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8/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
'Common-law' grand jury movement finds its way to Mohave County
Though popular nationally, legal grounding a challenge
Thomas McKean
Thomas McKean
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Everybody talks about returning the government to the people, but Thomas McKean is ready to do something about it.

McKean, a soft-spoken and articulate grandfather and Navy retiree from Bullhead City, wants to establish the Mohave County Common Law Grand Jury, which, if successful, would become the seventh of Arizona's 15 counties to do so, and one of a number that are being established nationwide.

So far, a push by the National Liberty Alliance to reinstate common law grand juries in each of the 3,141 counties that exist in the United States has gained traction in 36 states and more than 160 counties, just in the last 30 days.

Some of these "citizen" grand juries have so far indicted Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the Queen of England, the Pope and the nation of Canada.

Those indictments have failed to result in legal action.

"Such indictments have not yet been held to be actionable in the courts," said Toni Massaro, a law professor at the University of Arizona.

Even so, McKean has reserved the Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library for 6:30 p.m. tonight to hold a meeting and perhaps a vote on the matter.

"It's going to be a 45-minute presentation," said McKean, "followed by a short question and answer period."

McKean said attendees would be asked whether they want to form a common law grand jury in Mohave County.

If enough of them vote yes - McKean said he needs at least five residents to sign on, but hopes for many more than that - those same people would be invited to serve as "jurists" on the common law grand jury.

That will be the easy part. The more difficult aspect will come later, after the common law grand jury is formed with 25 members who represent each of Arizona's 15 counties - and they see how seriously the established government takes them.

Massaro, the law professor, said common law grand juries have been around for quite some time.

In fact, all grand juries were independent until 1946, and very often they served as a buffer between the people and government, which was their purpose.

In 1946, however, federal court rules were revised, the grand jury system was codified and grand juries essentially became legal tools used by government prosecutors rather than independent investigative bodies with scant limitations on what - and who - they could look into.

Gone were the days that grand juries could investigate virtually anything or anyone - especially crooked politicians - and instead were allowed to look into only what prosecutors presented them.

McKean candidly acknowledged he is not an expert on common law, which originated centuries ago in England. Common law is unwritten and is based on court decisions and social customs.

McKean said his interest is in the process, something he believes will be unimaginably simple, on paper at least, because the mechanism to enact such grand juries, he said, is contained in the Bill of Rights.

He also said the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1992 decision gave counties the right to form their own common law grand juries.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 decision, noting that grand juries are mentioned in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. That distinction, said Scalia in the United States v. Williams, assigned significant power to grand juries.

The conservative justice said the grand jury belongs to "no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the government and the people."

"We're not out to nullify the courts or the police," said McKean. "This is the only way to redress wrongs."

He also knows the status quo will resist the movement.

"There have been roadblocks and concerted efforts to defuse our efforts," he said. "We expect that will continue."

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said he has no interest in defusing anyone's efforts, but he does see a number of problems with McKean's goal.

"The authority for convening grand juries is written in statutes by legislators and by rules written by the Supreme Court," said Smith.

The County Attorney said grand jurors don't name themselves, but are selected through voter registration rolls and the Arizona Motor Vehicles Department.

"They have no legal authority to indict, and that's probably a good thing," said Smith. "This protects individual rights and ensures a fair process."

According to the National Liberty Alliance, the primary goal of returning to common law grand juries would be to "expose all political fraud and corruption."

The group believes it can turn the political and judicial "clocks" back to 1789. Some of the other things the group believes the movement will do is allow grand juries to indict criminals "including judges and politicians," reinstate the real duties of sheriffs, get back armories and militias, stop Agenda 21, ban genetically modified organisms, ban high fructose corn syrup, stop chemtrails, end all gun control, and "delete" the Internal Revenue Service and the United Nations from New York City.

McKean said the push to reinstate common law grand juries is by necessity a nonpartisan effort - so much so, he said, that anyone serving on the grand jury who expresses a partisan viewpoint would be removed.

"The need for nonpartisans cannot be overstated," he said. "There is what I would call a natural leaning to one's family, friends and culture. That can happen and still support and serve the Constitution. It is only when those present as an agenda of sorts that it becomes problematic. In that case a jurist, a student or graduate of law - stressing student of law - who demonstrates partisan behavior would be removed for 'due cause,' and another jurist would replace him or her.

"The Common Law Grand Jury (CLGJ) is a self-correcting instrument with an imperative of upholding the Constitution thorough participation and application. Through this uniformed understanding, justice will be served."

The jury, grand or otherwise, is still out on whether McKean and others will put off this bloodless coup, but history suggests they have their work cut out for them.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: Melinda Hayes

[Comment deleted for excessive length.]

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

It is interesting how some commenters are so opposed to giving power to the citizens to investigate the actions of politicians and appointed officials.

The comment that Tom Horn should be investigating malfeasance by elected officials is as ridiculous as expecting Eric Holder to investigate Obama and other federal politicians.

The powers given to the citizens in the Constitution are to protect the people from a corrupt government.

It would seem that some of the anti Constitution commenters here have little faith in their fellow man and actually believe that the politicians have their best interests at heart.

Well there's a sucker born every minute.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Sharon Holmes

To Thomas Kean:

God Bless you. Forget the idiots. Please contact me at I would like to help. Maybe the fools would if they understood that someone accused of a crime is not permitted to address the charges before the current judicial Grand Jury, causing a lot of innocent people to be charges with a crime they did not commit, because only the prosecutor is allowed to present evidence. The accused's rights are thereby violated.

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Lightfoot


You do realize I didn’t justify McVeigh’s actions don’t you?

Understanding why people act as they do doesn’t mean you condone it.

I understand political prejudice and liberal ignorance but never condone it.

