This is the future home on the worldwide web for Brian Vaeth for Mayor for Baltimore City 2020
What is the grand Jury?
How we lost access to it and what it means to everyone 
The grand jury has been described as the greatest instrument of freedom known to our form of government and as a bulwark against oppression. It is the last effective tool that the citizen has to hold their government officials accountable for corrupt actions undertaken in the performance of their duties.

"The grand jury is an accusing body, and not a judicial tribunal; and it acts upon knowledge possessed by its members from any source, whether from witnesses brought before it, or from information gained before its sessions. `In this state they have plenary inquisitorial powers, and may lawfully themselves, and upon their own motion, originate charges against offenders, though no preliminary proceedings have been had before a magistrate, and though neither the court nor the state's attorney has laid the matter before them.' Blaney v. State, 74 Md. 153, 21 A. 547, 548; In re Grand Jury Report, 152 Md. 616, 137 A. 370. And their oath requires them to present all things truly as they come to their knowledge, according to the best of their understanding." Id. at 566. 

Who controls it?
In Maryland, the State's Attorney has full discretion over the cases that are presented to the grand jury but that does not mean that is the last word on it. As aforementioned, the People can bring charges to the grand jury by simply knocking on the door and requesting the foreperson for permission to present a matter before the entire panel.
What happened to Baltimore?
The Maryland General Assembly has perpetrated a fraud on the people of Baltimore City by denying us access to the grand jury. Senate Bill 374, introduced by Senator Lisa Gladden in 2011, has effectively been the tool that they use to accomplish this illegal scheme and it is a law that passed without opposition from any other representative in the State. When the State's Atorney refuses to bring charges against corrupt officials and the City Police Department won't do their job and arrest violators of the law, where else can the people turn? Not to the grand jury anymore. 

How?
Senate Bill 374 (2011) in the General Assembly eliminated access to the grand jury in just Baltimore City. A provision in the law, for Baltimore City only, had one addtional requirement of the grand jury. That was to do an investigation that no other jurisdiction required them to do, a separate investigation into anything the judge wanted them to. Our lawmakers used that to ban our total access and the courts are gladly helping them.

What is the court's role in it?
The grand jury meets in the courthouse and the administrative judge for the circuit court is responsible for providing security for the members of the panel. This is not just for their safety but to prevent them from being unduly influenced or threatened relating to their deliberations and not returning indictments, as they should. For this reason, you must be authorized to be in the part of the building where the grand jury meets. If not, you will be arrested for trespassing. In order to knock on the door and request the foreperson of the grand jury for permission to present your complaint, you have to gain that access from a judge. Due to the change in the law, the Baltimore City Circuit Court is using it to deny all access to the grand jury. Not only do you have to request permission to access the grand jury, you have to inform the judge of the reason why you need to approach them. Of course, your request will be denied if it alleges any criminal violations of the law that are committed by public officials. This allows their corruption to continue without any oversight at all. This lack of oversight only empowers officials to commit more corrupt acts.
In the wake of so many instances wherein City officials have demonstrated a deliberate indifference to resolving issues that have resulted in people suffering grievous losses of property and lives due to their actions, the right to approach the grand jury is of great importance. As the State’s Attorney has discretion over whether or not the office wants to present those charges to the grand jury on behalf of the State, it is not the last word on the matter. Brack v. Wells has been consistently upheld by the Court of Appeals and as retired Chief Judge Bell for that Court recently reaffirmed, “It is the opinion of this Court that every citizen has a right to offer to the grand jury violations of the criminal law. This does not mean that an individual member of that body may be approached. The citizen should exhaust his remedy before the magistrate and the State’s Attorney…and if relief cannot be had there, he then has the right to ask the foreman of the grand jury for permission to appear before that body.”  With this law as it stands today, a judge has now been put in place to be a further obstacle to gaining that access now.   

I, along with two other individuals, previously requested permission of the Administrative Judge for the Circuit Court, the Honorable Marcella Holland, for authorization to approach the Grand Jury with allegations relating to corrupt acts committed by our elected and appointed officials, in an attempt to commence an investigation into those charges. That request was submitted on September 20, 2013. Judge Holland retired without taking any action on the request. A second request for authorization was requested of the Hon. Judge W. Michel Pierson, the current Circuit Administrative Judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court. As of this date, no authorization has been received regarding this request. I have been waiting for approximately 2 years for this authorization.

