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Letters to the Editor

Witch hunt

October 5, 2007

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To the editor:

Public-petitioned grand juries are the new witch hunts. The LIFE coalition and Operation Rescue want to call a grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood. Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, was quoted in an Associated Press story in Thursday's Journal-World stating, "There's too much controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood ..."

Who's creating this "controversy"? Tim Golba, spokesman for LIFE, said the group was not accusing Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Then why do we need a grand jury? Clearly, the goal is to create a controversy and harass Planned Parenthood.

If your goal is to harass, grand juries are a great tool. People called to testify are not entitled to legal defense. Grand juries need not reach a unanimous decision and do not have to establish a crime was committed "beyond a reasonable doubt" to bring an indictment. The target of a grand jury investigation is thus at the mercy of the jury, is likely to suffer great expense, and may end up in court with further legal expenses to defend against baseless charges. What fun!

In 1692 and 1693, 100 people were arrested for witchcraft, 29 were found guilty, and 19 (14 women and five men) were hanged in the towns of Salem, Ipswich, Boston and Andover. Now some folks just call for a grand jury. Maybe what we need is a petition to call a grand jury to investigate LIFE and Operation Rescue for harassment and defamation. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Doug Burger,

Lawrence

Comments

Defender 6 years, 6 months ago

"Tom Tancredo (R-CO) displayed a brochure from a company, which he said no longer has a known address or phone number, that listed prices for fetal parts, including "$50 for eyes, $150 for lungs and hearts and $999 for an eight-week brain."

Wow, no contact info at all? Are you sure he didn't print this brochure at home? I call BS, big, stinky BS.

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badger 6 years, 6 months ago

Workin2hard says:

"Tom Tancredo (R-CO) displayed a brochure from a company, which he said no longer has a known address or phone number, that listed prices for fetal parts, including "$50 for eyes, $150 for lungs and hearts and $999 for an eight-week brain.

Pitts said he was "horrified" by reports that some abortion providers may be "letting babies be born alive and are then drowning them so they can be cut up" according to researchers' requirements. In addition, he noted that "some doctors are encouraging women to undergo 'partial-birth' abortion 'to maximize the possibility of obtaining fetal tissues of organs useful to researchers.'"

That right there needs some serious looking into. That is wrong on so many levels. For those that want to defend that. May god have mercy on your soul."

That right there needs some serious backup from reputable sources, friend. Tom Tancredo's just this side of lunatic fringe, and the "I have a price list from a company I can't prove exists" smacks of McCarthy's briefcase full of Communists. How can abortion providers be 'letting babies be born alive' and then killing them? Partial-birth abortions, I seem to recall, are banned. Are you suggesting they're inducing full or late term labor and murdering viable newborns with the culpability of an entire medical staff and a juicy story like that (which is obviously NOT a secret if you're posting it on the Internet...) didn't hit mainstream sensationalist media - even FOX News, which would eat it up - like a firestorm?

I'd have to see a statement or some sort of proof from a neutral source, neither pro-choice nor anti-choice, before I'd consider that as anything but the most base and unfounded hysterical slander. Whether one supports the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy or not should be based in truth and reality, not ravings about neonatal drownings and doctors (straight from Nineteenth-Century central casting, I imagine) selling baby parts on a secret black research market.

Logic and reason have a place in the abortion debate. Both sides have valid arguments. But this sort of wild-eyed allegation doesn't do anyone any good. It smacks of the hate-based fables that insist Jews eat babies or gypsies steal children or black people are less human and more animal than white people.

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 6 months ago

Anonymous user

americorps (Anonymous) says:

I am starting a grand jury petition against Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue:.

Give me a minute to drum up some charges..I mean to write my legal opinion.

I will create a new one once a week, I am sure I can get the signatures.

Seriously. Let's start with the sheer number of people near to my age (late 20's/early 30's) from Wichita who still have the image of people lining the streets during the so-called "Summer of Mercy", showing blown up images of what they said were aborted feti....The shootings of George Tiller in defense of the "right to life"....Some people, including my family, actually lived in that neighborhood, and were terrorized hearing gun shots fired in the name of "Rescue". Sure sounds merciful, no?

