Claremore Daily Progress

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October 18, 2013

Statewide Grand Jury to investigate DA, others

Attorney General acts to restore faith in criminal justice system

CLAREMORE —

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Friday a statewide grand jury will investigate allegations of wrongdoing by public officials and others in an effort to end the escalating clash between prosecutors and police in Rogers County.

Pruitt said the sitting grand jury would  “thoroughly and objectively review” corruption issues raised in a law enforcement community-driven petition signed by more than 8,000 local voters as well as malicious misconduct accusations raised by District Attorney Janice Steidley against the petition sponsors.

“For our system of justice to work properly, people must have confidence in the process,” said Pruitt. “I’m confident the multicounty grand jury investigation will uncover the facts, help resolve the issues in Rogers County, and restore Oklahomans’ confidence in the legal system.”

The attorney general’s decision to bring the matter before the statewide grand jury pre-empted DA Steidley’s surprise request an hour earlier that Mays County District Judge Terry H. McBride impanel a local grand jury to investigate her office and other public officials.

Only three days ago DA Steidley’s private lawyer successfully convinced a judge to dismiss the voters petition to impanel a local grand jury to investigate her office and two county commissioners. 

She then followed up with a defamation lawsuit against the petition sponsors, including the county sheriff and two Claremore police officers, claiming they had made malicious and hideous accusations against her in the petition. The suit asked for more than $500,000 in damages.

Tulsa County District Judge Jefferson Sellers rejected the voter’s petition on the ground it contained unauthorized summary wording on the signature pages. Steidley hailed that decision as a victory for her contention the petition was politically motivated by, among others, Detective John Singer of the Claremore Police Department. 

DA Steidley and Singer have been at war for several months over the district attorney’s claim that Singer misrepresented the interview of a rape defendant. Singer has sued Steidley in federal court over the claim.

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