Sunday, September 28, 2014

MILLENNIALISM

When I was around twelve years old I was told that if I wanted to know how history was going to come to an end, I should read the Book of Revelation. I did, and I was terrified. The book’s imagery was not only beyond strange, it was downright disturbing. Scorpion-tailed grasshoppers, seven-horned-seven-eyed sheep, and men with swords coming out of their mouths were just a few of the visions that made it difficult for me to sleep at night.

My next real encounter with Revelation came in college, when I read a historical-critical analysis of the book which interpreted it as being an encoded message to First Century Christians encouraging them to keep a stiff upper lip during a persecution by the Roman Emperor Nero. According to the analysis Nero was the Beast, and the Number of the Beast (either 666 or 616 depending on what manuscript you were reading) was the numerological value of Nero’s name.  Revelation therefore had no relevance whatsoever for modern times because all its prophecies were about what was going to happen to the Roman Empire.

The impending release of the Left Behind movie has rekindled my interest in the subject of the end time and the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, so I’ve recently done some study on the subject. Here’s what I think I have learned.

Various groups of Christians subscribe to one of three basic interpretations of the end times:

1.       Premillennialism;

2.       Postmillennialism; and

3.       Amillennialism.

Let’s start with what (almost) everyone agrees upon: There is going to be a Second Coming of Christ, and there is going to be a Final Judgment of the just and unjust. Things begin to get complicated when we get past those two points.

Premillennialism is divided into two types. All Premillennialists believe in a Second Coming of Christ, a Tribulation, a Millennium (thousand year reign of Christ) and a Final Judgment. Where they differ is on the timing of those events. The Tribulation is supposed to be a disastrous time of suffering which precedes the Millennium. (This is the part of the Book of Revelation which frightened me so when I was a child). The two types of Premillennialists are pre-Tribulation Premillennialists (better known as Dispensational Premillennialists) and post-Tribulation Premillennialists.

The post-Tribulation timeline goes 1. Tribulation; 2. Second Coming; 3. Millennium; 4. Final Judgment.  

The pre-Tribulation timeline is somewhat different: 1. First Second Coming (which is more or less secret) and Rapture (when all good Christians simply disappear from the face of the Earth and go to meet Jesus in the sky); 2. Tribulation; 3. Second Second Coming; 4. Millennium; 5. Final Judgment. This is the timeline adopted by the popular Left Behind series.

Postmillennialists predict a somewhat different timeline: 1. Millennium; 2. Second Coming and Final Judgment.

Amillennialists believe that if there is a thousand year reign, Christ instituted it with his first coming (with the number one thousand being symbolic rather than literal). The Amillennialist timeline goes either 1. Millennium; 2. Second Coming and Final Judgment; or simply 1. Second Coming and Final Judgment.
 
Amillennialists who believe in a Millennium sometimes call themselves Nunc Millennialists. We won’t even discuss the difference between Preterist Amillennialists and Partial Preterist Amillennialists.

So which timeline is correct? I vote for none of the above. The more circumstantial a description of the end time becomes, the more I recall Jesus’s words on the Mount of Olives: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Matthew 24:36 (KJV).

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Friday, September 26, 2014

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF GOD: CHAPTERS, VERSES, AND EUSEBIAN SECTIONS

At one time even the most literate people found it difficult to read the Gospels. In their earliest versions they were written in all capitals and without punctuation and spaces between the words. This means that if you were a First Century scholar tying to read the Gospel of John, it would look something like this:

INTHEBEGINNINGWASTHEWORDANDTHEWORDWASWITHGODANDTHEWORDWASGODTHESAMEWASINTHEBEGINNINGWITHGODALLTHINGSWEREMADEBYHIMANDWITHOUTHIMWASNOTANYTHINGMADETHATWASMADEINHIMWASLIFEANDTHELIFEWASTHELIGHTOFMENANDTHELIGHTSHINETHINDARKNESSANDTHEDARKNESSCOMPREHENDEDITNOT


The Gospel of John
 
Eventually they quit writing in all capitals and added punctuation and spaces. This made the Bible easier to read, but it was still difficult to work with because there were no page numbers in early manuscripts and the books of the Bible had yet to be divided into chapters and verses. The Bible wouldn’t come to have chapters until around 1207 when Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, divided the books of the Bible into chapters. Readers would have to wait until 1551for verses. In that year Robert Estienne, a Protestant printer, published an edition of the Bible divided into verses.

