The ability of citizen grand juries to investigate government actions has been a staple of American society for centuries. In 1636, and just 16 years after the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to Cape Cod, the Plymouth Colony grand jury was instructed to “enquire of all abuses within the body of government.”

By the 20th century, grand juries were widely considered indispensable for keeping government officials in check. The San Francisco Examiner recognized the grand jury as “the only body charged with investigating public offices.” Future New York Governor Thomas Dewey declared the grand jury “represents the conscious of the community and stands as the only effective bulwark against a return of the district attorney’s office to political control and incompetence.”

In 1956, Alaska’s founders strongly supported the historical investigative and reporting powers of the grand jury. Delegate John Hellenthal, a former Anchorage City Attorney told his fellow delegates, “a grand jury can investigate anything.” A few minutes later our founders proceeded to vote 44-8 in favor of cementing those broad powers into Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution.

The last sentence of Section 8 reads, “the power of grand juries to investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare and safety shall never be suspended.” This sentence is known as the Anti-Suspension Clause.

Time after time, these state officials have worked in conjunction to suppress grand jury investigations into their affairs.

Since statehood it’s been a fundamental right for any Alaska citizen to appear before the grand jury to request an investigation into suspected government misconduct. Founder Yule Kilcher from Homer told his fellow delegates, “it is the only safeguard a citizen occasionally has when for any reason and very often for political reasons, a case is not dealt with properly. The grand jury can be appealed to directly, which is an invaluable right to the citizen.”

This extremely valuable right of every Alaska citizen cannot be compromised without amending our Constitution. To pass such an amendment would require a two-thirds vote in both the Alaska Senate and House, followed by a majority vote of the public at the next general election.

All Alaska judges and prosecutors take an oath to protect this right, but the actions of some of their colleagues are the opposite. The biggest enemies of the grand jury’s independence have become the Alaska Supreme Court, the Attorney General, and senior attorneys in the Alaska Dept. of Law.

Time after time, these state officials have worked in conjunction to suppress grand jury investigations into their affairs.

It took years for Kenai residents to obtain a grand jury investigation into systemic corruption concerns

For the past several years, Kenai resident David Haeg has tried to launch a grand jury investigation into the criminal justice system. Haeg is concerned that widespread corruption exists among certain judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and their regulators. In early 2018, his efforts caught the attention of Nikiski resident Ray Southwell, who was then sitting on the Kenai Grand Jury.

In addition to Haeg’s concerns, Southwell was also concerned about corruption in the Office of Children’s Services (OCS). Southwell says he was prevented from presenting evidence of corruption to his fellow grand jurors by Kenai District Attorney Scott Leaders. Southwell says Leaders confiscated the evidence and then obtained an order from Superior Court Judge Jennifer Wells preventing Southwell from further disclosing his concerns and evidence to his fellow grand jurors.

Southwell later wrote to John Skidmore, the Dept. of Law’s Director of Criminal Division. Southwell’s letter focused mostly on evidence that OCS was acting illegally, including covering up an incident where a child in OCS custody may have been intentionally burned by their foster parent. Skidmore responded that he had directed the Office of Special Prosecution to review the matter but claimed there was insufficient evidence any crimes had been committed.

If Haeg’s claims are true, a critical question is whether Campion’s influence on the Kenai grand jury helped state officials higher up the ladder like Wells, Leaders, Skidmore and Greenstein to avoid scrutiny.

In early 2019, Anchorage resident Shane Serrano sat on an Anchorage grand jury. According to an affidavit by Serrano, he wanted to present Haeg’s evidence to his fellow grand jurors for their investigation. Serrano said he was prevented from doing so by the prosecutors who told him evidence could only be introduced through their office. Serrano said he provided a folder of evidence to the prosecutors, but nothing happened.

Meanwhile Haeg continued to press forward and gained the widespread support of Kenai residents. Haeg gathered several hundred signatures on petitions and obtained resolutions from local organizations supporting a grand jury investigation.

Incredibly, state officials refused to budge until Haeg and his supporters began picketing outside the Kenai courthouse. State officials finally caved, and Haeg was allowed to testify before the Kenai grand jury in October of 2022. The grand jury returned an indictment for perjury against former District Court Judge Margaret Murphy and a criminal case against her is currently underway.

Despite Murphy’s indictment, the public has been left largely in the dark about the extent of the grand jury investigation and their findings concerning the conduct of other state officials. Normally, investigative grand juries issue a report with their findings and recommendations, but the Alaska Supreme Court has established rules essentially quashing that power.

Of additional concern is a potential conflict of interest by the special prosecutor who advised the Kenai grand jury, Clint Campion. Campion spent most of his legal career working for the Dept. of Law. He rose through the ranks to become the Chief Assistant AG in the Office of Special Prosecutions and later became the Anchorage District Attorney.

If these state officials acted appropriately, it would seem they would readily support a transparent report by a grand jury counseled throughout by an attorney without any potential conflicts of interest.

Making this potential conflict even worse, Haeg says Campion, while working for the Dept. of Law, personally investigated his criminal complaint against Marla Greenstein, the Executive Director of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct. Haeg says Campion cleared Greenstein of any wrongdoing.

