Leah-Lynn Plante, Matt Duran and Kteeo Olejnik were jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating anarchist activities in the Pacific Northwest.
A grand jury is a constitutionally mandated investigative tool used by the United State Attorney to bring charges against an individual for capital crimes or other major crimes. If a person refuses to testify before the grand jury he/she is brought before a District Court judge who grants the individual immunity from being convicted for any crimes that the person admits to before the grand jury. If the witness continues to refuse to testify he/she may be incarcerated until the end of the grand jury’s term. Federal grand juries usually sit for eighteen months. Witnesses may be released before the end of the term if a District Court judge believes that no amount of incarceration will result in their testimony before the grand jury. Refusal to testify before the grand jury is not a crime and the incarceration is for civil contempt of court.
Testimony before a grand jury is secret. As a result little is known about the Seattle grand jury that incarcerated Plante, Duran, and Olejnik. It is believed that the grand jury is investigating a demonstration that occurred on May Day which resulted in graffiti and property damage. A search warrant was issued for the house shared by the three resisters prior to them being subpoenaed before the grand jury. It is not known what was exactly found. But it apparently led to the subpoenas. According to their friends the three remain resolute in their refusal to testify before the grand jury. In a way it is like the McCarthyite hearings of the 50’s. Apparently the authorities are looking for names of people involved in the May Day demonstrations and are willing to incarcerate people in an attempt to force cooperation.
Plante has been released but Duran and Olejnik remain in custody.