Grand Jury of the People Forms as Unique Strategy to Challenge Local Governments’ Authority

By Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Reporter
Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us
October 7, 2021 Updated: October 7, 2021

With the emergence of U.S. Constitution focus groups in North Carolina comes their different strategies on reasserting what they say are breached liberties.

The WNCFreedom2020 group in Asheville, North Carolina, has convened a Grand Jury of the People, according to its founders, pursuant to the 1215 Magna Carta and the North Carolina State Constitution, to question the authority of the Buncombe County Commissioners and Board of Education’s COVID-19 policies.

According to the documents, a people’s civil grand jury is recognized as the authority on correcting, admonishing, and reining in “tyrannical actions” of government.

Kay Olsen, WNCFreedom2020’s secretary, told The Epoch Times, “There are four branches of government: the judicial, legislative, and executive branch. Then there’s ‘We the People.’ Somehow, the other three branches have forgotten that we put them there.”

Olsen referred to a quote from the late Antonin Scalia, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1986 until 2016.

The quote comes from his opinion in the case of United States vs. Williams, a 1992 ruling during which the purpose of the grand jury was debated surrounding a hearing in which exculpatory evidence had been withheld from the grand jury, a decision that might not have led to indictment based on that evidence, according to the defendant.

Scalia says that the grand jury is alluded to in the Bill of Rights, but not in the U.S. Constitution, and has not been “textually assigned” to any of the branches in the first three Articles.

“In fact, the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the government and the people,” Scalia says.

Thus, the citizens have an “unbridled right” to create their own grand juries, Scalia says, and present “true bills of indictment” to a court that can lead to criminal proceedings.

“Our Founding Fathers presciently thereby created a ‘buffer’ the people may rely upon for justice, when public officials, including judges, criminally violate the law,” Scalia says.

Findings of the Grand Jury

The group published three findings in its civil grand jury specifically directed at the Buncombe County State Government in Asheville, North Carolina.

The jury said that the state has no authority to mandate masks or vaccinations in its school system and demanded that its schools eradicate Critical Race Theory (CRT) from its curriculum.

CRT is a Marxist philosophy that describes society as a class struggle between oppressors and the oppressed; it labels white people as the oppressors, and all other races as the oppressed.

The Grand Jury of the People served its findings to the Buncombe County School Board, County Commissioners, and the Sheriff’s Department in August.

In its second meeting in September, Olsen said the grand jury awarded financial restitution to parents of children who had been what the grand jury alleged as abused by restrictive COVID-19 masking and medical discrimination policies.

“This past week, the grand jury—after hearing sworn testimony by several parents, the distressful, and in many cases, unlawful conduct of teachers, principals, and other school employees—unanimously determined the following offenses and have determined damages be rewarded,” the findings reported.

This restitution, according to Olsen, is to be paid by the board of education to five parents: $60,000 to one, and $55,000 to the four others.

“The board has 30 days to respond,” Olsen said.

The grand jury sent notices of its actions to Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Democrat Attorney General Joshua Stein, Republican Chief Justice Paul Newby, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore, and Republican state Sen. Phil Berger.

“We have sent them the findings of the first grand jury and the second grand jury, with a letter stating that Buncombe County has not responded to our first grand jury, and that it’s the governor’s responsibility to remedy this,” Olsen said.

Grand Jury of the People’s Structure

The Grand Jury of the People is comprised of 24 people or more who aren’t required to be named.

The meetings are held in secret, and no one is allowed to discuss what took place in the meeting.

The foreperson, assistant foreperson, the secretary, and the grand jury sign an oath, and hear testimony from people who choose to come before the grand jury.

The oath is specifically to uphold the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and the NC Constitution of 1776, Olsen said.

Later, findings are made based on the testimonies given.

Those findings are then delivered to what the grand jury decides are the transgressing entities, such as the school board and the commissioners that have mandated masks and enacted what the jury has deemed as medical discriminatory policies.

The grand jury alleged that county officials have not done their due diligence in researching the science that contradicts the effectiveness of the policies and their harmful outcomes, nor does the county have the authority to prescribe medical accommodations, therefore they must terminate the policies, according to its findings.

Right to Assemble

According to one of the advisors of the grand jury, Mike Flannigan, the word “assemble” must be viewed from a 1776 perspective.

“It’s not people sitting on the street corner with signs saying, ‘Hell no,’” Flannigan told The Epoch Times. “An assembly is an assembly of the people called together to correct their government, and the grand jury is the ultimate form of that. It’s a grand jury because it has a larger number of people than a petit jury, which is used during the trial.”

The people have the right to assemble to instruct their representatives, Flannigan said.

“And if they ignore the instructions of the people, they are creating a constitutional crisis, and should be removed from office,” Flannigan said. “The people don’t ask for permission. If you go to the government and ask for permission, who is really ruling the roost?”

Buncombe County Response

Though the Buncombe County Board of Education did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for a statement on its reply to the Grand Jury of the People, the Buncombe County Commission Chair, Brownie Newman, told The Epoch Times that he’s aware of the group.

“My response to these groups is that if they really believe that ‘the people’ agree with their views, they should file to run for elective office just as the people serving on the county commission and county school board have done,” Newman said. “Elections are how we decide who will represent the community. For a small group of self-selected people who have never been elected by anyone in our community to decide they have the authority to impose their agenda on everyone else goes against everything our Constitution stands for, in my opinion.”

Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us