Letters to the Editor

Bradley Bannon: Prosecutor controls grand jury

Regarding the Nov. 26 news article “ Grand jury system scrutinized”: It is disingenuous for anyone familiar with modern American criminal procedure to maintain that the grand jury is, as intended, an independent check on government power. Quite the opposite, it’s an extension of that power.

This is no fault or criticism of the grand jurors themselves, who deserve respect for their sacrifice and service. But they can work with only what they’re given. And that is unilaterally controlled by prosecutors. In secret.

At least in federal court, there’s a transcript of that reality. In states like ours, there’s no record at all. Indeed, in some counties, where dozens of cases can be heard and indictments (drafted by prosecutors) signed by the grand jury in a mere couple of hours, who could type that fast?

So when a grand jury action is cited as if it’s entirely independent of the prosecution, we owe it to ourselves as a society to recognize that just isn’t true. The prosecutor controls the process, and it’s axiomatic that the person who controls the process often controls the outcome.

Bradley Bannon