A former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals once – and now famously – said that a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich.” Just mention the term “grand jury” to anyone that has attended law school and this will be the first thing that they say. I guarantee it.
The grand jury. Over the last month or more, there has been vast discourse and even more vast emotional expenditure over this singular component of the American legal system. The workings of grand juries and the indictments that they may (or may not) produce have been the subjects of great debate and consternation recently, with significant, perhaps unintended, consequences for a lot of people in a number of places. Indeed, great subjects of social dialogue (and discord) have boiled over in response to grand juries and what they have (or have not) wrought.
As a member of the legal profession, I have found the late and ongoing discourse, debate, and dialogue to be fascinating, and more than a bit troubling. Not troubling because of the emotions that have been produced – the emotions are all valid – but troubling because of what appears to have been hopes of justice crushed, not necessarily by the grand juries themselves, but by false expectations that these grand juries would be something other than what they are.