Grand jury reform Texas 2015

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Jon Roland

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Apr 12, 2015, 2:35:34 PM4/12/15
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Grand jury reform Texas 2015


Statement of

Jon Roland

before the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice

in support to SB 135

March 21, 2015


I am the Founder and President of the Constitution Society, website at http://constitution.org. I urge the Texas Legislature to adopt SB 135, to require all grand juries be selected at random rather than through the “key man” procedure in use in some countries.

This committee may, however, amend this bill, to take it in a more constitutional direction, to provide that grand juries comply with all of the following traditional standards for proper grand juries:


  1. Selected at random from the general public, with perhaps some filtering, but without "stacking".

  2. Selection by a neutral party (not the judge or prosecutor).

  3. Size of 23.

  4. Decision by 12.

  5. Election of foreperson by the members.

  6. Term of service long enough to learn how to do it.

  7. Limits on terms of service to avoid entrenchment.

  8. Adequate training of grand jurors.

  9. Prevention of undue influence by interested parties, especially judge or prosecutors.

  10. Secrecy of grand jury deliberations, while they are going on, but with allowance of disclosures in their presentments.

  11. Enough time to examine each case, or enough grand juries.

  12. No impediment to access by public to members to present complaints or give testimony, except for reasonable scheduling.

  13. Acceptance of any person, not just a professional prosecutor, being appointed to prosecute a case by the grand jury granting him an indictment.

  14. Acceptance that a grand jury indictment removes official immunity from criminal prosecution.

  15. Acceptance that a grand jury finding of sufficient evidence of misconduct removes official immunity from civil prosecution.

  16. Establishment of rule that a grand jury must determine whether a court has jurisdiction before returning an indictment for that court.

  17. Avoidance of excessive or abusive use of grand jury to harass, intimidate, discredit, or injure persons.

  18. Prevention of misuse during trials of evidence obtained by grand jury.


I urge this committee to amend this bill as outlined above.


See:

SB 135 http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/html/SB00135E.htm

Grand Jury Reform http://www.constitution.org/jury/gj/gj-us.htm

Midland Reporter-Telegram: http://www.mrt.com/news/article_8b11b140-d047-11e4-869d-9f998c2c990d.html



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Constitution Society               http://constitution.org
13359 N Hwy 183 #406-144               twitter.com/lex_rex
Austin, TX 78750 512/299-5001  jon.r...@constitution.org
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