The Honorable Representatives,
The Members of the House Judiciary Committee (non-civil)
Growing up, I was taught that the Devil, his minions and myrmidons, were the Great Deceivers. Life events have proven my teachers correct.
Deceptive advocacy is a technique whereby a speaker will tell you just enough of the truth to make you believe a lie.
One example of that is now found in a House Bill, 941, making its way through the halls of our Legislature in the guise of holding errant police officers accountable. According to the comment attributed to Rep. Rich Golick, one of the sponsors of the bill, “This grand jury bill is very balanced – it was drafted by prosecutors and the law enforcement officers!”, one would think it worthy of enactment. But, after reading, it is obvious that the deceptive use of the word “balanced” proves the tutelage of my former years.
There are 4 systems of Courts in this State, the Article VI (Judicial), Article V (Administrative), Article II (Legislative), and the Article I (Courts of Inquiry), The Grand Jury of each county in this State is an independent Article I Court of Inquiry. It is populated by 17 to 23 judges. And, by the Grace of Almighty God, the Grand Jury, with a criminal trial jury, possess a constitutionally recognized power not allowed to any other branch of our government … the power to be the Sole Judges of the Law before them. It is they who administer accountability upon the very letter of The Law and all public officers and employees of this State, right along with the rest of us peons. No one is immune from and all stand equally before the gaze of that Court in its administrations of the criminal laws.
The Grand Jury, in or out of session during its term of court, is the most powerful governmental body in each county in this State, and the reach of their jurisdiction, though it may start with a crime in their county, is global. Though one might think that to be an awesome concept, it is paled by the power of one citizen willing to step forward in their presence, and stand in the place of a state’s prosecutor, there to lay his evidence in the light of that Court’s Inquisition.
Obviously, the continued effort of our legislators is to throttle the free and unrestricted use of our Liberties is exemplified by the fact that throughout the verbiage of this HB, the term “district attorney” is used. This, instead of the generic “prosecutor”, is an unabashed attempt to make a reader of the law, a reader of the rules of practice and procedure, believe that ONLY an elected district attorney, or one appointed by the Attorney General, has the sole authority of law to present a case of police use of excessive or deadly force to the Grand Jury. Further, that such presentation be made within one year. That is found in the proposed language of 15-12-71(B) in Section 1.
That one paragraph turns this proposed legislation into an instrument of a legislative plunder of the rights and power of a Grand Jury and a citizen’s First Amendment Rights.
First, this deceptive language implies that it is the Legislative Intent to deprive a citizen of his right to petition, peacefully assemble with, responsibly speak to, and be heard by his neighbors in Grand Jury assembled upon a matter of grave public import or alleged criminal activity. Further, it implies that a constitutionally independent Court of Inquiry (Grand Jury) must wait upon a district attorney before initiating its own investigation into the facts of such a case; impliedly making the Grand Jury the servant of a DA; not the other way.
Then it seeks to violate the equal protection clause by requiring that a grand jury criminal inquiry may not proceed without giving an accused officer and his superior 20 days notice. This is, additionally, an unwarranted invasion upon the Ex Parte Inquisitorial Power of the Grand Jury. Is a citizen allowed notice of such? Does that not unconstitutionally infringe upon that Court’s authority to investigate and accuse or exonerate as to the question of probable cause to believe?
Perhaps the most obnoxious of provisos glaringly not incorporated in the language of the proposed legislation are the exclusions of making the Grand Jurors aware of the exculpatory law found in O.C.G.A. 16-3-24 through 24.2 which includes the statutory immunity from criminal prosecution defense for a citizen acting in accordance with the permissible and lawful use of deadly force … even against corrupt or aggressive law enforcement. This can only be understood as a legislative intent that a district attorney is not obliged to seek the whole truth or to fully inform a grand jury. Deception sanctioned by law.
Lastly, it sets an unreasonable statute of limitation of one year beyond which lawyers can argue that a presentment to a grand jury may not be had against their errant law enforcement client as a tactic to get them off the hook if the one year time has passed. A district attorney’s abuse of this limitation would, of course, allow a corrupt cop to avoid criminal prosecution and provide additional revenue to tort attorneys. Another example of lawyers using the law to making work for lawyers.
There are other problems with this proposed piece of legislation, but with this, it is once again made perfectly clear that some, possibly a majority, of our legislators have the utmost of disdain for the sovereignty of their constitutional superiors (the citizens of this State) and seek to place us beneath our servants. Obviously, this proposed legislation does not come close to meeting the requirement of, and is adverse to, the Paramount Duty clause of legislators.
Hopefully, those reading this will rise up and make their voices heard to stop this travesty. And, hopefully too, any reader who is impaneled as a Grand Juror will initiate a searing inquisition into the errant laws currently on the books and nullify them relative to this Body of Judges.
It may be possible that Rep. Golick, and his fellow sponsors, are abjectly ignorant of the broad, all-inclusive power of a Grand Jury when in their Article I Court assembled (most all are, lawyers included), but I doubt it. Surely, citing that power recognized in §15-12-74 in Section 3 of the Bill in question should have given them pause to consider this blatant attempt to quell the free speech of the citizens of this State and attempt to confine the power of citizens when in Grand Juries assembled.
If the House Judiciary Committee (non-civil) really wants to do something productive and constitutional, they can cause the repeal of the equal rights offensive statutes, O.C.G.A. 17-7-52 and 45-11-4(f) and (g), and, as a matter of fact, just cause a repeal of any unnecessary statutes which unconstitutionally attempts to limit the power and discretion of a Grand Jury.
This Bill does not confer any power upon a Grand Jury nor mandates a necessary and proper procedure it does not already possess; rather it attempts to limit that power and oppress the free citizens of this State. Do not pass this out of committee when it arrives! It is obvious who did draft this bill, and “very balanced” is not a proper description.
Should any of you desire further information, I shall be at your pleasure.
Paul L. Nally
Pine Log, Georgia