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Function of Juries | 05 Nov 2011

Let a Thousand “Rogue” Grand Juries Bloom!

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Let a Thousand “Rogue” Grand Juries Bloom!

Harris County’s 185th criminal court grand jury, which had been investigating problems with the BAT vans, called Culbertson to testify, along with former Harris County Prosecutor Brent Mayr. Lykos dispatched two members of her flying monkey corps – assistant DAs Carl Hobbs and Steve Morris – to “monitor” the grand jury testimony.

Since Lykos and her office were suspected of covering up the use of tainted evidence and retaliating against a whistleblower, the DA and her underlings were barred from being present in any capacity other than as sworn witnesses. Accordingly, when Lykos’s minions materialized during Culbertson’s testimony, the Grand Jury Foreman ordered them to leave. When that directive was ignored, the Foreman instructed the Baliff to remove them or place them under arrest.

“Today, the grand jury is the total captive of the prosecutor, who, if he is candid, will concede that he can indict anybody, at any time, for almost anything, before any grand jury,” wrote federal District Judge William J. Campbell in a 1973 law journal article calling for formal abolition of the institution on the grounds of redundancy. This isn’t to say that the grand jury is considered useless by the prosecutorial caste: It helps maintain the pretense that prosecutors are servants of the public will.

What is happening in Harris County is not an example of a grand jury going “rogue,” but rather one behaving exactly as it should. It is interposing itself on behalf of the public by investigating a federally subsidized revenue-collection racket, and the abusive prosecutor who presides over it. Hopefully its example will prove to be contagious.

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