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Note: The comments and questions on this page came from people who visited this website. Please feel free to send your comments and questions to Professor Brenner (brenner@udayton.edu). She will respond privately, and may ask permission to post your message on this page. No one's e-mail will be used without first obtaining their permission, and names and e-mail addresses are removed before a comment is posted. Starting in 2002, the responses posted to the site indicate which of us replied: The initials SWB mean Professor Brenner wrote the response; the initials LES mean Professor Shaw wrote the response. We are also putting the year down, to indicate when the response was posted. If no initials appear, Professor Brenner wrote the response.

Are grand juries a rubber stamp for prosecutors?

Do grand juries act as a rubber stamp for prosecutors?
Thanks for the information and I enjoyed your site.

Response:

Glad you enjoyed the site.

That is, you know, a loaded question. Some prosecutors will say that, yes, grand juries do act as a rubber stamp for them (and they think that is great). Other prosecutors will disagree, citing the independence of grand juries.

I think they do act as a rubber stamp on the federal level (I do not have the statistics at hand, but if you check the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts you might find them - they show that federal grand juries indict in something like 98% of the cases presented to them), and tend to do that on the state level, as well. My theory is that federal grand jurors are rubber stamps because the cases often are more complicated, and because they may be more intimidated by the context (federal courthouse, federal prosecutor, federal agents, etc.). The other part of my theory is that state grand jurors at least have more capacity to exercise independence because the cases they deal with are "closer" to their real lives, e.g., people in the community accused of crimes the elements of which are more straightforward. But, of course, I could be wrong.

If you want to find out more about this, print/download the law review article , and you will get to read my very lengthy discussion of all this.

 SWB

2002

  

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