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Citizens Start Grand Jury Investigation of Abortion Doctor

Thanks to an 1887 law, pro-life Kansans have circumvented their prosecutors and called a grand jury to investigate a doctor they accuse of providing late-term abortions for three decades.

The dusty state statute only asks ordinary citizens to gather enough signatures, before they call a grand jury to investigate an alleged crime. A 15-member grand jury is now investigating Dr. George Tiller, thanks to the prosecutor-not-needed mechanism.

Active citizens have begun to use the statute, long ignored, to investigate abortion clinics, as well as stores selling explicit videos and magazines. Leaving polarizing issues like abortion aside, I could imagine this law invigorating citizens to get involved in their community and set an agenda that may differ from the prosecutors. Of course, civically active individuals don't always accurately represent the community as a whole.

Should communities reserve this sort of people's justice for only the most necessary cases, like government corruption and abuse of power? What sort of reaction would citizens have if politicians tried to repeal the statute?

Join The Conversation
BRUNTON BRUNTON 8 years
I do understand all the passion and opinions on abortion. I believe we'll never escape that. and i guess its a good thing. But like true song said i agree why all the anger, and outrage over the explict videos and magazines..... As long as minors arent able to access them... another point to ponder i wonder how they would handle this exact issue in Europe. Say England or Chzec repulic? or any European country. Just food for thought for all of us
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Ny, we don't think you're a moron becuase you're a liberal. We just think you're a moron ;)
foxie foxie 9 years
Ny, here's your cue to insert foot into mouth... I am pro-choice. Your argument was ridiculous, even to me, someone who probably agrees with you on abortion in general.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
:rotfl:
stephley stephley 9 years
Dang no, I was at the temple chanting. I was hoping I could substitute tofu bacon.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Yep, new rule. You do have a choice of cars between a Volvo and a Prius, though. You didn't see the insert in your newest New York Times?
stephley stephley 9 years
Uh-oh, liberals don't have to eat sushi, do we?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
As an unabashed sushi-eating, hybrid-driving, latte-sipping, pro-choice, pro-gun control, anti-war, pro-welfare, anti-death penalty, anti-school prayer, pro-labor, pro-gun control, Berkeley-educated Democrat who donates money to the Green Party, I assure you I harbor no bias against anyone with a liberal viewpoint. I agree with you. I wish people would be more polite.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
if i make my point first without being rude and you come at me i will not make the effort to be polite to you or your opinions, my first comment had nothing nasty to say and I am actually pretty f**kign annoyed torgleson. I am so sick of the same certain people here who think that just beause you have certain "liberal" viewpoints you are a moron.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
"...sit down and shut up..." "...some idiots devote their entire lives to this movement which really doesn't solve nothing.[sic]" "... it only makes me roll my eyes and not consider your point." "Politeness, try it, it works." I do wish more people would "try it."
janneth janneth 9 years
This is a way for citizens to try to make their point and be heard without shooting at anyone. Maybe the bar is set too low and the number of signatures should be higher.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Yes, they will "set an agenda that may differ from the prosecutors" I am bound ethically to pursue justice (and have spent years learning tiny details that seem to matter in my job). They are not, and are solely using the criminal justice system to further a social agenda. This is wrong, and a horrible waste at the taxpayer expense. You'd be amazed at how many people are actively involved in the criminal justice system, calling and investing themselves in cases. There are the people who are mad at their neighbors and call daily to see what we can do about dogs barking. There are the people that call and want to know why a case wasn't pursued, or why a plea offer was made. I am more than willing to explain to citizens the ins and outs and why things happen, that is a part of my job, but the ultimate decisions in criminal cases cannot be made by those who have a personal stake in the case. Someone in my office just tried a murder where a man killed his mom and the family was split on whether he did it or the mom's boyfriend. No evidence against boyfriend, lots of evidence (enough to convict) against the son. Do we really want the family out collecting signatures to indict someone they truly believe did it? To allow them to investigate through a grand jury someone that everyone working the case knows was not involved? Because the power of belief is amazing, and whether or not the doctor was performing late term abortions or it was all hearsay, people feed on the frenzy and really do believe in something when they're invested in it. This cannot be justice.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Oh well foxie I think most pro-life arguments are asinine. And you don't need to be rude to get your point aross. And since I am not in your face bombarding and I am only once in a while I guess I am getting on with my life and helping teenagers and girls with fistulas while some idiots devote their entire lives to this movement which really doesn't solve nothing. So why don't you go find some other pro-lifers and wave placards instead of resorting to obnoxiousness when making a point, it only makes me roll my eyes and not consider your point. Politeness, try it, it works.
stephley stephley 9 years
