On Tuesday, January 28th, anarchist grand jury resister Gerald “Jerry” Koch was released from the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Koch’s release comes over eight months after his imprisonment for refusing to testify before a grand jury convened under the auspices of investigating the so-called bicycle bomber case.
Judge John Keenan, the presiding judge over Jerry’s case, believes that taking the position of a government run amok, using grand juries as a witch hunt is, “a delusion of grandeur.” Judge Keenan goes on:
There is simply no evidence that the Government [sic], threatened by Koch’s subversive prowess, seeks to bring him before the grand jury on a pretext, either to gain access to the treasure trove that is his circle of friends or to send an ominous message to political dissidents.
In reality, the United States government was following a pattern of using grand juries as fishing expeditions in hopes of better understanding social and political networks of anarchists. This tactic has been recently seen in the Pacific Northwest and in California. Regardless, Jerry’s release does not come as a result of some hacky judge “seeing the light” and letting the barred door swing wide. It comes due to the diligence of his legal support in filing a strong Grumbles motion. Also from the judge’s decision:
Koch’s argument is straightforward. Because he continues to oppose the government in general and the grand jury process in particular, he urges that continued confinement will not induce him to testify. Indeed, he asserts that his tenure at the MCC has caused his views about government repression to congeal even further.
Imprisonment for civil contempt in order to coerce someone to testify is, according to the state, not supposed to be punitive. When it becomes punitive and loses any coercive power, the individual must be released (or so goes the argument). The content of the motion filed by Jerry’s legal support argues that the function of Jerry’s imprisonment—to coerce him to testify before the grand jury, was failing and in fact had become merely punitive. Based on the above quote, judge Keenan agreed. And this is the basis of the judge’s decision to release Jerry.
Judge Keenan’s decision also reveals the importance of outside support. Articles written about Jerry, letters written on his behalf, and even an online petition cumulatively added to the strength of the motion filed on his behalf. Strong solidarity from family and friends positively contributed to Jerry’s release.
In reading Judge Keenan’s decision, it is clear that the only joy he is able to squeeze out of his miserable life is in sophomoric barbs launched at Jerry and anarchists in general. And at the end of the day, none of the judge’s childish insults matter. What matters is that we have our comrade returned to us, unbroken.
Again in the words of Judge Keenan, Jerry “has chosen to remain in contempt– indeed he promises continued and endless contempt.” And for that, we applaud you, Jerry. Welcome home.
To read judge Keenan’s decision in its entirety, click here.