– Yesterday the citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma put their state government to the test, and won. Oklahoma is one of only six states that allows the impaneling of a Citizen Grand Jury. For my lawyer friends, this is different from our normal every day Grand Juries because it is compelled by the citizenry, not the DA’s office/Attorney General. The organization “We the People” obtained the proper signatures (over 5000) and Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz was not only charged (Attorney General) with 2 Misdemeanor counts, he has now been indicted and is set to resign from his post in November.
– The grand jury was impaneled calling for an investigation into Sheriff Glanz and his office following the shooting death of Eric Harris during a gun sting operation. Deputy Robert Bates is accused of shooting Harris, while he was restrained by another deputy and not a threat. Bates claimed that he thought he was about to use his taser on Harris but instead was shocked when his gun discharged. An investigation after the shooting has led people to believe that Bates was not qualified to be a deputy, but rather bought his way onto the force. Bates had donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars and equipment to the sheriff’s office. His mishandling of the case has led to a charge of second-degree manslaughter. The court case is still pending.
– Some may mistake my writing as a lack of respect for law enforcement, but that could not be further from the truth. I have a deep respect for all officers, my uncles are police officers, my father was a Probation Department Supervisor for over twenty years and of course I practiced law in the capacity of Prosecutor as well as Defense Attorney for many years. It is my experience as a Criminal Justice Professor and Government teacher that led me to write my thoughts down.
– Every day I teach my students about the social contract. We discuss concepts such as increased mistrust in government, the militarization of police, for-profit prisons and dwindling voter turnout. We converse about government officials that often make decisions that are politically correct or will keep them in office, but not necessarily what is in the best interest of our country. The importance of showing my students a local example of the people having a voice cannot be understated. We need students to actively participate and care about our country, they are our future. The Rule of Law is one of the biggest concepts that led us to Declare our Independence from Britain…no government official is above the law. Yesterday the people of Oklahoma made it clear that our government is still accountable to the people, democracy still exists.