By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY — A handful of local citizens want to know if others are interested enough in greater oversight of government to consider a return to practices widely used in the earliest days of the United States.
The vehicle would be a countywide common law grand jury that Dr. James Allen said is attracting interest in other Pennsylvania counties.
The anesthesiologist who lives in Grove City said for the last several years, he has “been hearing grumbling from other people feeling as though their government was not serving them and that they’re not being served well by government at any level, local, state or national.”
A few months ago, he heard about New York-based National Liberty Alliance, whose website says its goal is to establish common law grand juries in all 3,141 counties in the United States.
A common law grand jury acts independently of prosecutors in its investigations. It brings its findings to the district attorney and local courts, which have the power to try them, the website says.
“We need them to serve as a buffer between the government and the people,” Allen said. “The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution says that charges against individuals need to be brought by a presentment or indictment by a grand jury.”
A meeting he organized last month attracted about 40 people who, Allen said, discovered they had a common interest in “returning to the principles of liberty and freedom that the country was founded on.”
They decided a further meeting should be held where people can as he did through the website learn more about the use of grand juries by citizens and decide whether to reinstate them in Mercer County.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Brandy Springs Community Center, off South Shenango Street, state Route 158, in Mercer.
Allen said the program will consist of a brief presentation he will make to introduce explanatory videos narrated by John Darash, one of the founders of National Liberty Alliance.
A show of hands will determine whether a local grand jury will be formed, Allen said.
“I believe that everyone needs to be more directly involved in the day to day operation of government; in fact I think we have a responsibility to get involved rather than just complaining,” Allen said. “I’ve created a forum but there is no real organizer to this. There may be an organization in the near future we’ll see.”