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Grand Jury

Water Protector Steve Martinez Released From Grand Jury Detention

Bismarck, ND – On March 3, Steve Martinez was jailed at the Burleigh County Detention Center after refusing to testify before a secret federal grand jury investigating 2016 protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Martinez is now finally free as of April 12, according to a statement posed to social media by the ‘Support Steve Martinez’ campaign. Martinez has served over 60 in days in federal detention. He was previously been jailed for most of February 2021 for refusing to testify, but was briefly released after a judge found the magistrate who ordered him detained did not have the authority to do so. In March 2017, a similar summons to for a grand jury in the same investigation was served to Martinez but eventually withdrawn by the court after he made it clear he would face jail rather than testify.

Defending Standing Rock, Combating State Repression

On February 3, Standing Rock protester Steve Martinez appeared before a grand jury in North Dakota. The US Attorney’s Office had subpoenaed Steve in an ongoing investigation into a 2016 incident in which another protester, Sophia Wilansky, was gravely injured. After refusing to testify, the Magistrate Judge overseeing the grand jury held Steve in contempt of court and ordered him imprisoned. After nearly three weeks in jail, Steve was released, but the government’s attack on him continues. In order to learn more about his case and the broader climate of repression against activists and protestors, I spoke with Lauren Regan, executive director and lead attorney with the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Oregon. The Civil Liberties Defense Center is an organization founded to give legal, educational, and strategic support to social movements that seek to dismantle the political and economic structures at the root of social and environmental destruction.

Indigenous Water Protector Jailed For Refusing To Cooperate With Grand Jury

Bismarck, North Dakota - Water Protector Steve Martinez is confined in Burleigh County Detention Center after refusing, on principle, to give testimony before a federal grand jury. This Grand Jury, like the one at which Martinez refused to testify three years ago, ostensibly involves a criminal investigation into events leading to the grievous injury of Water Protector Sophia Wilansky. It has been the position of Morton County, ND that Ms. Wilansky was not injured as a result of excessive force by law enforcement, but by the actions of Water Protectors. In a federal civil rights lawsuit against Morton County, however, Wilansky says she was shot in the arm with a concussion grenade by a...

Breonna Taylor Grand Jurors File Petition Against Kentucky Attorney General

Three grand jurors from the investigation into the police raid that killed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor are now calling for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to be impeached over allegations that he mishandled the case.  The jurors on Friday filed a petition with the state House of Representatives, arguing that Cameron breached the public’s trust and also misrepresented key grand jury findings, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, which first reported the complaint.  A press release from the attorney representing the grand jurors, who remained anonymous to protect their identities, said of the jurors, “it is truly a testament to the Kentucky Constitution that they are able to be here today and to expose injustice and demand public accountability.”

Grand Jury Member Breaks Silence On Breonna Taylor Case

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, announcing last month that no police officers would be charged with homicide for killing Breonna Taylor, claimed members of a grand jury agreed with him in finding that cops "were justified" in opening fire. "My job is to present the facts to the grand jury and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law," Cameron explained, suggesting those facts informed the decision to indict only one officer on three counts of first-degree "wanton endangerment."

Grand Jury Indicts Couple Who Pointed Guns At Protesters

A grand jury in St. Louis on Tuesday indicted Mark and Patricia McCloskey on counts of exhibiting a weapon and tampering with evidence four months after footage circulated showing the couple pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home. The couple's attorney, Joel Schwartz, said the grand jury reached the decision after the McCloskeys appeared before a judge earlier in the day, NBC affiliate KSDK reported.  St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner had issued felony charges against the couple in June for unlawful use of a weapon.

Grand Juror Files Suit To Release Transcript In Breonna Taylor Case

In a motion filed late Monday afternoon, the juror also asks a judge to allow fellow jurors to give up their confidential status if they wish and speak freely about the controversial case that saw one of three Louisville police officers who fired their weapons at Taylor's apartment indicted on felony charges. "The full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled from beginning to end is now an issue of great public interest and has become a large part of the discussion of public trust throughout the country," Kevin Glogower, the attorney for the juror, wrote in the filing that comes just five days after the indictment.

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Demand Her Release

Lawyers for Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning on Wednesday filed a motion for her release, saying her continued incarceration for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury is unlawful. The motion, filed in the Alexandria, Virginia-based federal district court for the eastern district of Virginia, says that Manning's "incarceration is not serving its only permissible purpose"—to coerce her testimony. Rather, the motion argues, the detention is clearly punitive. Manning has been held in contempt of court and locked away at the Alexandria Detention Center nearly continuously since March 2019. She may be held as long as 18 months unless she agrees to testify to a grand jury about WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, who remains at a London prison as the U.S. government seeks his extradition.

