CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., — A journalist has filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s chief justice alleging that he conspired to have him falsely imprisoned and arrested covering a judicial conference.
David Tulis of NoogaRadio Network and 96.9 FM is demanding a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Nashville to hear Roger Page’s defense in the deprivation of protected fundamental rights of the press and the unwarrranted obstruction of press members Tulis and midstate NoogaRadio bureau chief, Christopher Sapp of Sparta, Tenn.
The arrest took place Nov. 6, 2021, in a conference room of the Embassy Suites Cool Spring hotel in Franklin during which time the judges socialized, played “sovereign citizen bingo” and heard from a secret speaker about how to deal with members of the citizenry who assert their rights and handle their own cases.
Tulis, who runs the TNtrafficticket.us legal reform blog and airs a 7 a.m. three-hour weekday news show, forced the arresting parties to drag him out as he sat at his laptop at a conference room table. He insisted he doesn’t “have the
strength to cooperate in an illegal arrest” and warned Franklin police officer William Orange he had to get a warrant under T.C.A. § 40-7-103. [Complaint download at this link]
The lawsuit asks compensation of at least F$75,000 and that the federal judge order Page, who oversees the Administrator of the Courts, to open the judicial conferences to the public, as are conferences for federal courts.
After arresting Tulis, Page and a new AOC director put the department in full lockdown on “security” grounds. A Feb. 1, 2022, order makes secret conference dates, locations and agendas and bans the public. The order sparked a federal lawsuit in June by Liberty Justice Center demanding the conferences be opened.
“The lawyers in the judicial branch connived to get the hotel to ‘trespass’ me,” Tulis says, “knowing full well they have no authority under our constitution and the open meetings act to kidnap me while covering these public proceedings where they discuss legislation and tactics to defeat access to justice. We have as much right to cover these conferences as we do a school board meeting or doings at an honest election venue.”
“Page conspired with others in the deprivation of the protected fundamental right of the press, to cover a judicial conference of immensely important public interest,” Tulis says.
Also named in the suit are Officer Orange, the city of Franklin, AOC education manager John Crawford and Atrium Hospitality in Alpharetta, Ga., whose manager Lisa Hegwood was convinced to stand in as the offended party and have Tulis arrested.
Tulis was charged with criminal trespass. On Dec. 14, 2021, Williamson County sessions judge M.T. Taylor dismissed the case in a 70-minute hearing as lacking probable cause.