Grand juries, a constitutional safeguard against public corruption

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By JON FAULKNER

Last April, a Kenai Grand Jury indicted Judge Margaret Murphy on felony perjury charges. Few Alaskan know the status of the indictment, how it came to pass, and how a handful of concerned citizens are trying to educate Alaskans on the purpose and powers vested in grand juries by our Constitution. (See Past coverage at: www.alaskastateofcorruption.com)

David Haeg believes that the powers vested in the people to petition grand juries for the purpose of investigating misconduct by public officials is inviolable, and yet has been systematically dismantled by single vote margins and unconstitutional actions by our Supreme Court.  

His documentation of historic actions by our Supreme Court has drawn the attention of Alaskans and generated protests and sit-ins that have altered the legal landscape. He regards the indictment against Judge Murphy as a siren call:  “I’m hoping Alaskans will rise up in defense of their rights, and not become victims of this massive, ever-increasing consolidation of power in the hands of an elitist, unelected few,” he stated. 

The legal foundation for Judge Murphy’s citizen indictment is Article 1, Section 8, of our Constitution, which states, “The power of grand juries to investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare or safety shall never be suspended.”  Other than the right to bear arms, Haeg regards this right of citizens to legally investigate government corruption as the most protective of our democracy and freedoms.

Not a single Constitutional Convention delegate opposed the concept of grand juries. In fact, they unanimously agreed that grand juries secure other essential freedoms, including the power to investigate the government itself, free from the threat of retribution. Delegates opening acknowledged that “The power of grand juries to inquire into the willful misconduct in office of public officers, and to find indictments in connection therewith, shall never be suspended.” (Alaska Constitutional Convention, December 15, 1955.) 

Records of delegate deliberations support Haeg’s view that Grand Juries were conceived and authorized  to investigate public officials: “The grand jury is preserved, for all purposes, particularly for investigation of public officials.” (Alaska Constitutional Convention Commentary on the Preamble and the Declaration of Rights, December 15, 1955). Notably, this authorization stressed a citizen’s right to direct appeal. Delegates stated: “The grand jury can be appealed to directly, which is an invaluable right to the citizen.” (Alaska Constitutional Convention transcript page 1328.) 

Ed Martin, a lifetime Alaskan and activist on this topic, posed this question: “What is unclear about this? The arrogance of our Supreme Court is beyond the pale. How could anyone sensitive to the intent of our framers interpret this as anything but an unconditional right of direct appeal by its citizens? A right, mind you, stripped away from Alaskans by the very branch of government from whom our citizens are seeking justice and protection of our liberties.”   

Haeg’s chronology of events after statehood paints a picture of slow but steady erosion of this Constitutional right. In 1959,  the newly formed Supreme Court distributed its first “Alaska Grand Jury Handbook” and under the title “Importance of the Grand Jury”, the handbook stated, in part: 

“In time of peace no citizen can perform a higher duty than that of Grand Jury service… No body of citizens exercises public functions more vital to the administration of law and order. Thus, the citizens themselves, by this representative body of Grand Jurors, hold in their own hand the control of the maintenance of law and order throughout the state, through prosecution for crime. The importance of this power cannot be overestimated.” (Alaska Grand Jury Handbook, pages 3 and 5).

This same handbook re-affirms the right of citizens to appeal directly to the grand jury:

“A citizen is at liberty to apply to the Grand Jury for permission to appear before it in order to suggest or urge that a certain situation should be investigated by it… Charges of crime may be brought to your attention in several ways: …(4) by private citizens heard by the Grand Jury in formal session, with the Grand Jury’s consent.” The handbook also acknowledges how a grand jury has the “important duty of making investigations on its own initiative…” to “investigate how officials are conducting their public trust.” (Alaska Grand Jury Handbook pages 5, 6, and 7). This language stands in stark contrast to today’s revised, far more convoluted procedural handbook.    

In 1962, Alaska’s Legislature passed AS 12.40.030 and AS 12.40.040complimentary statutes that reinforced a Grand Jury’s duty to investigate and disclose knowledge of certain crimes and present them to the court. They also authorized broad powers to investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare or safety. Language exists which limits Grand Jury powers to “…all crimes committed or triable within the jurisdiction of the court…” However, the Constitution delegates broad powers to the judicial branch to implement the administration of justice through the courts, and herein lies the thrust of the issue.   

