SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

April 09, 2015 09:17 ET

Federal Grand Jury Reform Is a Top Initiative for Advocacy Group, A Just Cause

A Just Cause Argues Basis for Expanding Grand Jury Reform Is Demonstrated in IRP6 Case Where There Are Questions of Religious Rights Infringement Against a Colorado Church

Washington, DC--(Marketwired - April 09, 2015) - This week advocacy group, A Just Cause, will write House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations asking them to consider expansion of the Grand Jury Reform Act of 2015 (H.R.429 - Grand Jury Reform Act of 2015, January 21, 2015. Sponsor: Rep. Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, D-GA-4, https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/429/cosponsors).

H.R.429, Grand Jury Reform Act of 2015 (January 21, 2015) summary states, "To provide that in the case of a law enforcement officer who uses deadly force against a person, and thereby causes the death of that person, a hearing shall be conducted before a judge to determine whether there is probable cause for the State to bring criminal charges against the law enforcement officer relating to the death of the person, and for other purposes." (H.R.429 - Grand Jury Reform Act of 2015, January 21, 2015, https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/429/cosponsors). 

"A Just Cause applauds Representative Johnson and the twenty seven co-sponsors of this proposed legislation," says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. "With the events that have occurred over the past year, H.R.429 seems to hit the nail on the head when it comes to accountability and seeking ways to rebuild trust between our communities and law enforcement," Thurman adds.  "What will it take to make everyone wake up and realize that we need reform," ponders Thurman. "How many more cases will we see like the Michael Brown shooting, the Eric Garner choking, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and now the Walter Scott shooting, how many?" Thurman asks.

In a press release put out by Representative Johnson, he stated, "People demand an end to what is perceived as unequal justice, and that those who are responsible for the use of excessive force be brought to justice. They do not trust a secret grand jury system that is so clearly broken. My bill will help restore that trust. No longer will communities have to rely on the secret and biased grand jury process." (http://hankjohnson.house.gov/press-release/rep-johnson-re-introduces-grand-jury-reform-act)

"We believe that the American public is ready for across-the-board grand jury reform and for the elimination of the secret process; not just when it comes to cases involving law enforcement," says Thurman. "Take the IRP6 case that we have been working on as an example. Those who were called as witnesses to the IRP grand jury claim that they were deceived when called to testify," adds Thurman. "According to witnesses, they were informed that they were at the grand jury to discuss matters related to the investigation of IRP Solutions Corporation and the IRP6, but court records show that when questioning began, witnesses were asked questions about their church (The Colorado Springs Fellowship Church), their Pastor (Pastor Rose Banks), and other church-related activities that had nothing to do with IRP Solutions," argues Thurman.

According to court records, during the trial of the IRP6, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kirsch questioned grand jury foreperson Cynthia Haid about who the target of the investigation was and Ms. Haid responded, "Rose Banks" (Pastor of The Colorado Springs Fellowship Church) (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA).

"A Just Cause, within the past month, has asked Congress to look into the actions of federal investigators who probed into the banking records of the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church and its Pastor, Rose M. Banks, during the course of their investigation of a Colorado-based software development company called IRP Solutions (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA)," Thurman said. "This points to the heart of why the secret process should be disbanded," Thurman argues. "When a grand jury can purport to be doing one thing, but in actuality is doing something else like targeting a church that is protected based on religious rights, that should send a signal that it is time for sweeping reforms. Deception in our legal institution should not be tolerated and it is obvious that deception and secrecy do not help instill trust between citizens and officers of the court," says Thurman.

A Just Cause joins other groups like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) who are calling for reforms. The NACDL study, "Evaluating Grand Jury Reform in Two States: The Case for Reform," suggests four key recommendations that include, "(i) defense representation in the grand jury room, (ii) production of witness transcripts for the defense, (iii) advance notice for witnesses to appear, and (iv) the presentation of exculpatory evidence to the grand jury." (Federal Grand Jury Reform. http://www.nacdl.org/grandjury/)

According to Congress.gov H.R. 429 was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations on February 5, 2015. (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/429/text)

The IRP case concerns an African-American company (IRP Solutions Corporation) in Colorado that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement. The "IRP6" (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A Stewart, David A Zirpolo and David A Banks) were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud. (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA). The IRP6 have been incarcerated for nearly 36 months in federal prison in Florence, Colorado while A Just Cause continues to review their case seeking grounds for exoneration.

The Colorado Springs Fellowship Church is a 501c3 non-profit church based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The CSFC is a nondenominational church founded in 1981 by Pastor Rose Banks.

The case of IRP Solutions (IRP6) continues to be reviewed by A Just Cause (US District Court for the District of Colorado, Judge Christine M. Arguello, D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA; Case Nos: NO. 11-1487, Case Nos. 11-1488, 11-1489, 11-1490, 11-1491 and 11-1492). For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.

Contact Information