How do we get the FBI involved?

San Bernardino County

This is a dead serious post and question.  It relates to the San Bernardino County Grand Jury, especially my post below.

Here is the situation.  The Grand Jury legal advisor is threatening Grand Jurors with criminal and civil actions against them for certain things.  He is quashing investigations.

There are multiple grand jurors who I believe would talk to the FBI but they are scared poopless because of the threats.  There is no way they will go to the FBI on their own.  We need the FBI to contact them.

It is my belief that this situation involves multiple investigations and multiple agencies.  It includes to a lesser degree the Grand Jury’s oversight of the jails.

As some of you may know, one if the primary functions of the Grand Jury is to inspect the jail.  They are not being allowed to make surprise inspections.  They are being instructed to call ahead and set an appointment.  Once their “inspection” is complete, then the jail gives them lunch.

Anyone see how you get glowing Grand Jury reports on the jails?  It was not always this way.

My sources have been telling me for a very long time that Devereaux is up to his eyeballs in this.  The Grand Jury has always been missing a few teeth but he has pulled them all and castrated them at the same time.

The big question is whether this is another Andrew Lamberto situation or whether he is doing it with the knowledge and blessing of the BOS.  And what other elected officials are involved?

Whether you love or hate what I do on this blog, I would hope even some of my non-fifth-floor detractors can see the benefit in exposing corruption within the Grand Jury system.

I really need someone who knows the answer, and there are several readers highly qualified in that regard, to tell us how absolute a grand jury member’s responsibility is to keep everything confidential.  Can they be charged criminally for telling the AG or FBI what is going on?

It seems there must be some check and balance even for the Grand Jury.  But the Grand Jurors are apparently being told there is not.  They have nowhere to turn to report corruption within their own body.

13 thoughts on “How do we get the FBI involved?

  1. Well, the person in charge of the Grand Jury is the foreman. The DA assigned is just an adviser. If the Grad Jury wants to make a “No notice” investigation or inspection of any agency under there jurisdiction, they can do it. If the DA assigned makes any attempt to give advance notice, they can just issue an indictment and service it upon any peace officer to arrest him. I think a verbal is sufficient.

    • Unfortunately, it is far more complicated than that (the situation, not the process). Let’s say it is equivalent to the fifth floor in terms of who is really running the show, weak leadership, etc.

  2. The Grand Jury is a joke. I would LOVE to say why I have that opinion, but unfortunately I can’t. And there is the problem. Something so purposefully secretive is easily corrupted and abused by those in power willing to use it. If you have ever been there you won’t open your mouth out of fear. I wish you luck!! It looks like blowing this one up would be of great benefit. I think you can do it.

    • And you are a perfect example. They issued a gag order against you as they do with everyone who testifies before them. That gag order is permanent. They are not judges. I think it is a violation of the First Amendment. It is never challenged. But they put the fear of criminal charges in you did they not?

      • Let’s just say that I was extremely hesitant to write what little I wrote. And, since you probably have a good idea about who I am, you know that is not at all like me. Like I said, I would LOVE to write more. Keep up the good work. I am not convinced at all that it is as easy as some say. Honestly, it pisses me off that I know what I know and can’t say it.

  3. I am not an attorney. I am only a person who grew up in government with kids whose parents were grand jurorors, superior court judges, council members, mayors, county supervisors, assemblymen, and congressmen.

    The power of the grand jury is an ultimate power. Their advisor is just that, an advisor. If the advisor is trying to prevent the grand jury from excercising its duties, or is trying to personaly supplant the authority of the grand jury, the grand jury should simply vote to fire that advisor.

    The secrecy of the grand jury is to protect the privacy of suspects that might not be publically charged and to prevent the guilty from getting advance information of charges coming against them. In no circumstance does the secrecy of the grand jury prohibit a particular grand juror of reporting wrongdoing to the higher sources of the AG or the FBI. On the contrary, failure to do so mgiht be considered ereliction of duty.

    Anyone in public office, including grand jurors, are allowed to seek their independent legal council, excect that they can not reveal specific information held in confidence per their office. Specifically, a grand juror may not be able to tell an individual lawyer about evidence against a suspect or charges that are likely to be filed against a defendent. They would, however, be completely free to discuss with any attorney of their choosing about their rights and responsabilities as a grand juror. They would also be free to talk to an attorney of their choosing about concerns with the legal advisor to the grand jury and their obligation to reveal misdeeds within the grand jury system toia state or federal authority.

    There is no magic here. If weak people are appointed as grand jurors, the system will be weak. When the wicked rule the city, the people mourn. If the grand jurors choose to be strong, the system will work very well.

    There are qualified lawyers who follow this site. I will trust them to correct me where I am wrong.

  4. As far as witnesses go, yes, you can be gagged against what you told the grand jury. This does not prevent you from talking to anyone else about what you would have said if you were never called before the grand jury. You can go to the press with an expose, but you can not tell the press “I told this to the grand jury”. You can repeat your story to state and federal authorities, and in that case you can say to told the same to the grand jury.

    The secrecy has the purpose of furthuring the rightful work of the grand jury. It has no purpose in covering up crimes. If authorities are using the grand jury system to cover up crime, that is a separate offense that the grand jury should

    Again, I invite any of the several qulified lawyers who foollow this site to point out where I am wrong.

  5. If a grand juror feels that he is being manipulated into wrongdoing, and he has the guts, he should state so to the public without revealing any specific priviledged information. Let them try to prosecute you. If he has only half the guts, he should resign and tell the public why. If he has no guts, he should not be a grand jury member in the first place and should simply resign and let them go through the embarrassment of choosing a replacement.

    Imagine the embarrassment if the majority of the grand jury resigned and would not say why.

    Again, I invite the qualified attornies to point out where I am wrong.