Haeg notes that between Statehood and 1985, grand jury investigations and recommendations were common and include a range of alleged corruption by judges, district attorneys, and law enforcement officials.  In 1985, a grand jury recommended that Alaska’s legislature impeach Gov. Bill Sheffield for steering a $10,000,000 state lease to a campaign contributor. In reaction to this perceived incursion into their judicial prerogative, a divided Alaska Supreme Court issued Criminal Rule 6.1, which suspended certain grand jury rights to investigate and make recommendations. Two of five justices, Burke and Compton, declared Rule 6.1 to be unconstitutional because it violated the plain wording of Article 1, Section 8 of Alaska’s Constitution, cited above.

Thus, a single vote decided the issue for Alaskans—by a court sitting in judgment about what limits exist to citizen grand juries. 

Once again, in 1991, an important case (O’Leary v. Superior Court) upheld the constitutionality of Rule 6.1 by a single Justice. In their dissent, Justices Burke and Compton wrote: “This procedural rule is not the least bit deferential to the “anti-suspension” clause. Indeed, it mocks it. The Grand Jury, and not the courts, can choose matters on which it reports and recommends, and the manner in which to do so. Its constitutional power shall never be suspended by the overlay of cumbersome procedures which provide for private judicial adjudications and review of whether the report it is to publish adversely reflects on someone, or otherwise violates his or her constitutional rights.” 

Not surprisingly, after 1991 grand jury investigations and recommendations stop according to Haeg and then in 2004 evidence emerges indicating systemic corruption within Alaska’s Legislature and judicial system. In 2006, FBI-led raids of Legislative offices resulted in several criminal prosecutions. That same year, FBI section Chief Colton Seale reportedly told Haeg that he personally fielded many complaints nearly identical to Haeg’s [systemic judicial corruption in Alaska] and in many cases his investigations expanded rapidly and implicated high-level officials. But in each case, a call came from Washington, D.C. telling Seale to pull the plug on his investigations. 

According to Haeg, in 2017 a group of Alaskans became energized by the fact that our Constitution empowers its citizens to investigate government corruption which certain officials may not want to be investigated. That same year, Haeg’s group asserts that the Alaska Supreme Court bypassed established protocols and rewrote the Alaska Grand Jury Handbook yet again. At that time, according to Haeg, they eliminated all references to a citizen’s right of direct appeal to a grand jury, as well as all references to the grand jury’s right to decide, without undue restraint, what to investigate.

This action by the Supreme Court outraged Haeg’s group and in 2018 they assembled a petition of roughly 500 Alaskan signatures asking government officials to deliver their petition to a grand jury, which was refused. According to Haeg, Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore and others directed a total of six different grand juries to cease investigating evidence of judicial corruption even after the Grand Juries initiated actions of their own to investigate. 

By April 2022, organized protests were occurring across Alaska and in June Superior Court Judge Jennifer Wells permanently disbanded a Kenai Grand Jury after it decided, by majority vote, to investigate evidence of judicial corruption and cover up. One day later, activists organize a state-wide courthouse sit-in and on July 4, 2022, filed felony complaints of “Interference with Official Proceedings” (see AS 11.56.510) and “Jury Tampering” (see AS 11.56.590) against Judge Wells.  Protesters organized a citizen’s arrest of Judge Wells and Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore for those same charges, prompting Judge Wells to announce her retirement. 

In July of 2022 a new Kenai grand jury was convened to investigate evidence of judicial corruption, possibly aided by a more sympathetic office under Attorney General, Treg Taylor.  On Aug. 2, 2022 the jurors were advised of their right to independent counsel. Predictably, a showdown ensued. In December 2022, immediately after the grand jury subpoenaed several judges and judicial investigator Marla Greenstein, the Alaska Supreme Court issued Supreme Court Order 1993, a rule change that, according to Haeg, stripped the grand jury of constitutional powers to investigate, make recommendations, and indict government officials such as investigator Greenstein. (See SCO 1993 at alaskastateofcorruption.com).

Haeg’s group regards these actions as self-serving and without constitutional foundation, and argues that Greenstein’s 35-year reign as Alaska’s sole investigator of judicial misconduct is evidence of a too-cozy relationship.   

