Citizen grand jury
In the United States, a citizen grand jury is a non-actionable, non-governmental organization that assumes a responsibility upon itself to accuse an individual or groups of individuals of having committed actionable crimes, in a similar aim as that of official grand juries. Such organizations have been organized by those who espouse conspiracy theories regarding certain events or the individuals who are accused by the citizen grand jury, and most citizen grand jury applications to official judiciary systems at the federal, state, or local and municipal level tend to be thrown out for lack of evidence.
Modern citizen grand juries were organized in the 2000s to accuse government officials of complicity in the September 11 attacks, and others were organized in the late 2000s and early 2010s regarding the accuracy of President Barack Obama's "natural birth" as a U.S. citizen.
9/11 citizen grand juries
The earliest so-called 9/11 citizen grand jury, the 23-member "Los Angeles Citizens' Grand Jury on the Crimes of 9/11/01," was organized in 2004 by activist Lynne Pentz. By October of that year it had launched an "indictment" accusing George W. Bush and other administration officials of complicity and foreknowledge of the attacks. Among those offering testimony at the event were Webster Tarpley, Barbara Honegger, Don Paul, Jim Hoffman and Christopher Bollyn. Similar citizen grand juries were organized in San Diego later in the 2000s.
Obama citizenship citizen grand juries
Some campaigners, led by Georgia activist Carl Swensson, have sought to, "finally expose the conspiracy behind President Obama's birth certificate," by forming what they term "citizen grand juries" to indict Obama. The "citizen grand juries" are based on the Fifth Amendment's premise that "no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury."[according to whom?]
Although the activists managed to hand out copies of "indictments" to Congressional staff, the courts have not regarded the "citizen grand juries" favorably. In June 2009, a group of 172 campaigners declared themselves to be a "Super American Grand Jury" and voted to charge Obama with treason and accused him of not being a U.S. citizen. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the "indictment" on July 2, 2009 and declared "[T]here is no authority under the Rules of Procedure or in the statutes of the United States for this court to accept [a presentment]... The individuals who have made this presentment were not convened by this court to sit as a grand jury nor have they been selected at random from a fair cross section of this district. Any self-styled indictment or presentment issued by such a group has no force under the Constitution or laws of the United States."
White supremacist citizen grand juries
In 2011 there was an influx of white supremacists to Montana's Flathead Valley region. Karl Gharst, a white supremacist active in the Flathead area, publicly announced plans to form a citizen grand jury in Kalispell to indict the Montana Human Rights Network, a local anti-racism organization. Gharst, previously active in the Aryan Nations and currently founder of a group called Kalispell Pioneer Little Europe, claimed that the MHRN was a "Jewish Defamation Organization" and part of a "Jewish terrorist network".
Members of Ammon Bundy's group calling themselves "Citizens for Constitutional Freedom" attempted to create citizen grand juries and threatened indictments against a number of officials, both federal and local, for "multiple constitutional crimes." The tactics included bringing in self-proclaimed "judges" who did not have legal authority under the court system. One of the self-proclaimed 'judges' threatened newsmedia with "the crime of felony" for attempting to report on the proceedings.
- Christopher Bollyn (October 29, 2004). "Citizen Grand Jury Indicts Feds Over Sept. 11 Attacks".
- "Historic Result From San Diego Citizens' Grand Jury On The Crimes Of September 11, 2001 In New York City".
- Weigel, David (June 3, 2009). "Citizen Juries: The New Birther Style". The Washington Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- Weigel, David (June 30, 2009). "What the Obama Birthers Are Handing Out". The Washington Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- Weissmann, Jordan (March 6, 2009). "Judge Dismisses Obama "Indictment"". Retrieved March 6, 2009.
- Misc. No. 2009-0346 in Re SUPER AMERICAN GRAND JURY, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth, July 2; also 2009 u.s.dist. LEXIS 57624.
- Bump, Philip (December 18, 2013). "Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They Aren't After You". The Atlantic.
- "Groups say more white supremacists flowing into Flathead Valley". Missoulian.com, 16 October 2011, Accessed 28 April 2013
- Morlin, Bill. "Antigovernment Extremists in Oregon Now Plan Their Own Justice System". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
- Hammond, Betsy. "Self-appointed 'judge' arrives in Burns to ask local residents to charge government officials with crimes". The Oregonian. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
- Garcia, Arturo. "Colorado man appoints himself 'judge' for Bundy militants' bogus court against local officials". The Raw Story. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
- Foden-Vencil, Kristian. "Armed Occupiers Convene Common Law Grand Jury Against Local Officials". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 15 May 2016.