California has banned the use of grand juries in cases involving police shootings, Mother Jones is reporting. California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday making his state the first in the nation to do away with the grand jury process in such cases. The decision of whether or not to prosecute police officers will be now left in the hands of prosecutors.
“The use of the criminal grand jury process, and the refusal to indict as occurred in Ferguson and other communities of color, has fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that threatens to compromise our justice system,” the bill’s author, state Senator Holly Mitchell, said in a statement.
Of course, in the Ferguson case, Eric Holder’s Justice Department reached the same conclusion as the grand jury which decided not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown. And in other racial-charged police shootings, prosecutors themselves have been accused of persuading grand juries not to indict officers.
However, proponents of the new law say it will provide more transparency as to how such decisions are made, since the previous grand jury process was shrouded in secrecy in order to protect witnesses who might not otherwise have come forward.
(Source: Mother Jones)