[Ppnews] They Can’t Raid All of Us: An Explanation on How and Why to Resist Grand Juries

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 3 16:47:08 EST 2011

Can’t Raid All of Us: An Explanation on How and Why to Resist Grand Juries


“The law does not pretend to punish everything 
that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere 
with business.”-Clarence S Darrow

Earlier this week the FBI raided 40 members of 
anonymous in the US, serving them with subpoenas 
and taking all of their computers, phones and 
other technology that might have information 
regarding “Anonymous and/or 4chan”. The most 
troubling part being the revelation there is now 
a grand jury in the United States that is 
investigating the activities of anonymous

Those of you who are familiar with grand juries 
already know most of what I’m about to say, but 
for those who don’t
 Grand juries are unlike 
normal juries, are called to investigate whether 
or not someone should be charged with a crime. To 
decide this GJ has the power to subpoena physical 
evidence or witnesses to testify. From grandjuryresistance.org:

“How is a Grand Jury Different Than a Trial Jury?

Unlike the “petit” jury, which is used to 
determine guilt in a trial, a grand jury consists 
of 16 to 23 jurors who are not screened for bias. 
The purpose of the grand jury is not to determine 
guilt or innocence, but to decide whether there 
is probable cause to prosecute someone for a 
felony crime. The grand jury operates in secrecy 
and the normal rules of evidence do not apply. 
The prosecutor runs the proceedings and no judge 
is present. Defense lawyers are not allowed to be 
present in the grand jury room and cannot present 
evidence, but may be available outside the room 
to consult with witnesses. The prosecutor and the 
grand jury members may not reveal what occurred 
in the grand jury room and witnesses cannot 
obtain a transcript of their testimony.

How Has the Grand Jury Been Misused?

Because of their broad subpoena powers and 
secretive nature, grand juries have been used by 
the government to gather information on political 
movements and to disrupt those movements by 
causing fear and mistrust. The grand jury lends 
itself to being used for improper political 
investigation due in part to the prosecutor’s 
ability to question witnesses without regard for 
rules that prohibit irrelevant, unreliable or 
unlawfully obtained evidence. Those called before 
the grand jury may be compelled to answer any 
question, even those relating to lawful personal 
and political activities. That information has 
been used by the government as a basis to conduct 
further surveillance and disruption of political 
dissent. When used against political movements, 
the grand jury causes fear and mistrust because 
persons who refuse to answer questions about 
their First Amendment political activities, 
friends and associates may be jailed for the life 
of the grand jury: up to 18 months. If a witness 
asserts her Fifth Amendment right to remain 
silent, she may be forced to accept immunity or 
go to jail for contempt. Even a witness who 
attempts to cooperate can be jailed if minor 
inconsistencies are found in her testimony. Such 
a perjury charge may stand even when the grand 
jury fails to hand down any indictment for what 
it was ostensibly investigating.”

For those too lazy to read that, here are the 
bullet points of why grand juries are the modern 
day equivalent of a kangaroo court and why they are worth resisting:

1)    It’s not even a real fucking jury. You are 
not being questioned by a jury of your peers.

2)    There is no judge. A prosecutor whose job 
relies on whether or not he can get convictions runs the thing.

3)    You can get a lawyer but that lawyer can’t 
even be present in the room to advise you while you’re being questioned.

4)    You can be thrown in jail for not talking 
and exercising your 5th amendment right against 
self-incrimination. You’re technically not guilty 
of anything but “contempt of court” then, but its 
still jail and you could stay in jail for as long 
as the grand jury is in session, up to 18 months 
sometimes. Then, if you still don’t testify, they 
can bring a charge of criminal contempt against 
you, which apart from being an actual crime you’d 
be guilty of, has no maximum sentence. To top 
that all off, nowadays if you refuse to testify 
and the “jury” decides they are performing a 
terrorism investigation, you can be charged with 
a terrorism enhancement, something along the 
lines of obstructing an investigation into 
terrorism which brings an intense sentence. (One 
Palestinian activist and grand jury resister was 
charged with criminal contempt and obstruction of 
an investigation into terrorism. He received 135 months! WTF!)

