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As Bukovsky gridlocked gulag, can we crash driver license system with obscure rule?

This building at 312 Rosa L. Parks Ave. in Nashville is the headquarters of the department of safety and homeland security. What must the department do to follow the rule that it exhaust all administrative remedies before bringing a criminal charge against a licensee for a roadway infraction? Must all traffic cases be held in Nashville? (Photo Google)
Vladimir Bukovsky showed how to make Soviet bureaucracy grind to a halt as a dissenter in the gulag. (Photo Cato)

Administrative agencies such as Department of Safety and Homeland Security are required to obey the UAPA — the uniform administrative procedures act in Title 4 of the Tennessee code. Title 4 indicates that all matters pertaining to driver licenses must be heard in agency — that is, in Nashville.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7 FM

Specifically, at the department itself. Its address is 312 Rosa L. Parks Ave. downtown.

So what? you say.

If my initial analysis is correct, no traffic case can rightly be heard in sessions courts or even criminal courts until the state exhausts its administrative remedies by hearing the case first in agency — in the department. This requirement holds whenever a driver license is threatened with suspension or revocation, according to agency rules.

I am seeking justice for African-American residents of Chattanooga and Hamilton County — and everyone else after them — abused by misused police power. I have studied state law in great detail and have legal reform projects in operation today to corral state powers within proper constitutional boundaries. I believe we can make “the good people” be hung by the tongue in yet another area.

That of the exhaustion of remedies requirement for all administrative conflict.

Traffic cases, at least in theory, are to be handled internally as contested case hearings if the sufficiency of a license is in view. If a licensee is threatened with revocation or suspension, the law indicates, the case is administrative and must be administered first, then put up for judicial review.

First, administration of the DOS grievance against the licensee. Then adjudication in court. First an agency hearing, then a court hearing, in other words.

The inspiration for this analysis is Vladimir Bukovsky, who used rules of Soviet communism to paralyze prison camp system. The following retelling of his exploits in administrative law is in a favorite book, Moses & Pharaoh: Dominion Religion vs. Power Religion by Gary North (1985). It describes how Bukovsky used arcane camp system rules against the administration.

Might not we do the same and end Jim Crow in Tennessee? Here’s Dr. North:

Bureaucratic paralysis

This possibility of bureaucratic paralysis is characteristic of all administrative systems, even a centralized tyranny such as the Soviet Union. A classic example is the case of the Soviet dissident of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Vladimir Bukovsky. Bukovsky spent well over a decade in the Soviet gulag concentration camp system. He was arrested and sentenced in spite of specific civil rights protections provided by the Soviet constitution — a document which has never been respected by the Soviet bureaucracy. But once in prison he learned to make life miserable for the director of his camp. He learned that written complaints had to be responded to officially within a month. This administrative rule governing the camps was for “Western consumption,” but it was nevertheless a rule. 

Any camp administrator who failed to honor it risked the possibility of punishment, should a superior (or ambitious subordinate) decide to pressure him for any reason. In short, any failure to “do it by the book” could be used against him later on.

Following certain procedures …

Bukovsky became an assembly-line producer of official protests. By the end of his career as a “zek,” he had taught hundreds of other inmates to follow his lead. By following certain procedures that were specified by the complaint system, Bukovsky’s protesting army hegan to disrupt the whole Soviet bureaucracy. His camp clogged the entire system with protests-hundreds of them per day. He estimates that eventually the number of formal complaints exceeded 75,000. To achieve such a phenomenal output, the protestors had to adopt the division of labor. Bukovsky describes the process:

“At the height of our war, each of us wrote from ten to thirty complaints a day. Composing thirty complaints in one day is not easy, so we usually divided up the subjects among ourselves and each man wrote on his own subject before handing it around for copying by all the others. If there are five men in a cell and each man takes six subjects, each of them has the chance to write thirty complaints while composing only six himself.” The complaints were addressed to prominent individuals and organizations: the deputies of the Supreme Soviet, the regional directors, astronauts, actors, generals, admirals, the secretaries of the Central Committee, shepherds, sportsmen, and so forth. “In the Soviet Union, all well-known individuals are state functionaries.” Each complaint had to be responded to. The camp administrators grew frantic. They threatened punishments, and often imposed them, but it did no good; the ocean of protests grew. Bukovsky’s description is incomparable:

The next thing that happens is that the prison office, inundated with complaints, is unable to dispatch them within the three-day deadline. For overrunning the deadline they are bound to be reprimanded and to lose any bonuses they might have won. When our war was at its hottest the prison governor summoned every last employee to help out at the office with this work — librarians, bookkeepers, censors, political instructors, security officers. And it went even further. All the students at the next-door Ministry of the Interior training college were pressed into helping out as well. All answers to and dispatches of complaints have to be registered in a special book, and strict attention has to be paid to observing the correct deadlines. Since complaints follow a complex route and have to be registered every step of the way, they spawn dossiers and records of their own. In the end they all land in one of two places: the local prosecutor’s office or the local department of the Interior Ministry. These offices can’t keep up with the flood either and also break their deadlines, for which they too are reprimanded and lose their bonuses. The bureaucratic machine is thus obliged to work at full stretch, and you transfer the paper avalanche from one office to another, sowing panic in the ranks of the enemy Bureaucrats are bureaucrats, always at loggerheads with one another, and often enough your complaints become weapons in internecine wars between bureaucrat and bureaucrat, department and department. This goes on for months and months, until, at last, the most powerful factor of all in Soviet life enters the fray — statistics. 

Panic among officials grows

As the 75,000 complaints became part of the statistical record, the statistical record of the prison camp and the regional camps was spoiled. All bureaucrats suffered. There went the prizes, pennants, and other benefits. “The workers start seething with discontent, there is panic in the regional Party headquarters, and a senior commission of inquiry is dispatched to the prison.”  The commission then discovered a mass of shortcomings with the work of the prison’s administration, although the commission would seldom aid specific prisoners. The prisoners knew this in advance. But the flood of protests continued for two years. “The entire bureaucratic system of the Soviet Union found itself drawn into this war. There was virtually no government department or institution, no region or republic, from which we weren’t getting answers.

Sue cop as oppressor, defend self in traffic court: Transportation Administrative Notice

Eventually we had even drawn the criminal cons into our game, and the complaints disease began to spread throughout the prison — in which there were twelve hundred men altogether. I think that if the business had continued a little longer and involved everyone in the prison, the Soviet bureaucratic machine would have simply ground to a halt: all Soviet institutions would have had to stop work and busy themselves with writing replies to us.” Finally, in 1977, they capitulated to several specific demands of the prisoners to improve the conditions of the camps. The governor of the prison was removed and pensioned off. Their ability to inflict death producing punishments did them little good, once the prisoners learned of the Achilles’ heel of the bureaucracy: paperwork. The leaders of the Soviet Union could bear it no longer: they deported Bukovsky. 

Now, regarding the oppression of the people through commercial government in Tennessee: If I can show that all transportation cases must be held in Nashville, the system will collapse under its own weight and its own duty.

Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle: My Life As a Dissident (New York: Viking, 1979). p. 37

Cited in Gary North, Moses and Pharaoh (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985) pp. 288-290

The David Tulis show is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.

One Response

  1. John Ballinger

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