Observations from the Florida Common Law Grand Jury

“A PIVOTAL POINT IN OUR HISTORY”

by Sharon Rondeau

The Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights contains the only reference to grand juries in America’s founding documents

(Aug. 16, 2014) — On Thursday morning, The Post & Email published a press release from the National Liberty Alliance (NLA) which announced that the first common-law grand jury in eight decades would be seated in a county courthouse to perform its constitutionally-mandated function of examining evidence and deciding whether or not probable cause exists to indict an individual or individuals.

As The Post & Email reported earlier on Friday, grand juries are mentioned only in the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights and historically were considered a buffer between the citizens and an overzealous district attorney who might launch a “vindictive prosecution” against an individual.

Before 1946, when Congress changed the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (FRCP) to say that citizen grand juries’ issuance of “presentments” containing criminal evidence were “obsolete,” common-law grand juries assumed responsibility for looking into the fiscal affairs of a town or county; reported any suspected crime to the others and then deliberated upon it; inquired into the conditions in local jails; and observed public officials for any sign of corruption.  After the new Rules went into effect, however, grand juries were overtaken by the government at all levels.  Very recently, the exposure of widespread judicial corruption has revealed that grand juries often serve only as a tool of government, which can deprive citizens of their constitutional and civil rights to due process.

A member of the common-law grand jury which assembled in the Dixie County, FL courthouse told The Post & Email on Friday that the group arrived at the courthouse at 9:30 a.m. and entered a reserved courtroom without incident.  “There were just under 50 people who showed up from the community,” he said.

“Out of the group of people who showed up, 25 became common-law grand jurors with four alternates.  The balance of those people left the courtroom, because now it was just the jury,” the member explained.

The Post & Email asked how the individuals involved came to be common-law grand jurors, to which our contact responded, “The way our country came about is the same way this jury came about.”

The jury deliberated for approximately 55 minutes while in the reserved room.  When The Post & Email inquired as to whether or not court personnel accepted the common-law grand jurors as being officially seated, he said, “There was no obstruction to get to the courtroom, no constable of any kind.  One gentleman came in and saw that it was being used and he left quickly; I don’t know who he was.  I never saw anyone else.”

Our contact said that “two true bills” were produced by the grand jury which will be filed with the court clerk.  “This is really history-making.  I bet it’s going to be a pivotal point in our history,” he told us.  In one of his “Commentaries on the Constitution,” 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story explained how a grand jury arrived at either a “True Bill” consensus or a “No True Bill:”

When the grand jury have heard the evidence, if they are of opinion, that the indictment is groundless, or not supported by evidence, they used formerly to endorse on the back of the bill, “ignoramus,” or we know nothing of it, whence the bill was said to be ignored. But now they assert in plain English, “not a true bill,” or which is a better way, “not found;” and then the party is entitled to be discharged, if in custody, without farther answer. But a fresh bill may be preferred against him by another grand jury. If the grand jury are satisfied of the truth of the accusation, then they write on the back of the bill, “a true bill,” (or anciently, “billa vera.”) The bill is then said to be found, and is publicly returned into court; the party stands indicted, and may then be required to answer the matters charged against him.

The common-law grand jury member then informed The Post & Email that he will be hosting a short meeting on Saturday morning at the Cooper Memorial Library, 2525 Oakley Seaver Drive, Room 108-B in Clermont, FL at 9:45 a.m. EDT where he plans to organize a “unified state common-law grand jury”  from members of the public who attend and volunteer.  There will be a question-and-answer session, although the meeting is not expected to last longer than 45 minutes.

When we asked him if government-empaneled grand juries were legitimate, he described them as “a paper tiger” which is “fictional” and “doesn’t exist except in our minds.”  “But they do have teeth, unfortunately,” he added.

He believes that the events in Dixie County will be replicated in other counties in the near future both in Florida and other states.

He explained that any member of the grand jury can alert the “other 24” members of evidence of a crime which they then review.  Thursday’s assembly was the first occasion on which that particular grand jury had met.

Update, 9:31 p.m. EDT:  The organizer reported that 28 people showed up to the meeting on Saturday morning, all of whom volunteered to participate on a common-law grand jury if needed.

One Response to "Observations from the Florida Common Law Grand Jury"

  1. gigclick   Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Great news! Written Law is returning to operational capacity. We will use it to the fullest.

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