Tensions increased when, on Dec. 15, 2022, Haeg’s group uncovered an internal Alaska Supreme Court “Memorandum” indicating the Supreme Court bypassed the required oversight of their own 13-member Rules Committee when creating SCO 1993 – ostensibly to avoid interference with their goal to tighten control over grand jury rights. (See SCO 1993 History at alaskastateofcorruption.com) 

Members of the Rules Committee reportedly entered protest of the Court’s action, stating that “…the rule changes were important and serious changes of a constitutional nature and should not be rushed through”). According to Haeg’s timeline, the Rules Committee was denied a hearing.  (See SCO 1993 History at alaskastateofcorruption.com).  

Immediately following this action, citizens gathered petition signatures calling upon Alaska’s Legislature to impeach all five justices for committing unconstitutional acts. Several weeks later, on February 6, 2023, the Alaska Supreme Court rescinded portions of its own order (SCO 1993) which prohibited Grand Juries from indicting, but also retained portions barring citizens from appealing directly to the Grand Jury.  The revisions also retained key provisions granting government officials the power to dictate to the Grand Jury what they can investigate, who they can subpoena in pursuit of that investigation, and what the Jury can actually say in their final recommendations. (See SCO 2000).

In April 2023, the Kenai Grand Jury indicted Judge Margaret Murphy on felony perjury charges and in August Haeg’s group learned that the Kenai Grand Jury proceedings were ongoing but frustrated by procedural efforts to quash certain findings and recommendations. Proceedings are not public, but according to Haeg, Judge Murphy’s prosecution for felony perjury continues on January 8, 2024, at 10 am, room 401 of the Anchorage Nesbett Courthouse.   The oral arguments will also be live-streamed on https://courts.alaska.gov/. (For background, see indictment, case 3HO-23-00295CR on Alaska CourtView, and TV/news stories at alaskastateofcorruption.com)

How did all this get so bad and go on unaddressed for so long? Haeg answers this by offering his followers a glimpse of history (in this case from New York City) which—if ignored, he fears will be repeated here in Alaska. 

New York City’s 1994 Mollen Commission Report

”To cover up their corruption, officers created even more: they falsified official reports and perjured themselves to conceal their misdeeds. In the face of this problem, the Department allowed its systems for fighting corruption virtually to collapse. It had become more concerned about the bad publicity that corruption disclosures generate than the devastating consequences of corruption itself. As a result, its corruption controls minimized, ignored and at times concealed corruption rather than rooting it out. Such an institutional reluctance to uncover corruption is not surprising. No institution wants its reputation tainted – especially an Department that needs the public’s confidence and partnership to be effective. Since no entity outside the Department was responsible for reviewing the Department’s success in policing itself, years of self-protection continued unabated until this Commission commenced its independent inquiries.”

Interested readers can also contact the Alaska Grand Jurors Association at PO Box 123, Soldotna, Alaska 99669

alaskagrandjurorsassociation.org and alaskastateofcorruption.com

A Petition seeking investigation into the Alaska Supreme Court’s actions is at this link.

Jon Faulkner is the president of Alaska Gold Communications Inc., which publishes Must Read Alaska.

21 COMMENTS

  1. The “government” has become rife with behavior that is to the derement of the individual, from the local level all the way to DC, and it is blatant. The state of Alaska has a mammoth pile of cash to run government every year and every year the Juneau cabal conspires to blow through every nickel and cry poverty. The fact that the judiciary is colluding to obstruct the citizen from getting redress for unconstitutional acts by government became obvious when it suspended the rights of the citizen to engage in commerce in 2020, under the guise of “public health emergency”.

  2. Perhaps it is time for an amendment to the constitution that clarifies the exact duties and responsibilities of the grand jury and disallows governance by the court system? Perhaps it should also clearly allow the Grand Jury to obtain legal counsel and investigators that are completely independent of the government?

  3. Well… the Alaska Supreme Court has evidently exerted its exalted privilege to issue a Criminal Rule that contravenes the clear language of the State Constitution, perhaps after finding a “…penumbra, based on an emanation…” in the Constitution that implies such a privilege. In this instance, the Alaska Supreme Court did not bother with issuing a written opinion to point to its hidden Constitutional or statutory power to issue the Rule, so we are left to trust the Court. The Alaska Supreme Court shrugs, and says, “Don’t question, just obey.” And we always trust a government agency… to act in its own best interest.

