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Power to abolish Grand Jury

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The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that federal charges for capital and infamous crimes be brought by a indictment returned by a grand jury. This means that the federal system cannot abolish grand juries, at least not if it intends to continue to bring criminal charges against serious offenders. In the nineteenth century, the U.S. Supreme Court held that this requirement does not bind the states, which means they can decide whether to use grand juries or abolish them. Perhaps as a result of this holding, grand juries fell into disfavor among the states in the nineteenth century, with some taking steps to abolish the institution.

With regard to their current attitudes toward the grand jury, all of the states except one can be divided into four categories:

(1)States that give their legislatures the power to abolish the entire institution:
Only 10 states (Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) have given their legislatures the power to abolish the institution of the grand jury. And only one of the ten--Connecticut--has even partially abrogated the use of the grand jury. Nine of the ten combine this ability to abolish the grand jury with the authority to modify it.

(2)A state that gave its courts the power to abolish the indicting grand jury.
Pennsylvania--has given its county courts the ability to abolish the use of the grand jury to bring criminal charges. All of the county courts have exercised this ability.

(3)States that either deny the power to abolish the grand jury or require that the grand jury be used to charge certain offenses.
Twenty-two states (Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia) deny their courts and legislatures the power to abolish the grand jury; they do this either by explicitly denying them this ability or by requiring that grand juries be used to bring charges for at least some offenses. Since it is a federal enclave, the District of Columbia is bound by the Fifth Amendment, which means it must use the grand jury to charge capital or otherwise infamous crimes.

(4)States whose position is ambiguous, as they allow, but do not require, that grand juries be used for some purpose.
Seventeen states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) fall into this category. They do not explicitly authorize the abolition of the grand jury but they do not require that grand juries be used to return charges. One can argue that by not requiring the use of grand juries, these states implicitly authorize the abolition of that institution. 
The one state that does not fall into any of these categories is North Dakota. It requires that grand juries be used to bring charges for felonies, but North Dakota also gives its legislature the ability to abolish the grand jury.

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