Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury has been running afoul of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, an attorney representing Texas businessman Gene E. Phillips claims in court paperwork.
Defense attorney Stephen Jones filed a challenge with the state Supreme Court on Monday, asking the court to step in and control "a runaway grand jury." Jones filed the challenge on behalf of Phillips -- who was named in bribery allegations contained in an indictment of former state Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher -- and Ron Akin, a Phillips associate who earlier testified before the grand jury. Phillips has not been formally indicted by the multicounty grand jury. The challenge claims the grand jury "has been operated in a matter inconsistent with basic, fundamental rights under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution." Specifically, Jones said grand jury hearings allow for the improper dismissal of witness attorneys. He said prosecutors with the state attorney general's office intimidate witnesses and conduct other court business without proper notice to witness attorneys. "The prosecutors get away with whatever they want to do," Jones said. "They haven't been effectively challenged." State attorney general's office spokesman Charlie Price said his office will be looking into Jones' allegations. He also said there hasn't been a similar challenge filed during Attorney General Drew Edmondson's tenure.
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