Haeg says he first learned about Campion’s involvement with the Kenai grand jury when the subpoena Haeg received listed Campion as the “Independent Prosecutor.” Haeg says that when he confronted Campion about this prior involvement in the case, Campion claimed to have forgotten about it.

If Haeg’s claims are true, a critical question is whether Campion’s influence on the Kenai grand jury helped state officials higher up the ladder like Wells, Leaders, Skidmore and Greenstein to avoid scrutiny. Without a full grand jury report, the public may never know the truth.

If these state officials acted appropriately, it would seem they would readily support a transparent report by a grand jury counseled throughout by an attorney without any potential conflicts of interest.

Other Alaskans prevented from obtaining grand jury investigations

In the fall of 2022, I was prevented by Juneau Presiding Judge Amy Mead from personally appearing before a grand jury to request an investigation into potential misconduct by state officials in multiple cases involving residents of Alaska Native heritage.

One of those cases was the wrongful conviction of Hoonah resident, Thomas Jack Jr. My work as a forensic journalist had uncovered substantial evidence that state officials, including a judge and prosecutors, cooperated in knowingly suppressing exonerating evidence and prosecuting him in an unfair trial, and since his conviction have continued to violate their ethical responsibilities.

In June of 2023, the Tribal Council of the Hoonah Indian Association unanimously passed a resolution in support of Mr. Jack. The tribe requested that if the state chose not to dismiss all charges against Jack, that a special grand jury be impaneled in Hoonah to investigate the facts of his case with the assistance of an independent attorney, and to report its findings to the public.

I immediately sent a copy of the resolution to Attorney General Treg Taylor and Governor Mike Dunleavy. Neither of them has responded to me nor to the Tribal Council.

While Haeg and I were trying to launch grand jury investigations into concerns of misconduct in the state’s criminal justice system, Anchorage resident Thomas Garber was trying to launch an investigation into OCS. Garber, a disabled sheet metal worker, was a prior victim of OCS conduct that broke up his family. Garber was one of the numerous Alaska residents harmed by OCS who met with former North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson before she requested a grand jury investigation into OCS in 2016.

Dept. of Law and the Judiciary have hijacked grand jury investigations of OCS for years

In Wilson’s words, her grand jury request was “hijacked” by the Alaska Attorney General and referred over to the State Ombudsman. The Ombudsman did a limited investigation yet found OCS personnel had committed wrongdoing including misleading a judge and ignoring numerous warnings about a child in OCS custody that led to the child being sexually abused by her foster father. These were some of the facts that Southwell had tried to present to the Kenai Grand Jury and later to Skidmore.

In 2018 Garber wrote a letter to Skidmore requesting an investigation into OCS. Similar to Southwell, Garber cited various reports by the Ombudsman and Alaska Citizens Review Panel, and the results of Wilson’s public hearings as evidence of systemic problems with OCS. Garber also related his own personal experience with OCS. Skidmore’s office responded that the Dept. of Law wasn’t going to take any further action.

In 2019 Garber filed a complaint with the Ombudsman requesting they perform an investigation of OCS and the judiciary referencing three cases. The Ombudsman declined to investigate, telling Garber they do not investigate matters of general public interest or open cases, (which in the case of OCS can last for decades).

Garber refused to give up. Following the covid shutdown and throughout the summer and fall of 2022, Garber traveled to the Anchorage courtroom of Presiding Judge William Morse to request permission to present evidence of OCS wrongdoing to the grand jury. Garber picked up where Wilson had been denied six years earlier.

Morse had been the judge assigned to Wilson’s grand jury. He was already aware of the issues Garber was bringing to his attention and was likely aware Wilson felt the Dept. of Law had hijacked the investigation. Unbeknownst to Garber, the 2016 special grand jury proceeding was still listed in court records as “open” with Morse being the assigned judge.

On Oct. 6, Morse issued an order indicating that he was likely to grant Garber’s request. Mysteriously, instead of allowing Garber access to the grand jury Morse set a hearing for Oct. 13. On that date Garber appeared before Morse in a courtroom packed with Alaska citizens supporting his efforts. Inexplicably, Morse stalled once again and told Garber to come back to his courtroom on December 14.

At this point, only the Legislature can free grand juries from the Supreme Court’s obsessive stranglehold.

Garber never got the chance. On November 29, the Alaska Supreme Court issued its order number 1993 which essentially codified the Dept. of Law’s previous barriers for grand jury investigations. On the effective date of the order, Morse cancelled Garber’s hearing on the 14th. Garber then filed an appeal which is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

In a nutshell, Supreme Court Order 1993 required any grand juror or citizens wanting a grand jury investigation to first go through the Dept. of Law. Founders like Yule Kilcher, who lived in Germany during the Nazi’s rise to power, would have been horrified.

Unless the Legislature acts, Alaskans may never again see a meaningful grand jury investigation into state misconduct.

The Supreme Court has made the grand jury one of the most regulated entities in Alaska

SCO 1993 was just the latest attempt in a long list of actions by the Alaska Supreme Court to handcuff the grand jury’s ability to expose government misconduct. SCO 1993 amended existing Criminal Rule 6 and 6.1, which the Supreme Court has used to bypass the protections of the Anti-Suspension Clause.

