Tag Archive: grand juries

Toward a Fuller Discussion of Grand Jury Resistance

grandjuryFrom Indybay – by Ben Rosenfeld

A couple years ago, I asked people to pause before branding as a cooperator a person who gave pre-scripted testimony to a grand jury after a exhausting her legal options. Although some people construed my piece as advocating “partial cooperation,” I have never uttered those words except to disclaim them. Instead, I’ve spent hundreds of unpaid hours representing grand jury resisters or pairing them with other lawyers, coordinating joint defenses, advising colleagues how to give legal expression to their clients’ principled resistance, drafting and sharing motions, assisting with appeals, petitioning to open proceedings and unseal records, developing printed materials, and inveighing against the malignant grand jury system.

Perhaps I made a mistake in vouching for a person who had not debriefed to the community after testifying. I took that chance to protect her from denunciation, knowing her circumstances to be more nuanced than the term “cooperator” usually conveys, and because I hate seeing the government succeed in dividing activists. My aim was to spark deeper discussion in order to encourage more informed and effective resistance.

There are many good reasons to sound the clarion note of non-cooperation. It galvanizes resistance, honors the sacrifices of those jailed for contempt, keeps things straightforward, and is rooted in the critical fact that even innocuous sounding questions/answers can lead to harmful results. But other truths impinge on this ideal framework: Ostracizing every person who enters the grand jury chamber has personal, social, and security costs of its own. It creates rifts, spreads alienation, siphons resources, and serves the FBI’s political ends. (more…)

In Legal Battle Over Grand-Jury Secrecy, Ninth Circuit Court Sides with The Stranger

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people's political beliefs.

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people’s political beliefs.

From The Stranger

Well, the court sided with The Stranger for the most part.

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit published its opinion about our ongoing fight with the federal government over how secret its grand jury proceedings should be. The short version: They wanted automatic and almost total secrecy and opacity, we wanted transparency—or at least some clearly argued standards about why certain documents should be sealed and kept away from the public. On Friday, the court found in our favor. We won. Mostly.

The background: In the summer of 2012, law-enforcement officials began handing subpoenas to activists around the Northwest, ordering them to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle. These weren’t all polite knocks on the door—in some instances, agents battered their way into activists’ homes before sunrise with guns drawn. The grand jury was supposedly investigating what happened on May Day, 2012, when demonstrators in an anti-capitalist march smashed out the windows of stores, banks, and the Ninth Circuit Federal Courthouse downtown.

The investigation landed several political activists in jail for months. Some, like Matthew Duran and Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik, spent a few of those months in solitary confinement for reasons the federal government and the detention facility still refuse to explain.

These activists weren’t accused of any crime—prosecutors acknowledged they weren’t even in town on May Day. They were imprisoned because they appeared before the grand jury as ordered but refused to answer troubling questions about other people’s social habits and political opinions. (more…)

Running from the Devil

love4policePrison Books Update: The credibility of this interview with Steve Jablonski has been called into question. Please see comments section of this article for a written statement regarding the time Steve Jablonski spent on the run.

From CrimethInc.

An interview with grand jury resister Steve Jablonski

If you were contacted by the FBI, what would you do? Do you know who you would call? Would you be able to find a lawyer? Would you quit your job? Would you talk to your partner, your comrades, your parents? More importantly, would you talk to the government? If the FBI informed you that you were being made to stand before a grand jury, at which you could not have a lawyer present and you might face jail time if you did not answer questions—what would you do?

In 2012, several anarchists in the Pacific Northwest had to answer these questions. They were brought before the court to determine if they knew anything or anyone that was connected to a riot that broke out on May Day of that year. Three people kept their mouths shut and did several months in jail. One other person talked and was released, and quickly vanished without telling her former friends what she had done.

What follows is the experience of another person, Steve Jablonski, who took another route. While standing in solidarity with other people in the Pacific Northwest who resisted the grand jury, Steve instead decided to leave the country in order to avoid spending time in jail. Steve, like his comrades, kept his mouth shut in the face of government repression, but also faced other obstacles. He had to contend with the police forces of another country, and continues to face the realities of political repression now that he has returned.

There are many ways to defy the powers that be. Sometimes, you keep your mouth shut and do a few months; other times, you flee the country. We leave it up to you, dear reader, to choose what is right for you.“Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”
–T-Bone Slim (more…)

Grand Jury Resister Steve Returns Home!

alethiometerPrison Books Update: Steve Jablonski’s statement has been called into question. Please see comments section of this article for a written statement regarding the time Steve Jablonski spent on the run.

From Puget Sound Anarchists

Hi, my name is Steven Jablonski. I am anarchist and Grand Jury Resister.

After living in exile in Canada for about a year and a half, I returned to United States about a month ago. My return was not meant to be secretive but I felt the need to take some time for myself to collect my thoughts and decompress before I releasing an official statement. I now feel ready to break the silence and clarify some of the confusion around me being subpoenaed for the Seattle Grand Jury investigating May Day 2012 in Seattle. (more…)

Grand Jury Resister Jerry Koch is Free!

jerrysketch-webFrom NYC Anarchist Black Cross

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. (more…)