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Grand Jury Reform - The Colorado Experience

NCJ Number
American Bar Association Journal Volume: 67 Dated: (May 1981) Pages: 568-572
H J Bayless
Date Published
5 pages
This article describes grand jury reform in the State of Colorado, as effected by enactment of a 1977 statute.
Grand juries in Colorado now may consist of 12 or 23 members. In a grand jury of 12, a quorum of 9 is necessary to conduct business, and a vote of 9 is necessary to indict, regardless of the number of grand jurors present. The new statute provides that upon empaneling a grand jury, the court shall give to members reasonable, written notice of the various rights and duties of the grand jury. To date, only four Colorado Supreme Court opinions have interpreted sections of the new statute. The most recent case, Colorado v. District Court (1980), dealt with a reporter's right to record all aspects of grand jury proceedings. One of the grand jury's rights which is now explained to new members is the right to call and interrogate witnesses. In addition, the new statute does not mandate that all witnesses appearing before the grand jury must be subpoenaed. Witnesses may appear voluntarily. The legislation also provides that a witness who intends to exercise the fifth amendment privilege may advise the prosecutor in writing rather than appear before the grand jury. The contempt provisions under the new statute have been weakened significantly from prior grand jury statutes. Finally, counsel are permitted to appear with clients testifying before the grand jury.


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