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 6 months ago

Anonymous user

parkay (Anonymous) says:

We will continue to exercise our First Amendment right to petition our government, until we have justice for the illegally butchered babies

Seriously, I had to laugh here. Legal choice is LEGAL choice. Period. Want to change it? Take your wacky a$$es to congress or the supreme court and work on it from that angle. Until then, you are trying to un-ring a bell. Until and unless safe, sanitary and medically approved abortions are criminalized, stop treating those of us who support the LEGAL choice as criminals. Of course, the assumption is and does get made that if you support choice, you must've had an abortion. Thankfully I have not had to make such a grueling personal decision.

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 6 months ago

Anonymous user

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says:

"(Planned Parenthood): is likely to suffer great expense, and may end up in court with further legal expenses"

We can only hope so.

Should this prove to be bad justice (i.e. an abuse of the power), I should only hope that one day you find yourself on the other side of "justice". You cannot expect to be treated legally and fairly unless all other members of society are as well.

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DoNotKeepScore 6 years, 6 months ago

kansas778, Your posts here in this discussion seem to have been well thought out and well scripted.

You have not posted one "Do you beat your kids before or after the game?" comment here. Congratulations on not having any posts removed by moderator over here.

Everyone else here should take a moment to view other posts of kansas778, especially over http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/sep/27/not_fair_or_fun/#comments in order to gain some insight on his perspective of how to conduct oneself.

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waydownsouth 6 years, 6 months ago

How do those people sleep at night? They must have hearts of stone.

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workin2hard 6 years, 6 months ago

Tom Tancredo (R-CO) displayed a brochure from a company, which he said no longer has a known address or phone number, that listed prices for fetal parts, including ``$50 for eyes, $150 for lungs and hearts and $999 for an eight-week brain.

Pitts said he was "horrified" by reports that some abortion providers may be "letting babies be born alive and are then drowning them so they can be cut up" according to researchers' requirements. In addition, he noted that "some doctors are encouraging women to undergo 'partial-birth' abortion 'to maximize the possibility of obtaining fetal tissues of organs useful to researchers.'"

That right there needs some serious looking into. That is wrong on so many levels. For those that want to defend that. May god have mercy on your soul.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

"As is apparent from the Duke case, from the uncomfortably large number of wrongly convicted people being cleared by DNA evidence after years of incarceration, or from countless reported cases involving prosecutorial misconduct, prosecutors often disregard their incredible power and their corresponding responsibility when presenting a case before the grand jury." From Houston criminal defense lawyer John Floyd.

Bogus charges make it past the grand jury all.....the....time! And it is a big deal to be indicted "in this day of immediate media coverage and electronic access to public records revealing pending criminal charges, a felony indictment alone can destroy a reputation and a career." Id.

Floyd writes further about how prosecutors and grand juries work: "Grand juries are to operate under the direction but not the control of the prosecutor. However, in reality prosecutors in almost every jurisdiction in this country have unfettered control over the indictment process. They are the gatekeepers of all information that is presented to the grand jury. They are often the only individuals present other than the jurors themselves. They submit the "evidence", which can contain facts and statements traditionally inadmissible before a court at trial, and they make the only arguments. Their version of the case is completely uncontested and one-sided. The defense has no right to present evidence to the grand jury or to have a lawyer present. Witnesses who testify before the grand jury have no right to have a lawyer present with them before the grand jury. In fact, there is no one present, or any mechanism in place, to prevent a prosecutor from misleading a grand jury, whether by direct falsehood or by the omission of exculpatory evidence, to get an indictment. There is no judge or moderator to guarantee that the evidence presented is fair, accurate and complete. Sadly, it has been said, and it is true, that even an inexperienced prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."

http://www.johntfloyd.com/opinion.htm

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americorps 6 years, 6 months ago

I am starting a grand jury petition against Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue....

Give me a minute to drum up some charges..I mean to write my legal opinion.

I will create a new one once a week, I am sure I can get the signatures.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

You still retain your fifth amendment rights, unless you can't just walk in there and not say a thing.

As far as going to trial with bogus charges - if it makes it past the grand jury it's probably not bogus. Besides, typically these are used in high stakes type things, like watergate where the prosecutor may feel he is taking too much of a personal risk to prosecute. You want the people to have a way to get prosecution to happen if a prosecutor is reluctant to do so.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

imastinker--see that's the thing, you might not retain your fifth amendment rights because technically you are not being charged with a crime, so you can be forced to answer questions that you would not normally have to, and be charged with perjury. And yes, the stakes are lower, you only face indictment and not conviction, but that is not an excuse to eliminate due process and equal protection.

Also, to say it's no big deal that they have to go to trial on a possibly bogus charge, you are not seeing the harms. You didn't answer my question about how would you like that done to you? How are you going to explain to your family, friends, and coworkers that a grand jury has "just" indicted you? "No big deal, it's just an indictment."

