Just before close of business Friday, petitioners received notice they could move forward with the signature collection effort to impanel a grand jury to investigate and, as its findings warrant, commence an action to remove District Attorney David Prater.
“We’ve worked with urgency despite the obstacles so far, and we are grateful for a timely ruling that allows us to move forward with our petition effort,” Hannah Royce said in a statement shared with The Black Wall Street Times.
For months, members of the community have accused DA Prater of abusing his authority. The DA has sued the Pardon and Parole Board, sued Governor Kevin Stitt, and has attempted to force Board members to recuse themselves from voting in the clemency hearing for high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones.
Signature gathering begins
The news comes days after Judge Ray Elliot recused himself from deciding the merits of the petition application. His ties to DA Prater, and the fact that his wife, Sandra Elliot, was the original prosecutor in Jones’ trial, have led to concerns that attorneys and judges in Oklahoma County were ignoring blatant conflicts of interest.
Petitions will be available beginning Friday night at Oklahoma History Center Park at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, where a group has been gathering around the clock in solidarity with Julius Jones who is on Death Watch.
Petitions will also be available at events scheduled throughout the weekend ahead of Julius Jones’s October 26 clemency hearing at the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. More petition signature locations will be announced in the coming days.
Activists determined to succeed
The petitioners have 45 days to collect 5,000 signatures in order to meet the statutory threshold to convene a grand jury. Registered Oklahoma County voters are eligible to sign the petition.
“5,000 signatures is no small effort, but we are confident the will exists to meet that threshold. Accountability for the harm DA Prater has made the staple of his office is finally in the hands of the people,” Hannah Royce said.
“We’re ready and determined to meet this moment in pursuit of addressing the injustices that have too long been the status quo in DA Prater’s office. Petitioning is one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in the Oklahoma Constitution, and we’re ready to begin exercising our rights in an effort to address so many whose rights and liberties have been ignored,” she added.