These two Criminal Rules are exhaustive. Rule 6, which places restrictions on how grand juries can act, is 3,000 words long and has been amended by the Supreme Court an incredible 45 times! Rule 6.1, which places restrictions on grand jury reports, is 2,000 words long and has been amended once.

To give readers some perspective on how focused the Supreme Court’s efforts against grand juries have been, it is worth comparing Rules 6 and 6.1 to Criminal Rule 4 which deals with warrants and summons. Rule 4 is only 800 words long and has been amended just 11 times in the past 60 years.

It was extremely rare for two justices to publicly accuse their colleagues of mocking the Constitution.

In other words, the rules the Alaska Supreme Court have placed on our grand juries are six times longer than their rules on warrants and summons. Additionally, the rules governing grand juries have been amended four times more frequently than the rules governing warrants and summons.

At this point, only the Legislature can free grand juries from the Supreme Court’s obsessive stranglehold.

Supreme Court rules mock Alaska’s Constitution

Criminal Rule 6.1 stems from Supreme Court Order 938 which became effective in 1989. It was a highly controversial rule as discussed in Chapters 11 and 12 of my book. Justices Edmund Burke and Allen Compton said it was unconstitutional.

A year later Rule 6.1 was used by the judiciary in the O’Leary case to suppress a grand jury report detailing their investigation into concerns the Anchorage School District had protected a Bartlett High School teacher alleged to have had sex with students.

The case gave Burke and Compton an opportunity to write a dissenting opinion explaining how Rule 6.1 was unconstitutional. Their dissent said the rule thought up by their three colleagues “mocked” the Constitution.

That harsh characterization is highly noteworthy. The Supreme Court normally strives to maintain a congenial and respectful atmosphere to help promote public confidence in their decisions. It was extremely rare for two justices to publicly accuse their colleagues of mocking the Constitution.

More recently, another judge to question the constitutionality of these rules was Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Thomas Temple who sits on the Supreme Court’s Advisory Rules Committee. Thanks to Garber’s appeal, he discovered an email sent by Temple to other Committee members on November 10, 2022.

In discussing proposed SCO 1993, Temple wrote, “these are important and serious changes of a constitutional nature and should not be rushed through.” On November 17, Assistant Public Defender Douglas Moody, also on the Rules Committee, wrote an email stating he agreed with Temple’s comments. Despite these influential warnings, the Supreme Court rushed through their new rules, presumably to prevent Garber from proceeding further and relieving the pressure on Morse.

Another key document discovered by Garber in his appeal was a letter from Chief Justice Daniel Winfree to Attorney General Treg Taylor dated August 16, 2022. Winfree’s letter documented their meeting that morning about “establishing procedures for grand jury investigations and reporting on matters concerning public welfare or safety.

Winfree confirmed it “was an issue of some concern to both the Court System and Department of Law.” He confirmed that each branch of government would designate two of their employees to meet and confer. Incidentally, both of Taylor’s designees were prosecutors involved in the Thomas Jack affair whose actions Hoonah Indian Association and I want investigated.

The grand jury is our best hope to rein in these unelected officials.

The fact that the two branches of government without law making power would collude to do just that and bypass a major constitutional right is highly troubling. Without a grand jury investigation into the sordid background of SCO 1993, Alaskans will likely never know the full truth about what is going on behind the black curtains of the Alaska Supreme Court and Dept. of Law.

In early January of 2023, I wrote a letter to Morse asking why he delayed Garber’s request. Morse did not respond. In both January and February, I sent emails to the members of the Advisory Rules Committee including Temple and Moody, but none of them responded.

I’ve experienced the same silence attempting to contact various State officials involved in the troubling Thomas Jack affair. There’s a thick black curtain between Alaska’s legal system and the citizens it serves. This lack of transparency enables State judges and lawyers to disregard our laws with little fear of repercussion. The grand jury is our best hope to rein in these unelected officials.

Grand Juries are meant to be independent of judges and prosecutors

It’s mind boggling to think how controlled the Alaska grand jury has become. When the Anti-Suspension Clause was adopted back in 1956, one of the pre-eminent authorities in the United States on grand juries was New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Arthur Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt helped establish the nationally known Institute of Judicial Administration and his efforts were specifically recognized on the floor of the Alaska Constitutional Convention on December 1, 1955.

In 1952, Vanderbilt authored a lengthy opinion on the history of the investigative grand jury, stressing it was “vital to the sound administration of justice.” Future U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, considered the most influential Justice of the 20th century, joined with Vanderbilt in the opinion.

Vanderbilt wrote grand juries were not intended to be constrained by comprehensive rules. Instead, “what made them eligible, or whom they should be composed, by whom they should be summoned, and what were to be their duties, was not stated.”

Vanderbilt continued to write, “the statues constituting them were the simplest possible; the tribunals were created, their titles given, and the times and places when and where they were to meet; and that was all.”

Vanderbilt’s opinion is important for all Alaskan legislators to understand the freedom that our Founders intended Alaska grand jurors to have. Chapter 7 of my book discusses his opinion in greater detail.

