One more step in the fight to end corruption. 

Al Jazeera reports that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law prohibiting grand juries from ruling in cases involving police use of lethal force.

This is huge because grand juries—bodies that determine whether or not there is enough evidence to prosecute a defendant for a felony or crime—operate in secret. Grand juries are run by prosecutors without judges, opening the door for corruption in police brutality cases as prosecutors and police officers work side by side on a regular basis.

For example, when you have a prosecutor looking into whether an officer like Darren Wilson has committed an unjust killing, there is often a standing relationship between both players, which makes for a biased and unfair case. While it hasn’t been confirmed this was what happened in the Wilson case, it does bring up a very important point.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who authored the bill signed by Brown, SB 227, said in a statement that during these proceedings,

“There are no cross-examinations of witnesses, and there are no objections. How prosecutors explain the law to the jurors and what prosecutors say about the evidence are subject to no oversight. And the proceedings are shrouded in secrecy.”

The School of Law at the University of Dayton states:

Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that ‘matters occurring before the grand jury’ be kept secret.The rule also says that if anyone bound by secrecy reveals ‘matters occurring before’ a grand jury, this is ‘CRIMINAL contempt.’ The rule of secrecy binds everyone with access to grand jury proceedings (prosecutors, grand jurors, court reporters, and clerical personnel who help a prosecutor prepare for grand jury appearances), except the witnesses who testify before a grand jury.”

SB 227 is a huge step in providing the public with transparency for which they can use to hold prosecutors accountable. Kudos to Gov. Jerry Brown for being on the right side of this discussion and doing something to curb corruption. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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