"I am constrained to remind you
that we are not living in sixteenth
- Attorney John W. Karr
THE grand jury is a body of citizens (varying in number in different states), summoned to enquire into charges against a suspected criminal.
The procedure is of great antiquity, being the latter-day descendant of the 11th century jury of presentment, later embodied as a provision of the Magna Carta, issued in 1215.
The original purpose of such a jury was commendable and necessary. It was designed to prevent a citizen from being unjustly persecuted by a despotic government, and charged with a crime on the basis of insufficient evidence, or at the whim of some official.
Ironically, in our time the system has been subverted to serve an opposite purpose. It has become the tool of despotic government. The prosecutor controls the presentation of evidence to the jurors, whom he prejudices against the accused. The latter's lawyer is not allowed to be present. The proceedings are secret, and -professionally - the jurors hear chiefly the prosecutor's side of the case. If they are persuaded, as they usually are, that the evidence presented to them by the prosecutor is sufficient to bring charges against the defendant, they secretly vote an indictment. The foreman of the jury then writes "True Bill" across the back of the legal document setting forth the allegations against the accused. He must then stand trial.
Grand juries have recently come under heavy criticism, both by the legal profession itself and by informed laymen, who view it as a rubber stamp for the prosecutor. A number of States have abolished the procedure.
The experiences of the Scientologists who were subpoenaed to appear before the Grand Jury sitting in Washington lend weight to the argument that the panel no longer serves the ends of justice and ought to be reformed or done away with altogether.
During the FBI raids on the Scientology churches in both California and Washington, church employees who were not named in the warrants, were served subpoenas to appear before the Grand Jury in Washington. All were John Doe subpoenas, dated five days before the raids and were served only because the persons receiving them happened to be on the premises. In short, they were instruments of spite and reprisal.
In the case of Gregory Taylor in Washington, D.C., his name was written onto a John Doe summons because he had attempted to photograph AUSA Robert Ogren, who was sitting in his parked car near the scene of the raid.
After AUSA Banoun had used his considerable forensic skills to convince the grand jurors that the Scientologists were an evil band of conspirators who posed a threat to the
various departments of Government, church witnesses appeared before a kind of kangaroo court.
According to sworn statements made afterward, they were jeered at, insulted, and booed by the members of the grand jury; and were browbeaten by AUSA Banoun, who was in charge of the presentation.
During the proceedings on October 12, 1977, Attorney John Karr, the church's legal counsel stationed himself outside the D.C. grand jury room while several church members whom he represented were testifying. He reported hearing "boos and hoots" inside the room.
Later Karr wrote AUSA Banoun a letter warning him that if that kind of behaviour continued, he would bring the matter before Judge Bryant.
"I am very disturbed," he wrote, "about the abuse my clients Janet Lawrence, Irene Mele, Peter Glickman and Henning Heldt endured when they appeared before your grand jury on October 12, 1977. Examples of that unconsciousable treatment include:
"When Janet Lawrence collapsed under your hectoring and left the grand jury room in tears, one of the grand jurors exclaimed, 'Nice act, baby.'
"On another occasion, Rev. Lawrence was booed by the grand jury when she left the grand jury room to consult with counsel.
"You and Ms. Hetherton repeatedly interrupted my clients during their attempts to invoke their constitutional privilege against testifying; you refused to permit them to state the basis of their claim of privilege in their own words; and most distressing of all, several of my clients were asked if their invocation of a privilege meant that they were guilty of criminal wrongdoing.
"I am constrained to remind you that we are not living in sixteenth century Spain. Unless I receive concrete assurances
from you that there will be no repetition of this kind of harassment, I shall seek appropriate relief from Chief Judge Bryant . . - "
In his reply, Asst. U.S. Attorney Banoun, in a condescending tone, denied the allegations. "I am somewhat surprised," he said loffily, "that a member of the bar would make such charges, especially when he was not present during the proceedings. There is no support whatsoever for your claim that your clients were subjected to any 'harassment' or 'abuse' during their October 12 appearance before the Grand Jury."
In spite of his flat denial that anything unseemly had occurred in the grand jury room, however, AUSA Banoun went on to admit in his letter that "As Ms. Lawrence was given a recess to regain her composure, one Grand Juror, apparently expressing the frustration of the whole Grand jury, did mutter 'nice act.' "
In a statement made under oath, the Rev. Peter Glickman, a Scientology minister who appeared before the Grand Jury, reported that AUSA Banoun constantly interrupted him as he attempted to answer the questions put to him by the Government's counsel.
