Metro Clerks Delete Tickets Behind Judges' Backs - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: General Sessions Court

Metro Clerks Delete Tickets Behind Judges' Backs

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Former clerk Susan Grannis blames co-workers for ticket deletions Former clerk Susan Grannis blames co-workers for ticket deletions
Deputy Clerk David Patterson denies deleting tickets Deputy Clerk David Patterson denies deleting tickets
Driver James Gamble III refuses to name who helped delete ticket Driver James Gamble III refuses to name who helped delete ticket
James Gamble Jr. says someone "pretty high" arranged ticket deletion James Gamble Jr. says someone "pretty high" arranged ticket deletion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For some time, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been exposing ticket fixing in the city of Nashville.

But it turns out, it may be worse than anyone knew.

Now, we've discovered traffic tickets that were just outright deleted -- apparently in hopes that no one would ever know.

But that didn't stop our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams.

Williams asked Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk Ricky Rooker, "Have people been deleting tickets from the system?"

"I don't know that people have been doing that," Rooker answered. "No, sir."
 
Yet, what folks in Rooker's office may not have known was this:

Every time they deleted a ticket, Metro's mainframe computers recorded the so-called "DTOM" (Delete Traffic Offense Moving) commands, along with the ticket numbers and the names of the clerks logged onto the system.

In the last two years, it happened more than 800 times.

"Sometimes things have to be deleted for ident purposes, stroke key problems and people making mistakes," Rooker said.

But after NewsChannel 5 requested all the deletion data, we discovered some tickets were erased and never re-entered -- meaning the names of the drivers disappeared, along with the actual tickets themselves.

Attorney David Raybin said, "Changing those tickets constitutes a criminal offense because it deals with the integrity of the system."
 
Still, we might never have known whose tickets were deleted or why.

That is, until -- in an immense Metro warehouse -- NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered boxes of duplicates that few knew existed.
 
Among the sampling of tickets that we pulled: ticket number J-708308. It was a speeding ticket written last July to Metro Spanish teacher Lisa Trujillo. (See duplicate of ticket J-708308.)

Trujillo never responded to our calls.

But computer records show J-708308 was deleted using the log-in of clerk Susan Grannis.

That's Trujillo's next door neighbor. Grannis is also one of two clerks recently fired for hiding piles of unentered tickets.

Rooker said, "I asked Ms. Grannis if she had ever deleted a ticket off the system and she told me 'no.'"

Raybin said such deletions take ticket-fixing to a whole new level.

"It's one thing where you have judges passing on warrants which may or may not be appropriate," the former prosecutor added.

"But where you have a clerk unilaterally dismissing something and eradicating it so that it never comes to court, that is a criminal offense by definition because it strikes at the heart of the integrity of our system."

Grannis went into hiding after being fired.

But, in a statement released by her attorney, the former clerk said she was never "provided any training regarding how to ... delete ... traffic tickets, and did not know how to do" it.  She added, "At no time did I delete tickets for traffic violations."

So who did?

Grannis said she actually gave her neighbor's ticket to her office manager in the traffic violations bureau, David Patterson.

"Did she give you her neighbor's ticket?" Williams asked Patterson.

"No, sir. I don't recall," the deputy circuit court clerk answered.

"You don't recall?"

"No, sir."

In her statement, Grannis said she presumed that Patterson "took care of the ticket."

"I don't know how to delete a ticket," Patterson told Williams.

"You don't know how to delete a ticket?"

"Yes, sir."

Rooker said that "if someone's just going in there and deleting a ticket just to delete it, I've got a serious problem with that."

But what happened with ticket J-715264 -- a citation for running a red light -- raises even more questions.  (See duplicate of ticket J-715264.)

The driver, James Gamble III, was no help at all.

"Is there someone in the court system that helped you with it? Can you tell me?" Williams asked Gamble.

"I'm not going to tell you," the driver responded.

"You're not going to tell me."

"Sorry."

Computer records show it was also deleted using Susan Grannis' log-in, but Grannis insists it wasn't her.

And Gamble's father confides that she's not the family's connection.

"I'll tell you it wasn't her," James Gamble Jr. told Williams. "It come from above her -- let's put it that way."

"So how high was it?" Williams asked.

"It was pretty high."

"Pretty high?"

"Yeah."

So far, Nashville's DA has been reluctant to bring in criminal investigators to investigate the ticket fixing -- and few have been willing to name their ticket fixers.

"I can't tell you because a man needs help every once in a while -- you know that," James Gamble Jr. said.

But with evidence of out-and-out destruction of government records, Raybin says it's time.

"You have to have confidence that the system is working so that your ticket isn't disposed of and I have to go to court. That's really what it's all about."

Ms. Grannis says she dealt with parking tickets -- not moving violations.

So she says any traffic tickets that we discovered deleted under her name must have been done by co-workers after she walked away from her computer.

So what kind of protections did Ricky Rooker have in his office to keep tickets from being deleted?

In a word, none.

All totaled, 47 people -- almost everyone in the traffic violations bureau -- had the power to delete traffic and parking tickets.

They've now cut that to five.

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