A lobbyist friend sent me a new legislative proposal by Mike Delph to abolish Grand Juries in Indiana.
My considered response was: huh??
In prior sessions, with his not-too-coherent animus against immigrants, Delph established himself as not the sharpest knife in the drawer–proposing measures that (as he should have learned in law school) would not have passed constitutional muster. Despite insisting that he was acting on principle, he came off looking both mean-spirited and uninformed.
But this one is a puzzler.
Grand Juries are constitutionally required in federal courts, but because that requirement has never been “incorporated”–that is, never held to apply to the states–they are entirely optional in Indiana.Unless the law changed while I wasn’t looking–certainly a possibility–Indiana prosecutors initiate charges through the filing of something called an “information,” and only employ Grand Juries in more complicated cases, generally those involving white collar crimes or criminal financial schemes. In any event, last time I looked, the use of a Grand Jury was entirely within a prosecutor’s discretion. So why “abolish” a tool that prosecutors can use or ignore as they see fit?
There is probably a story that explains this bizarre bill, but none of the Statehouse folks I asked had any idea what it might be.
To paraphrase the voice-over that concluded each episode of “The Naked City,” an old TV crime series: There are eight million stories in our weird Indiana legislature. This has been one of them.