I, like most people had no idea what it meant to be indicted by a Grand Jury. I just knew it sounded terrible and that only really bad people that have done terrible, awful reprehensible things were indicted. Moreover, I thought the words “indicted” and “guilty” were synonymous with one another. I thought that if a person was indicted by a Grand Jury then they were indeed guilty and found guilty not by a regular jury, but a grand one! They must have done some really bad stuff, right?
That was of course before it happened to me.
On December 6, 2016 I was informed by my attorney that I had a warrant for my arrest. I said to them “are you kidding me?” I was standing in an office space we were building out with an architect and had to excuse myself. It was the most shocking moment of my life. I just kept asking my attorney “for what” and he kept answering “I don’t know, they won’t tell us.” This didn’t make any sense to me. How can I have a warrant for my arrest and not know why? He informed me that I would need to travel from the East Coast to Boulder Colorado to turn myself in. I couldn’t understand how I could be expected to turn myself in without being given a reason why. This is America, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I know what I am begin accused of and by whom?
My attorneys planned for me to go to Boulder to turn myself in on December 14th and I did exactly that. The next day after posting a $100,000 bond and before I could blink it was in the paper – the prosecution’s version of a story that was filled with inaccuracies, misstatements and horrifying false accusations. I was reading the paper and finding out the prosecution’s version of their story at the same time as everyone else in Boulder and the surrounding community. That’s when my wife’s and my phone started to ring. We will never forget the wonderful support of our friends, neighbors, community members and family during that terrible time. We love you!
So how does this sort of thing happen? How could all of this occur without the subject of the indictment (me) know what was happening?
The Grand Jury Process:
There is an age-old adage that a prosecutor could get a Grand Jury to “indict a ham sandwich” if that was the prosecutor’s goal. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study on plea bargaining, “Grand juries are notorious for being ‘rubberstamps’ for the prosecutor for virtually all routine criminal matters.”
Grand juries do not need a unanimous decision to indict. It simply needs either two thirds or three fourths agreement for an indictment. The jurors are also not deciding on “gult or innocence” they are deciding on whether the one-sided case presented to them by the prosecutor established the low barrier of “probable cause” that a crime was committed.
Grand juries originated in 12th century England to prosecute criminals; in the early 20th century, England abolished them. All of the other members of the former British Empire – Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, and Canada have done the same – but not the United States. Even here in the U.S. most states have stopped using them because those who truly seek justice have found that the secrecy, lack of oversight, and disregard for the rules of evidence do not serve justice. Boulder Colorado not only still uses grand juries, but the District Attorney advocates for them.
I am filled with gratitude to have the support of my friends, family and community members during this lengthy process. This has been a terrible experience but each time I see my family and glance in the mirror I’m filled with the calm assurance that a regular jury at trial that has the benefit of all the information, not just one-sided crafted testimony will set the record straight and my name will be vindicated. I hope that my fellow good community members that made up the grand jury that indicted me on incomplete, inaccurate and crafted testimony fed to them by the prosecutor will watch the trial closely so they can see how different the version they were presented with is from the truth. When that happens, I encourage them to not remain silent about their experience. Thank you for reading.