Expect the Supreme Court to rule against Garber unless the Legislature intervenes

Garber’s efforts are extremely admirable. The disabled sheet metal worker has stood as a bulwark against the illegal action of the Alaska Supreme Court and Dept. of Law. Lacking the financial resources to retain a competent lawyer, he is handling the appeal himself.

In October, Garber filed a 47-page brief with the Supreme Court. It’s a bit rambling but that should be forgiven considering he’s identified 14 issues on appeal and hasn’t written legal analyses for a living. These issues include whether the actions of Winfree and his Supreme Court colleagues violated several specified statues, the Rights of Crime Victims, the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, and their Oaths of Office.

An important issue Garber raised is whether SCO 1993 was influenced by individuals subject to pending grand jury investigations. Another is whether “SCO 1993 is an abomination of the ethical responsibilities imposed upon Alaska lawyers and judges through the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

Going up against Garber in the legal arena is lawyer Thomas Amodio of the Anchorage firm Reeves Amodio, LLC. Amodio was hired by the Alaska Court System to represent the judges involved in Garber’s appeal. Assisting Amodio is attorney Debra Fitzgerald. Both attorneys have been practicing law since the mid 1980’s.

Two weeks ago, Amodio filed a 58-page opposing brief. Garber now must decide whether to file a reply brief before oral arguments are heard by the Court. Garber knows he’s way out of his league against Amodio but he’s doing the best he can to hold the line.

The Supreme Court has a mess on their hands but those are the foreseeable consequences of their intentional interference with critical constitutional boundaries and legislating against the independence of grand juries.

How a legal battle between a disabled sheet metal work with no legal training against two seasoned attorneys from a politically connected firm can constitute a fair fight is beyond my imagination. Alaska Court Rule of Professional Conduct (“RPC”) 8.4 is supposed to prevent mismatches like this.

The Commentary to RPC 8.4 claims the rule is to “assure that adversaries have an equal opportunity to prepare and present their case, so as to advance the achievement of a just result.” I’d love to hear Morris or any of the Supreme Court justices explain to a grand jury how Garber has been given an equal opportunity to present his case. Why do they get to use state funds to hire attorneys to protect their interests, but Garber doesn’t?

Garber needs help but realistically, the obvious courtroom mismatch may be irrelevant. I doubt even nationally acclaimed lawyer Alan Dershowitz could convince the Supreme Court to stop this unconstitutional trainwreck from happening.

When the constitutionality of Rule 6.1 was litigated in the O’Leary case, the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Times intervened in the case on the side of the Anchorage Police Chief who wanted the grand jury report released. They lost despite their considerable combined resources which allowed them to hire top notch attorneys. Alaskans should expect a similar loss in Garber’s appeal unless the Legislature steps in immediately and curbs the Supreme Court’s abuse of power.

SCO 1993 has severely diminished public confidence in the judiciary

There’s an even bigger ethical issue than the lopsided battle between Garber and Amodio. At the heart of Garber’s appeal is whether the Alaska Supreme Court unlawfully conspired with the Department of Law. Did those branches violate the doctrine of separation of powers and was the resulting SCO 1993 an act of illegal legislation designed to sidestep the Constitution?

Judicial Canon 2 not only requires all Alaska judges to avoid impropriety (including conflicts of interests), but to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Commentary to Canon 1 explains that violation of any canon “diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and thereby does injury to the system of government under the law.”

The Supreme Court’s treatment of the grand jury has highly eroded the public’s confidence. To help regain this confidence, the Supreme Court should immediately vacate all their rules restricting the grand jury, protect grand jurors from the Dept. of Law’s undue influence, and encourage grand jurors to exercise their independence.

The worst thing the Supreme Court could do is ignore the conflicts of interest they have created and then decide they have acted lawfully. They clearly are not an independent tribunal entitled to consider their involvement in SCO 1993 or their Criminal Rules which have cremated the independence of the Alaska grand jury and mocked the Constitution.

Think of the uproar if our courts allowed Google or Microsoft to decide whether they were violating anti-trust laws. Or if Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff had the power to decide whether they misled investors. Allowing the Supreme Court to decide the issues raised by Garber would be a similar outrage.

The Supreme Court has a mess on their hands but those are the foreseeable consequences of their intentional interference with critical constitutional boundaries and legislating against the independence of grand juries.

If the Supreme Court fails to do the right thing, then the Legislature must act immediately to protect and restore the grand jury’s complete independence. It’s vital to our system of government.

The worst thing the Legislature can do is to delay remedial action. Innocent people like Jack, never tried by a jury of his peers, are rotting away in jail. Mothers like AK Mom are having their children taken away by OCS, who then become vulnerable to traffickers and put into homeless shelters, while the judiciary and the Dept. of Law enable OCS’ outrageous behavior.

Legislative solutions exist under pending bills

Last year, Sen. Mike Shower introduced Senate Bill 31 and Rep. George Rauscher subsequently introduced House Bill 82. Both bills seek judicial reform and are pending in committees.

Last March, I proposed amendments to these bills which included freeing the grand jury from judicial control and providing funding so that grand juries can retain truly independent attorneys to assist their investigations and recommendations.

