Governor Murphy and Chief Justice Rabner:This past week I completed 19 weeks of service as the Foreman for the Monmouth County Grand Jury. While many citizens do everything they can to get out of 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 honoring our collective civic responsibility to ensure that justice is served when the law is violated. As part of my service as Jury Foreman, I was responsible for swearing in every witness that testified before us. The witness oath is as follows: “Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give before this Grand Inquest is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” For each witness, this oath was sworn or affirmed on a Christian Bible. This must 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 enshrined in the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, and New Jersey’s statutes and administrative codes. Our citizens are absolutely not legally bound by anything in the Christian Bible. This is why every witness should swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on a copy of the United States Constitution. To be clear, I am not anti-religion. I attended Catholic school for 18 years. I hold a masters degree with distinction in theology from St. John’s University and I was a high school religion teacher at three schools in New Jersey and New York. It is because of this academic and professional experience as a Catholic theologian that I am absolutely certain that swearing in witnesses on the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Koran, the Hindu Gita, etc. has no place in our courts. I am requesting that you, Governor Murphy and you, Chief Justice Rabner, immediately and collaboratively direct all judges and court staff to use only the United States Constitution – the basis and foundation for all laws of our nation – to swear in witnesses to our grand juries and petit juries, as well as in all local, county, and state courts of law. I request that you address this matter publicly within two weeks’ time.
Respectfully yours in service to our state and nation,
James W. Keady, CitizenSpring Lake, NJ
Mr. Keady is a former Councilman in the City of Asbury Park
Photos attached:1. Bible used by Monmouth County Grand Jury (below)
2. Mr. Keady being sworn into office in the City of Asbury Park on a copy of the United States Constitution in 2005 (top)