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REPORT: CHARGED WITH “FAILURE TO APPEAR” AFTER APPEARING ON SCHEDULE
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 10, 2014) — The Post & Email has learned that Terry Trussell, a 70-year-old Vietnam combat veteran and former Dixie County grand jury foreman, was jailed on Thursday.
Blogger, radio host and author Jason Hoyt reported on Friday that Trussell appeared for his arraignment hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. EDT on charges of ten felonies with which he was charged after accusing state’s attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister, court clerk Dana C. Johnson and Judge Greg Parker of criminal activity.
Trussell had been impaneled as a grand juror in April and volunteered to be the foreman. After his appointment, the grand jury was inactive until July, when a citizen of Dixie County presented a complaint alleging criminal activity in regard to the implementation of the Common Core educational standards in the county. The grand jury therefore convened on August 1 to deliberate the evidence, at which time Siegmeister illegally inserted a court reporter, bailiff, assistant and himself into the grand jury room.
Florida law states that while the grand jury is deliberating, no one else is to be present. The state’s attorney is commanded to be present while witnesses are testifying, which was not the case on August 1.
Trussell attempted to report Siegmeister’s conduct to the judge with oversight but was told she no longer had jurisdiction over the grand jury. He was directed to Judge Greg Parker, who normally presides in the another county in the circuit an hour away. Parker claimed that he was present in the Dixie County courthouse when Trussell sought help, which Trussell was not told by the court clerk.
Parker and Siegmeister appear to have communicated as to how to proceed with Trussell’s complaint, and Trussell was denied phone records by Johnson.
Trussell learned that a common-law grand jury was convened in Dixie County and, because he believed the statutory grand jury to be compromised, he presented a complaint against Siegmeister and the original Common Core complaint to them in an attempt to fulfill his oath to serve the citizens of the county to the best of his ability.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) interviewed Trussell twice, then filed a probable cause affidavit citing him for “simulating a legal process” under two Florida statutes totaling ten felonies. He was arrested on September 2 and released the next day on a $5,000 bond.
Hoyt’s headline is “Terry Trussell Appears in Court and is Arrested for ‘Failure To Appear.'”
An email sent by a concerned Florida citizen and friend of Trussell’s to the Dixie County Commissioners on Friday reads as follows:
Date: Friday, October 10, 2014
Subject: EMERGENCY TELEPHONE MEETING REQUESTED – CONSENT VOTE NEEDED
To: Marvin Hunt <firstname.lastname@example.org, Gene Higginbotham <email@example.com, Jody Robson <firstname.lastname@example.org, Jason Holifield <email@example.com, Ronnie Edmonds <firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a good friend of Terry Trussell. He is now suffering badly as a political prisoner in solitary confinement in the Dixie County jail.