Claremore Daily Progress

November 1, 2013

Multicounty Grand Jury reconvenes next month

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Attorney General Scott Pruitt recently announced the Multicounty Grand Jury would investigate matters in Rogers County and the next scheduled session is Dec. 10-12.
It is unknown if the proceedings at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, 313 NE 21 in Oklahoma City,  will include the Rogers County investigation, because state law requires the grand jury to operate in secret.
The state’s 14th Multicounty Grand Jury convened last week, issuing one indictment and recessing the session until December.
The December session schedule was set to permit the summoning of additional witnesses and gathering of additional physical evidence by the investigators assisting the grand jury.
The Rogers County investigation will be led by Assistant Attorney General Megan Tilly, chief of the AG’s Multicounty Grand Jury Unit.
Tilley attended last month’s hearing when Tulsa County District Judge Jefferson Sellers dismissed the Rogers County Grand Jury petition on a technicality.
“The multicounty grand jury has jurisdiction to investigate criminal matters in all 77 counties, assisting local law enforcement as well as handling matters of state interest,” said Katie Dark, the AG’s constituent services coordinator. “Each month, grand jurors meet to hear testimony for two to three days. All of the proceedings are closed to the public.”
The Multicounty Grand Jury meets for three days each month for a pre-determined amount of time such as 18-months, with breaks for holidays, according to Dark.
There is not a time limit on how “fast” the jurors must work, Dark said.
If the Rogers County Grand Jury petition had resulted in the convening of a local grand jury, the proceedings would have been concluded no later then May 25, 2014.
Jurors would have been selected from Rogers County residents.
Because of the questions listed in the petition a district attorny from outside the county would have been asked to oversee the proceedings.
Issues listed in the petition would have been addressed before any other matter, although the grand jury would have the authority to investigate any issue involving Rogers County.
During the Multicounty Grand Jury proceedings a district attorney can present a case to the grand jury with their approval. In those instances, the DA may assist Tilley in advising and presenting the case, according to Dark.
This process is general and does not speak to the circumstances surrounding the investigation into Rogers County. No information about the current investigation has been released to the public.
The grand jury is selected at random from eligible citizens who are then questioned by the presiding judge and attorneys as required by law, according to Dark. 
The jurors will be questioned about potential conflicts or information they may already have about an investigation depending on the case, according to Dark.
“The presiding judge and attorneys ask questions regarding those issues,” Dark said. ”The multicounty grand jury has a system in place for dealing with conflicts.”
Anyone can be called to appear and may have an attorney present at the time, according to Dark.
“As far as witnesses, the multicounty grand jury operates in the same fashion as a county grand jury. Witnesses are subpoenaed and called to testify,” Dark said.  
Witnesses cannot refuse to participate, but have certain rights regarding portions of their testimony, according to Dark.
The proceedings operate in secret as required by state law, Dark said.
Witnesses give testimony under oath and can be charged with perjury if they are untruthful.
Jurors will determine when to issue indictments based on the evidence they have heard, according to Dark.
The Multicounty Grand Jury cannot remove officials from office without an indictment, Dark said.
A Rogers County Grand Jury would have included the authority to remove officials from office.
“Any public officer may be removed or ousted from office for any act or commission or omission or neglect which may be committed, done or omitted during his present, or any previous or preceding term in such office,” according to the law.
If an indictment is handed down in the Multicounty Grand Jury, it will be made public immediately, unless a judge determines it should remain closed until such date when the charges are presented with the accused in court.