Chelsea Manning’s Resistance Is Aimed At Abolishing The Grand Jury Once And For All

When Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea Manning back to jail for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, he urged her to “reflect on the principles she says she’s embracing” as well as “whether those views are worth the price she’s paying for them.” Trenga maintained there was “no dishonor” in cooperating with a grand jury because the United States Constitution codified the grand jury. Manning took Trenga’s admonishment seriously and responded with a letter containing research she did with the help of her attorneys.

Chelsea Manning Incarcerated For Refusing To Testify In Assange Grand Jury

On Friday, March 3, 2019, Chelsea Manning was incarcerated for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Alexandria, VA investigating Julian Assange. She will stay in jail until she agrees to testify or until the term of the grand jury ends. It is unknown when this grand jury began but grand jury terms can last up to 18 months. Manning opposes the secrecy of grand juries as the lack of transparency can lead to government abuse. She said outside the courthouse, “These secret proceedings tend to favor the government, I’m always willing to explain things publicly.”

Mueller Impanels Trump Grand Jury And Issues Subpoenas

By Elizabeth Preza and David Ferguson for Raw Story - Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal reports the grand jury convened in recent weeks and will likely continue for several months, according to two sources familiar with the probe. The move signals Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign has intensified. “This is yet a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, explained to the Wall Street Journal. “If there was already a grand jury in Alexandria looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy. This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so.” Mueller was appointed in May by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all matters involving Russia. Trump has repeatedly derided Sessions over his recusal, suggesting he would not have appointed him as attorney general had he known ahead of time.

Tamir Rice: No Indictment Of Police Officers

By Cory Shaffer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A Cuyahoga County grand jury on Monday elected not to bring criminal charges against the two Cleveland police officers involved in last year's fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The decision not to indict officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback brings to an end a months-long criminal investigation into the high-profile shooting. Monday's decision comes more than 13 months after the shooting, which catapulted Cleveland into the national debate about police use of force. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty's oversight of the grand jury process drew criticism. Officer Garmback drove the police cruiser into the park toward the gazebo where Tamir had been sitting. The boy approached the car with his hands toward his waist. Loehmann jumped from the passenger side of the cruiser and fired twice. The entire interaction, captured by a city-owned surveillance camera, lasted less than two seconds. Loehmann wrote that he shouted four times for Tamir to show his hands before he opened fire.

Brown Case: Judge Asked To Appoint Prosecutor, New Grand Jury

Under Missouri law, MO Rev Stat § 56.110, the presiding judge of the Circuit Court is empowered to “appoint some other attorney to prosecute” if the prosecuting attorney ‘be interested,’ (i.e. has a conflict of interest). The knowing false testimony of witnesses by itself should result in a special prosecutor and a new grand jury, but that was one of many abuses of the grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown. Sherrilyn Ifill and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has written to Judge McShane raising issues that undermine the credibility of this grand jury. In her letter (below) she urges the judge to convene a new grand jury and appoint a special prosecutor. In the 9 page letter she describes a series of abuses by McCulloch and the assistant prosecutors that “call into question both the integrity of the process and the lawfulness of the prosecutors’ conduct.” All of this, Isil concludes, demonstrates a failed grand jury and raises ethical questions about the behaviors of the prosecutors. She reminds Judge McShane that she has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor and convene a new grand jury. She asks the court to take action to “vindicate the public’s faith in the criminal justice system.”

Black People’s Grand Jury Subpoenas Wilson, Nixon

Organizers for the Black People’s Grand Jury taking place Saturday and Sunday, Jan 3 and 4, 2015, have sent a subpoena to Officer Darren Wilson who killed 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. Wilson was called to testify and undergo questioning by attorneys for the Black People’s Grand Jury hearings this coming weekend. Also subpoenaed were: St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCullough; Colonel Jon Belmar, Chief of the St. Louis County Police Department; Governor Jay Nixon and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. The Black People’s Grand Jury has its own attorneys making up the prosecutorial team. The BPGJ is selecting its own grand jurors and is calling its own witnesses as it reviews the evidence in the police murder Brown. The Black People’s Grand Jury will be a transparent process in which the community will be able to participate.

Protests Break Out For Dontre Hamilton In Milwaukee

Filled with frustration and resolve, a coalition of religious and civil rights leaders joined the family of Dontre Hamilton on Monday in demanding that a federal investigation into his fatal shooting move forward, along with a broader review of Milwaukee Police Department cases involving excessive force. U.S. Attorney James Santelle issued a statement saying the U.S. Department of Justice would review the Hamilton case individually to determine whether federal civil rights laws were violated. Santelle did not address the issue of a larger "pattern-and-practice" investigation that would examine the entire department. In 2011, federal officials began a preliminary review of whether the U.S. Department of Justice should sue the Milwaukee Police Department for a series of possible civil rights violations. Racial profiling, searches and seizures without probable cause, the targeting of minority populations for harassment, a poor citizen complaint process, excessive use of force, or excessive use of weapons or Tasers, all could warrant federal intervention.
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