November 18, 2003



This explanation of the grand jury's roots is worth noting:

Can you tell me where and when the grand jury system originated?

Response: It originated in England in 1166. The English had used a 12 person jury to bring charges and then trial was by combat or ordeal (holding red hot iron, being thrown into water to see if you floated, etc.). The Catholic Church outlawed the ordeal and the Normans who had conquered England and were now making the law had to come up with a new method of trial. They made the 12 person jury (the petit jury) the trial jury and created a new 23 person "grand" jury to investigate and bring charges.

Was the "attorney-less" witness feature (witness cannot be accompanied by a lawyer in the grand jury room) a feature of English jurisprudence?

Response: Always . . . until very late in English law, someone charged with a felony was not even entitled to have an attorney at trial (or to be advised of the charges against them). Consequently, it was inconceivable that a grand jury witness would have a lawyer.

Fine. This will tell you about what goes on in a New York Grand Jury. Notice the phrase "rubber stamp" and make up your own mind as to whether it is no longer applicable.


People's lives: Sometimes bone-snappingly horrible.

Who does bad things to people: Generally men.

Who makes the social contract a tough gig, at best: Grand jurors who would rather go, loudly, to Starbucks than hear a rape victim's testimonial.


The bill I will pass in my own personal Congress: Robots may no longer fax me at 2 AM. I know: it's nice to talk to you, too, but we're all on this new sleep regimen.

The heightened senses, or Why abstinence just gets you off in the end: Standing on principle and hating Bob Dylan as the Hippy Ambassador for the last 20 years was kinda dumb, but how awesome is it to have this huge catalog to sink into now, when the brain is slightly warmer?

Posted by Sasha at November 18, 2003 05:39 PM | TrackBack