In response to multiple allegations of wrongdoing by public officials and others in Rogers County, Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Friday directed the state’s multicounty grand jury to launch an investigation into the accusations.
“As the chief legal officer of Oklahoma, one of my top priorities is to protect the integrity of our legal system,” General Pruitt said.
“For our system of justice to work properly, people must have confidence in the process. The multicounty grand jury is an investigative tool, which will allow Oklahomans to bring forward any concerns they may have. In this instance, the multicounty grand jury will bring together a panel of citizens from across the state to thoroughly and objectively review the issues raised in Rogers County. I’m confident the multicounty grand jury investigation will uncover the facts, help resolve the issues in Rogers County, and restore Oklahomans’ confidence in the legal system.”
On Friday, General Pruitt informed the judges in Rogers County that he planned to bring the case before the state multicounty grand jury. The investigation will include topics in the grand jury petition that was signed by more than 8,000 Rogers County residents as well as issues raised by District Attorney Janice Steidley. The petition was dismissed last week after a judge ruled the summary in the petition did not use language approved by the court.
A letter from three judges in Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties stated, “We … believe that a grand jury is the best hope of resolving the issues and establishing some normalcy to the operation of County Government and the criminal justice system in Rogers County.”
The state’s multicounty grand jury is an investigative entity with authority to look into allegations of criminal activity and official misconduct by public officials. The grand jury has jurisdiction in all 77 counties. The 12 jurors are chosen from each quadrant of the state, and meet each month to hear testimony in multiple cases. The proceedings are closed to the public.
The state’s current 14th multicounty grand jury was requested by Attorney General Pruitt and approved by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in September 2012.
The 13th Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury concluded in August with 25 indictments, charging a total of 31 individuals and was assisted by 113 state and local law enforcement agencies.
Any action recommended by the grand jury, including prosecution, would take place in Rogers County.
Statement from the Hon. Terry McBride, Hon. Dynda Post, and Hon. Dwayne Steidley District Judges of the 12th Judicial District, State of Oklahoma
“The District Judges of the 12th Judicial District of Oklahoma which includes Rogers, Mayes, and Craig Counties have been advised by the Oklahoma Attorney General that the issues raised concerning county government and law enforcement are going to be presented to Oklahoma’s Multi-County Grand Jury. We believe it to be appropriate action by the Attorney General. Therefore a Rogers County Grand jury would be a duplication of proceedings and is not necessary at this time.
The judges agree that Hon. Jefferson Sellers was correct in his ruling dismissing the recent grand jury petition in accordance with the law; however, there are a significant number of Rogers County citizens who desire that a grand jury investigate various allegations directed at Rogers County Government and Rogers County Law Enforcement. We have explored the options available and believe that a grand jury is the best hope of resolving the issues and establishing some normalcy to the operation of County Government and the criminal justice system in Rogers County.
In addition, there has been a request for a grand jury from one of the original grand jury petitioners as well as the District Attorney.”