| I know some among my circle of progressive friends are a little nervous about conservatives wanting to create a "citizen grand jury" for Montana, but I think it's a fantastic idea!
Just imagine! As soon as the law's passed, we can start convening these things to use against the right-wing zealots behind this thing! Duane Sipe, the initiative's sponsor; Richard Stevens of "Freedom Action Rally"; and Sen. Verdell Jackson of Kalispell. Constitution Party members, Tea Baggers. It wouldn't be hard to drum up some reasons, right? After all, these people believe the income tax is illegal, that most kinds of government activity is illegal, etc & co. I think we can confidently say their tax returns probably could use a good looking-over, right?
But, whoa! I'm getting wa-a-a-a-a-y ahead of myself here. You don't actually need a reason to convene a citizen's grand jury, you just need signatures from half of one percent of a county's registered voters! There'll be time enough after the signatures are gathered to figure out what the grand jury should investigate, because it's the jury that has "sole control" over the "length and depth" of investigations.
And the best thing? You don't even need an indictment to do damage! Isn't that great? Because the proceedings of the grand jury are completely public! That's right! And because of a grand jury's broad powers to call up evidence and testimony (and no sneaky hiding behind the 5th amendment for the accused in a grand jury!), all sorts of irrelevant evidence can be brought up to damage the investigated's reputation. Heck! And you can present all kinds of weak evidence that makes the defendant look guilty in the court of public opinion!
And think about all the costs someone under endless investigation would have to bear! All those trips to Missoula - on work days, of course - toting a lawyer along, the endless depositions, examination of evidence, research, etc & co. Really, if the costs of being investigated by a politically-motivated grand jury doesn't drive these people out of Montana...
And why stop there? How difficult would it be to, say, gather enough signatures to call a citizen's grand jury to look into Dennis Rehberg's role in the Flathead Lake Boat Crash? An afternoon at the Missoula Farmer's Market? And while we're looking into Rehberg's drinking habits, we can examine his finances, his connections with lobbyists (like Leo Giaocometto!), hell! We can check out his family, make sure they're on the up-and-up, right?
And we can do the same to whoever opts to run against Tester in '12. Or to current legislators. Krayton Kerns! Scott Sales! Just to name a few. And some old names from the past - Marc Racicot! Tim Fox! Judy Martz!
Clever name, isn't it? "Citizens" grand jury? Because, really, it's just a means for a small group of radicals to terrorize their neighbors. Like the "Committee of Public Safety"! Or the local "citizens councils" (or "Soviets" in Russian)! It's a slap to democracy. In fact, all through the report, the brain trust behind these grand juries derides democratic institutions - appointed judges and elected leaders, the entire legal system.
But it's your system. You vote, you have the power to make and change the rules. So, make no mistake, it's not the government these people can't stand, it's you.