Vigilante justice at taxpayer expense? Not the best idea. With a little legal finessing, 9/11 conspiracy theorists and anti-war activists could go after politicians, environmentalists could target corporations, we could all tie each other up in knots. That's not to say there aren't matters I would like to see brought up - but the potential for abuse and nonsense is too serious.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"The grand jury meeting here is at least the 10th ordered by petition in the state in recent years: two investigated abortion providers, including Dr. Tiller, and the rest investigated misdemeanor obscenity violations by stores selling explicit videos, magazines and other items. Only one has led to a conviction." All at taxpayers expense. :(
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"From the sign in the picture with the article, it looks like this particular doctor had a botched abortion that killed someone" Their signs aren't always accurate. Or directed at the right people. For YEARS I had some nutjob sending postcards to my address (that were addressed to someone who lived there years ago). They were postcards of mutilated babies, bloody baby skulls, babies with their intestines coming out. All because some person had the idea that someone that used to live at my address was really enthusiastic about abortion. The post office opened an investigation because it is illegal to send those types of violent images through the mail. I don't think most pro-life people are this extreme, by far. I do agree that the number of signatures required is quite small. I think this could really lead to an abuse of the legal system. Did someone say this doctor has already been shot before? Where is the law to protect this man? The signatures seem like a legally endorsed version of harassment.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I'm impressed by their coordination and tactics even though I wouldn't personally join their cause. I get why people feel passionately (either way) about abortion, but why the hullabaloo over explicit videos and magazines? Kansas is a strange state.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Ignoring the pro-life-prochoice debate... IMO, the people having this kind of power is not a good thing (except for cases of government corruption). Since the vast majority of any voting population isn't going to hold any sort of law degree, how are they qualified to direct criminal investigations? It appears to me that this is driven by a social agenda to rid the area of abortion clinics and explicit por shops. While I like the idea of getting rid of those two business establishments, the end doesn't justify the means.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I'm sorry, Lauren. I usually don't use those terms, either. I meant to say anti-abortion in my above comment, but I didn't edit it and pro-life just slipped out.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
I hate the terms pro-life and pro-choice, as if those who oppose abortions are anti-choice or those who support abortions are anti-life, its all so convuluted. These people have to look at how completely limiting these women's rights to an abortions could have dire effects. LOOK at history!
TsuKata TsuKata 9 years
Foxie, I think your own argument doesn't hold water in this case. I agree that someone saying something like, "How dare we worry about global warming when there are starving children in the US.", where the two items are completely unrelated doesn't make much sense and fits your argument. However, the deplorable conditions for unwanted children in the US (whether put into the system or raised by a family that didn't plan for them and didn't want them) contributes to the argument for abortions. Thus, it is actually true that if the pro-lifers put some time into fixing *that* problem, their case against abortion would be stronger. That having been said, some pro-life groups also run halfway houses for pregnant women and will help them until they're able to take a job. I'm not saying it's a perfect solution, but some of the groups are trying to solve the adjacent problem. From the sign in the picture with the article, it looks like this particular doctor had a botched abortion that killed someone. If that's true, it puts a different light on this case, as opposed to it just being a pro-life group putting an abortion-granting doctor up for the "crime" of granting abortions.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I like the idea a lot, but in reading the article, I saw that is only requires 2% of the county's turnout in the latest gubernatorial election plus 100 more people. I feel like that should be revised to be a little higher. Also, the article states that this doctor has been shot by so called "pro-life" people. I wish these people would realize that doing things like that is so stupid and doesn't help their cause at all. Being pro-life, it really upsets me because stupid people like that make all pro-lifers look fanatical, and that's just not the case for most.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
I'd have to support anything that gives the citizens more power. So often elected and appointed officials have their own agenda, or are beholden to special interests, that "the people" have become more and more powerless.
foxie foxie 9 years
Ny- Any argument of "oh, we shouldn't care about issue A until issue B is resolved" is completely asinine. These people have every right to care about the abortion debate. Besides, if you lived by your own argument, you'd get your ass off of teamsugar and spend every moment trying to help starving children, right? Because otherwise you're doing just as these people are and wasting your time and energy on a "lesser" cause.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Oh all need to sit down and shut up or go out and try to save those children who have actually been born and are being abused, molested, are going hungry, are ill, are being forced into child prostitution and the list goes on. If they took all their rabidness to those issues maybe things might change. We waste so much time with the dead and with that which we cannot change how about concetrating on the living for a while.
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