful and recorded process? Is this action a civil asset forfeiture proceeding? If so, where are the requisite notices and paperwork? Is the county claiming ownership of the car? If so, whence the claims of ownership that contradict those of Jon Luman?
Mr. Luman avers he is the victim of a crime, but has filed no criminal complaint, and neither an administrative claim upon (or against) the county.
The county arrested and charged Mr. Luman, despite the sheriff’s having been under transportation administrative notice since March 1, 2018, about the limits of Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55, motor and other vehicles, the law regulating motor carriers across the state. Mr. Luman is not a motor carrier, and was not even alleged to have been one in the charging instrument in the case.