18 January 2004

Somebody doesn't like grand juries:
Grand juries . . . are antiquated legal bodies that go contrary to all notions of American law. They operate on the basis of guilty until proven innocent. There is no guarantee of unreasonable search and seizure when it comes to grand juries, and they have an extremely low threshold of evidence required to obtain a subpoena.

. . .

[G]rand juries should be outlawed like they have in most modern countries. They are contrary to all other notions of justice in this country—no right to the fifth amendment, no standard of evidence for subpoenas, secrecy, investigation of people instead of crimes, based on guilty until proven innocent, etc. Grand juries are solely tools of repression. They rarely come up with any answers when investigating crimes, and almost always operate with the intention to disrupt people’s lives. They are a tool of the political police when they have nothing else to use.
Don't really agree with the guilty until proven innocent part (although the standard is extremely low) but I must say that proceeding on an information is a far better way to go. Investigative grand juries are pretty much a joke, easily moved in a particular direction by prosecutors and the typical grand jury will indict someone on just about any charge a prosecutor tells it to. Prosecutors and law enforcement should do investigations without this screen to hide behind (or worse, manipulate). And getting someone indicted after his preliminary hearing in general district court is pretty much preordained. I guess what I'm saying is that grand juries are a vestigial remnant of the past. They served a valid function at one time but in the modern era are at best meaningless, at worst . . .

Of course, the two clients I've had who were "not true billed" might disagree with me about that.

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