Balancing the Scales of Due Process: The Conservative Case for Grand Jury Reform in Texas
Grand juries were initially an integral due process barrier from an overzealous and despotic government; a civic check on the criminal justice system prior to trial. Throughout the years, however, grand juries have been heavily tilted in favor of the prosecution, providing little protection to accused individuals.
A new paper from the Texas Public Policy Foundation discusses the history of the American grand jury system, Texas’ grand jury system, areas within the status quo where procedural safeguards do not properly protect the liberties of Texans, and what other states have done to bolster their grand jury systems. It also makes several recommendations:
- A full transcript of the grand jury proceedings should be recorded and provided to defense counsel;
- A subsequent grand jury cannot be brought if the first grand jury did not return an indictment, unless there is new material evidence;
- The prosecutor must provide the grand jury exculpatory evidence;
- Provide witnesses reasonable time before they are called to testify in order to retain counsel and review the case;
- Provide defense counsel reasonable access inside the grand jury room while their client is testifying;
- Provide statutory language that requires the reimbursement of legal fees to an individual who was the subject of a grand jury investigation if it turns out the claim was not brought in good faith.