If you agree with me, Founders like Kilcher and Hellenthal, and well-known legal experts like Vanderbilt and Dewey, contact the legislators in your district, those on the committees considering the bills, and the leaders of both houses. Push for immediate passage of these bills and don’t let up.

For those readers interested in learning more about the independence and historical common law powers of the Alaska grand jury, my book can be downloaded for free.

One final thought for those readers who have made it to the end of this article. It’s 4,000 words long and by far the longest I’ve had published in an Alaska news forum. Yet it’s nowhere near the length of the 5,000-word legalese labyrinth the Supreme Court has paralyzed Alaska grand juries with.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

ANALYSIS: Alaska Lawmakers must protect Grand Juries’ constitutional right to investigate government corruption

David Ignell
David Ignell was born and raised in Juneau, where he currently resides. He holds a law degree from University of San Diego and formerly practiced as a licensed attorney in California. He has experience as a volunteer analyst for the California Innocence Project, and is currently a forensic journalist and author of a recent book on the Alaska Grand Jury.


  • Lucinda says:

    1- Republicans should be worried.

    2- It should be a misdemeanor to use so many words for such a simple explanation.

  • Clark says:

    Longest post I think you’ve ever posted on here. And also so full of crap its nauseating.

    Nobody has hurt Alaskas grand jury except for this group of people trying to weaponize it to get revenge for personal grudges.

    Its 100% normal that grand juries are normally empaneled by an AG after they have reviewed evidence if crimes. Its completely abnormal for a convicted felon and a bunch of his friends to try and create a grand jury to punish all the people that convicted him of the crime he CONFESSED to. Claiming a grand jury is supposed to be independent of lawyers and prosecutors is possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen posted on Joel’s sight. You have to have the guidance of prosecutors and judges because ordinary people don’t understand the law! You can’t accuse someone of perjury if you don’t even understand what perjury is. You can’t undergo a complex multi-layer investigation into corruption if you don’t even understand what corruption is under the law. A felon bringing a jury against the people that convicted him is an OBVIOUS conflict of interest. In the real world…even if his accusations were true, his clear conflict taints the case, including any and all evidence gained through the tainted process. Fruit of the poisoned tree. He already tried like a dozen times to sue the judge and the witnesses and even his own lawyer. But the fact is he confessed. Trying to punish those involved in his trial is a clear grudge, and the courts are having none of it. He doesn’t even understand the law, as evidenced by his experience where he tried to present evidence at a SCHEDULING hearing and he refused to leave and threatened violence against the judge, so he had to be forcefully removed.

    • Ray Southwell says:

      Yes us simpletons do not understand the law. We do recognize and understand injustice. How is that accomplished? I recently spoke to an attorney who told me their “loyalty is to the process.” Not to the Constitution or justice but the process. I responded with my experiences with the process of ignoring justice.
      Some examples:
      Ignoring exculpatory evidence.
      Ignoring the safety of a child in state care
      Lack of accountability when prosecutors ignore justice and follow the process.

      • Clark says:

        I don’t know much about the issue of OCS and kids that the state has taken away for protective reasons. But I do know that anybody doing that is likely presenting well-documented evidence as justification. Its not easy to get a child removed. Regarding exculpatory evidence…It’s hard to imagine a trained lawyer not obtaining as much evidence from a prosecutor as possible. There is an entire process during discovery where the lawyer gets to demand basically anything the state used or considered or gathered but CHOSE NOT TO USE. Then its their job to present that evidence as they see fit. The prosecutors get to decide what THEY think is exculpatory or just unhelpful to their case. Just like your attorney gets to present the facts of a guilty persons case in the most innocent light possible, even if they know their client is guilty. Now if we are talking smoking-gun type evidence like a video showing you across the state when a crime happened etc, thats a diifferent matter. But if a prosecutor had evidence like that, it seems unlikely they would be stupid enough to bring a case. With OCS…we’re talking kids the state believes are being abused. When kids get taken away, thats usually after multiple hospital visits and life-threatening injuries. That usually means a nurse suspecting something after noticing a pattern; getting a Psychologist to observe; them seeing red flags of abuse etc. Often this involves families with mental health issues, substance abuse or criminal histories, etc…Every single case is as tragic as it is unique. I do now its awful to have kids taken away. It happened to my sister; it took like 6 months to get her daughter returned after she was taken. I also know it was necessary and the state was trying to protect the child. Her father got drunk and broke 8 ribs and spiral fractured her femur when she was 2 mths old and wouldnt stop crying. She was lucky he merely slung her around by her leg and not into anything. That was horrifying for our family…and then to have the state step in and sever us from being able to see our injured/hospitalized baby. The process sucks, its painful. But imagine how many lives get saved by it. My sister had to confront the fact that her husband was a monster. He went to jail…sentenced to less than a year per broken bone. She filed for divorce/custody. She had to do all the crap with OCS , social workers, welfare checks, drug tests, court appearances. And then her baby finally came home. So I can 100% empathize for the families and the kids. However I also know that the nurses and psychologists are just trying to protect innocent kids. They KNOW foster care and protective care isnt ideal. They know how tough it is on families. So if they decide its necessary, then it should be taken very seriously.