"Mr. Banoun kept trying to insinuate that by taking the Fifth Amendment plea, I was protecting some guilty act or acts on my part or others' parts, and he constantly tried to get me to admit that.
"Mr. Banoun told me that the only way the Grand Jury could accept my Fifth Amendment plea was if I would admit that to answer his questions truthfully would incriminate me. At that time, Mr. Banoun also refused to let me make a statement before the Grand Jury."
One of the Scientology ministers who was handed a John Doe subpoena on July 8, 1977 when he encountered FBI agents raiding Fifield Manor, was the Rev. Arthur J. Maren,
the church's Director of Public Relations.
He appeared before the Grand Jury three weeks later, but declined to answer questions about the church or the members being investigated, on the grounds that the inquiry violated the -priest-penitent relationship, since he had heard the confessions of some of those individuals being investigated. He also refused to testify because, he said, requiring him to give evidence concerning the internal affairs of his church would force him to break a vow taken at the time of his ordination in 1970.
He affirmed that the Code of Honor and the Code of a Scientologist "which I have subscribed to and upon which is built the basic mores of my group, Would in my judgment, forbid me to answer such questions upon penalty of expulsion, of which the effect upon myself would be one of eternal damnation. "
Maren did not plead the Fifth Amendment against selfincrimination. and his associates say that he had no guilty knowledge that would have aided the Grand Jury in their investigation of the allegedly stolen documents.
He was taken before Judge Bryant, who said he had no alternative to sentencing the minister to jail for civil contempt, since he had not given an acceptable legal reason for refusing to testify.
Maren's lawyer appealed the contempt citation on First Amendment grounds, and the National Council of Churches filed a friend- of-the-court brief, arguing that Rev. Maren's refusal to answer questions about the church's internal affairs was a "constitutional right."
The Counsel said that church workers should be exempt from appearing before grand juries to answer such queries unless the Government could prove that the religious worker had personal knowledge of a "probable" crime; that such information was obtainable only from the church representative; and that his testimony would be of "compelling and overriding societal interest."
The brief asserted that "once church workers are used by
the Government as an easy source of community information, those to whom church missions are directed - people already in a large part disaffected from society - will distrust and shun them as they do others they believe to be part of the establishment."
(For the past six years, Rev. Maren had devoted himself to the welfare and rehabilitation of criminals and drug abusers. "Not all ministers of the Church could confront this sometimes spiritually trying area," he said, "but I took it as part of my calling.")
The minister's attorneys made various unsuccessful legal maneuvers to get him released from jail, all of them opposed by the Attorney General's office. On September 8, 1977, Rev. Maren was again brought before the Grand Jury and asked the same questions as before. On advice of his lawyers, this time he invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer. His legal representatives asserted that by "taking the Fifth," he had purged himself of contempt and should be released. The Government again objected to his going free.
The opposing parties retired to Judge Bryant's chambers to argue the matter. The Judge immediately agreed that Rev. Maren had the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment and that he should be released.
But the Assistant U.S. Attorney at that point informed the court and defense counsel for the first time that he would seek an immunity order - the classical legal stratagem circumventing the provisions of the Fifth Amendment. He had come prepared: he produced a letter of authorization signed by the Deputy Assistant Attorney General.
Rev. Maren's attorneys asked for additional time to study the proposed immunity order and to consult with their client. But to no avail; the Government attorney was adamant. The judge reluctantly ordered the Scientology minister to reappear before the Grand Jury a half hour after the order was signed.
When Rev. Maren appeared once again before the Grand
Jury, he tried to explain his position to the jurors. AUSA Banoun, however, interrupted him and sent him from the room. Banoun addressed the grand jurors in secret, then brought the Scientologist back. The latter once more declined to answer the questions.
The Government counsel sought an immediate order or his confinement. Maren's lawyers argued that he must be given at least five days' notice, and Judge Bryant agreed. He rescheduled the hearing for September 14, 1977.
The church attorneys submitted to the court a memorandum of law opposing the Government's request for an order of confinement. They rested their argument on two claims: (1) their client had been subject to illegal electronic surveillance by Government agents; and (2) his Sixth Amendment rights had been denied him because he had not been given time to consult with his lawyers following the expedited grant of immunity.
