Self-executing mode —John Fretti

Someone posting as Mayor John Fretti of Valdosta responded in a comment to Leigh Touchton. Mayor Fretti, please point us to where on the web is the video you mention. -jsq
Update 12:13 AM 23 April 2011: Mayor Fretti confirms (through three different channels) that this post was by him:
THat was my post. an attempt to reach out and help explain a few things. the video, as was al evidence in the case was exchanged durig the discovery part of the motion. the video should be with that.
I have asked him whether an open records request would produce the video. Back to the original post. -jsq
With all due respect to Leigh’s version of the arrest – and it is all on video, it happened in the end by way of self – executing mode. After repeated requests for the group to relinquish the podium and rose stating each time that they will not and we “must do what we have to do”. the Mayor asked if there was any objection from Council or city manager or attorney if WE allow Chief Frank Simons to approach the crowd and do what he sees necessary to allow the meeting to continue efficiently and effectively. There was some discussion and then John Fason (Cmdr.) asked if anyone wants to go to jail – to follow him. and they all did – no cuffs, no restraints. Peacefully. That’s it. and all on video for all to see. With respect to the charges filed, they were old STATE charges and were ruled out as overbroad and (something else). That was fine. There was an appeal by the solicitor General and again the old STATE laws were ruled overbroad and (something else). as they should have been. We have our own local laws and ordinances now that have been tested strong in court.

and now here it the Paul Harvey moment…

The group then filed a civil case on several (7 I think) counts. Each case was for $75.00 (for ech person, I assume) There were depositions and discovery for weeks. Mine was 3 hours and 57 minutes (I think). It cost money on both sides. in the end, Judge Hugh Lawson ruled in favor of the defendant(the city) on all charges. The city then entered a plea for cost recovery (out of pocket costs only) – which was awarded to the city. the group was to pay just over $16,000 to the city or $1457.00 each. We didn’t push the issue after complaints of no money, poverty and hardships. We had the option of putting a lean on property – which we did not chose to do.

So, as I see it – everyone got off rather well. A local government is not held responsible for using a STATE code that is antiquated. Again and respectfully, this maybe how Leigh remembers it. she had a rough 36 hours or so immediately following that night. I tool the liberty in the last month of so to watch and listne to the recordings so I could refresh. in fact, one of the recordings may be found at the office of Rob Plumb – who is a good man and an excellent attorney. I write this for the good of the order and the historical facts of the group. I thought they might be important. I hope posting here doesn’t constitute any breach of internal social doctrine. I just wanted to be helpful…and above all – civil. please don’t yell at me or become angry with me…I have two more short posts to follow.

-John F.

3 thoughts on “Self-executing mode —John Fretti

  1. John F.

    THat was my post. an attempt to reach out and help explain a few things. the video, as was al evidence in the case was exchanged durig the discovery part of the motion. the video should be with that.

  2. Leigh Touchton

    As I stated, the police officer’s hands were on me before Fason said anything, Georgia Supreme Court saw the video, heard the excellent arguments from my husband, who remains to my knowledge the only attorney in Valdosta to ever get a state law overturned as unconstitutional, and Georgia Supreme Court ruled in our favor.
    It doesn’t matter how many city ordinances Attorney Talley approves Council to pass, if the First Amendment trumps them.
    No handcuffs until we got to the jail, which was then run by former Sheriff Ashley Paulk, then we were cuffed, no phone calls allowed, no food given to the diabetics in our group, no bail set, women forced to use toilet facilities in full view of male guards and male prisoners, human rights abuses continued to mount. I’ve written about it on George Rhynes’ blog. When we got thrown in the general inmate population, the inmates exclaimed “Wow, they done raided a church!” We were teachers, nurses, bank employees, farmers, businessmen…a real danger to our community all right.
    I’m not talking about the civil suit, which we proceeded with to force you to drop potential civil repercussions against us (settlement goal achieved), I’m talking about the criminal suit that the Georgia Supreme Court finally put a stop to. You could have dropped it at any time, in fact, you could have simply refused to press charges the first time, when it went in front of Judge Kelly Turner and she ruled against you. You know, just because an attorney tells you “hey, I’ll take the case” doesn’t mean you have to spend the city’s money to press it.
    Chief Simons couldn’t testify that we were disruptive, if we had been he would have arrested us for disturbing the peace. Why pass the responsiblity to Chief Simons? He did what you asked him to do, just like he did what you asked him to do what he did at the solar groundbreaking when protesters showed up with signage and no permit. Thank you, I really really appreciate that you did that. Why couldn’t you do that six years ago? I feel that my sacrifice six years ago paved the way for others in our community to be able to participate in their own government without Mayor Fretti throwing them in the paddy wagon and then passing the responsibility to Chief Simons for showing up at an outdoor event and expressing their First Amendment rights to say something about it. Even without a permit, they would have won that case too, and apparently you guys have finally figured that out. The First Amendment applies in Valdosta, Georgia.
    And thank you Chief Simons, for the excellent way you run your department, and the professionalism your officers consistently display to all of us at these public meetings and during our protests. It was in stark contrast to what Sheriff Paulk’s employees exhibited when we got to the jail. I understand that Sheriff Chris Prine has hired many more professional employees than Paulk employed, and I thank him for that as well. I doubt there’s ever going to be a situation under Prine’s leadership like the one wherein Paulk’s deputy testified that he had a drawer where he kept $25,000 in cash donations that other deputies gave him to help Deputy Kevin Farmer pay former Attorney General Mike Bowers to pursue the libel lawsuit against Lake Park Post editor Al Parsons, may he rest in peace. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
    Anyway, I am off to decorate Easter eggs with the children, and I appreciate you Mr. Quarterman, for allowing us to have the opportunity to publish our issues on your blog. Since it’s Easter, I would like to publicly invoke our Lord and Savior’s admonition to his followers and state clearly to Mayor Fretti that I forgive you for what you did to me six years ago. Now don’t do it to anyone else. Peace.

  3. Leigh Touchton

    Ooops, had to add one more thing, there were men who were released on their own recognizance and not incarcerated in Paulk’s jail. You could have done the same thing to me and the others, why didn’t you? Women aren’t entitled to the same courtesy as men? (there were 8 women in our group, including a 70-plus year old grandmother). I cannot allow you to excuse what you did by claiming you proceeded because no one on Council objected and then passing the responsibility to Chief Simons to do as he saw fit. You had a talk with Chief Simons at the solar groundbreaking, you could have had a talk with him May 5, 2005, or at the very least made sure we were released on our own recognizance and not subjected to Paulk’s version of Abu Ghraib.
    Thank you again to Sheriff Chris Prine for trying to implement professional standards at the jail. Jesus expects no less from his servants. Happy Easter, Sheriff Prine and family, and all the local law enforcement and public officials who carry out their duties with professionalism.

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