Chapter and verse divisions were not the first attempt at subdividing the Gospels. Early on Bible scholars noticed that many of the stories told in Matthew are repeated in Mark, Luke, and John, and vice versa. Because scholars wanted to be able to compare these stories against each other, some sort of reference system was needed to easily find the stories for comparison. In the early 300’s, at a time when punctuation was in its infancy and page numbers were unheard of, the Church Father Eusebius devised a method for finding these parallel passages and comparing them.

Eusebius first divided each Gospel into subparts. Matthew had 335 sections; Mark had 241; Luke had 342; and John 232. These divisions came to be known as Eusebian Sections.  Then Eusebius drew up ten tables (known as canons) showing which sections were the same from one Gospel to the next. The tables were arranged like this:

Canon I: All four Gospels
Canon II: Matthew, Mark, and Luke
Canon III: Matthew, Luke, and John
Canon IV: Matthew, Mark, and John
Canon V: Matthew and Luke
Canon VI: Matthew and Mark
Canon VII: Matthew and John
Canon VIII: Luke and Mark
Canon IX: Luke and John
Canon X: Sections appearing in one Gospel only

These tables, which became known as the Eusebian Canons, were placed at the front of many manuscripts of the Gospels. By the Middle Ages the Canons came to be set in ornate, colorful designs looking like arches supported by columns. The parallel sections were written between the columns. This made for pages which were both beautiful to look at and useful to use in tracking down parallel Gospel stories.
 

A Page of the Eusebian Canons from the Lindisfarne Gospels
(courtesy of the British Museum)

One of the most beautifully illustrated Medieval editions of  the Gospels has to be the edition made around 700 at the Lindisfarne Monastery in England. Known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, and filled with colorful illustrations, this manuscript has survived to the present day and is on display at the British Library. Because not everyone can go to the British Library to view the Gospels, the British Library has placed a photograph of every page of the Gospels online. You can browse the Gospels here: LINDISFARNE GOSPELS.

There is another interesting fact about the Lindisfarne Gospels. They are an example of one of the earliest “interlinear” editions of the Gospels. Originally written in large letters in the Latin language, the pages of the Gospels had large spaces between the lines. At some time after the Gospels were produced someone came back to the manuscript and interlined the book with an Old English translation written in smaller letters.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

THE "HE RAN HIS HAND IN HIS POCKET" DEFENSE TO A CHARGE OF MURDER

The inhabitants of Rural Florida have historically shown a certain propensity for violence. Patrick Smith’s novel, A Land Remembered, describes some of that violence; as do the “Cracker Westerns” of Lee Gramling. Up until the third quarter of the Twentieth Century, you could experience that violence firsthand on weekends in almost any rural watering hole. Usually fisticuffs sufficed to settle the differences between the well-lubricated patrons of such establishments, but all too often the combatants produced weapons and inflicted serious injuries. Law enforcement had a simple formula for dealing with such altercations—the winners went to jail and the losers went to the emergency room. Sometimes those who were really big losers went to the Medical Examiner’s office.

