Power of the Grand Jury

A Plea for Justice

I will admit right here that in my past I have been falsely accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Despite the shock of what was alleged, I had to write a response in a pleading, and I had to go to court and tell my side of the story. Never have charges against me risen to the level of having to appear before an Alaska Grand Jury—placing me at the mercy of a gathering of common citizens compelled to leave their daily lives to consider what a government employee prosecutor alleged I had done. Had that happened, I would hope these jury peers would look carefully at MY evidence, MY character, and presume MY innocence, before deciding MY fate.

As Alaskans we are all entitled to no less under our cherished constitution.

Our founding fathers envisioned the power of the grand jury when they wrote our constitution in Fairbanks,1955. Any Alaska Grand Jury, when called to seek justice, has considerable opportunity to subpoena witnesses, consider evidence and investigate all conditions surrounding an alleged crime—beyond what is presented by the prosecutor. Every Alaskan must pray this important function is available to us all when government prosecutors might incorrectly allege a “capital or otherwise infamous crime” has occurred.

Lies and smears shouldn’t count in our justice system.

Exact wording from the Alaska Constitution

But wait, there’s More to the Alaska Grand Jury!

Another function of the Alaska Grand Jury includes investigating corrupt politicians and appointed bureaucrat functionaries. Those people might not want you to know the grand jury also considers wrongdoing by them! As a member of an Alaska Grand Jury, a mere citizen can ask hard questions about government corruption without writing a letter to the editor and hoping it gets published. In fact, there is a rich tradition of grand juries taking their mission seriously and getting to the bottom of the problems that otherwise fester and cause lack of confidence in our public institutions.

[1]

I believe the true power of the grand jury under our constitution has been subverted by the State of Alaska, explained David Haeg, host of the webpage https://alaskagrandjuryrights.com/. Over the years that subversion may be a major reason why Alaskans have so many problems with our government. A grand jury can look at anything and everything. The loss of effective grand jury enforcement has likely had far-reaching impact upon Alaska. Imagine if grand juries looked into the failure to enforce statutory law with regard to the Permanent Fund Dividend. What if a grand jury looked into why the capital was not moved after a vote of the people to move it. Grand juries could look into all these things we feel powerless about. Grand juries do investigations, establish culpability and issue recommendations for public discussion and action.

A recent protest of efforts to stop a grand jury from investigating wrongdoing by state officials.

Is it possible that true Alaskans have been overwhelmed by the influence of unimaginable wealth from North Slope Oil Development and the State of Alaska has become our lord and master?

Mechanics of the Grand Jury System

David Haeg

Grand juries are formed all around the state because all felony offenses must be indicted by a grand jury, continued Haeg. These are common citizens compelled to participate, they are anxious to get back to their lives, so this prosecutor comes in and says: “I’m the boss and you have to do what I say and if you don’t you could be jailed for contempt of court.” Every grand juror is impressed by the institution of our courts, so they don’t think to investigate themselves—they likely don’t know they can investigate—and when law enforcement and the district attorney makes their case with evidence they have prepared, the grand jury becomes compliant.

That is what Haeg alleges happened to him.

In court filings January 15, 2020 Haeg declares he was framed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Presiding Superior Court Judge Margaret Murphy. (3KN-10-01295)

In this court plea, Haeg says Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore has since: illegally and unconstitutionally stopped a grand jury who started investigating the above and then lied to state legislators to cover up his crime. Skidmore is tape-recorded telling legislators he stopped the grand jury because it never claimed it was investigating systemic corruption concerning public safety/welfare—when the grand jury and Judge Jennifer Wells are tape-recorded specifically telling him exactly that…”

There is a cancer growing on Alaska’s judicial system. And if the cancer is not removed, Alaska’s judicial system itself will be destroyed by it, declared Haeg.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously passed Resolution 2022-004 “Supporting the Constitutional Right of Alaska Grand Juries to Investigate and Make Recommendations on Public Welfare and Safety Concerns.” [2]

Individuals have called this writer personally from Kenai on April 6, 2022 saying Alaskans are being kicked out of the Kenai Courthouse.

How did Alaska Courts get to this Place?