My complaint deals with criminal violations of Maryland law and as the Court has ruled in Brack v. Wells 184 Md. 86 (1944), that Maryland citizens have the common law right to approach a grand jury to make complaints, this law seems clear, straightforward, and is sufficiently detailed. The Court opinioned that:

 “It is the opinion of this Court that every citizen has a right to offer to the grand jury violations of the criminal law. This does not mean that an individual member of that body may be approached. The citizen should exhaust his remedy before the magistrate and the State’s Attorney, as was done in the instant case, and if relief cannot be had there, he then has the right to ask the foreman of the grand jury for permission to appear before that body.”

I have exhausted the remedies, as provided for in the aforementioned cited case. On June 25, 2013, I submitted a complaint to a Court Commissioner who informed me that the complaint would be forwarded to the State’s Attorney. The Commissioner did not indicate whether or not he found that probable cause existed and I was told that he was deferring that question to the State’s Attorney for a determination. As of this date, I have received no correspondence from the State’s Attorney on the matter. I have received a certified mail receipt indicating that the Office of the State’s Attorney had received my request for a status update. I can only assume that because that office did not respond to my request for an update, as to whether or not the State’s Attorney’s Office was going to file the appropriate charges against the defendants, they do not intend to file them.

I am aware that the secrecy of the grand jury process is strictly adhered to and, as well it should appropriately be. In Coblentz v. State, 164 Md. 558, 166 A. 45 (1933), the issue arose because of the presence in the grand jury room of an unauthorized person, an attorney who represented certain plaintiffs in civil litigation against the banking institution of which the defendant was president. The president was accused of accepting a deposit when the institution was, to his knowledge, insolvent. It was pointed out that although then Code (1924) Art. 10, § 27 permitted a circuit court to appoint an attorney to take the place of a State's attorney when necessary because of absence, sickness, resignation or death of the State's attorney, that "section [could] not be involved in the [Coblentz] case, because there was no absence, death, or disability of the state's attorney regularly serving, and it [did] not fit the description of the order passed." It goes without saying that the presence of an unauthorized person in the grand jury room could betray the secrecy of the proceeding. In the course of the opinion Chief Judge Bond made certain observations for the Court relative to the functions of the grand jury:

 
Sheriff John Anderson
Captain Ruebottom
Captain Hughes
Judge W. Michel Pierson
Judge Timothy Doory

The action presented by Senate Bill 374 sought to eliminate a provision in the law for Baltimore City because they had one addtional requirement of the grand jury and that was to do an investigation that no other jurisdiction required them to do and that was to perform a separate investigation into anything the judge wanted them to. In 2011, the grand jury investigated the bias in the media. Click here for a link to the report .
It is my intent to uphold the integrity of the grand jury process. In furtherance of that, it is my belief that the delays demonstrated by officers of the Circuit Court in failing to authorize requests in a timely manner, is tantamount to obstruction of justice.
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
 2011
2018
[Voted in favor of Senate Bill 374 in 2011]
Frosh, Brian. (Chair) 
Gladden, Lisa. (Vice Chair)
Brochin, James
Forehand, J
Getty, J. 
Jacobs, Nancy
Ramirez, Victor R.

Raskin
Shank, C.
Stone, Norman
Zrikin, Bobby A.
 

Zirkin, Bobby A. (Chair)
Kelley, Delores G. (Vice Chair)
Brochin, James
Cassilly, Robert
Hough, Michael J.
Lee, Susan C.
Muse, C. Anthony
Norman, Wayne
Ramirez, Victor R.
Ready, Justin
Smith, William C., Jr.

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House Judiciary Committee
 2011
2018
[Voted in favor of Senate Bill 374 in 2011]
Vallario, Joseph F., Jr. (Chair)  [DID NOT VOTE]
Dumais, Kathleen M. (Vice Chair)
Alston, T. 
Anderson, Curt
Arora

Carter, Jill (Appt BC Office of Civil Rights)
Clippinger

Cluster, Joe 
Conaway, Frank M., Jr.
Dwyer  [EXCUSED]
Hough, M
Kelly, K.
Lee, Susan
McComas, Susan.
McDermott
Mitchell, K.
Parrott, Neil

Simmons, L.
Smigiel, Mike
Valderama
Waldstreicer



Vallario, Joseph F., Jr. (Chair)
Dumais, Kathleen M. (Vice Chair)
Anderson, Curt
Atterbeary, Vanessa E.
Cluster, Joe
Conaway, Frank M., Jr.
Corderman, Paul
Gibson, Angela C.
Glass, Glen
Kittleman, Trent
Lewis, Jazz
Malone, Michael E.
McComas, Susan K.
Moon, David
Morhaim, Dan K.
Parrott, Neil
Proctor, Susie
Queen, Pam
Rey, Deborah C.
Sanchez, Carlo
Sydnor, Charles E., III