Thursday, January 21, 2016

GRAND JURY REMOVED FROM THE INDICTMENT PROCESS IN CALIFORNIA

California has become the first state in the nation to ban grand jury hearings for police-involved shootings and excessive force* cases. Per Senate Bill 227, prosecutors, who are elected in California, would be responsible for deciding to press criminal charges against so-called peace officers, a designation that, along with police officers, include sherriffs, marshals, investigators and some port police. 
~Colorlines 



http://www.colorlines.com/articles/california-bans-grand-juries-police-involved-murders

Excuse me.

How is this a good thing?

I'm trying to figure out how having an elected prosecutor make the indictment decision alone is better.

I'm especially trying to figure out how having an elected prosecutor in a republican or tea party state is better.


Besides, prosecutors are already deciding who gets indicted all by themselves-- via telling lies to predominantly white grand juries that are looking for lies to believe. Every now and again ONE of the jury panel objects to the lies and tells us what really happened behind closed doors. 



The problem is the secrecy of grand jury not the grand jury process itself, isn't it? The problem is that you don't know that the prosecutor lied or misled the grand jury until it's over. The problem is with the secrecy of the grand jury, not the grand jury itself -- not entirely.

I mean, are white grand juries supposed to be more racist or biased than a lone white prosecutors?

“With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brown reinforces our 1st Amendment right and ensures transparency, accountability and justice for all Californians," Lara said in a statement.  "At a time when cellphone and video footage is helping steer important national civil rights conversations, passage of the Right to Record Act sets an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”


Think about it. How is Timothy McGinty not having to convince a grand jury that Tamir Rice caused his own death a good thing?  At least McGinty had to tell lies and mislead to get the grand jury to not indict. If McGinty had been here in California instead of Ohio, using this law he could have gone straight to punchline himself.

Tamir was scared
Officer Loehmann was scared
It was Accident.
No Indictment

End of Discussion

With no grand jury process, the indictment process is in one person's brain isn't it? There's no record to read after the secret tribunal (grand jury) is over. How does Brown figure this gives us MORE transparency?

The  problem of the secrecy of grand juries is actually a spin off of the real problem. And, in my opinion, the real problem is that District Attorneys and Police Officers are "colleagues" or what I like to call "professional buddies"


I need more information on what the immediate consequences will be if the prosecutor fails to do his or her job.

If D.A.s like McGinty (Tamir Rice Murder) and Kathy Alizadeh (who told the Darren Wilson grand jury that it was legal for Wilson to shoot at Mike Brown just for running when this was declared unconstitutional back in the 1980s), if prosecutors like these two are going to make the indictment decisions themselves, how is this better?

Again, the decision is locked in their head for all practical purposes. What happens to them if they make a bad decision? 


The only upside I see to this whole thing is that they may be made personally responsible for who is and is not indicted. But I want to know what the consequences are. I want to know what happens to a D.A. that makes a bad decision under the new system  that's different than the current, grand jury system.



COPS AND PROSECUTORS
BUDDIES FOREVER
Under the current grand jury system, if the D.A. rams a "bad" decision through the grand jury process, he or she blames the grand jury for the decision --no matter how instrumental he or she was in convincing the grand jury to make that decision. Then he or she waits for public attention to turn elsewhere and is re-elected as the District Attorney.

How does removing the grand jury --instead of making the grand jury public so we can see what lies the district attorney is telling the grand jury in the moment-- better?


As long as Buddy 1 (the District Attorney) is investigating Buddy 2 (the Cop) we have a problem. Removing the grand jury removed a layer of defense from where I sit.  That layer of defense wasn't working well but it was there and probably somewhat fixable. I don't understand removing a few more citizens from the legal system makes this better. It may not make it worse. But I'm not seeing where it makes it better.

Jerry Brown may have meant well. But this was a stupid path to take in my opinion. Only time will tell, I suppose.  




* * * * *
Read More On The Link Between Cops and Prosecutors At The Guardian:

"Promising a return to “tough on crime” priorities, and attacking the incumbent county attorney’s new rehabilitative programs, [District Attorney Hopeful Don]  Kleine clinched the endorsements of the region’s major police unions – and their thousands of dollars in election campaign contributions.
Ever since his 2006 victory, Kleine has relied on the officers of those unions to help him convict everyday criminals. Omaha officer Alvin Lugod, for instance, was called to appear as a prosecution witness a dozen times, according to records released by Kleine’s office.






Yet when Officer Lugod was facing possible criminal charges himself in February for fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back, Kleine saw no reason to step aside. Instead, the prosecutor oversaw a secret grand jury process that declined to indict his colleague...."

Story Continued Here:  
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/31/ties-that-bind-conflicts-of-interest-police-killings

Or just watch a few episodes of Law and Order.
Prosecutors and Police Officers work hand in hand. Unlike television though, as we've seen over and over, in real life cops and prosecutors don't turn on one another when a cop kills an innocent civilian. They hang tough together.