  4. These paragraphs do not negate the political speech that: unconstitutional corporation bylaws writings have their cure in the legislative inquiry process due. If I do not have the subject matter and personal juris diction over another freeman In this nation of liberty I just don’t and neither does Karen nor can we collective delegate such to a domestic and foreign agency.

  5. I do not consent to delegating American sovereignty to foreign composites like CDC, WHO or whomever foreign else. DO YOU? No foreign nor domestic ruler can make that rule especially offshore or in Juneau no matter how pretty she or he is. We are equal before the law. We got our equal rights from God not state of AK or AR corporation constitution. Our rights are long descedant to constitutions. Our unalienable rights were recognized before even the US Constititution in the language of law, Latin.

  6. The pause I alluded to in the other story is germaine. JUNEAU HAS LIMITS. ALL jurisdiction is limited not enlarged by “constitutions”. This a concept they do not believe. The criminal code was not supposed to be altered and tampered with. The US Criminal was supposed to work with the US Constitution in support of the still standing republic.

  7. We cannot fabricate whole cloth jurisdiction, courts, they do not have. For example, they cannot be an “accuser” because government/corporations are not living, breathing men. Governments are mythological “persons”. Myths do not breath, they cannot be kidnapped etc. Kidnapped people may accuse: “You, put me in your van and took me against my will to a place I did not wish to go!”. That is an accusation. You have a right to face YOUR accuser whoever she is and say whatever you wish. YOU may question your accuser. That is an unalienable right. That right may not ve paused or liened lawfully per the still standing republic. The popular custom and enshrined tradition is to place a few on the he head of the prosecutor and say that emolument or its holder is “the accuser”. IT is not. The facing the accuser and questioning right cannot be omitted as it always is every day in Alaska even if it is a popular custom. IT IS AN ANTI-US Constitutional popular custom popularized by bar card carrying Alaskan LAWYERS. But they do not have jurisdiction diction to change the US Constitution; do they.

  8. Such discussions regarding articulating proper and improper delegations should be discussed freely in the public square. America has been in an undeclared war for many generations which throws shade on the applicability of the US Constitution. I believe improperly ceded agency authorities imperil Americans’ liberties.

  9. This is far too long for anyone to actually read. However, it’s probably all factual.

    Last time I served on a grand jury 75 people were called. We were treated like cattle. No parking. No lunch. I started a conversation when we were left alone, all 75 of us. It was clear I was about to start a rebellion so I backed off. You see, the state, muni and federal employees were being paid by their employers at their regular rate of pay. Not the same for small business people and employees of the private sector.

    If the grand jury is going to depend on citizens then everyone needs to be treated equally. If everyone is to receive $25 a day (taxable at that!!) then public employees need to receive that, and only that, along with the rest of us. If parking cannot be provided then the state should pay for Uber or a taxi. If the state cannot afford lunch then the grand jury must end each day by 12 noon. The system cannot work if most citizens are incentivized to find a way to dodge the service. How about everyone receive the rate of pay of the lowest paid Alaska Court System employee?

  10. Judicial corruption corrupts all sovereign nations in Alaska. Corruption leads to more corruption. Alaska needs JUDICIAL REFORM.

    Article I Sec. 8 provided every individual Alaskan a remedy to correct a judge(s) wrongful decision. When a Superior Court Judge cites the law in her Order and then rules against herself, a law has been violated. When a Superior Court Judge refused to believe the sworn undisputed testimony of Defendant and Plaintiff and their exhibits that is wrong.

    SCO 1993 signed December 1, 2022 violates every Alaskan’s constitutional right to go before a grand jury with a presentment that affects the public safety and/or well-being.

    June 2020 Chief Justice Bolger and Justices Maassen, Winfree and Carney write a letter to Fellow Alaskans. Last paragraph. “…As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated long ago, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” https://courts.alaska.gov/media/docs/sc-2020-stmt.pdf

    Throughout Alaska there are sovereign nations. Alaska Native tribal citizens have three layers of government protections. Federal, State and Tribal. Alaska has 229 tribal nations. Alaska is a mandatory P.L. 280 State. Concurrent jurisdictions are a tribal government and the State working together to protect the public safety and well-being of an Alaskan.