      • M says:

        Yes I was recently told by a local AK attorney that “I have to trust the process”, “it’s been done this way for a very long time.” When I said the process is case law and run by a corrupt gov and not by our constitution I was ignored. I’ll be so glad to see this entire corporation crumble and fall including the BAR attorneys and all.

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      Accountability? Who do we think we are? The PEOPLE?!

    • David Ignell says:

      Clark, if you’re a person who values and respects the truth you may want to absorb and reflect awhile on the words of Bob Barton. Barton is a decorated Army combat pilot who served our country for 25 years. He then moved to Hoonah with his wife Kay and become the pastor of the United Pentecostal Church there.

      Barton had a front row seat to the truth behind the wrongful conviction of Thomas Jack, Jr. In 2022, he signed an affidavit which includes the following statements:

      1) “I expected that the charges against Thomas would be dropped as soon as the allegations had been properly investigated. I never expected Thomas’ case to go to trial and can’t imagine how he could be convicted in a fair trial by an impartial jury.”

      2) “Law enforcement’s failure to interview me enforced my belief there was no merit to the accusations and the case would be dismissed.”

      3) “I recall that when Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp figured out who I was, she stopped asking me questions and that didn’t sit well with me. In my view, prosecutors are obligated to follow the truth regardless of the result it leads to.”

      I later approached Skidmore and gave him a copy of Barton’s affidavit. Skidmore refused to meet with me saying that my claims weren’t credible. He didn’t contact Barton either.

      Skidmore and Kemp are not only in charge of Alaska’s prosecutors, but the Supreme Court has put them in charge of grand juries.

      If you’re ok with that, an old saying comes to mind: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.”

  • Ray Southwell says:

    We need to fully understand how the grand jury was established to give the people one last opportunity to peacefully alter corrupt government behavior. Does our state legislature have the courage to keep this peaceful process alive?

  • Betty Jo says:

    Alaska Constitution Article 1, Section – Grand Jury.
    “The grand jury shall consist of at least twelve citizens, a majority of whom concurring may return an indictment.” What happened to juror 12? Was juror 12 excused? If not, was a bench warrant issued for juror 12? Was there an alternate to fill the missing juror 12?
    “The power of the grand juries to investigate and make recommendations concerning the public welfare or safety shall never be suspended.” I get this – never means never. Does never mean that SCO 1993 shall never suspend the power of the grand juries? Does never mean that SCO 1993 cannot change the constitution?
    We-the-people must now start writing and calling our courageous Legislators and ask that the wrongful SCO 1993 that severed our constitutional right to go before a grand jury be CORRECTED.
    I believe that if you read the Jury Handbook you’ll read “shall never” too.

  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    Hey Clark, our you Bob Penney’s grandson who got that sweetheart contract with Dunleavy for some $ 441,000.00 ? Are you doing a errand boy job for our governor & the AG Taylor???

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      Ed , reveal more! It’s imperative that courageous people like yourself bring to light the corruption! I know first hand the corruption in this state, I was in fact a whistle blower! Yes they retaliated intensely and harshly! I got your back, reveal more!

  • Cod says:

    Clearly Clark has not the foggiest idea of what the Grand Jury group is about, nor anything about the evidence that has been presented to the sitting GJ.
    If the corrupt govt has nothing to hide, why do they make and take such extraordinary measures to keep the information from We The People?
    Judge Mathews…. Release the GJ report you’ve been holding in secret for the last 8 months. And, release it in its ENTIRETY! Do it NOW!

  • Dave says:

    We don’t directly elect our judges, borough prosecutors, our State AG sheriff’s police chief’s or borough clerks. Were that the case I’d predict many of these issues would have been sorted out via issues brought forth in campaigns for office. But without that option empowered grand juries are even more critical. I don’t think anyone wants to deprive grand juries from the legal advise of an attorney during their proceedings, to help them make accurate conclusions regarding the law. But their findings should not be screened by judges or even prohibited from hearing certain cases/evidence at the whim of unelected judges/prosecutors. I have faith in our jurors to do the right thing when they are provided the facts of a case & the law. And just because a grand jury makes a finding it’s not the end of the road. There is still a trial offered. But beyond that, the role of the grand jury is described in the constitution. If people don’t like that amend the Constitution instead of administratively nullifying its power.

  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    Here you go Dave
    Upholding Public Accountability of Statutory Bonding Requirements and
    Public Official Obligations

    Title 39 of the Alaska Statutes encompassing AS 39.05.050 (Surety Bonds), AS 39.15 and more specifically AS 39.15.030 (Action on a Bond) serves as a cornerstone for ethical governance, professional accountability and financial transparency in Alaska.

    Upholding the moral and lawful enforcement of these statutes is not only critical for preventing corruption but is deeply intertwined with constitutional principles including that the Governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws as stated in Article III § 16 of the Alaska Constitution.

