A federal judge in D.C. recently dismissed a grand-jury indictment charging President Obama with treason. You may not have been aware that the President had actually been indicted for treason, which normally would be fairly big news. But it appears that this indictment was technically defective because the "grand jury" that issued it had not been convened by a court or prosecutor.
It was just some guys who got together and decided to indict the President.
As you might have guessed, the do-it-yourself indictment was based on the allegations that Barack Obama is not really a "natural-born citizen" and so does not qualify to be president. These allegations have so far had zero success in court but have continued to be "raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America's vigilant citizenry," as Judge James Robertson put it a couple of months ago. But hey, if you can't get a prosecutor to convene a grand jury to look into something, why not just make your own? Constitution don't say you can't!
These 176 gentlemen did just that. On June 24, they convened themselves into a grand jury (presumably meeting at a mall food court somewhere, but I have no proof of that), and voted to charge the President with treason. And this was not just any grand jury, it was extra-grand. No, wait: super-grand. In fact, they declared themselves a "Super American Grand Jury."
You might think that charges brought by a Super American Grand Jury would be heard in a Super Federal District Court (with decisions appealable to the Super-Duper Circuit Court of Appeals and the MegaSupreme Court) but they filed in the regular D.C. federal court. So the Super Americans got their indictment dismissed by a regular federal judge who has only the powers conferred on him by Article III of the Constitution (though these powers should not be underestimated).
"The individuals who have made this presentment," the judge wrote, "were not convened by this Court to sit as a grand jury nor have they been selected at random from a fair cross section of this district," another requirement that prevents self-convening. "Any self-styled indictment or presentment issued by such a group has no force under the Constitution or laws of the United States."
This is really too bad, since I would very much like to go around indicting people. I guess the problem is that you might need some help enforcing an indictment, depending on who you want to indict. And you generally have to rely on regular Americans for that.