Monday, July 28, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Grand juror speaks out

By
From page A7 | March 29, 2013 |

EDITOR:

I served as a member of the 2011-2012 El Dorado County Grand Jury, and began serving a second term on the 2012-2013 El Dorado County Grand Jury. Judge Stephen Bailey was the supervising judge during both of these jury sessions. At the end of the 2011-2012 jury session, the presentation of a report on one of our investigations met with court censorship. I was very vocal regarding my opinion that the report should be issued as originally written.

It became apparent to me early in my second term that the foreman, Ray Van Asten, was not following proper jury protocol (Robert’s Rules of Order/Parliamentary Procedure) in conducting meetings and conducting votes on organizational activities within the full body of the jury. Further, he failed to appoint a pro tem or a secretary prior to statewide training meetings. Each week Van Asten would appoint a member of the body to take meeting minutes which were then submitted to him. Upon our next full body meeting we would occasionally discover that votes taken or committees formed during the previous meeting had been changed in the meeting minutes and Van Asten would assert that the vote was invalid as a result of how the discussion was categorized, or he would deny any recollection of what had transpired with respect to the discrepancies.

I was very vocal about these breaches of protocol during the meetings, often stopping the proceedings to identify that procedure had not been followed. I was also vocal about the seemingly altered meeting minutes and the impropriety of not selecting officers prior to training meetings that would give those officers a guideline for managing oversight in the full body. As a result of my outspokenness, Van Asten became frustrated with me and began loudly contesting anything I had to say, ignoring me during discussions, and asking me to step back from commenting at all. A pattern of harassment began to develop.

Becoming more and more frustrated about the way the Foreman was treating me, and about the breaches of protocol which I felt bordered on illegality, I made a complaint of harassment to El Dorado County Human Resources and was told that they had no purveyance over the jury body and suggested I contact the Superior Court instead. I was told by the Court that human resources were the County’s responsibility, and that in any case, Grand Jurors were volunteers and really had no standing from an HR perspective. Nevertheless, I then took my complaint to the district attorney, Vern Pierson. He listened to my complaint and told me he would look into it.

Within two weeks of my complaint, I received an e-mail from Judge Bailey’s clerk, requesting that I meet at the judge’s office with the judge. No explanation for the meeting was given, and I received no physical/formal written notice of the meeting. Upon arriving at the meeting I was told that it had been moved from the judge’s office to his courtroom. Present in the courtroom were the judge, Van Asten, the clerk, a court stenographer, and a Sheriff’s bailiff. What ensued was not a meeting, but rather a hearing, during which I was essentially threatened with contempt of court unless I “got along” with Van Asten in the Grand Jury meetings. I took this to mean that I should simply do what Van Asten told me, period. During a previous term as Grand Jury foreman, Van Asten also acted to have a juror with whom he disagreed removed.

Now understanding that my attempts to establish order during meetings was simply not going to be allowed, and suffering increasing harassment from Van Asten (threatening e-mails, public humiliation during meetings, etc.), I decided that my best course of action was to resign from the jury to avoid a kangaroo court issuing a contempt order against me for doing my job as a Grand Jury member — identifying oversight, even amongst the full body itself. It is my belief that the problems I experienced during the early months of this Grand Jury continued even after my departure, and that the result was an unprecedented dissolution of a Civil Grand Jury in El Dorado County prior to the completion of their term, and without issuing a single investigative report, even on the state-mandated inspections of detention facilities in the county.

RYAN DONNER
Pollock Pines

Editor’s note: The full transcript from the meeting/”hearing” Ryan Donner refers to in the above letter is printed on Page A10. 

Comments

comments

Letters to the Editor

.

News

 
County’s chief lawyer: No Brown Act violation

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

General Plan workshop today

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

 
Two growth control initiatives get green light

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire burns more than 4,000 acres

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Fatal accident in Camino

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report released

By Ross Branch | From Page: A3

 
35 people displaced in Tahoe hotel fire

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3 | Gallery

.

Opinion

The balancing act: Toxic waste spreads

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Bee-ing silly

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Letters

Letter to Speaker of the House

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
GDPUD misinformation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

At the crossroads

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Want more water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Refugee crisis

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Camp experience is ‘priceless’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Speedway races cancelled

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

El Dorado doubles up on Pro Players

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Under the Scoreboard: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Schedule: July 28 – Aug. 2, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Roundup: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Local spiker shines

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
Sports Scene: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

.

Prospecting

A beautiful day at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm

By Cathy Barsotti | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Foothill gourmet: Things get corny

By Donna Brown | From Page: B2

Bipolar Insights: From point A to point B

By Marcia Rose | From Page: B2

 
Cool time at Cowboys and Cornbread

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As we were: Recreation district grows

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

 
Cantare names new director

By Cantare Chorale | From Page: B10

 
After 5 Club to meet

By Senior Day | From Page: B10

.

Essentials

Divorces

By Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

 
DUI Log: June 25-July 9

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 14-16

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

American Profile Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Monday, July 28, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8