I’ve received many letters lately asking about the second activist that was subpoenaed to the grand jury along with myself. Although this is very old news to me. I feel I should address this question and help clarify. Nicole “Nikki” Standford (Viehl) and myself were both subpoenaed to testify in front of a federal grand jury allegedly investigating illegal animal rights activities in Utah. I chose not to co-operate with the grand jury on the grounds that I was unjustly subpoenaed simply because I was a very outspoken above-ground activist and that I disagreed with the grand jury process in general as its an archaic system that allows prosecutors to overstep their bounds and abuse their power. I also had no information to give, as I am and always have been a legal above-ground activist. For my choices I was immediately put in a county jail under civil contempt of court until the term of the grand jury expired. Upon release to everyone’s surprise I was charged with criminal contempt of court in which I later received a 10 month federal prison sentence that I am now currently carrying out at this time.
This is the 3rd time in United States History that the government decided to indict someone for criminal contempt of court after already serving time civilly for the same act of recalcitrance. Fortunately for Nikki Sanford-Viehl (ex-wife of BJ Viehl), she avoided doing any prison time, unfortunately it was at the expense of the local animal rights community, by providing the government with information about them. When Nikki and myself met with other local activists to discuss the grand jury subpoenas we decided to write a public statement to release to the media explaining why we disagree with the grand jury & why we were not going to cooperate. The night before we were to release the statement to the press Nikki called and politely asked to have her name taken off and to not be mentioned in the demonstration outside. Obviously we respected her wishes and made a gender neutral rendition to the press release to state that “Jordan Halliday and ‘another activist’ were subpoenaed”. When we finally went in front of the grand jury, she and I sat in a waiting room next to our lawyers whom were not allowed to be in the actual proceedings. She went in first and took about 15-20 mins until she came out. When she left she avoided eye contact with me, while her lawyer and the prosecutor shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
I am only mentioning all this to show a pattern. When I went into the grand jury room the first time it took 30-45 mins, much of which was spent with me asking to speak with my lawyer and also the prosecutor storming out demanding my lawyer to talk some sense into me. When Nikki exited the court house she was spotted by another activist who was out demonstrating.When that activist shouted her name, she took off running. the activist ran after her and after finally catching up to her, asked her how it went, to which she replied that she “didn’t want to talk about it”. Since there was no judge available for a hearing when I refused to testify at the grand jury, I was released and re-subpoenaed a week later. I approached Nikki after a local animal rights meeting to ask her why she didn’t recieve a second subpoena and to explain what happened at the grand jury. She admitted to me that she named names and vehicles. But reiterated that she “didn’t tell them anything that they didn’t already know”.I was arrested says later for my refusal and put in a county Jail, while there I received a letter from Nikki that stated she was feeling guilty about what she said at the grand jury and that she was also guilty that she wasn’t in jail with me. I feel her broken bound of solidarity was possibly somewhat responsible for the governments decision to charge me criminally after I already served civil time.
When I was released I brought up these facts with members of the local animal rights community and although most agreed that they didn’t trust her, there were emotional attachments and many didn’t feel comfortable “calling out” a then current political prisoners partner. This is something that needs to be worked on and addressed in all radical communities. Support should and wouldn’t suffer in these cases for the jailed activist. However, the partner shouldn’t be accepted or allowed to participate in the community.
Activists who continue to allow involvement and who justify and sympathize simply because the partner is in prison are still snitch sympathizers. Confrontation is never fun, so we should talk with other members of our radical communities to figure out how out communities would handle a situation currently, address different tactics, and as silly as it sounds even role play different scenarios. Security culture is one of the most important tools we can use to protect ourselves. So let’s practice and use it.
For total liberation and until all are free,