Deciding who to prosecute by asking “who won?” is not necessarily the best way to assign criminal responsibility, but it was the preferred method when I was an assistant public defender. And it made for a certain amount of rough-and-ready justice. The loser received his punishment in the emergency room, and the winner got his punishment in the courtroom. I would go to the local jail early on Monday morning and meet my new clients from the weekend festivities, and they would all sing the same song—“It was self defense.” When I asked what the victim did to place my client in fear for his life, I repeatedly got the same answer—“He ran his hand in his pocket.” Apparently, any weekend patron of a saloon who stuck his hand in his pocket was up to no good. Usually, when the police arrived, the victim’s pockets were found to be empty of anything which might be considered a weapon. I resolved that if I ever decided to take up bar hopping, I would purchase a pair of pants which had no pockets. Murder defendants frequently told another tale—the victim actually pulled a gun or knife and attempted to use it. When the police arrived, they rarely found a gun or knife on the floor beside the victim, but the defendant always had a ready explanation—“One of his friends toted it off before the police got there.”

Because I was a loyal defense attorney, I always took my client’s word for it, but I had my doubts. I was awakened to the very real possibility that my clients were telling me the truth by a man I’ll call Benjamin Franklin Hall. I arrived at the jail early one Monday morning and found Hall’s name on the jail roster with the notation Murder I by it. I called for Hall and took my seat in the interview room to await his arrival. It wasn’t long before the jailer brought in a big, muscular man with a smile so big it almost split his face.

After I had gotten the preliminary questions out of the way I asked Hall to tell me what happened. Hall told me that Gene Shirk and he had been enemies for a long time and that Shirk had often threatened to kill Hall. Hall said he was at a dance the previous Friday night when he ran into Shirk. Shirk immediately began trying to pick a fight. Hall said he didn’t want to fight, so he left the dance and went to get into his car. “I knew he’d come after me,” Hall said, “and I knew he’d come with a gun. So I got ready for him. I walked around to the driver’s side of my car and opened the door. I had a sawed-off shotgun stuck down beside the driver’s seat, so I just stood at the door waiting. It wasn’t a minute before Shirk came running out of the dance and charged at me. He ran his hand in his pocket, and I picked up the sawed-off.” Here we go again, I thought. Another tale about a murder victim who “ran his hand in his pocket” to draw a disappearing weapon. Hall continued his story: “When he pulled his pistolI laid the shotgun across the roof of my car and shot. The load of buckshot hit him in the chest and he went down. As fast as I could I reloaded my shotgun and walked over to Shirk’s body where a crowd was gathering. I told them ‘The first person who touches that pistol in Shirk’s hand is gonna join him on the ground. Now call the police. I stood over the body and guarded the gun until the police got there. As soon as they pulled up I dropped my shotgun and put up my hands. I made sure that they picked up the gun.  When can you get me out on bond?”

“You’re not going to get out on bond,” I told him, “Nobody charged with Murder I gets out on bond.”

“Why not?” he wanted to know.

“Because you’re facing the death penalty. Anybody facing the death penalty would be a fool if he didn’t leave town and never come back. If I was charged with Murder I and they let me out of jail, that’s what I’d do.”

“That ain’t what I’d do. I’m innocent. It was self-defense. Now are you gonna get me out of jail or not?” I agreed to ask for a preliminary hearing.

We held the preliminary hearing in the judge’s chambers, and the prosecutor put on a half dozen or more witnesses. I was amazed to hear them all say that the killing happened exactly as Hall said it had. After hearing argument of counsel, the judge made his ruling. “Probable cause is a low burden of proof,” he said, “so I am not going to dismiss the charge. I’ll find that there is just barely enough probable cause to hold the defendant to answer for the charge.” The judge stopped speaking for a moment, and I took a breath getting ready to ask him to set bond. Before I could say anything, the judge said “Because the charge is so weak, however, I am going to release the defendant on his own recognizance.” I almost fell out of my chair.

As we got up to walk out of the judge’s chambers, I put my hand on my client’s shoulder. The next thing I knew I was being bear hugged by Hall, who was wearing an even bigger smile than he had the day I met him at the jail. “Ben, do you remember what I said about running if you got out on bond.” He remembered. “Please don’t do it.” Hall allowed as how he had no intention to run. He was an innocent man.

