Grand Juries

The Grand Jury is a power the People reserved unto themselves at the founding of this nation to serve as the fourth and ultimate balance of power against government abuse. It can be a powerful tool to Defend Rural America, provided the People are educated as to its true purpose and reclaim its powers unto themselves.


Discussion

Here is the wording of the Fifth Amendment.

  1. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

It protects the People in two ways. First, in the case of capital or otherwise infamous crimes, government cannot prosecute an individual without the People’s consent, in the form of Jurors. The decision to not indict is an absolute protection against government abuse, and cannot be overturned even by the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court.

  1. “The grand jury brings suspects before neighbors, not strangers. Just recently in Stirone v. United States, 361 U.S. 212, 218, we said, ‘The very purpose of the requirement that a man be indicted by grand jury is to limit his jeopardy to offenses charged by a group of his fellow citizens acting independently of either prosecuting attorney or judge.’” ― Justice Douglas, Hannah v. Larche (363US420)

Second, the Grand Jury is empowered to judge government itself, with the power to investigate and indict, within its jurisdiction, judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, county supervisors, state attorney generals, all other government agents, and even the President of the United States.

Grand Juries were given the tools to conduct investigations with powers equal to those of government: subpoena witnesses and documents; conduct questioning; even arrest, fine, or imprison anyone that refused to appear. To insure they would be free to fulfill this purpose without reprisal, jurors are immune from prosecution for their jury activities.

Grand Jury findings can be presented to the public as information (presentments), or as accusations for subsequent prosecution (indictments).

Interestingly, the Grand Jury clause is included with seemingly unrelated protections: from double jeopardy, forced self-incrimination, lack of due process, or property takings without just compensation. However, it is this placement that makes the purpose of Grand Juries all the clearer. They are there as a mechanism to protect all the other rights and protections of the People.

Through its powers of “presentments” and “indictments” or “non-indictments,” the Grand Jury provides the most fundamental balance of power: the Power of the People to judge all three branches of government. The Grand Jury is not a branch of government. It stands on its own.

  1. “Rooted in long centuries of Anglo-American history, Hannah v. Larche, 363 US 420, 490 (1960) (Frankfurter, J., concurring in result), the Grand Jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the three branches described in the first three Articles. It is a ‘constitutional fixture in its own right.’ ... In fact, the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional Government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people.” ― Justice Scalia delivering the opinion of the Court, United States vs. Williams (504US36)

Sixth Amendment

Here is the wording of the Sixth Amendment.

  1. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

It further protects the People by denying government the ability to convict. Taken in conjunction with the Fifth Amendment, it is seen the entire process for determining guilt or innocence lies with the People, not government.

In California

By the California Constitution, every county must impanel every year a Civil Grand Jury to oversee government operations within the county. The Siskiyou County’s “Overview of the Civil Grand Jury” confirms ...

  1. The Grand Jury precedes the Constitution and even dates back to the Magna Charta: “The present grand jury system evolved from the ecclesiastical courts of the Dark Ages, beginning in 1164 when Henry II of England impaneled the first 16 man grand jury to remove criminal indictments from the hands of the church. In 1635, the first American grand jury was impaneled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; by 1683 grand juries were present in all of the colonies. These early grand juries began the practice of returning “presentments,” which were primarily against public officials and different from criminal indictments.”

  2. The Grand Jury belongs to the People, not the state: “While it is a part of the judicial system, a civil grand jury is an entirely independent body.”

  3. It is illegal for government officials to control a Grand Jury: “Judges of the Superior Court, the district attorney, the county counsel, and the state attorney general may act as its advisors but cannot attend jury deliberations nor control the actions of the Grand Jury.” Penal Code § 934, 939.

Here are copies of the Siskiyou County Civil Grand Jury documents:

  1. Overview of the Civil Grand Jury

  2. The application form

  3. The 2010-2011 Civil Grand Jury Report

Link: California Penal Code. Search for ...

  1. Title 4: Grand Jury Proceedings

  2. Title 5: The Pleadings

Quotes

“... in this country the common practice is for the grand jury to investigate any alleged crime, no matter how or by whom suggested to them, and, after determining that the evidence is sufficient to justify putting the party suspected on trial, to direct the preparation of the formal charge or indictment. Frisbie v. US, 157US160 (1895)

“We deem it entirely clear that under the practice in this country, at least, the examination of witnesses need not be preceded by a presentment or indictment formally drawn up, but that the grand jury may proceed, either upon their own knowledge or upon the examination of witnesses, to inquire for themselves whether a crime cognizable by the court has been committed ...” ― Hale v. Henkel, 201US43 (1906)

“The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge ...” ― U.S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139. (1972)

“... the grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. It ‘is a constitutional fixture in its own right.’ In fact, the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional Government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people.” United States v. Williams, 504US36 (1992)

“The grand jury’s functional independence from the Judicial Branch is evident both in the scope of its power to investigate criminal wrongdoing and in the manner in which that power is exercised. ‘Unlike [a] [c]ourt, whose jurisdiction is predicated upon a specific case or controversy, the grand jury “can investigate merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even because it wants assurance that it is not.”’” United States v. Williams, 504US36 (1992)

  1. Jon Roland

  2. Jon is a nationally recognized, self-taught Constitutional scholar. He served as an officer in the US Air Force, spent most of his career as a computer professional, and has a degree in mathematics. He formed the Constitution Society in 1994, and subsequently assembled a vast amount of Constitutional information on his website.

  3. hear: Jon explain Grand Juries and answer detailed questions about their operation.

  4. read: Fixing the Grand Jury

  5. read: Opening the Grand Jury

  6. website: http://constitution.org

  7. website: http://grand-jury.org

  1. Kelly Mordecai

  2. Kelly Mordecai is the pen name for the author of “The Hidden 4th Branch,” a 500-page book on the Grand Jury. A resident of Siskiyou County, Kelly has degrees in engineering and is self-taught on grand juries. He seeks to apply the power of the Grand Jury to the problems facing his county.

  3. hear: Jon Kelly discuss Grand Juries on the radio show Walls In Our Minds, with host Terry Dodd.

  4. website: http://hidden4thbranch.com

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Defend Rural America, The Constitutional County, Constitutional County, and
Constitutional Counties are trademarks of Kirk F. MacKenzie.

Kirk MacKenzie

Founder

Defend Rural AmericaTM

650-380-8027

Skype: kirkmack1

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