House Judiciary Committee approved amendment that empowers citizens to present to grand juries

During a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee last Monday, the committee adopted an amendment that allows citizens to directly present to grand juries. The amendment, offered by Representative Ben Carpenter (R – Nikiski), allows a citizen to speak to a prosecutor if they believe a matter “public welfare or safety” needs to be investigated by a grand jury. The prosecutor then “shall make arrangements for the citizen to speak with the grand jury.”

The amendment was to House Bill 67, a bill from Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) that aims to crack down on sex offenders and stalkers. The amendment passed 4-2, with Representatives Sarah Vance (R – Homer), Craig Johnson (R – Anchorage), and Jamie Allard (R – Eagle River) voting for Carpenter’s amendment. Anchorage Democratic Representatives Cliff Groh and Andrew Gray voted no.

The motivation for the amendment likely came from Kenai Peninsula resident David Haeg. Haeg was convicted in 2005 for illegally hunting wolves from the air. Ever since he has been on something of a jihad against the court system, alleging corruption.

In 2017, Haeg was tazed and handcuffed at the Nesbett Court House after refusing to leave after a hearing. Haeg has been a loud advocate for citizens to directly present to grand juries. Here is a link to a video of him talking about it with Politadick last year.

Haeg and his followers routinely reference Article 1, Section 8 of the Alaska Constitution that says, “The power of grand juries to investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare or safety shall never be suspended.”

The amendment also removes the district attorney as a gatekeeper between citizens and grand juries. The ability for citizens to present directly to grand juries on matters of “public welfare or safety” could be limitless. People who feel they were wronged by a business, environmentalists who want to stop resource projects, NIMBYs who want to stop housing projects, prisoners who feel they were wrongly convicted, the list is endless.

Grand juries have powerful subpoena powers. Imagine if a clever individual convinced a grand jury that a business had wronged them. Or if someone clever had a vendetta against an elected official. The possibilities of abuse are boundless.

There’s actually a recent example of this. In April 2023, a Kenai grand jury issued an indictment for one count of perjury against former Judge Margaret Murphy. Murphy presided over Haeg’s original 2005 case.

The grand jury charged her with perjury, but information about the charge was not provided until January. It turns out the grand jury charge had nothing to with Haeg or his trial, but instead whether Murphy got a ride from a state trooper in McGrath during Hague’s trial. A judge threw out the grand jury’s perjury charge last month. This came nine months after the charge was brought by the grand jury.

HB 67 was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last week. It is now in the House Finance Committee.

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Dan
1 month ago

My experience serving on a GJ was very dissapointing. I walked away fully understanding the axiom “a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich”. There was precious little critical thinking going on in that room.

I am left believing that justice requires that DAs show good judgement, because the GJ is not an effective check. Which leaves me very nervous about making it easy for charismatic individuals to appeal directly to the GJ.

Darrell
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

The system we have in place REQUIRES an educated and informed citizenry. Instead, our public education system emphasizes other things.

Dan Svatass
1 month ago
Reply to  Darrell

Nope. Our public education system’s sole focus is on educating and informing children to join the adult citizenry. As you demonstrate, it is not infallible.

Sam
1 month ago

I visited their Facebook page “Stop Alaska’s Judicial Corruption” and what I’ve taken away from it is that David Haeg is a cult leader. Sift through the posts, it’s all the usual suspects. Dustin Darden and his 5G conspiracies, multiple legislators from the valley and a cadre of abusive parents mad that OCS took their kids away.

Darrell
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

Smearing with accusations is such a ploy of a certain party. Guess which party Sam is from? The party that says the stamp of “authority” means righteousness. Judges and DA’s certainly can be corrupted and what does this look like? We might be seeing it here.

“Power corrupts absolutely”

If our system is corrupt at the top, just what should we do Sam? Surely we should try all legal avenues possible.

Sam
1 month ago
Reply to  Darrell

Corruption is Brittany Dunlop allowing Ian Calhoun to walk free after the serial killer Brain Smith showed him a dead body in his truck bed and he didn’t tell anyone. Corruption is Paul Vermillion getting 3 years in prison for shooting a man in the head with two guns and mutilating his body with a pickaxe. The families of the victims of these evil crimes know corruption, not David Haeg belly-aching about a month in jail for shooting wolves out of a plane or maniacs torturing their children to the point OCS intervenes. Virtue signal about how conservative you are… Read more »

Someguy
1 month ago
Reply to  Darrell

Just so you know, the saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Weren’t you saying something about an educated and informed citizenry? Perhaps you should start by better informing youself

Someone who wants Jeff to grow up
1 month ago

Landfield could get a grand jury to investigate Rep. Hannan.

Someguy
1 month ago

Does this guy Darrell remind anyone who f that guy from the song “Right Hand Turn” by the Bloodhound Gang?

Larry Wood
8 days ago

Good on the Judiciary Committee to approve the measure. The ability to bring an issue to a sitting grand jury is a constitutional imperative, not a matter of permission. The AK Supreme Court decided to cut the power of the grand jury. I think that a grand jury needs to hear the issues surrounding the books containing porn the librarians and teachers want in our public and school libraries and the classroom. AS 11.61.128 and AS 11.41.436 should have been applied by the Dept. of Law and the Governor and ended the conversation with a few arrests. As it is,… Read more »