We’ve talked about the Grand Jury system here before, and how prosecutors are allowed to present evidence to get an indictment without a word from a defense lawyer; the case then proceeds and a trial jury is left to assume that the defendant wouldn’t be the defendant if the courts didn’t have a good reason to charge him or her.
Well, it looks like Devon Anderson, of all people, is advocating for a reform of Texas’ ‘key-man’ system, wherein the head of the grand jury is picked by the judge, often from that judge’s friends and colleagues.
From one of the articles linked below:
“Texas law still allows grand jurors to be chosen in a method that has been outlawed in all but one other state and banned from federal courts since the 1960s. Judges may choose pals, or commissioners, to suggest other pals as grand jurors. The system often results in homogeneous grand juries with substantial ties to the criminal justice system.”
You may recall the case of Alfred Dewayne Brown, in which a Grand Jury bullied his girlfriend into changing her testimony that he was at her house at the time of the crime. After veiled threats against herself and her children, she wound up testifying against him. Imprisoned since 2005, Brown is now awaiting a new trial after the Grand Jury transcript was made public.
The Judge in that case was Judge Ellis, the same one responsible for Coy’s trial; one can only assume that he picked the ‘Key Man’ for both Brown and Coy’s Grand Juries. It is heartening indeed to see the Harris County D.A. standing up and advocating reform of this sytem.