• Our U.S. Constitution Is Not Just A Quaint Idea! What Is A Citizens' Grand Jury?

    By Staff
    March 19, 2024

    by Bart Crabtree, President - Montana Citizens Council on Judicial Accountability, sponsor of Montana CI-125

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    Our Constitution has a purpose. It is, first and foremost, our protector. Many of us often rhetorically speak about our freedoms but very seldom do we truly understand or boldly assert them. We must all stop buying into the statist notions and stop the corruption that continues to creep into our government. Yes, You! What is one of these original guardians of The People? The State Grand Jury.

    After you learn the legal principles about Grand Jury, you will find that there is an answer to stem the corruption and bullying plaguing government today.

    All state and local officers (public servants) and private citizens are subject to the inquisition of our Grand Jury. If all Montanans/Americans understood the extent of their power to arrest corruption when they serve on a State Grand Jury, the roster of Grand Jury volunteers would include ½ of the county residents. That roster is known as “Venire Pacias Jurates” or simply as “Venire”.

    It comes down to public awareness and educating citizens to understand the VALUE of their Rights, YOUR Rights, and what is at OUR disposal. When we go into the practical operations of a county Grand Jury and discover that we can end this nightmare through a Grand Jury, it’s like a blind man suddenly able to see. A whole new world will open to us; We, The People.

    After you review this brief information, you will see and understand the need to bring forth, at a minimum, a Montana Constitutional amendment through a Citizens-driven initiative to amend our grand jury laws and create an easier path to impanel a citizens' grand jury. This is currently being brought by a group of Montana Citizens through Montanans For Grand Juries CI-125. Restoring our full rights to our Grand Jury will take more work.

    There are two Grand Jury systems in America. The federal Grand Jury and the state(s) Grand Jury. This author believes the federal Grand Jury system is a complete sham. It allows the prosecutor to completely manipulate and control the Jurors and the information they receive. This is why almost all federal Grand Juries hand down indictments or charges.

    All fifty states, and you, the citizens, are guaranteed to have a Grand Jury through the fifth amendment (Bill Of Rights) to our United States Constitution. Remember, our respective states are sovereign, and our federal government would not exist without our sovereign states. The Grand Jury is known as “The People's Sword and Shield”, “The People's Panel,” or “The Court of Inquiry.” Grand Juries are used only for “Capital and other infamous crimes,” meaning felonies.

    A Grand Jury is a special group of county citizens, called and empowered to conduct private, open-ended legal proceedings, investigate potential criminal conduct, and determine whether criminal charges should be brought, called an indictment or a “True Bill.” It is separate from the courts, which cannot preside over its functioning. The Grand Jury remains free to pursue its investigations unhindered by external influences or supervision. The Grand Jury IS THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY in the county court system.

    In the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case United States v. Williams, 504 U.S. 36, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion. He stated that the Grand Jury belongs to the People, and it is like a 4th branch of government, not to be controlled by any of the other three branches (legislative, executive, judicial). He also stated, “The Grand Jury requires no authorization from its constituting court to initiate an investigation, nor does the prosecutor require leave of the court to seek a Grand Jury indictment.” This means once a Grand jury is Impaneled. It may investigate anything it chooses.

    In Montana, we have three types of juries per MCA 3-15-102:

    1) Grand Juries.

    2) Trial Juries.

    3) Juries of inquest.

    Montana created our current State Constitution in 1972. Our State Grand Jury is addressed In Article II, Section II, Part 20: “Initiation of proceedings. (1) ...All criminal actions in district court, except those on appeal, shall be prosecuted either by information, after examination and commitment by a magistrate or after leave by the (district) court, OR by indictment without such examination, commitment, or leave. (2) A Grand Jury shall consist of 11 persons, of whom eight must concur to find an indictment. A Grand Jury shall be drawn and summoned only at the discretion and order of the district court judge.

    Subsequently, our Montana Code Annotated states this in 3 different state statutes. Additionally, the only other statute regarding the Citizens Grand Jury in Montana is the makeup of the Grand Jury. There are NO other statutes directing the Grand Jury. A Montana Grand Jury has not been impaneled in over 30 years because our judiciary has our hands tied beyond our backs and their boots on our necks. Constitutionally, all criminal charges are required to be brought through a Grand Jury, voiding (1) above.

    So, what is a Grand Jury? To start, a Grand Jury is NOT a jury in a courtroom trial where you convict or acquit anyone. It is not a jury in an appellate court (yes, some people have claimed that). Please nix those thoughts or beliefs right now. You are part of a called panel of citizens to meet in private over a period (not every day) to determine if probable cause exists to bring an indictment against a person(s), which orders the county attorney/state to bring official criminal charges. Rather than the police department or sheriff's office doing the investigating, it is you and ten other citizens in your county. The Grand Jury is an institution of We The People, not our civil servants.