In response to the charge that Rev. Maren had been the subject of illegal electronic surveillance, the Government submitted affidavits from the principal officials concerned with the case, including AUSAs Henry Schuelke and Raymond Banoun, and FBI Special Agent Robert Tittle, affirming that all the data in their possession concerning the case, came from Michael Meisner and other witnesses.
As further evidence, letters from the National Security Agency, the Treasury Department, DEA, FBI, IRS and BATF were submitted, all of them denying that these agencies had employed electronic surveillance against Maren or his attorneys.
Thereupon, judge Bryant ruled in favor of the Government and the minister was jailed once more for civil contempt.
Rev. Maren tried to make it clear that he would never break his vow of silence and that therefore his confinement was punitive, not coercive. In a forthright statement, he told of his deep dedication to his religion, and how it came about.
"I have been a member of the Church of Scientology since
1963," he said, "nearly 15 years (and almost half of my life.) I joined the church after a two-year ordeal of drug usage and degradation. Within months of joining the Church of Scientology and following its precepts, I have discarded my former life. Quite simply, Scientology saved my life.
"My dedication to the Church and its principles, and more importantly, the beneficial results it obtains, is reflected in the hours I put in as a staff member, which has been 16 to 18 hours a day, six to seven days a week since 1967. My salary during this period has never been more than $85 per week.
"I began training as a minister in 1964 and was ordained in 1970. By 1969, 1 had attained the highest technical level of proficiency available. (Class 8). Out of the millions of Scientologists around the world, only a handful have worked directly with the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. I trained directly under him.
"I find it unthinkable that the Government might attempt to involve the Founder of my religion in this controversy in some way.
"I am certain that, due to the fact that there is no likelihood that I would testify, that I am not a proper candidate for any further incarceration. It would be unreasonable and punitive.
"I would even be very pleased to answer questions from your Honor to help you decide: is this man made of the kind of character that another month, two months, six months or a year is going to change his position?
"I don't know why I was singled out. I came on the scene [of the raid] and there I was.
"I honestly feel that it has been adequately demonstrated that surely there is no substantial likelihood or even strong possibility that I will testify."
Dr. Harold Kaufman, a practicing psychiatrist who interviewed Rev. Maren in depth, confirmed the Scientologist's assertion that he would not recant and testify regardless of how long he was kept in jail.
"He had already served 42 days in jail," said Dr. Kaufman,
"and knew exactly what was in store for him. At the time, based on my interviews and my evaluation of Rev. Maren's position and psychological make-up, it seemed to me extremely unlikely that he would relent and testify."
Dr. Kaufman interviewed the minister a second time three months later. He found him even more resolute than he had been before. "He displayed no signs of depression or anxiety. There was no pressured speech, flight of ideas, or bizarre thoughts. His speech was clear and measured, he had a balanced and rational view of his situation and showed a considerable reserve of psychological strength."
In the course of Dr. Kaufman's second interview he found several factors which had hardened Rev. Maren's resolution not to yield. He was a person of considerable intelligence who understood exactly what his legal position was." He seemed to have "a sophisticated understanding of why the Government had proceeded as it did. He understood his predicament precisely."
The minister had received considerable "positive reinforcement" by the fact that his plight had not gone unnoticed in the world at large. "His imprisonment in defense of his church has been widely publicized both in and out of the church. His case had been written up in church and other publications, most recently in a major syndicated Associated Press article on his confinement, and Rev. Maren received considerable mail applauding him for taking the position that he did. To many members of his church, he was a hero and a martyr."
The psychiatrist found that the Scientologist's incarceration merely confirmed his view about the need to endure adversity. "Both the principles of his church and his own moral precepts require him to endure misfortune and trouble and to strengthen himself as a result. He thinks his situation is grossly unfair as a matter of justice, but he is determined to
face up to it and meet the problem with all his strength."
Chief Judge William B. Bryant finally released Rev. Maren on March 28, 1978. The Scientologist had been behind bars for eight long months. He had committed no crime, but he had won a victory. The weight of injustice bore upon him cruelly; but he had within him a sense of purpose that never yielded, a gallant determination that faced and fought things through. The vindictive men at the controls of the federal justice system had not been able to break his spirit.