It was about two days later that I got a copy of the State Attorney’s “No Information,” a document stating that no murder charges would be filed against Hall. That was the good news. I also got a copy of an information charging Hall with possession of an illegal short barreled shotgun. Hall’s smile wasn’t quite as big when the judge sentenced him to prison for the illegal firearm, but he still had a good attitude. He was one of the few clients I ever had who actually shook my hand and thanked me for what I had done for him.

After that I was always a little more receptive to my clients when they told me “he ran his hand in his pocket” or “one of his friends toted it off before the police got there.” When I became a prosecutor I had the opportunity to prosecute a few people who “toted the gun off before the police got there.” The charge? Tampering with evidence.

Monday, September 15, 2014

EVEN MORE ON "COMMON LAW GRAND JURIES"

[CAVEAT: I will be talking about a "common law grand jury indictment" which "charges" Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister with a number of crimes. The fact that I talk about the "indictment" should not be interpreted to mean that I believe any of the charges leveled against Siegmeister in the "indictment." On the contrary, I have studied the "indictment" and believe it to completely unfounded. Please keep this comment in mind as you read this blog post.]

As I reported in a previous blog post, my criticism of the Dixie County “common law grand jury” received a number of comments which begin somewhat incoherently and then degenerated into vituperative profanity. I said that I welcomed temperate comments. I got one from someone who styled himself “Grand Jury Foreman.” He pointed out to me that the “indictment” which I criticized was not an “indictment,” but rather a “True Bill Presentment.” Grand Jury Foreman’s comments were rational, coherent, and polite. They deserve a response. Grand Jury Foreman doesn’t seem to understand the nuances of the common law or the realities of the criminal justice system. I say this as an observation, not as a criticism. As Will Rogers once said, everybody is ignorant, just on different subjects.

First let’s talk about the label at the top of the “indictment.” Although it says “True Bill Presentment,” it is an “indictment.” As Shakespeare or somebody once said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Under the pre-1776 law England, the terms “presentment” and “indictment” were used interchangeably, although the term “presentment” could have a broader meaning than “indictment.” In the appendix to the 1908 American edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone reproduces an indictment of one Peter Hunt for the crime of murder. The language of that indictment, shorn of excess verbiage reads as follows:

Be it remembered at the session of oyer and terminer held in the County of Warwick in the third year of the reign of George III, pursuant to letters patent of the said King to inquire by oath of good and lawful men [i.e. the grand jury] into [the commission of treasons, felonies, and misdemeanors], by the oath of Sir James Thomson, baronet, Charles Roper, Henry Dawes, Peter Wilson, Samuel Rogers, John Dawson, James Phillips, John Mayo, Richard Savage, William Bell, James Morris, Laurence Hall, and Charles Carter, esquires, good and lawful men of the county aforesaid, then and there impaneled, sworn, and charged to inquire for the said lord the king and for the body of the said county, it is presented: THAT Peter Hunt [committed the crime of murder].  

You will notice that in the indictment the grand jurors say they present that Peter Hunt committed murder. So in olden times there wasn’t much difference between a presentment and an indictment. Today, the term presentment is usually thought to refer to a report by a grand jury which criticizes a public official without accusing him with a crime. As a matter of fact, the term “presentment” has pretty well gone out of use, being replaced by the more easily understood term, “report.”

So “True Bill Presentment” is a somewhat incoherent term for the document and you have to look to the language of the document to figure out what the “common law grand jury” intended to do. The language unmistakably identifies the document as an indictment when it says:

[The combined common law grand juries of Florida] hereby present this true bill for trial against State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister for conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States, high treason, 18 USC §1961-68 RICO, 18 USC §4 - Misprision of felony, 18 USC §241 Rights, conspiracy against, 18 USC §242 Rights, deprivation, 18 USC §.872 Extortion by officers, 18 USC §1001 Conceals, or covers, 18 USC§1346 Scheme or defraud, 18 USC§1512b engages in misleading conduct, 18 USC §2071 Concealment, 18  USC §2382 Misprision of treason, 18 USC §2384 Seditious conspiracy, 42 USC§1985 Rights, conspiracy to interfere, 42 USC§1986 neglect to prevent and Jury Tampering.

