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165 years of looking for a better way


Subdeacon Joe

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Sonoma County's resident historian chimes in on Grand Juries and Oversight.

A few nice bits of history.

 

 

 

As a result of these widely discussed reports, with few exceptions, buildings were replaced, streets were graveled, the infrastructure improved. The grand jury said, “Fix it!” It was done.

While the system seems to have been effective, it was far from perfect. Politics was ever-present. Republican leaders once asked that the entire grand jury be “impeached” for “covering up for Rebel sympathizers” — 10 years after the Civil War ended. While that charge went nowhere, it didn’t stop irate readers from asking another year’s grand jury to investigate the editor of The Sonoma Democrat for “maladministration” because of his Democratic views.

 

 

 

There is also the oft-told tale of the first lynching in the county, which occurred in 1854.

A man named Ritchie, accused of rustling mules from two Santa Rosa-area settlers, was arrested in Shasta City and brought back to the Carrillo Adobe, where a posse, including James Bennett (whose name is on a peak and valley), was assigned to take the mule thief safely to the jail in Sonoma City, which was still the county seat.

Ritchie made it only as far as Joe Hooker’s property at Agua Caliente. His body was found there next morning, hanging from an oak tree.

When the grand jury convened in Sonoma City, the appointed escorts showed up for the inquest wearing sprigs of oak leaves in their buttonholes. They all refused to testify. Case closed.

 

 

 

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