Grand Jury Petition denied due to technicality

Machelle Smith | Columbus

On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Judge Kent Lynch issued a memorandum on the Grand Jury petition brought before the Cherokee County District Court by the Cherokee County Community Action Group.

In the memorandum Lynch sites two technical issues that were not complied with. 1. The identity of the person filing the petition. “The petition, upon its face, shall state the name, address and phone number of the person filing the petition”. K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3001(c)(2) The entirety of K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3001(c)(2) was enacted by the Legislature in 2013 and became effective July 1, 2013. There are no appellate court cases discussing these requirements.

Other new language from the 2013 amendment includes instructions the court must give to the grand jury. One required instruction is:  The person filing the citizens’ petition filed in this court must be the first witness you call for the purpose of presenting evidence and testimony as to the subject matter and allegations of the petition. K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3001 (c)(4)(B).

Because of this instruction the necessity of the name, address and phone number of the person filing the petition is apparent.

The other technical issue was the wording at the end of the petition.  Each of the papers collecting the signatures include a verification set out in the language of the statute set out. There is no indication on any of the papers that the verifying signer was placed under oath by any authorized official.

K.S.A. 54-101.Officers authorized to administer oaths. Notaries public, judges of courts in their respective jurisdictions, mayors of cities and towns in their respective cities and towns, clerks of courts of record, county clerks, and registers of deeds, are hereby authorized to administer oaths pertaining to all matters wherein an oath is required.

The alternate way for the last paragraph to read would include the words “I declare (or verify, certify or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)

Because of these two technicalities, the judge had no option but to deny the petition. Because these proceedings may result in criminal prosecutions which could be dismissed if there are defects in calling a grand jury, close scrutiny is applied.

“We are disappointed with the ruling, but we will make sure the people are heard. Over 400 Cherokee County citizens signed these petitions. We will stand up for Cherokee County and we will not be stopped,” said Jason Bolt.

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