The “common law grand jury” says that the State Attorney committed over half a dozen crimes and says that he ought to stand trial for those crimes. That’s what an indictment does. It says someone committed a crime and that he ought to stand trial.

Let’s assume for a moment that there is such a thing as a “common law grand jury” and see how this indictment stacks up under the “common law” of England as stated in Blackstone’s Commentaries. If my client were brought before the common law court of oyer and terminer of Dixie County, here’s how I would respond to the charge:

                The indictment is improper and should be dismissed because:

1.       Common law grand juries have jurisdiction to bring charges only in the county in which they were empaneled. The indictment says it is brought by the combined common law grand juries of all counties of Florida.

2.       Common law indictments must name the members of the grand jury who bring the charge. This one does not.

3.       Common law grand juries impaneled under the common law of Florida only have jurisdiction to bring charges for crimes against the laws of Florida. This indictment charges crimes against the laws of the United States of Florida and should be brought in Federal District Court, not Dixie County oyer and terminer.

4.       Proper indictments must be endorsed by the foreman as “a true bill.” This one is not.

Of course courts of oyer and terminer do not exist in Florida, just as common law grand juries don’t exist in Florida or anywhere else.

Grand Jury Foreman seems to think that the United States Supreme Court case United States v Williams, 504 U.S. 36 (1992), authorizes common law grand juries. It does no such thing. Here’s what it says:

A.      It holds that grand juries are empaneled by a judge.

B.      It holds that the judge can’t tell the grand jury what to do after he has empaneled it.

C.      It holds that the proper advisor to the grand jury is the duly constituted prosecutor.

In the opinion, Justice Scalia wrote:

As Blackstone described the prevailing practice in 18th century England, the grand jury was "only to hear evidence on behalf of the prosecution[,] for the finding of an indictment is only in the nature of an enquiry or accusation, which is afterwards to be tried and determined." 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries 300 (1769); see also 2 M. Hale, Pleas of the Crown 157 (1st Am. ed. 1847). So also in the United States.

So according to Justice Scalia’s interpretation of the common law of England, the grand jury only hears evidence presented by the prosecution.

Grand Jury Foreman ends by asking, when you think a public official has done wrong and the local law enforcement will do nothing about it, how can you get the case looked into. Well, when I was a prosecutor, a lot of people disapproved of the way I handled cases, and here’s a partial list of the things they did to express their disapproval:

A.      Complained about me to the Governor.

B.      Complained about me to the Attorney General.

C.      Complained about me to the Florida Bar.

D.      Complained about me to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

E.       Complained about me to the FBI.

F.       Complained about me to the media.

If the disgruntled complainant can get no satisfaction after exhausting all the above avenues of complaint, then the disgruntled complainant must confront the fact that his complaint is unfounded.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PROFANITY

A few days ago I wrote a blog entitled “Grand Juries: Common Sense and Common Law.” In the blog post I tried to demonstrate how the concept of a “common law grand jury” was fatally flawed. The post  attracted a number of comments, none of which appeared to me to be very well-reasoned. It wasn’t long before some of the commenters were debating among themselves about how the law relating to grand juries should be interpreted.  So far so good. Well-reasoned or not, ideas were being expressed and the pros and cons of those ideas were being debated. Dialectic is an excellent tool for the evaluation of ideas—as long as you talk about the ideas. It’s one thing to attack an idea as being poorly thought-out, it’s another thing to call the person expressing that idea an idiot. Firstly, even geniuses sometimes come up with bad ideas. Secondly, exploration of bad ideas can sometimes point you in the direction of truth. Thirdly, attacking the person rather than the idea is a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad hominem.  Fourthly, it’s just plain bad manners.

