A clerk at the department of safety spurned efforts by Jon Luman to obtain a driver license so that he might use the roads in a for-hire capacity.
That is the story Mr. Luman, a low-key Miracle Worker in the cause of constitutional government, plans to tell to criminal court judge Don Poole in a hearing Monday.
Mr. Luman has had two cases before the judge. One pertained to his arrest May 30 at Morrison Spring’s Road under the Highway 27 overpass by Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies. That case was dismissed.
The case in front of Judge Poole today is for a Luman arrest in January. Judge Poole was intending to ask Mr. Luman if he’d gotten a license, because it is understood by all that use of the roads is illegal in car or truck apart from the driver license, issued under the commercial statute enforced by the Tennessee department of safety.
State refuses to allow application
The clerk denied him an application — “they said they were not allowed to let me do that. Their system would not allow it,” Mr. Luman says before the hearing in downtown Chattanooga.
He explained to the official he was applying for a new license, “not the restoration of the old license, but a new license. The system won’t let us do that. We have to have something from the court,” Mr. Luman recalls She gave him numbers of the department of safety in Nashville and the office at Bonny Oaks Drive.
“I was kinda ticked off,” says the married handyman and carpenter, 65
Mr. Luman is ready to tell Judge Poole how he cited to the state worker Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-102 and its definition of revocation.
(48) “Revocation of driver license” means the termination by formal action of the department of a person’s driver license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle on the public highways, which termination shall not be subject to renewal or restoration except that an application for a new license may be presented and acted upon by the department after the expiration of at least one (1) year after the date of revocation; [emphasis added]
The state suspended his license in 2016, Mr. Luman says. He enters the hearing at an impasse with State of Tennessee.
The grounds for revocation “are that I haven’t paid fines on all these unlawful false arrests, y’know,” Mr. Luman says. “OK. I haven’t paid fines and that’s grounds for suspension. Same for city of Chattanooga. Oh, we false arrested you over on 75 in January of 2018 and you haven’t paid the fines. We found you guilty, and you haven’t paid the fines. We’re gonna suspend your license.”
Mr. Luman says that in the Chattanooga case, “I was not a licensed driver at the time, I was not in their jurisdiction any way, shape or form. That whole thing is void, it’s false arrest — as usual. They are trying to enforce a false arrest.”
Mr. Luman goes on in soliloquy:
I hope that Poole will just give me my dismissal so I can get out of here so I can get to work on my false arrest cases. He just decided last time he’s gonna make me get a driver’s license. I wonder how it’s all shifted to a license now. Everything has shifted away from my tag on my car, my notice to them that that’s my private property and that I am a citizen of all the states of the union and one of the people of Tennessee — we’re not talking about any of that anymore — ya notice that? We’re talking about a driver license now. OK! Nobody wants to talk about my tag. Nobody wants to talk about that notice. Nobody wants to talk about the fact that I’m not in their jurisdiction in the first place, and haven’t been through all of this. Not within their jurisdiction. Not a resident of the district. That’s why they dismissed me in Poole’s court last time.
Car effectively stolen by sheriff
In the May 30 arrest, Mr. Luman has good news and bad. The case has been dismissed of driving on revoked, driving without insurance and so-called improper registration.
But Gregory Carson, a deputy serving Sheriff Jim Hammond, has seized the Ford Explorer. Where is this car, 200 days after having been shanghaied?
“I don’t know. Nobody claims to know. It’s not in Cain’s yard anymore. *** Didn’t see it anywhere. I guess Cain had bailed out on responsibility for it. I served demands on Cains and Sgt. Carson immediately after the incident demanding their lawful authority, and they did not respond. So I am assuming they had no lawful authority in seeing my car. And that goes for the sheriff, too, and the sheriff’s department. Nobody has come up with any lawful authority for holding my car.”
“No one has shown any lawful authority.” No record of proper chain of custody proofs.
“All I have is when Greg and I went to get my property out of the car in June, the car was sitting in Cain’s lot. ***” That was the last place he or I saw the car.”
“I was handcuffed in the back of the sheriff’s Explorer when I saw Cain’s wrecker service drive off with it. I also witnessed Sgt. Carson remove my notice from the back of it, my tag, before Cain’s wrecker showed up. So he removed the evidence it is my private property before the wrecker got there. I assume there’s a reason for that. He took the evidence. That’s the last I’ve seen of that.”
At liberty, but life crimped
Has the seizure of his private mode of travel put a crimp in his life? Mr. Luman is working on restoring an old house being flipped in East Ridge in the real estate boom — new bathroom, refurbishing drywall, fresh doorjambs and ceilings.
“The fellow I am working with is picking me up and taking me home for the most part.”
“They are trying to enforce a false arrest. I hope that Poole will give me my dismissal, so I can get to working on my false arrest case,” Mr. Luman says. “He decided last time that he is going to make me get a driver license. Everything has shifted away from the tag,” the probable cause of the May 30 arres, “to the driver license.
The state is accusing Mr. Luman of operating a motor vehicle, but has no evidence to establish the elements of the crime. The main element is operation of a motor vehicle is the privilege itself. The privilege involves using a car or truck in transportation.
In federal law, “Motor vehicle means any vehicle, machine, tractor, trailer, or semitrailer propelled or drawn by mechanical power and used upon the highways in the transportation of passengers or property, or any combination thereof determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, ***” 49 CFR § 390.5T (emphasis added) Tennessee laws, despite occasional bouts of ambiguity, make the same point.
Officer Carson apparently obtained no evidence of the activity of transportation which would include documents listed in the motor carrier statute at Tenn. Code Ann. Title 65, proofs such as contracts, invoices, bills of lading and passenger lists.
Press inquiry about car
This reporter emailed the sheriff’s chief deputy, Austin Garrett, and the spokesman Matt Lea on Sunday.
The sheriff’s department has had custody of the car of Jon Luman for 199 days following his arrest May 30. Please tell me what lawful authority the department has to take private property. What are Mr. Luman’s due process rights? Has the department contacted him or sent him notices or given him a chance to get the car back? What does he need to do to get it back? Are you imposing conditions? Are these conditions in writing so I might see them?
Mr. Luman is in Judge Don Poole’s court tomorrow morning. I will be covering the hearing. I ask for comment. Better yet: Please ask Sheriff Hammond to come on my show at 1 to explain what is happening. I am on the air 1 to 3 p.m. The call-in number is 800-8949. It’s time to hear his side of the story.