5)    There could still be an actual court case. 
Although a grand jury means the state is reaching 
for an excuse to disrupt activists, they have and 
will bring any and all charges against anyone 
even slightly involved with the movement.

Most importantly though, grand juries are 
notorious for investigating and disrupting social 
movements. The prosecutor has the power to 
subpoena anyone to testify or hand over any 
physical evidence they may have information 
pertaining their potential “charges”. They can 
ask any questions they want and you have to 
answer them or you get thrown in jail. It’s easy 
to see why the government would use the grand 
jury. It’s an old tactic, divide and conquer. By 
serving subpoenas to testify to people in a 
movement they can try and pit the participants 
against each other. Imagine you are ordered to 
testify in front of a grand jury. If you choose 
to testify on the hope of immunity (which may or 
may not keep you from being prosecuted) you’re 
betraying your friends in the movement, laying 
the way for other subpoenas and charges, you’re 
betraying the ideals or cause you worked for, and 
on top of all that, you could still incriminate 
yourself and end up in jail. And if you don’t 
talk and stay loyal to your beliefs and your 
friends you could still end up in jail while the 
grand jury is in. At worst you could end up with 
criminal contempt and a terrorism enhancement.

Steps to be taken immediately to beat this Grand Jury:

1)    Get organized to defend yourself and those 
you care about immediately. We are still in the 
early stages of this GJ, considering they could 
convene for as long as 18 months. (And they could 
always call another grand jury later) The earlier 
you start the more effective your defense will be.

2)     As long as the affected are fighting the 
grand jury, it is imperative to support them in 
every way possible. If it’s known that there’s a 
strong network of support for those who are 
served with a subpoena, its better for everyone. 
Less people will be willing to cooperate, which 
will make the jury less effective, and make 
everyone safer. Remember, it might seem safer to 
distance yourself from someone who was served but 
in reality it isn’t. One’s person’s 
non-cooperation could be the difference between 
jail and freedom for a lot of people. The more 
evidence they get, the easier it is for them to 
file more subpoenas, and the easier it is to 
bring real charges later. The only way to protect 
yourself from grand juries in the long run is to 
protect the movement and stick together.

3)    Immediately form at least one visible, 
open, and participatory defense committee. The 
first task is securing legal representation for 
those who don’t already have it. There are 
motions an experienced lawyer can file that will 
waste time and until the grand jury is over. You 
may even get a subpoena thrown out with the right 
motion (i.e. a motion to quash a subpoena).  This 
committee can get in contact with others 
experienced in fighting grand juries to get a 
better idea of how to proceed. Education needs to 
happen on two fronts. The first: the education of 
those in the movement of their legal rights, of 
the existence of the grand jury and of the 
support network in place for those who may be 
subpoenaed. The second: publicize the situation 
as much as public for the general public. As many 
people as possible need to know the true nature 
of the grand juries, how they are 
unconstitutional, and their history of disrupting 
social movements. This education needs to happen 
in many ways, including interviews, production of 
educational materials, the organization of 
visible protests in support of those subpoenaed 
and against the grand jury, setting up a bail 
fund and whatever else is necessary. The more happening the better.

4)    And to restate: Don’t Testify! Even if you 
have nothing to hide, your testimony can still 
get you thrown in jail for perjury for minor 
inconsistencies, and it can certainly hurt others.

The National Lawyers Guild said in their publication:

“For many political activists, the historic and 
principled way to avoid these dilemmas 
(informing, perjury) has been the invocation of 
absolute non-collaboration with grand jury 
investigations of political movements. While this 
has resulted in many instances with the witness’ 
incarceration for contempt, it has also 
discouraged the subpoenaing of further witnesses, 
and on some occasions, the withdrawal of all subpoenas.”