As time wore on and the comments accumulated, the language got more offensive, until it finally degenerated into profane single-sentence posts of the “Your mother wears combat boots” variety. Needless to say, the comments added nothing to the discussion of “common law grand juries.” I deleted the comments and locked the post so as to receive no further comments.

I welcome discussion and I like to have my ideas tested, but I do not like insults and name-calling and I do not like profanity. If anyone has such comments to make, please make them somewhere else.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BULLIES


When I was in grade school I was fat, unathletic, studious, and a smart-mouth. All I needed to be the perfect nerd was a pair of glasses and a pocket protector. We all know what happens to unathletic, smart-mouthed nerds. They get bullied. I got bullied. I was completely aware of the conventional wisdom that bullies are cowards, but I didn’t see how it made any difference. Whether the bully was brave or cowardly, the fact that he was bullying me was a pretty good sign that he could beat me up. In the wild even the most courageous predators will go after the weak because they are easy targets. The same can be said for bullies.

A number of things happened to end the bullying. I stopped shooting my mouth off; I went out for football; and I got bigger and stronger. I don’t know how things are now, but back in the 1960’s high school football was a wonderful game. You didn’t have to be athletic to play the line. You just had to be big and strong. Although fat, unathletic smart-mouth nerds make prime targets for bullies; big, strong, taciturn football linemen do not.

Having had so much firsthand experience with bullies, I can readily recognize a bully when I see one. Barack Obama is a bully. That fact became evident early in his first term when we were about to go over the fiscal cliff. The Republicans came to him seeking a budget compromise, and he told them "It's my way or the highway." He was in a win/win situation. If the Republicans caved in, he would win. If we went over the fiscal cliff the press would blame the Republicans and he would win. He won and our credit rating took a hit. I won’t catalog all the examples of his bullying tactics, but I will mention one of the latest. He said the Washington Redskins ought to change their name. They refused, and he had their trademark rescinded.
 
On the domestic front Obama is a formidable bully. But remember the conventional wisdom? Bullies are supposed to be cowards. Obama lives up to the conventional wisdom in foreign affairs. Although he bullies Israel because he sees them as dependent on the U.S., he knuckles under to other bullies like Vladimir Putin. As ISIS grew into a formidable threat he bullied al-Maliki into resigning as prime minister of Iraq by withholding aid to the Iraqis. Now that ISIS has matured into a serious threat, he can’t seem to decide upon a strategy for dealing with them.

What we need in the White House now is a courageous leader, not a bully. I sincerely hope that we can survive relatively unscathed for the next two years, and I will welcome the next president whoever he or she may be. If we are lucky (or wise) our next president will be courageous enough to confront and defeat our foreign enemies.

"COMMON LAW GRAND JURIES" REVISITED

In my last blog I made light of the activities of a "common law grand jury" which had "indicted" our State Attorney, Jeff Siegmeister. I tried to demonstrate how misguided the "common law grand jurors" were in their actions by demonstrating (1) there is no such thing as a common law grand jury, and (2) even if there were such a thing as a common law grand jury, it was abolished when our legislature enacted statutes governing the operation of grand juries in this state.

I further offered the opinion that Siegmeister wouldn't bother to prosecute the "common law grand jury" because I thought it to be such a laughable organization. As it turns out the activities of the “common law grand jury” were far more wide-ranging and comprehensive than I realized when I wrote my first blog on the subject. I’m not sure how many public officials have been “indicted” for “treason” by the “common law grand jury,” but it seems that the “grand jury” has indicted quite a few officers throughout the state including, if I am correctly informed, the entire Dixie County school board. The school board’s act of “treason” was to adopt a curriculum of which the “grand jury” disapproved. I was also informed that the “grand jury” came into the courtroom in Dixie County and blocked the doors, refusing to let anyone else in the courtroom while they engaged in their foolishness.

It appears that I was mistaken when I assessed their actions as quaint, amusing, and mildly irritating. There appears to be good grounds to believe that the “common law grand jury” is becoming downright disruptive of governmental functions. There are laws against such activity, and the “foreman” of the “common law grand jury” has been arrested on felony charges. I am given to understand that the charges involve the use of simulated court process.