    Article III § 16 of the Alaska Constitution places all the responsibility on the Governor, emphasizing his/her duty to ensure the faithful execution of the laws. This constitutional provision grants the Governor authority to enforce compliance with constitutional and/or legislative statutory mandates, and to restrain violations of powers, duties or rights of any officer, department, or agency of the State or its political subdivisions. Most importantly, Article III § 16 of the Alaska Constitution expressly precludes actions against the legislature and safeguarding the separation of powers.
    One example as outlined for Judical Officers states that “before entering upon the duties of a public administrator, the public administrator shall execute and file with the administrative director of the court system a surety bond in the form and amount to be determined by rule of the supreme court. The costs of the bond shall be paid by the court system.” (AS 22.20.430.
    The intersection of the bonding statutes with Article III § 16 of the Alaska Constitution is the governor’s pivotal role in upholding ethical standards and financial transparency. Enforcing these statutes becomes not just a legal obligation but a constitutional directive for the governor.

    The moral and lawful enforcement of public official bonds is paramount for several reasons explained in its textual text and legislative intent spread across AS 39.05 – AS 39.15.

    Why is bonding important?
    Prevention of Public Corruption.
    Enforcing the bonding statutes prevents public corruption by establishing clear standards and consequences for financial misconduct. Bonding requirements and financial disclosures act as a deterrent against malfeasance, misfeasance & nonfeasance in office. Bonding and financial disclosure contribute to financial accountability and transparency.
    Citizens can trust that bonded public officials are held to the highest ethical standards, reducing the risk of financial impropriety.

    Empowerment of Citizens:
    AS 39.15.030 further solidifies the importance of empowering citizens with the right(s) to access critical information about public officials. This empowerment is a cornerstone of representative democratic governance, allowing citizens to actively participate in holding Public Officials accountable.

    Restitution for Grievances:
    The combination of bonding requirements and financial disclosure offers citizens a means to seek restitution for grievances caused by government officers’ actions or inactions. It creates a legal pathway for citizens to address financial harm resulting from malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance [ inaction].

    A crucial aspect in understanding the distinction between insurance and bonds, particularly in the contest of public officials, is the nature of a “Public Official Bond.” A public official bond is a type of surety bond that serves as a statutory obligation requiring faithful performance, fidelity, and integrity of a public official’s duties to the state & the citizens individually. The bond requires Public Officers and secondary obligors to pay a fixed amount if they do not faithfully perform their duties in the office they hold. Like all surety bonds, this bond consists of a three-party agreement. Whereas Insurance is only a two-party contract.
    Principal – Public Official.
    Oblige – Government and the citizens being served by the public official.
    Surety – Bonding company that underwrites the bond and is the secondary obligor.

    Alaska’s State Public Officials must know and understand the Alaska Statutes and Regulations

    This is not the case! Below is just one communication (as an example) with one agency in denial of statutes & applicability.

    On May 1, 2023, Marla Greenstein, Executive Director Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct sent written communication that stated, “Sec. 39.15.010. Form, amount, and conditions…There is no statute or regulation that requires our Commission Members or Employees to have an official bond. Please send your inquiry to the Department of Law if you need further information.”
    It is well known, three members of ACJC are sitting Superior Court Judges.
    These efforts have been attempted by numerous citizens without reply to date.

    At the ACJC meeting in March 2023, Board Chairman Judge Roetman, said that he had no knowledge of the Statute(s) but he would inquire as to what the Statute states and inquire with AG Taylor on its requirements.

    What does the A G Taylor’s legal opinion state, if in fact, he has given one?

    Alaskans Need to Pay Attention
    It is important to note that In communication with Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka in 2019 she communicated by email that the Executive Branch under Governor Dunleavy’s administration the State of Alaska maintains an insurance policy in lieu of bonds covering officials in the court system, executive branch, and legislative branch and “remains the current stance of Governor Dunleavy’s administration”. Contradictions within various communications raise significant concerns about the consistency and clarity of the state’s approach to bonding and insurance policies.

    One aspect to the current Insurance Policy is that it’s a $ 500,000.00 deductible and just who pays this? The taxpayer, above the premium yearly cost (from our PFD’s in today’s budget) and coming out of the general fund made up from the Earnings of the PF or a separate legislative approbation!

    This half million dollar deductible (financial responsibility) truly should belong to the Principal – Public Official. Not we the people!

    Once again, current enforcement is hampered by the non-existence of proper bonds by officials in all three branches of Alaska’s Government. Without the proper surety bonds in place, the citizens’ statutory right(s) to seek restitution for grievances caused by government officers’ actions or inaction remains unfulfilled thus creating a gap in the accountability and transparency essential for the proper functioning of a Representative Democratic Government.

    A transparent and coherent approach to bonding and insurance is crucial for upholding the state’s commitment to ethical governance, financial transparency, and the faithful execution of laws, as outlined in Title 39 and the Alaska Constitution.

    It is necessary for Governor Dunleavy to act in good faith to his Oath of Office and enforce immediately AS 39.05.050 Surety Bonds for all public officials required to be bonded.

    In conclusion, the contradiction in understanding these Statutes and communication between Offices, Officers regarding bonding and insurance policies within the Executive Branch under Governor Dunleavy’s administration diminishes the requirements for a comprehensive and consistent approach to aligning these misguided policies with consistent statutory and constitutional mandates. Clarification and resolution of these discrepancies are essential to ensure that the state’s insurance policies adequately cover all relevant public official positions as which must be bonded in all three Branches.

