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Grand Jury Reform - A Review of Key Issues

NCJ Number
D D Emerson
Date Published
138 pages
This report focuses on grand jury reform initiatives identified through an analysis of national standards, State legislation, and court rules. It describes the practical experiences of six States -- California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and North Dakota -- in implementing reform initiatives and discusses the controversy surrounding reform proposals in terms of both their substance and procedural differences among the States.
The study explores the grand jury's independence of the prosecutor and strategies by which the prosecutor and judge can facilitate that independence. It surveys procedures for obtaining and presenting evidence, including guidelines for presenting the government's case and the introduction of exculpatory evidence. Also discussed are the creation of a formal stenographic or electronic record of hearings, judicial review of such records, and strategies for limiting disclosure of grand jury information. Most reform efforts involve the development of procedures guaranteeing witnesses' and targets' legal rights, especially witness access to legal advice, probably the most contested of all reforms. Measures to prohibit or minimize multiple representation, a potentially negative consequence of expanded right to counsel, are covered. Jurisdictions must consider whether the grand jury should offer the same level of due process as the preliminary hearings, how fairness and efficiency should be balanced, and how various reforms interact. Chapter references and study data are provided. Appendixes include the American Bar Association grand jury policy and Model Grand Jury Act. (Author summary modified)