Power of the Alaska Grand Jury has eroded with each new rendering of the Alaska Grand Jury Handbook published by the State of Alaska. Haeg believes it is up to the people of Alaska to bring back what the founding fathers envisioned the Alaska Grand Jury to be.[3]

A process tainted itself by corruption

The Alaska Judicial Council produced a report in 1987 in the aftermath of the impeachment farce of Gov. Bill Sheffield, establishing: “State grand juries have often exercised investigative powers to battle political corruption. At times they have acted on their own initiative in the face of opposition of a district attorney.”[4] So, despite this Alaskan tradition, very recently a Kenai grand jury investigating district attorneys, judges, and such was ordered to stop that action by Skidmore. He is the highest level district attorney in the state, below the Attorney General Treg R. Taylor, appointed by Gov. Michael Dunleavy.

I have previously written about the impeachment of Gov. Sheffield for corruption. [5]

From that 1987 Alaska Judicial Council Investigative Grand Jury in Alaska report:

Haeg explained further: In fact, delegates to our Alaska Constitutional Convention rejected having grand juries that are only rubber stamps for prosecutors! Have you ever heard the saying that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich? That is the power of the prosecutor over a grand jury. But, in reality the job of the grand jury is to consider public concerns and almost always those concerns are with government. Those powers are still there if Alaskans choose to exercise them.

Where did Alaska go wrong with the grand jury system?

One-term Gov. Sheffield was the only governor to be impeached. The Alaska Senate dropped the ball in that situation, and we got a report on how grand juries might be more effective while forces within the State of Alaska appear to have done everything in their power to make them less effective. The former governor sold his hotel business to Princess Tours and has benefited greatly from more than 30 years on the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors, along with his former chief of staff, John Shively. Whether Sheffield was rewarded for his shameless self-interests as governor is a matter of speculation, but some Alaskans have had enough of it and are making their voices heard.

The public doesn’t know what specific evidence regarding Alaska government corruption was recently brought to the Kenai Grand Jury to investigate by a seated grand juror, but we do know it is the fifth time in two years a government employee has prevented evidence from coming forth, said Holly Sheldon-Lee, an Alaska First Advocate who lives in Talkeetna. Our constitutional rights are being violated by these public official’s actions and our voice is being squelched. Alaskans are sick and tired of the systemic saturated corruption in our State judiciary that has turned lives upside-down, stolen futures and ripped families apart. We won’t put up with it any longer.

Haeg continued: But what may be the most important point of your entire story, Donn, is the big picture of what every other state is doing. I looked at other states to try to figure out where we are in comparison. I believe the model used in California is the best; they ran into the same problem we have in Alaska and fixed it with two categories of grand jury: 1) a criminal grand jury, that the prosecutor uses to get criminal indictments, and 2) a separate grand jury of all different people, called a Civil Grand Jury dedicated to dealing with wrongdoing in government. By law no judge or prosecutor are allowed to attend the civil grand jury proceedings. Only common citizens are allowed to participate in investigation of government wrongdoing and corruption.

California?

Perhaps the best lesson from what we are seeing with this Alaska Grand Jury debacle being consciously ignored by Gov. Dunleavy, is that every Alaskan must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and sometimes innocent people will have to go to extraordinary lengths if the system fails them through its interminable process.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce has been instrumental in encouraging Alaska Grand Jury investigations on the Kenai Peninsula.

Here is the contact information for David Haeg, who is starting a new organization on the model of one in California:

Alaska Grand Jurors’ Association

https://alaskagrandjuryrights.com/

David Haeg

PO Box 123

Soldotna, Alaska 9966

(907) 398-6403 cell/text
(907) 262-9249 home
haeg@alaska.net

References:

[1] Maine Law Review Report

Going Rogue: Independent Grand Juries throughout America (maine.edu)

[2] Kenani Peninsula Borough Assembly Resolution in support of grand jury investigation of corruption of State Officials. Similar resolutions have been passed in Nikkiski, Homer and Funny River.

[3]Alaska Grand Jury Handbook

https://public.courts.alaska.gov/web/forms/docs/j-185.pdf

[4]The Investigative Grand Jury in Alaska, Alaska Judicial Council, 1987

The Investigative Grand Jury in Alaska (alaskagrandjuryrights.com)

[5]Old Time Alaska Corruption

Advertising is available on this site. I will conduct a professional interview and write your story. Then I will produce your ad with link back to the original story in every future story having your ad.

Call me at 907-696-9000.

2 thoughts on “Power of the Grand Jury”

  1. Interesting read and if correct I believe it does need to be used to end the government overreach and violation of statutes by our legislature.!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top