Failures of grand jury process evident in Breonna Taylor case

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The Breonna Taylor case provides a stark illustration of the failings of the grand jury process in officer-involved shooting investigations. The fact that the only charges were against an officer for errant shots into a neighboring apartment, coupled with transcripts confirming the limited charges presented, make clear that grand juries no longer serve their original purpose. Intended as a “bulwark … between the ordinary citizen and an overzealous prosecutor,” they instead became, in the words of late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, “a tool for the Executive.”

Prosecutors generally exercise complete control over the grand jury process — including what evidence to present, witnesses to call, and charges to seek. And all of this occurs behind closed doors. This shroud of secrecy shields important decisions from the public’s eye.

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