Florida County Considers “People’s Common Law Grand Jury”
A Florida county is considering changes to its charter review board after two elected members have focused on punishing political enemies through extralegal tactics instead of government business.
The Sarasota County charter review board typically proposes minor changes to the county charter when they meet three times a year, but critics say two of its members — Pat Wayman and Steven R. Fields — have been using their positions to usurp authority from other elected officials, reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The pair have voted to establish a “people’s common law grand jury,” which sovereign citizens and other anti-government extremists have proposed to investigate and prosecute government officials for treason — which, as they frequently point out, carries a potential death penalty.
“Take a look at the French Revolution and what took place there,” said Mike Bolam, who has attended charter review board meetings to support the common law grand juries.
The board voted 4-4 in May to study a proposal by Rodger Dowdell, a Tea Party activist who denies being a sovereign citizen but, nonetheless, spouts sovereign citizen rhetoric.
“Grand jury powers come from God,” Dowdell said, advocating a return to the post-Revolution legal system where there were no police departments and judges rode horseback to hear cases brought by groups of 25 citizens.
Most importantly, he told the Herald-Tribune, those rulings would be kept out of reach of presidential and even U.S. Supreme Court authority.
“A people’s common law grand jury can, without any probable cause, go into any nook or cranny of government — local, state or federal — research anything that’s going on and root out corruption,” Dowdell said. “We want to government to recognize the contract we call the constitution, and start obeying the law. It’s very simple.”
His proposal failed due to the tie vote.
Tea Party activists have been trying to set up common law grand juries, which don’t actually carry any legal authority, for years in hopes of convicting — and hanging — President Barack Obama for treason.
Dowdell, state coordinator of the right-wing National Liberty Alliance, claims a common law grand jury was already operating in Manatee County, Florida, but he offered no proof.
“I can’t talk about it,” he said. “Everything is secret. In order to keep innocents who may be investigated from being damaged, whatever a grand jury does is secret.”