Important Common Sense Legal/Know Your Rights Info:

1)    You have the right to remain silent. So 
shut the fuck up. You don’t have to talk to any 
police, FBI or investigator that comes through 
your door. Regardless of what they say, or 
threaten you with it is always better to remain 
silent until you talk to a lawyer. Expect 
anything you say to be used against you or 
someone you know in the future. If you’re being 
subpoenaed anything you say could be used as 
basis for further questioning and subpoenas which could lead to more charges.

2)    Cops lie. All the time. You can’t trust 
cops. You can’t trust cops. Do not believe a word they say.

3)    Never under any circumstances let anyone 
into your place without a warrant. And if they 
have a warrant, make sure they only search the 
place specified in the warrant. And while they’re 
searching take down officer’s names and badge 
numbers. Take notes about the search as well. And 
if they don’t have a warrant do not let them 
search your place, whatever they say. It could only hurt.

4)    To recap, if the police come knocking, you 
say three things, “Do you have a warrant?” if not 
tell them to GTFO. And when they start asking you 
questions say “I do not want to speak to you, 
Talk to my lawyer”. And if you don’t have a 
lawyer you can just take down the investigators 
name, agency and phone # and tell them you’ll 
give them your lawyers phone number and name once 
you have one. That should work the same as “I want my lawyer”

Well that’s about it for now. I hope this info is 
of some use. I just want to say my heart goes out 
to those anon who got served with subpoenas. The 
only thing I can say is this thing has come this 
far, now is not the time to split apart. In 
reality it is possible to “crush” a grand jury as 
they say, and it has happened before
to all the raided and accused! They’re grasping 
at straws here and we all know it

P.S. Here’s a bunch of resources that will 
probably help, some of which I used to write this here article.

Useful Resources:

www.grandjuryresistance.org is a great site that 
has a bunch of info and useful links about grand 
juries and defending yourself from them. You go 
to the site and read detailed material about 
grand juries and how to resist them, and you can 
also read briefs from Josh Wolf’s grand jury 
hearings. Their statement: “The GJRP is a 
coalition of lawyers, activists, and individuals 
targeted by government harassment. The efforts of 
the GJRP include: public education and training, 
organizing demonstrations, utilizing the media, 
consolidating current grand jury information, and 
the development of affirmative legal responses. 
In addition, the GJRP assists in providing direct 
support and legal representation for those being 
politically targeted by grand juries. The GJRP 
works in the spirit that politically motivated 
attacks by the government demonstrate that 
people’s movements and direct action are 
effective and powerful tools against oppression. 
The GJRP seeks to support people’s resistance to 
intimidation and their continued action against 
exploitation and for social, environmental, and 
economic justice.” Hit them up at 
<mailto:contact at grandjuryresistance.org>contact at grandjuryresistance.org

National Lawyers Guild (NLG): a network of 
lawyers that has a long history of defending 
activists and fighting surveillance. You can also 
get a lawyer referral from them. A statement from 
their website: “Rather than focusing on narrow 
areas of professional practice, the National 
Lawyers Guild sees that a wide range of social, 
political, and legal issues, such as racism, 
sexism, homophobia, environmental destruction, 
immigrant-bashing, labor issues, and voting 
rights, are intertwined with questions of 
economic justice and cannot be solved through 
focus on specific “legal practice” issues, or 
through the legal system alone. As a result, in 
addition to belonging to other professional 
organizations with a specific practice or 
professional focus, Guild lawyers, nonlawyers, 
students, academics, legislators, jurists, and 
activists from a wide range of law-related work 
find ways to make common cause, through the 
National Lawyers Guild.” <http://www.nlg.org/>www.nlg.org

Info about terrorism enhancements being brought against grand jury resistors

A fantastic compilation of essays about grand 
juries and how to go about resisting them, how to 
talk to the cops, how to keep your movement 
together under pressure, all put out by No 
Compromise a publication of the animal liberation 
movement. I suggest checking out How to Crush a 
Grand Jury the No Compromise Way.

And to finish off a few sites of support 
groups/defense committees that have formed to 
deal with other grand juries: 

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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