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Is The Governor Of KY Intimidating Jurors?
Submitted by Vicki Sansbury on Sun, 10/30/2005 - 12:50pm.
Simply unbelievable! The Courier-Journal reported Thursday and editorialized today about grand jurors investigating the Fletcher administration's merit system hiring practices. It appears that the jittery grand jurors asked the judge overseeing them if the government could sue them if they handed down more indictments. Since grand juries meet in secret, it was odd that the judge addressed the matter in open court. I re-read the article twice and still could not make heads or tails of why they felt intimidated. Here is the editorial in today's CJ:
A Frankfort moment
Whatever your politics, you have to feel for the citizens serving as grand jurors in the JOBTROT case.
They've been called to civic duty. That duty is to examine evidence and issue indictments if there's probable cause to believe a crime has occurred. That's it.
But this straightforward task has become another of Frankfort's royal political messes, with the jurors in the middle.
It's not just that they've been slandered as partisan dupes and character assassins for doing their duty as they saw it.
It's that now, with prosecutors continuing to push for more indictments and Gov. Ernie Fletcher contending that more indictments are unconstitutional after the pardon he issued, they're fearful as well as bruised.
So fearful that on Thursday, in a bizarre, only-in-litigious-America moment, they sought out a judge to reassure them that they can't be sued and left to defend themselves for doing what they were called to do.
When citizen-jurors are afraid of being punished for performing their civic duty while big-shot lawbreakers are resting easy in pardoned unaccountability, you know you're in good ole Frankfort, Ky.
Legally, the Governor may be right that the amnesty he issued, however unwise, premature and overly broad, forecloses further legal proceedings.
Practically, however, it's going to stink if he succeeds in shutting down the grand jury against its will, without a full release of evidence and a full accounting of responsibility.
Too many people, from scapegoated state workers to anxiety-ridden jurors, are paying too high a price for the Governor's unwillingness to simply say: "We did it, it was wrong, there's no good excuse, and I've pardoned everybody else because it was my fault. I'm sorry."
Instead, the floor is covered in blood, the air is full of pathetic justifications for calculated violations of law, and the machinery of justice is being jammed by partisan corrosion.
It's not just the jurors who should be worried.
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