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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Forty-Seven Days and Counting...

Posted by on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 9:47 AM

That's how long Matthew Duran has been in federal prison—the SeaTac Federal Detention Facility—for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury which was, ostensibly, going to ask him about people who might have been involved with this year's May Day protests. (We don't know what the jury was actually going to ask because 1. grand juries are secret and 2. Duran showed up but refused to cooperate, so didn't get very far into the process.)

Duran has now broken a record—though he hasn't been accused of a crime, he's been sitting in custody longer than the only person who was actually arrested and sentenced for May Day-related vandalism. (Cody Ingram was arrested on May 3 and sentenced on June 13 to time served.) Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik is also in SeaTac FDC with Duran for the same reason, and is just a few days shy of his record.

In other grand jury-related news: Leah-Lynn Plante was released without explanation earlier this month and another subpoena was issued last week to Olympia resident Matthew "Maddy" Pfeiffer, who was ordered to appear before the grand jury on Nov 7, 2012.

And for those of you who despise political vandalism, and see no reason to think too much about this situation, comment 22 on this story is trying to tell you something:

The issue here is not whether this young woman has information that would lead to the indictment of a brave group of stick-wielding, attention-starved chumps. The issue is the bastardization of the Grand Jury system and the need to either fix it or jettison the entire mess. The Grand Jury was wisely introduced to U.S. courts with the intent of protecting citizens against unfair prosecution, but they have morphed into a modern-day version of the Spanish Inquisition - exactly the opposite of the founding fathers intent. The U.S. is the only nation remaining that maintains the Grand Jury system and its continued use is an embarrassment.

For more about this grand jury controversy, and grand juries in general, see here.


Comments (14) RSS

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My understanding from a cursory look around once you started writing about this stuff is that another original purpose of the grand jury's secrecy and latitude of inquiry (since we're getting around to looking at that for context to this story, better late than never) was to protect jurors, the ordinariest of us - originally protect them from a vengeful monarch, but more lately from mobsters and such. And I do hope there's discussion around abuses of the grand jury system, but also its enduring value and how any attempt to reform it will have to be able to preserve its utility. There is still a baby in that bathwater, remember.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 2
"a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich".

Posted by Max Solomon on October 30, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 3
Posts like this are exactly the reason I can't take anything you fuckwits say seriously any more.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 30, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
JensR 4
Posts like "lets take a critical look at our legal system like responsible citizens" or posts like "I am not a rabid knee-jerk-reactionary tit, who lacks any form of real world experience outside of my sheltered middle class life"?

Because you have as far back as I can remembered whined about the last of the two.
Posted by JensR on October 30, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 5
@1 A Grand Jury is not made up of "the ordinariest of us." It is usually made up of people well versed in the legal system. Highly educated professionals.

I actually know Matt. He's a very low-key, really nice guy. Not a radical or extremist. Just a random guy who happened to have principals.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on October 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 6
@3 none of us take you seriously any more either, you twit.

Stay on that site with the funny pitchers of cats from now on.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on October 30, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 7
"Pitchers?" And you're calling me a twit? Dumbass.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
@1 A Grand Jury is not made up of "the ordinariest of us." It is usually made up of people well versd in the legal system. Highly educated professionals.
@5, here is some information for you to consider replacing that with. This is by Susan Brenner, the law professor who wrote a book called "Federal Grand Jury Practice". Good luck.…

Prof. Brenner also wrote a pretty scathing indictment of the federal grand jury system's shortcomings, along with some ideas to fix it. If you're not tired of reading:…
Posted by gloomy gus on October 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 9
@7 Wow! You sure showed him w/ your razor-sharp wit!

Stay tuned in to 5280's non-stop laugh riot retorts, sure to cower all your peers on the play ground. How many different versions of "I know you are but what am I?" will he come up w/?

Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on October 30, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 10
Ah. The brain trust speaks. We should all feel honored.

Read Gus' response above. If you can't say anything intelligent, you shouldn't bother. But then you'd have nothing to say at all, would you?
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 30, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
McGee 11
@3 Then go somewhere else you pusillanimous toss-pot.
Posted by McGee on October 30, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this

Plante has left Portland without answering questions, citing fear for her safety should she provide any answers. Said questions were coming, notably, from fellow anarchists. If anyone knows where she's gone, they're not talking.

The Committee Against Political Repression has withdrawn their support for her.

Any mention of her freedom, or even her name, appears to have become rather hilariously verboten in new posts on

It's a good idea to sit down and think every once in a while about how the power of subpoena ought to be enforced, and it's nice that we're all taking the opportunity to do that.

But anarchists, naturally, don't give a damn about what sort of balance we as a society ought to seek in enforcing of a codified system of justice, what with their belief that we shouldn't have a legal code at all, let alone enforce it.

What seems to have them really fired up in these recent postings about Leah-Lynn Plante isn't the grand jury minutia (that's for mere liberals) so much as their strict "no snitches" code of silence, which presumably is meant to be autonomously (but definitely not optionally) observed by all True Anarchists.
Posted by robotslave on October 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM · Report this
watchout5 13
When the state can punish someone for knowing about a crime for more than the crime that was committed I believe they call that fascism.
Posted by watchout5 on October 30, 2012 at 10:36 PM · Report this

According to scant leaks and rampant speculation, one of the the crimes under investigation is crossing state lines to incite riot. Which is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

The resisters can only be held for the duration of the grand jury, a maximum of 18 months in WA, and can not be fined.

So however else you might feel about this clusterfuck, it doesn't sound like anyone will be punished more for knowing* than they would be for doing.

* (or more accurately, refusing to say whether or not they know)
Posted by robotslave on October 30, 2012 at 11:46 PM · Report this

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