    • I agree with all you have to say but I sure would like to see the law/case decisions. There is a different dynamic here that I cannot yet explain that is affecting this. That combined with the very low quality of the foreman and several of the grand jurors, which is hardly new to San Bernardino County Grand Jurors. Back in the day Sue Shuey, the Grand Jury Assistant for several decades used to say she was happy when she got two decent grand jurors out if the nineteen and ecstatic when she got three. Mostly they were old people looking to supplement their income and have someone to socialize with. Sad but true. And that’s how the county likes it.

      Then there are those two or three who get on the grand jury because they want to serve their community. They do all the real work. But for the past few years we’ve had a CEO determined to control the GJ and he has become quite successful thru controlling the GJ lrgsl advisor. Since that legal advisor works for the DA, I guess you have to draw your own conclusions. I don’t know what to think. I know what Chris Lee assured me but it does not mesh with what has happened.

  6. Grand Jury legal advisers threatening grand jurors over where their investigations are going is nothing new. It happened a couple times to me when I was on the GJ a decade and change ago. A large part of the problem is that the legal adviser, who is there year after year, is inevitably the most knowledgeable and informed person in the room. He quickly earns the respect of most grand jurors, who are generally unprepared for what they’re getting into, and he is consequently able to lead them by the nose wherever he wants (from my observations, usually without having to resort to threats).

    Sadly, I think the root of the problem is that Sue Shuey’s opinion of grand jurors is mostly spot on (although in my year, I think we had slightly more than 3 ‘good’ grand jurors – I hope she would count me among them). When you’re drawing from a pool of people who are generally poorly informed about county government, many motivated primarily by the $25/day per diem, and oftentimes don’t even know what they’re getting into, it’s very easy for an experienced legal adviser to steer them in whatever direction he wants. I served in a year that was probably better than most, but it was painfully obvious to me that the most important individual in determining what got looked at and what didn’t was our legal adviser, who more than once led us in particular directions. I don’t think his was an entirely sinister influence (one thing we were “encourage” to look at was something that did deserve attention, and after the findings were actually acted on after repeated grand jury recommendations, the county did save millions of dollars), but I did find it very concerning and a little antithetical to the principles of the institution.

    I suspect (but have no data to prove) that much of the reason so few capable grand jurors are selected is because the superior court judges who interview and select the pool of 30 GJ candidates weed out anyone who they feel “has an agenda”. Unfortunately, people who “have agendas” also tend to be the people who are knowledgeable and informed. The risk of people getting on the GJ to prosecute personal jihads against particular people or institutions is one that should be taken seriously, but I suspect the concern is taken a bit too far and as a result the number of “good” grand jurors is thusly diminished.

    Further points:
    1) One thing we were told during our training is that if we weren’t happy with the DA-appointed legal adviser’s advice, we were free to ask for second and third opinions from County Counsel and (IIRC) the presiding judge. Depending on one’s level of cynicism or the politics of the specific situation, this may or may not be worth pursuing. Just a thought.

    2) As for the question of confidentiality – yes, the grand jury’s deliberations are all supposed to be done in secret. However,

    3) Jails – same thing when I served. We were allowed one pre-arranged tour of WVDC, followed by a sumptuous lunch (best lasagna I’ve ever had), and were then shown the door. A few of us wanted to tour other jails (and prisons), but we did not raise enough of a fuss about it for it to become an issue.

    4) ” Can they be charged criminally for telling the AG or FBI what is going on?” – IANAL, but in today’s America, anyone can be charged criminally for just about anything. That said, I doubt the DA would be politically stupid enough to charge a grand juror for exposing some kind of malfeasance – it would simply call buckets and buckets of unwanted attention to the matter. Far better to simply ignore it and weather the storm until the grand jury’s effective window of action closes in a few months (the last couple of months are generally always taken up by writing and editing the final report).

    • Thank you for your input. As with most of the others, I agree. There are two big differences between now and then (maybe three). First, there is Devereaux who has done everything he can to destroy any influence or authority the GJ has. There could not be less respect for the Grand Jury than there is now. He has allowed department heads to disrespect the process and the institution.

      Second, Sue has long since retired. She was a stabilizing force and she wasn’t afraid to go to the PJ if necessary if someone was trying to corrupt the process.

      And finally, as controlling as Clark may have been, it has changed substantially. The process has been corrupted with the help of the advisor. It’s become a matter of threats, with the threats being carried out, and it is the tail wagging the dog.

      I both handled back up for Sue for a while and worked on GJ projects at the department/administrative level. I’ve never seen the GJ so marginalized as it is now.

  7. Again, there is no magic here. The checks and balances of government were put in place out of knowledge of the corruptability of power. But the checks and balances do no good unless the individuals have the guts and knowledge to step up.

    Devereaux should have zero influence on the grand jury, except to respond to their recommendations. The advisor should be advising the jurors. Pehaps an admonishment might be in order, but not threats. If a juror is believed to be out of bounds, the matter should be referred to the presiding judge to handle. If the presiding judge thnks the juror can not perform the job, the presiding judge could dismisss the juror for cause. If the juror’s actions were egregious, the juror could be cited for contempt of court or a separate crime, but that would have to become public and be subject to review.

    It is important to remember that the jurors are indemnified in the honest commission of their duties. As long as they are reasonably acting according to their conscience they are indemnified. The other side of the secrecy of the grand jury is the mandate of non-interference. Any attempt to interfere or intimidate the grand jury is obtruction of justice. That is the real threat and the real standard for action on the part of the state or the feds.

    Sharon, if you have a collection of knowledge, simply call up the appropriate US Attormey and have a chat. He or she will be happy to tell you what a juror can and cannot reveal and he will also tell you what constitues interference with a grand jury.

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