I have no evidence on anyone except proof that yet again another liberal has ran screaming down the isle of the theatre screaming “Fire!” whilst throwing out a baby with the bath water.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Vock C., perhaps you need to speak to Tom Horne he's Az's top lawyer. He's the one who should be investigating the county government. Contact him if you have specific info on illegality.

Non-partisan. Really. Turning back the clock is what we have come to love about the Republican Party.

Jimi, to justify McVeigh's actions is deplorable. Every day or it seems a senator or congressman or state official or sheriff is being brought to justice by the government. Perhaps you need to gather all that evidence of corruption and pass it to the national media, the state attorneys general, the US Justice Dept, the FBI or your duly elected offficials. I'm sure one or more among that group would love to indict politicians you claim are corrupt. They just need the evidence you have. Please help them.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Debra Bryant

humm...The president says that there are UFO's and Chemtrails has already been proven, as has the president isn't qualified to be POTUS, per the Birthers, so that must mean all the naysayers are trolls that are paid to make others feel like what they are pursuing is worthless and they are ignorant, and then you reinforce that fact by resorting to name calling and put downs. Those that have done their homework know it can and will work, the rest of you just sound like foolish uneducated subjects that like the government controlling you. Enjoy your slavery. But just becasue your ignorant doesnt mean everyone is!

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Saying Timothy McVeigh did what he did because he had no viable way to express himself is sad at best, at worst a defense for what the FBI has linked him to white supremacists which no amount of access to legal avenues satisfies them other than over turning many US constitutional amendments! This idea of a citizen grand jury sounds like a fancy name for lynch mob! That is why it will go no where, no one is going to be brought to justice before it, at best some Looney tunes will get a moment o feel good effect and then get angry when us sensible folks laugh at them!

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

@Frank Lee Speaking.....I know you speak from total ignorance, but after all that has happened, I will still feel obligated to respond in some way. They broke into my home in Kingman, criminally charged my credit card after I used it at the courthouse, and committed other crimes whose description will not fit into the Miner's word limit here. Then in the government's collusion with the nation's film industry, those predators speant and reaped millions from the events. I haven't a problem with an initial skepticism when these things are discussed, but do have a profound problem when a citizenry collectively, after time for reflection, does not discern truth and state it here. Their films continue to the present, something like the 911 attacks which they indicated beforehand, and from which (their crime) they oppress us in historic, obscene ways. I would not be averse to explaining these things further, particularly to those who believe themselves informed after being whispered to by law enforcement.

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: BOBO CLOWN

Ignore concerned citizen & go for it, get them dirty politicos & judges........

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Lighfoot

I question why the citizen would think it ludicrous for the people to have more control and require accountability and hold accountable, their government.

The current system allows only defendants selected by the prosecution to come before jury.

What if you have a corrupt prosecuting arm of government? What if your whole government is corrupt?

The citizen needs LEGAL recourse.

Those who mock the citizens that have guns just in case the government runs amuck should welcome an efficient and legal form of legal redress ran by the people and for the people.

Some look at this an attack against Obama.

These same people that thought the government was corrupt under Bush but not under Obama.

The government didn’t change, only the boss.

This jury system would be as incorruptible as is humanly possible and would provide legal remedy and relief to the victimized and provide a legitimate forum for the citizenry issues.

Timothy McVeigh killed hundreds because he had no trustable, legitimate and legally enforceable avenue to address his and his groups’ concerns.

Think about it.

Not so funny anymore is it?

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@nnp.... aka: pl.... aka: Phil L

"Then, speaking of corruption here in Mohave County which has gone unprosecuted,....."

What? Corruption going unprosecuted? What the.......Oh wait, your talking about YOU and your unfounded, unsubstantiated, no evidence, claims.....right?

It's always all about YOU. Hey, are those long promised indictments and arrests still coming, Phil?


Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: enigma enigma

This story sounds about as logical as the birther movement! Both likely will attract a strange bunch of people at minimum!

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

I think a common law grand jury sounds like a good idea. Especially the part about investigating local nepotisim that seems to be rampant here in this county's mangement. Time for some voter supervision. I wonder if some of our problems would go away is something like this were started.

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: maggie passaro

To "CONCERNED CITIZEN" , Please get an education about the REAL constitution and bill of rights in this country. The Common Law Grand Jury IS still an unalienable right guaranteed by the 5th amendment. So in order for the Judicial Branch to have full control , without interferance by the " people " they just "forgot" to include a place for them in the ( federal rules of procedure ) . So there is no court that has Jurisdiction UNLESS, we "Move the Court" to change the "Judges" HAT for the specific moment. There is only one way to get real FAIR and unbiased COURTS, and thats in a COMMON LAW COURT.

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: Jack a Lope

i doubt they would accept me. Im Mex. back in the 40s a group like that hung a group like mine in Tx.
you know those nasty people with brown skin, spoke with funny accents, and had names they couldng pronounce..

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

For some people, the latter portion of this article begins to sideline the common law jury concept to the fringe category (mentioning chemtrails and abolishing the IRS). But why? Regarding the IRS, for example, the federal income tax itself was never officially ratified and is therefore not legal. And the IRS has a well-deserved reputation for lack of accountability when it comes to abuses. Then, speaking of corruption here in Mohave County which has gone unprosecuted, we begin to have an even more compelling reason to establish an entity which those who have abused their power with impunity should fear.

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: concerned citizen

"McKean said he needs at least five residents to sign on, but hopes for many more than that"

Quick! Someone sign that petition and be number 6, so that this guy can go out in the desert, and crawl under his rock until election time!
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of effort that some people love to exert in such a fruitless and hopeless endeavor. Very similar to the UFO crowd.
They've got soooo much time on their hands, that instead of doing something productive and meaningful, they latch onto something like this!

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