But regardless of the stakes, this is a legal process, and no matter what, everyone must have due process and equal protection. Now what are you basing your opinions on? That's it's not a big deal in your mind? Now as I previously have stated, it is acknowledged that this is unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals about it because they feel that while it's unconstitutional, it's a "good tool."

Grand juries are supposed to be a check on prosecutors, but they use them to compel people to testify so they can build a case against them, circumventing people's fifth amendment rights. Grand juries are perjury traps. They can drag you in, you aren't allowed to have a lawyer there to advise you, they'll tell you you can't plead the fifth because you aren't charged with anything, and when you deny an accusation, they'll get you with a perjury charge. Do you see any constitutional violations there?

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verity 6 years, 6 months ago

I think the point here which is being missed is that this appears to be a fishing expedition. As far as I can tell, there are no accusations of anything illegal, the parties asking for a grand jury just want to see if there is.

The police can't get a warrent to search my house unless they have some reason to believe that they would find something illegal (well, at least that's the way it was until recently). Correct me if I am wrong, but I think a grand jury should not be called unless there is some reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The fact that you don't like abortions does not make it illegal.

And I am getting really tired of all this "exploited, victimized, scarred mothers in Kansas abortion mills" kind of rhetoric. Says who? Just because you want women to be scarred if they have an abortion does not make it so.

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logicsound04 6 years, 6 months ago

While I don't agree with the ability to call a grand jury based solely on a petition, I must agree with imastinker--it is not unconstitutional.

The bottom line is that the worst result that can come from being scrutinized by a grand jury is an indictment, nothing more. A grand jury indictment is no different than being charged with a crime. In other words, your innocence is presumed through the entire grand jury--they are simply to decide if there is enough evidence to charge a crime.

That being said, I'd like to reiterate that I do not support the notion of allowing grand juries to be formed by the masses and a petition. Let professional prosecutors decide if pursuing a criminal charge has merit and THEN let the citizens make their voice heard by deciding if there is enough evidence to actually charge the defendant.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

I still don't see that as a constitutional issue. I retian my fifth amendment rights, right?

No judgement by a grand jury does anything except put me in front of a real jury, where I get witnesses, lawyers, evidence, etc.

Why do you need to hear from witnesses and see evidence if you are deciding if there is enough evidence to go to trial? You're really not looking to defend the person, you are evaluating the merits of the accusations. The defense is irrelevant until the real trial.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

The words "grand jury" are in the constitution, but the process of how they operate is completely different today than it was 200 years ago. This isn't the grand jury that the framers of the constitution had in mind and is not constitutional, and should be called "inquisitions" instead of grand juries.

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

parkay (Anonymous) says:

We will continue to exercise our First Amendment right to petition our government, until we have justice for the illegally butchered babies and exploited, victimized, scarred mothers in Kansas abortion mills, where law enforcement has suffered a complete breakdown, except for our courageous Phill Kline. If ever there were justification for a citizen witch hunt, these dangerous, criminal abortionist quacks are it. We will have justice, they will have their trials and their prison sentences, and if they ever come back out of prison, we'll put 'em back in again. And if there is to be any talk about stopping legal activities conducted by citizens, let it begin with the abolition of the Kansas abortion industry.

This is frightening!

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Ray Parker 6 years, 6 months ago

We will continue to exercise our First Amendment right to petition our government, until we have justice for the illegally butchered babies and exploited, victimized, scarred mothers in Kansas abortion mills, where law enforcement has suffered a complete breakdown, except for our courageous Phill Kline. If ever there were justification for a citizen witch hunt, these dangerous, criminal abortionist quacks are it. We will have justice, they will have their trials and their prison sentences, and if they ever come back out of prison, we'll put 'em back in again. And if there is to be any talk about stopping legal activities conducted by citizens, let it begin with the abolition of the Kansas abortion industry.

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Ceallach 6 years, 6 months ago

Logic4, well, I guess they are similar in the sense that both are about men and women:) I was trying to point out the difference in weight when one is balancing a grand jury and the hangman's noose. You gotta admit the comparison was extreme. Thank you for the commendation (I guess).

