Governor Murphy and Chief Justice Rabner:
Last week I completed 19 weeks of service as a foreman for the Monmouth County Grand Jury. While many citizens do whatever they can to avoid jury duty, I welcomed the opportunity. As a former elected official and current citizen activist, I love public service. I am also deeply committed to upholding the rule of law and fulfilling our collective civic responsibility to ensure that justice is served where the law is broken.
As part of my service as chief jury, I was responsible for swearing in every witness who testified before us.
The witness oath reads as follows:
“Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to make before this great investigation is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
For each Witness, this oath was sworn or affirmed on a Christian Bible. That has to change immediately. We are not a Christian theocracy. We are a constitutional republic. Our Witnesses and all New Jersey citizens are bound by the laws set forth in the United States Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution, and the laws and regulations of New Jersey. Our citizens are not legally bound by anything in the Christian Bible. For this reason, every Witness should swear or pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, on a copy of the United States Constitution.
To be clear, I’m not anti-religious. I went to a Catholic school for 18 years. I have a master’s degree with honors in theology from St. John’s University and have taught religion in three schools in New Jersey and New York. Based on this academic and professional experience as a Catholic theologian, I am absolutely certain that the swearing of witnesses to the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Koran, the Hindu Gita, etc. has no place in our courts.
I ask you, Governor Murphy, and you, Chief Justice Rabner, to immediately and collectively direct all judges and court officials to use only the Constitution of the United States – the foundation and basis for all of our nation’s laws – to swear witnesses for our grand juries and petit juries and in all local, provincial and state courts.
I ask that you address this matter publicly within two weeks.
Sincerely at the service of our state and nation,
James W. Keady, citizenSpring Lake, NJ
Mr. Keady is a former councilman for the city of Asbury Park
Photos attached:1. Bible used by the Monmouth County Grand Jury (below)
2. Mr. Keady being sworn in at the town of Asbury Park on a copy of the 2005 United States Constitution (above)
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