    A trial jury (petit jury) consists of twelve people and takes a unanimous verdict to convict. A Grand Jury consists of eleven people, and it takes eight to “indict” someone. Once a Grand Jury “hands down” an indictment (a True Bill), then the prosecutor MUST file formal charges, the judge MUST issue an arrest warrant, and the accused MUST be tried in a regular twelve-member petit jury trial.

    The Grand Jury is divided into the Chief judge (the foreperson) and the panel of all other judges (jurors). Together, they (you) are known as the tribunal or the Grand Jury. In every county courthouse, you will find a special chamber with a placard reading “Grand Jury Room” for the exclusive use of any Grand Jury panel convening within that state judicial district. This chamber is The People's Office, in The People’s Building!

    The problem in Montana, as previously mentioned, is that it takes a district court judge to authorize the impaneling of a grand jury. Our judiciary has complete control over whether you or I get to sit on OUR Grand Jury. This is unconstitutional. Why? In the 1992 U.S. v. Williams case, Scalia stated that our judiciary does not have control over our “4th branch of government that belongs to We The People.” Yet, our judiciary DOES have complete control over our grand jury system. This begs the question…..why has this issue not been addressed in Montana in the past 32 years? It has been ignored.

    Grand Jury is the People’s sword and shield because it WORKS for the People to arrest evildoers and to PROTECT any individual against corrupt, vindictive, and overzealous governments. Citizens impaneled on Grand Juries are at the top of the pecking order, not judges or attorneys! WE, THE PEOPLE, have the authority and lawful power to arrest corrupt actors. WE, THE PEOPLE, have not arrested government criminals because most of us don’t realize we CAN! Well, now you DO!

    Grand Jury is a legal, singular, separate, independent governmental quasi-judicial and enforcement entity. It is not constitutionally assigned to ANY of the other three branches of government nor controlled by them (Scalia). And…. it’s one of the best secrets in our Blessed Republic to quell the corruption in our government and judiciary. We, The People, have the authority and lawful power to arrest corrupt actors and end the hijacking of our court system, government, and our country.

    The Grand Jury possesses extraordinary inquisitorial power. They may, upon nothing more than a rumor, commence their inquiry into any entity (personal or government) and their conduct in this state. They can investigate merely upon a suspicion that the law is being violated or even if it simply wants assurances that it is not. It is a vital “Peoples Check” on all government operations, and every government office is within the aegis of the Grand Jury, giving the People’s Panel an unrivaled ability to suggest public improvements and expose corruption.

    The use of our Grand Juries will begin the due process of clearing the criminals out of our government and our courts. Those servants who cannot adhere to our laws, ethics, and Constitution will be removed. No more cronyism or hiding behind frivolous immunity laws initially created by our lawmakers to protect servants from honest mistakes. It is NOT a green light to behave nefariously with impunity as some do today. No more state commissions that self-discipline and fail to hold their peers accountable. It is our civic right and duty to discipline our servants.

    In Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S.43 (1906), The United States Supreme Court states that the independent Grand Juries purpose is not only to investigate possible criminal conduct, but to act as a “protector of citizens against arbitrary and oppressive governmental action” and to perform its functions; the independent Grand Jury “deliberates in secret, and may determine alone the course of its inquiry.”

    We, as citizens of Montana, are to have the fundamental right of free access to a Grand Jury. It is available directly to the people and any individual citizen. It is society's most potent tool against organized crime corruption in the cities, counties, or states if it is committed against the state's residents. Yes, our state Grand Jury can indict U.S. congressional servants if they violate the highest law in the land, the Constitution.

    We, The People, have arrived at this mess of corruption through our complacency and forgetting that WE, not the Supreme Court, state judges, or government, are the last word on the law and our Constitution. Our ignorance of the Constitution and the Civics it stipulates has given our public servants the treacherous idea that they are our masters rather than our servants. We’ve been fooled, neighbors. Stand up and start doing the chores our duty dictates.

    It is time to awaken our sleeping giant…our citizens' Grand Jury.

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    Larry Klayman tried this a couple of years ago but unfortunately it went nowhere.

    Bart Crabtree

    65.000 signatures are need to get it qualified for the Ballot. It is a huge mountain to climb, and lack of volunteers (I.E. people needed to get this done) is a huge problem. If people would quit complaining on social media and actually get out there and help it will get done.

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