    When a judge of a sovereign nation corrupts the laws of another sovereign nation, what sovereign nation has the responsibility to correct the error and provide a remedy to protect the public safety and/or well-being of an Alaskan?

    What was the intent of Chief Justice Winfree (judicial branch) and Attorney General Taylor’s (executive branch) meeting in August of 2022 regarding SCO 1993? Should their intent and decision be to protect the Alaska Constitution and our constitutional right to go before a grand jury?

    A court of law cannot remedy the erroneous actions that have severed every individual Alaskan’s constitutional right. Article I Sec. 8.

    Justice should not be afforded to those who can hire a competent attorney. Justice should not be about a judge violating the law of one sovereign jurisdiction to protect an individual’s crime committed within another sovereign jurisdiction. Injustice in any sovereign jurisdiction in Alaska is a threat to justice within every sovereign jurisdiction. SB 31 Testimony Starts are 04:30:06 PM
    https://www.akleg.gov/basis/Meeting/Detail?Meeting=SSTA%202023-02-23%2015:30:00

    Attorney General writes February 9, 2023 that the DOL is not equipped to handle my request. Why? The sovereign State of Alaska has jurisdiction. Government-to-government collaboration should be about sovereign governments working together for we-the-people and justice for all.

    What sovereign nation/government is protecting you, your children and grandchildren? Jurisdiction is NOT about kicking the jurisdiction can from here to there and back again.

    REMEDY: Alaska Constitution Article III Sec. 16 “The governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws…” How will Governor Dunleavy remedy the wrongs and be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws? Article III Sec. 16 gives Governor Dunleavy is responsible for the faithful execution of the LAWS.

    • EDIT: Article III Sec. 16 gives Governor Dunleavy authority and the responsibility for the faithful execution of the LAWS.

  11. The US Constitution is the declared law of the land. Anything in conflict with the US Constitution is void from inception for effect.

  12. We need to thank the few souls expending time and energy to bring government and judiciary tyranny into the light of day for all to see. Now, we must all marshall behind these few and stand bold in every attempt to regain our rights and soveriegnty. The government has forgotten which of us are the masters and which are the servants.

    • Wayne, I agree with you on this one. Juries have a time honored tradition of keeping the Government honest. Apparently even our State Founding Father’s understood the concept.

      Pitiful thing is we are stuck with the Democrat / Commie Party choosing every Judge in this State since they have a death grip on the Judicial Council.

      Let’s make sure we vote for a Constitutional Convention on the next go around! And let’s support the efforts of the fine people mentioned on the story above!

  13. It is not for naught that Alaska has been considered one of the most corrupt States in the Union for years now.

  14. Thank you Jon,& Betty Jo for your follow up to this article .
    It’s not beyond pale that in scripture & prediction, One who comes upon a pale horse “all powerful ” will rule! We the People, through willfulness under our US Constitution, choose not to accept this premise whatsoever. NO, we were given protection against such abuse, from the sacrifice of such burden of years, yet struggled to break Free!
    Reflections exposed / recognized in this original most devine document:
    Our Declaration of Independence
    In Congress, July 4, 1776 ,The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

    “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. ”

    Justifications is written in this detail:

    ” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,”
    This last line says it all – that “We The People” can make change ” Peacefully ” if we are brave & with eternal vigilance to do so!
    Ben Franklin states a profound statement the day after the convention of 55 of “We The People” , “a republic,” but only “if you can keep it.”
    The source of this quotation is a journal kept by James McHenry (1753-1816) while he was a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. On the page where McHenry records the events of the last day of the convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin: Well Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy? A republic, replied the Doctor, if you can keep it.” Then McHenry added: “The Lady here alluded to was Mrs. Powel of Philada.” The journal is at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.
    My comment in this article is just one humble reflection to only one issue, We the People’s Grand Jury. I am compelled to question in a fair & rightful concern. This is unselfishness with 58 years of life of learning & loving our Great State of Alaska.
    It’s in We The People’s Jurisdiction to rule!
    Please Alaskans, call, write or personally confront our Representatives to the Legislature ( Art. IV section 15 gives them power to correct injustice ) before we go to any extreme remedy. It’s their duty to recognize these tipping point issues and to protect our “We The People’s” rights. God Bless this Nation.

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