Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Prosecutors Should Stop Hiding Behind Grand Juries" Ben Trachtenberg,Legal Ethics Forum:

Of all the proposals made post Ferguson, post Eric Garner, etc. this is the one that  strikes me as most solid.  The idea of the Grand Jury has been the citizen check on prosecutorial abuse.  But i think that is a myth.  It is either a rubber stamp or the citizen whitewash.  It doesn't work as a trial because it is not a trial.  The Prosecutor is the sole authority in the room.  Since transforming it to something adversarial (e.g. targets lawyers in the room) would be, well, transformative I am inclined to transform it out of existence. - gwc
Legal Ethics Forum: Ben Trachtenberg, "No, You 'Stand Up': Why Prosecutors Should Stop Hiding Behind Grand Juries"
This Essay argues that prosecutors should not allow grand juries to consider indicting defendants whom the prosecutors themselves believe should not be indicted. To illustrate the problems with this practice, this Essay uses the example of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch – who encouraged deliberations by the grand jury that heard evidence concerning the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, despite personally believing that Brown’s killer, police officer Darren Wilson, should not be indicted. The arguments against allowing grand juries to conduct such needless deliberations include (1) the exercise wastes the time of citizens forced to serve on grand juries; (2) the deliberations might, despite the prosecutor’s wishes, result in indictments contrary to the interests of justice; and (3) by “passing the buck” to the grand jury, the prosecutor evades accountability for his own decisions.

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