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july241983 6 years, 6 months ago

ks778- I'm sure planned parenthood will be afforded the same rights everyone has at the grand jury stage. If not, you're right, there are due process problems. But, your average citizen doesn't have the right to counsel or to confront witnesses at a grand jury. So, why should planned parenthood? I think your argument is with the grand jury itself, but as I've mentioned, it is firmly rooted in the constitution.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

imastinker--if I told you I could haul you into court and get a grand jury indictment against you, but you couldn't have assistance from counsel, you couldn't confront witnesses, and you couldn't present evidence, would you feel your rights had been violated?

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

july241983--the constitutional issues have to do with equal protection and due process, specifically the right to assistance of counsel, the right to confront witnesses and the right to present evidence.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

OK, I'll bite. What is unconstitutional about it?

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july241983 6 years, 6 months ago

kansas778- how is this grand jury being used in an unconstitutional manner? How has it violated anyone's rights to due process? The 5th Amendment of the US Constitution (which brings us the due process clause) starts off by saying, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury . . ."

The 5th amendment says nothing about the preliminary hearing system that Kansas uses in most cases. If anything, the use of a grand jury is more rooted in the Constitution than the preliminary hearing system.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

It also needs to be recognized that using grand juries to pursue baseless accusations is a waste of our limited judicial resources. If anyone tried that kind of stunt in a federal court they would be slapped with sanctions.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

imastinker--that's fine that you see the grand jury as a useful tool, but that does not make it constitutional. People have a right to due process, regardless of the stakes or the format.

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logicsound04 6 years, 6 months ago

"How does Planned Parenthood going to court to determine if they are following the law regarding abortion practice and/or reporting in any way equal men and women being hanged for witchcraft?"


Okay fine, they are not "equal". However, if you'd think critically instead of getting indignant about the phrase, you'd see there IS some similarity.

In both instances a group/organization is being targeted based solely on the fact that the group doing the targeting didn't like the practices of the group being targeted. In both instances, there was no real evidence of any wrongdoing, just a general distrust and dislike. In both instances, the group being targeted was being unfairly harrassed.

It's commendable (I guess) that you think the answer to this is for PP to fire back at Operation Rescue/Right to Life with another baseless accusation of their own, but I'd rather leave the pursuit of criminality to the legal system, not to a bunch of fanatics who want to shut down every business that doesn't agree with their zealous ideology.

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PROAMERICA 6 years, 6 months ago

You like killing those babys ......right Doug?

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Ceallach 6 years, 6 months ago

It is hard not to get hysterical when partial birth abortions are defended in an effort to preserve first and second trimester abortion rights. The procedure is beyond inhumanity. If you really want to know and have never educated yourself on the procedure . .

http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/diagram.html

Somethings are worth getting hysterical about.

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says:

well said ceallach.

the grand jury is completely legal and ethical in this case, and by the book. "witch hunt" is just more hysterical ranting. the writer obviously wants to preserve a woman's right to kill her baby at any point in pregnancy, or even infanticide after birth (partial birth abortion). if you want a witch hunt, just imagine how painfully the unborn baby is tortured to death in abortion, burned with saline, hacked to death, etc. you wanna get hysterical, how about that kinda pain inflicted on completely innocent person!

Wow--talk about hysterical. Thanks for providing an example.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Why can't we actually debate the issue?

Logicsound - I have already made my comments about grand juries. Here they are again:

1) Grand juries allow grassroots action to result in prosecution, even against the will of a prosecutor 2) Grand juries do not need to have lawyers present because they are not trying the case 3) The term "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not necessary because they are not trying the case 4) If the charges are baseless, then there will be no big expense because it will be thrown out. 5) If they aren't baseless, the expense is in court (lawyers) - and should be if the charges have merit.

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bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

well said ceallach.

the grand jury is completely legal and ethical in this case, and by the book. "witch hunt" is just more hysterical ranting. the writer obviously wants to preserve a woman's right to kill her baby at any point in pregnancy, or even infanticide after birth (partial birth abortion). if you want a witch hunt, just imagine how painfully the unborn baby is tortured to death in abortion, burned with saline, hacked to death, etc. you wanna get hysterical, how about that kinda pain inflicted on completely innocent person!

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Ceallach 6 years, 6 months ago

How does Planned Parenthood going to court to determine if they are following the law regarding abortion practice and/or reporting in any way equal men and women being hanged for witchcraft? I haven't been to a hanging, but I have been to court, and somehow I just think hanging is a lot worse.

"Grand juries need not reach a unanimous decision and do not have to establish a crime was committed "beyond a reasonable doubt" to bring an indictment. The target of a grand jury investigation is thus at the mercy of the jury, is likely to suffer great expense, and may end up in court with further legal expenses to defend against baseless charges."