At first I was somewhat confused by this charge because the law only made use of simulated process a misdemeanor and then only if the process was used to try to fraudulently separate people from their money. The operative language of that statute is as follows:

Fla.Stat. 817.38 Simulated process.—
(1) CIRCULATION PROHIBITED.—It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to send or deliver *** any letter, paper, document, notice of intent to bring suit, or other notice *** which simulates *** court process, *** with intent to lead the recipient or sendee to believe that the same is genuine, for the purpose of obtaining any money or thing of value, or that a state agency is the sending party.
***
(5) PENALTIES.—Any person, firm or corporation violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

It seemed to me that this particular statute was not applicable to the situation for two reasons: (1) Because there was no intent to defraud anyone. (2) Because the “indictments” generated by the “common law grand jury” were so idiotic and so obviously NOT legal process that only someone whose IQ was smaller than his hat size would think they had any legal significance.

What I failed to take into account was the law prohibiting the obstruction of justice through use of simulated process, which is a felony. The operative language of that statute is as follows:

Fla.Stat. 843.0855 Criminal actions under color of law or through use of simulated legal process.
***
(2) Any person who deliberately impersonates or falsely acts as a public officer or tribunal, *** including, but not limited to, marshals, judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, deputies, court personnel, or any law enforcement authority in connection with or relating to any legal process affecting persons and property, or otherwise takes any action under color of law against persons or property, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
***
(4) Any person who falsely under color of law attempts in any way to influence, intimidate, or hinder a public officer or law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her official duties by means of, but not limited to, threats of or actual physical abuse or harassment, or through the use of simulated legal process, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
***

The statute defines “legal process” as follows:

[A] document or order issued by a court or filed or recorded with an official court of this state or the United States or with any official governmental entity of this state or the United States for the purpose of exercising jurisdiction or representing a claim against a person or property, or for the purpose of directing a person to appear before a court or tribunal, or to perform or refrain from performing a specified act. “Legal process” includes, but is not limited to, a summons, lien, complaint, warrant, injunction, writ, notice, pleading, subpoena, or order. [Fla.Stat. 843.0855(1)(a)]
 
The first theory of the prosecution seems to be that when the “common law grand jurors” convened and proceeded to hand out indictments, they

deliberately impersonate[d] or falsely act[ed] as a public officer or tribunal. [Fla.Stat. 843.0855(2)].
 
The tribunal, of course, being the “common law grand jury.”

The second theory of prosecution appears to be that the “common law grand jury”

falsely under color of law attempt[ed] to influence, intimidate, or hinder a public officer or law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her official duties by means of, but not limited to, threats of or actual physical abuse or harassment, or through the use of simulated legal process. [Fla.Stat. 843.0855(4)].

Indicting public officials on bogus charges of “treason” and sending them letters trying to influence the officers in their exercise of their official duties certainly seems to fit the statute. So far only the “foreman” of the “common law grand jury” has been arrested, but it appears that any member of the “grand jury” is vulnerable to arrest.
 
State Attorney Siegmeister has properly recused himself from the case and called on the Governor to appoint an outside prosecutor to handle the case. It will be interesting to see whether the outside prosecutor opts to prosecute the "common law grand jurors" under the racketeering statute. So far the only charges leveled have been third degree felonies calling for a maximum five year prison sentence.

Obstruction of Justice, however, is one of the crimes that can constitute a racketeering predicate incident. [Fla.Stat. 895.02(1)(a)43]. A "common law grand jury" may very well constitute a racketeering enterprise. [Fla.Stat. 893.02(3)]. And each of the "indictments" issued by the "common law grand jury," when taken together, just might constitute a prohibited pattern of racketeering activity. [Fla.Stat. 893.02(4)].

When people associated with an enterprise engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, they have committed a first degree felony punishable by 30 years.