New York's Experience With Grand Juries

by TChris

While grand juries in most jurisdictions are easily led to indict by the prosecutors who control them, the experience in New York may point the way to welcome reform of the grand jury system. The target of a grand jury investigation in New York has the right to testify. By telling their side of the story and explaining away circumstantial evidence, many targets have been able to avoid indictment.

[I]n Brooklyn alone this year, nearly 14 percent of felony suspects have testified before grand juries investigating their cases this year, and slightly more than half of those cases have ended with no charges, according to the district attorney's office.

It's risky for an accused to talk to anyone but a lawyer before trial, but testifying before a grand jury might be a risk worth taking for someone who can credibly rebut weak or circumstantial evidence. That means grand juries in New York are doing their jobs -- saving the innocent from needless prosecutions -- when given a chance. The New York procedure deserves to be adopted everywhere.

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