    Every Alaskan that desires to do business as a professional in this state is required to be licensed, bonded, and insured to protect the customer. Why wouldn’t we demand the same of our government officials to protect the citizen?

  • Morrigan says:

    To David Ignell (and Jon Faulkner), may we recommend: (a) requesting the Department of Justice, Public Integrity Section, to assist or intervene, and (b) asking Senator Sullivan to sponsori your request.
    The reason for (b) is you want maximum gravitas first time at bat, you want to convey the message that the Senator shares your concern that the problem isn’t de minimis, it must be fixed, it won’t fix itself, it’s not fixable with local resources.
    “The Public Integrity Section (PIN) oversees the investigation and prosecution of all federal crimes affecting government integrity, including bribery of public officials, election crimes, and other related offenses.” (
    “PIN attorneys handle the Section’s cases from the beginning of an investigation through indictment, trial, sentencing, and appeal. Section attorneys have successfully tried numerous cases across the country involving core public corruption charges such as bribery as well as other charges, including obstruction of justice, making false statements, election crimes, fraud, theft, money laundering, racketeering…” (
    Perhaps most to your point, David: “The Public Integrity Section also investigates and prosecutes corruption offenses involving state and local officials. PIN uses a variety of statutory tools to combat corruption in —state and local governments—, such as honest services mail and wire fraud (18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1346); federal program fraud and bribery (18 U.S.C. § 666); and extortion under color of official right (18 U.S.C. § 1951). (
    The Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division is Nicole M. Argentieri
    The Chief of the Public Integrity Section is Corey Amundson
    The address is U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001
    The electronic mail address is
    The Criminal Division Citizen Phone Line is 202-353-4641
    As a lawyer, David, you know better than most the value of presenting a concise factual complaint; no pressure… screw it up the first time, there won’t be a second time.
    Thanks so much for yours and Jon’s work.
    Good luck.

    • David Ignell says:

      Morrigan, thank you for the PIN suggestion along with their background and contact info. It’s certainly worth a shot.
      To date, I and other supporters of Mr. Jack’s cause have been unable to get any traction with our elected federal representatives including Sen. Sullivan. The same goes for the US Commission on Civil Rights and the FBI.
      One of the roadblocks on the federal route may be the prior involvement in the Jack case of both former and current Assistant US Attorneys.
      On the federal level, our best shot for Jack’s freedom may be a recent memo from the Office of Tribal Justice, which concluded that “Alaska Native Tribes retain jurisdiction over Indians in their Villages”. HIA, a federally recognized tribe has called for the release of Jack pending the State’s decision whether to give him a fair trial before a jury of his peers. Dunleavy and Taylor ignored the tribe. Its a looming mess but this is another foreseeable consequence of the judiciary and prosecutors ignoring their oaths and ethical responsibilities.
      Beyond the Jack case, the bottom line is the Alaska Legislature must provide a safe haven for grand juries to operate. Ever since the Juneau Grand Jury in 1985 investigated and reported on inappropriate actions of Gov. Bill Sheffield and his staff and recommended his impeachment, the Supreme Court has been hard at work trying to undermine the grand jury’s constitutionally protected powers and independence. (See Chapter 9 of my book for an outstanding example of how an investigative grand jury carried out its duties)
      Alternatively, the Legislature can choose to do nothing and continue to allow corruption to police corruption.

      • Morrigan says:

        Registered lobbyists outnumber legislators 6 to 1, so who knows who’s bought whom, but we don’t let that stop us, do we?
        Recommend writing a proposal, a bill, which a legislator such as Senator Shower could file and, if it’s accidentally consigned to obscurity, share with every news media, social media platform, and investment platform.
        Investment platforms matter because major investors should know whether ROI calculations may include more than the usual baksheesh necessary to do business in a quasi third-world country.
        Do -not- give up trying to get Senator Sullivan to broker a meeting between you and DOJ. Contact his chief of staff, Larry Burton, emphasize your request is for the Senator to broker the meeting, to indicate an interest in the outcome, not to do anything otherwise constitutionally prohibited.
        The job at hand is to persuade the Senator briefly, objectively, that your cause merits DOJ intervention, that the option of a Senate resolution may be just what it takes to gain DOJ attention.

  • Yvette says:

    Thank you, David, for another important article. I still have hope that the good people of Alaska will rise up and take back their power. Equal justice under the law should not be a political issue. If one person is wrongly convicted, then we all are at risk of this same injustice. Too many families have horror stories but feel isolated or powerless against government tyranny. Only when we all decide that no matter your political affiliation, right is right. We should not allow the powerful to protect themselves and ignore the people they are supposed to serve.

  • Sherrie says:


  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    NGO’s & those registered or not as Foreign Agents in Alaska
    Does anyone have a feel for degradation of the protection of our rights due to these NGO’s influence with our Government in all three levels, in the service to We The People.
    All combined they have a annual revenue of over 9 billion , close to 50,000 employees & assets of 21 billion plus in our state.
    How many have lobbyist in Juneau during our legislature, doing our business?

    How do we control their influence or should we?

    Think about it, Liberty Ed