Since this is true of all grand juries, does Mr. Burger think they should be eliminated, or just those called in by a legal petition signed by a number of citizens.

The opposition should start their own petition against LIFE and/or Operation Rescue. Organizations that cannot stand up to close scrutinizing should either close down or restructure. It's called working within the system.

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Fudgepop 6 years, 6 months ago

Yea let's go get that kid that was born of christian parents from the south and harass him about his rubber boots. I can't stand anyone that might possibly think different than our values.

Oh wait he can't really even form his own thoughts on the matter yet. Let's torture him anyway for not being born one of "us".

I am not ashamed to be born christian, there seems to be a certain group of people particularly concerned with "Categorizing" individuals by their lineage or heritage and anyone that does not agree with them basically gets the guilliotine.

so yea, get those hipsters to play their $30000000 guitars downtown.

There is one that just shakes her rattle, I mean.... marachas

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

Jonas and Americorps: Amen!!

STRS: Christianity at it's finest. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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jonas 6 years, 6 months ago

Although "terrorist" is too loaded of a term, I think.

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jonas 6 years, 6 months ago

It looks like Americorps beat me to it. That's a great viewpoint, STRS. If we can't do something in an ethical manner, who cares, as long as I'm furthering my agenda.

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americorps 6 years, 6 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says: "(Planned Parenthood): is likely to suffer great expense, and may end up in court with further legal expenses" We can only hope so.


And the truth of domestic polite terrorism is exposed.

Justice means nothing, truth and honesty means nothing to people like this, only harassment and getting their way.

The Christian Supremecists are neither Christians nor are they good Americans, they are domestic terrorists.

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logicsound04 6 years, 6 months ago

imastinker,

What facts about "grand juries" do you think this writer misunderstood?

Seems like he had a pretty good grasp to me...

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badger 6 years, 6 months ago

I object to the use of the term 'witch hunt' in this context.

The traditional Witch Hunt is a fine and venerable practice, in which Witches of all sizes and ages gather together, put on their ritual goat leggings, and dance through the streets of the town in search of cookies, cute froggies, and particularly aesthetically pleasing trees to worship.

Why, I remember my first Witch Hunt when I was just a weeeee little mustelid, lining up along the streets to watch my mother, aunts, grandmother, and older sister hunting with the other witches of our town. There was a birch tree that always got lots of attention, but that year it'd lost some leaves on one side and the balance was all funny, so the Witches chose to direct their appreciation at some handy juniper bushes nearby to it.

Ah, good times.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

I actually see the grand jury as a very useful tool for real grassroots action.

The public can petition for a grand jury, who can decide independently of a prosecutor (if needed) that there is anough evidence to proceed to trial. This takes the heat off the prosecutor and allows real grassroots action to pay off. Why do you need legal counsel if the grand jury is not trying a person? They are simply there to see if there is enough evidence for prosecution.

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yourworstnightmare 6 years, 6 months ago

I have caught wind of petition drives to convene a grand jury to investigate LIFE and Operation rescue. There must be some wrong-doing somewhere in these organizations, and its time to find out what it is.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 6 months ago

"(Planned Parenthood)... is likely to suffer great expense, and may end up in court with further legal expenses"

We can only hope so.

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

Well the main question is whether the grand jury is being used in an unconstitutional way. The Supreme Court unfortunately refuses to hear cases about it, because they see a public good even though it may breach constitutional rights. Until they decide to hear a case about it, there's nothing that can be done, and we lose some rights. I certainly don't support planned parenthood, but everyone deserves due process under the constitution.

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BrianR 6 years, 6 months ago

Operation Rescue is a domestic terrorist group and should be dealt with accordingly.

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consumer1 6 years, 6 months ago

witch hunt? In Lawrence, Cool!! boy I can see I-70 packed with personal vessels scrambling to get out of town. There will be more dredlock on the hiway than during wak fest. what will we do wihtout all the trust fund hippies on mass, playing with thier $3,000.00 Guitars?

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 6 months ago

What... they've convened a grand jury to investigate the Pagan Pride event?

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Jackie Jackasserson 6 years, 6 months ago

not sure he did...if some of his facts are straight - like that part about LIFE and Operation Rescue NOT accusing Planned Parenthood of wrong doing. if there is no wrong doing, why would you ever be inclined to find out if there is evidence of a crime? that doesn't really make any sense. does it? did I miss something?

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